I began my midwifery career many years ago whilst watching pregnant women, wondering and dreaming what it must be like to have another, albeit small, human being inside you, squirming, kicking, and stretching. I thought at the time that I would become a childbirth education teacher, but little did I know what awaited me!
I entered Gonzaga University in the fall of 1971 in the sociology program. After two semesters, I decided I was more interested in women's health and started taking pre-med courses. Somehow I came across the book Immaculate Deception by Suzanne Arms, in which the author describes standard birth procedures in American hospitals. She then talked about the statistics of births in European countries which utilize midwives.
This was the first time that I had ever seen the word "midwife," and I knew instantly that that is what I wanted to become! I had no idea what midwives did or how to get training, and I put the questions on the back burner while I finished school. I did graduate from Gonzaga University, magna cum laude, with a BA in Classical Civilizations in 1975.
My now ex-husband and I landed in Reno in the fall of 1975, he to a program in social psychology at UNR and I to work and dance and study independently alternatives in health care. I became pregnant with son #1 in 1978 and employed a local home-birth midwife. I read ferociously and plied my midwife with constant questions.
Zach's birth was long and hard. He was in a posterior position, so I had lots of back labor and slow dilation. I pushed for many hours at home before we decided to go to the hospital for help. He was eventually delivered via C-section, and I was grateful to have such a beautiful baby.
After Zach's birth, I felt a multitude of feelings, from joy to despair, wondering what had happened to the lovely home-birth I had planned. It was at this time that I started reading serious midwifery and obstetrical texts and articles, hoping to understand my birth and to get some peace about it. And this led me to searching for midwives with whom to apprentice.
I found two midwives who were practicing in Reno, and I became the rookie, attending prenatals and births for the next two years. In 1982, I applied to and was accepted into a year-long training program for direct-entry midwives at the Maternity Center in El Paso, Texas, operated by Shari Daniels (now owner of the Miami Maternity Center).
My family and I relocated to El Paso, Texas, and I spent the next year as a student under the direct supervision of more experienced and licensed midwives. At the Center, we performed all the prenatal exams, all the births and all the postpartum visits for the mothers and babies who came to us. We were also required to teach childbirth classes to the women every six weeks, and we students had weekly academic classes and assignments in all aspects of midwifery. By the end of the year, I was licensed to practice midwifery in El Paso County, having taken a written exam, a practical skills review exam and an oral exam.
I returned to Reno in the fall of 1983 and have been practicing here ever since. Contrary to popular belief, midwives can practice legally in the State of Nevada, since we are mentioned several times in the statutes. However, since Nevada has no licensing procedure, I became licensed in the State of California in 1997 and that license is current.