Following college graduation, I lived and worked in Bangladesh for three years, first as a Peace Corps Volunteer and later with the Nirapad Ma (Healthy Mother) Project. It was there in a tiny bookstore that I found my introduction to midwifery: a dusty copy of Therese Blanchet’s Meanings and Rituals of Birth in Rural Bangladesh.
After returning home to central Wisconsin, I began an MS in Health Promotion at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, researching the impact of continuous labor support on birth outcomes. About a year in, my wise advisor suggested my time might be better spent pursuing the work instead.
Not long after that, at a soup dinner in a local church basement, I met Jane and asked if she would be willing to talk with me about midwifery. Jane welcomed me into the practice, and I trained and worked as her assistant. Then, there was a baby boy, in the winter of 2004, who had not heard I was just the assistant and chose my hands to catch him before anyone else arrived. His birth inspired me to become a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM).
In March 2006, I traveled with a small group of midwives to Mboro, Senegal, to work in a busy maternity clinic. During the month we were there, more than 70 babies were born. It was an incredible opportunity to grow as a midwife.
With the steadfast support of Jane and my family, I obtained my CPM and LM in 2008. In 2011, my son Ezra was born at home with Jane and Korina by my side. In 2012, I completed my Master’s degree with a focus on community health and newborn hearing screening. 2018 was a full and exciting year. I attended my 600th birth, became an IBCLC (lactation consultant), and joyfully welcomed my second son, Cass, into the world at home, again with the support of Jane and Korina.
Sometimes, in the calm quiet of those early moments after a baby is born, a mother will look up and smile the slightest smile with the realization that she has accomplished just what she set out to do in just the way she set out to do it. Often, our work is to clearly reflect back to mothers that they are strong and able and enough. I am a midwife to protect and support the deep knowing mothers already have within.