When I was a little girl my dad used to take me to the hospital to see the newborn babies in the nursery. Then he would buy me a peppermint patty from the gift shop. It’s one of the best memories I have of him and maybe that is what planted the seed of birth work. I’ve been fascinated by pregnancy and birth as long as I can remember. My favorite episodes of any TV show were always the ones where someone gave birth. I read What To Expect When You’re Expecting in high school just for fun. But everything I knew was mainstream, based on media portrayals.
It wasn’t until I was 19 and had an unplanned pregnancy that my knowledge started going deeper. I learned about Doulas from a pregnancy magazine and was impressed with the statistics. Significantly lower c-section rates, medications rates, and postpartum depression rates for women who had a doula at their birth. The postpartum depression issue is what struck me the most. I struggled with depression as a teenager and was on antidepressants before becoming pregnant. I knew that I may not be able to stay on antidepressants during pregnancy and that postpartum depression was more likely when you were already predisposed to depression. It seemed like a logical choice to hire a doula for my birth. I also thought it would be neat to try for a natural birth, without medication, but I was open to just seeing what happened. At the time, I thought natural birth was a matter of being ‘tough’ and I had no idea of the other reasons that one might choose to forego an epidural. Sadly, my pregnancy came to an end at 14 weeks due to a chromosomal anomaly called Tripoidy or Partial Molar Pregnancy.
But the seed had been planted.
Meanwhile, I was in college and minoring in dance. My dance teacher used Yoga for conditioning and was a true believer in its healing qualities. I eventually took a Kinesiology and Physics of Dance class taught by the same teacher, and my knowledge of movement and alignment grew. I came to love yoga as much as dance, and it took me on a journey from mainstream to more natural, wholistic wellness.
In 2007 an opportunity was placed in front of me. A friend from my Young Adult Ladies bible study gave me the business card of a midwife. She had heard me talk about my desire to become a doula. I contacted the midwife and she invited me to shadow her for a day of prenatal appointments. Afterwards she invited me to become a homebirth assistant and continue shadowing her. What an opportunity! With zero experience on my part I was going to get hands on training in midwifery and birth! I followed this Nurse-Midwife around for months and went to appointments and births. I read great books like Spiritual Midwifery, Thinking Woman’s Guide To A Better Birth, and Pregnancy Childbirth and the Newborn. I also trained to be a Doula and completed all of my certification requirements.
My next big opportunity came in 2008 when I was gifted tuition for a 200 hr Yoga Teacher Training at a Christian yoga school in Arizona; Yahweh Yoga. So I went off to the Valley of the Sun for a month to complete this training with a wonderful group of women. When I returned to Kentucky I taught yoga at my church, a local studio, and the university fitness center.
By this time I knew that I eventually wanted to become a midwife. I had gone from “You deliver baby’s at home? Is that safe?” to “I wouldn’t have a baby in a hospital if you paid me.” I wanted to be able to provide care to women who wanted to have safe, gentle births without unnecessary intervention and added risk. Doula work allows me to support women and advocate for them, but ultimately the birth will largely be influenced by their care provider, be it a doctor or midwife.
The next fork in the road came when the midwife I was working with moved away. Teaching Yoga and being a doula does not always provide stable income, so I took another job that didn’t allow me to be “on call” and my doula work got pushed aside for a while. In 2011 I got married to a kind, supportive, and generous man. He wanted me to pursue my calling. He is a soldier and we were stationed in Korea for the first two years of our marriage. Unable to work as a foreigner, I enrolled in a distance midwifery program. Last year, 2014, he deployed. I used the opportunity to do a full time apprenticeship with a Certified Professional Midwife in Kentucky. I gained tons of valuable experience and went to many amazing births. But being a full time apprentice, on call 24/7, with a deployed husband can be a little stressful. My self-care fell to the wayside.
Now my husband is back and stationed at Fort Hood. I have more time to focus on self-care and pursue other professional opportunities. One of these is becoming certified in teaching Prenatal Yoga. This is the perfect combination of my passions. I found a great program at The Yoga Room in Round Rock and graduated from their Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training in August 2015. I am also working on becoming a childbirth educator, and getting back into doula work.
I’m excited about being able to put all my passions together and hope to soon be offering Prenatal Yoga classes, Childbirth Preparation classes, as well as my Doula services. All the while I’m still plugging away at my midwifery curriculum and when the time is right will enter another apprenticeship.