Born in the cold north of Minnesota and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, I am the youngest of three girls. My upbringing fostered in me a beautiful sense of awe and adventure which grew into a fierce independence and drive to explore the sides of life my limited culture spoke little of. These gifts began to matured into a sense of direction through activism and service, but it wasn’t until I finally said “no” to what I knew wasn’t 100% right for me that I was even open to the vastly different paradigm of midwifery.
I had considered many mainstream careers that would serve my personal interests or my more selfless intrigues, but it was clear that none truly called to my heart. A classic first generation millennial, I was stubbornly unsatisfied with the idea of lifelong servitude without gratification, so gave up on traditional career paths and resolved to struggle with my critics. However, like all the greatest changes in my life, when my heart was open, the way forward was presented. With resistance down, the words of a wise friend, also childbirth educator, lactation consultant, home birth mom, mentor, came out and sank deep into my mind to grab a hold of my latent midwest work ethic and finally put it to work.
I finally understood my belief in good nutrition, healthy living with an active lifestyle, and preventative medicine combined with herbal cures as more than just a good way for me to live. I saw these ingredients as the best foundation for all life to spring from. After reading Birth Without Violence by Frederick LeBoyer and Immaculate Deception by Suzanne Arms, I was excited to experience the world of birth in its most natural form and willing to stand up against the pillars of modernity that guarded doctors and capitalism instead of our mothers and babies. I was truly on fire for the cause.
Within weeks, I was invited to attend births with my first midwife mentor. My first birth experience was idyllic. The imprint it left of what birth is meant to be like will forever be – a woman and her partner, at home, surrounded by all the loving family a woman desires and her midwife team. I felt like a spectator at the creation of the world; useless, but invigorated with joy. And yet, the mother thanked me for my presence and support. I knew then that I was born to be a midwife.
Since then, my dream has been fulfilled to serve individual families through a private home birth practice. I also love to both work and learn internationally from women and midwives of other cultures. Providing emergency birth support is a goal of mine, eventually. Most of all, I look forward to and am more excited than I have ever been to experience the joy of birth first hand, when it is my turn to become a mother.
I am a proud supporter of midwifery organizations such as:
Birth is a natural process which is partly scientific and wholly spiritual. My understanding of how birth works has matured in response to the combination of simple observation, clinical studies, and advances in scientific technologies. Although safety is of the utmost importance in every birth experience and science has helped reduce morbidity and mortality, I believe the greatest assets in birth are faith, hope, love, and the more traditional skills of a midwife. Many precious mysteries around birth are meant to entice revelry in our hearts and feed our faith, but may not necessarily intended to be fully understood intellectually. If, as humans, we could grow more comfortable not fully understanding the details of birth but rather learn to trust it inherently as the miracle it has always been, we would gain an elevated perspective on some imperative life lessons, much needed for a more peaceful world; lessons on our true capacity for hard work and change, the great worth of deep trust, unbiased respect and equal submission, the regenerative strength of disappointment and loss, the true joy of surprise, and ultimate providence and love. Experiencing this knowledge is what will lead us to claim childbirth as the uniquely human rite of passage that it is and to be transformed. We all carried this wisdom into the world with us at our births. I believe, cherishing those first moments of life may help us realize it again.
I entered the field in 2007 in Santa Cruz, California, and held my first apprenticeship with mentor, Veronica Wagner, CNM for three years. A deeply knowledgeable midwife of over 40 years experience, I was blessed to glean an immense amount of skill from her last years in practice. In that first year, I became a certified birth doula through both, DONA International and Heart and Hands with Elizabeth Davis, and began advocating for women as an independent birth and postpartum doula in addition to my midwifery apprenticeship.
My experience at Heart and Hands awoke a real appreciation for the sisterhood of midwifery and I was compelled to enrolled in the more extensive certification program at National Midwifery Institute (NMI) and embarked upon the curriculum in 2008. This step opened the door for me to many very unique, transformative experiences that have helped build my love for the process of birth, babies, women, and family systems of all kinds.
I truly became a midwife in the rural village of Mwanyangiri, Uganda, in Africa. Here I was privileged to attended my first births in the role of primary midwife. I volunteered in the village health center, a village hospital, and in the home clinic of a traditional birth attendant (TBA), Anna Ssengendo, observing and participating in birth in areas where modern health care is limited. When creative methods of management became necessary or the only answer to a difficult outcome was to pray, the support and respect that every mother, father, and more experienced birth worker showed me, as a student midwife, established a unique confidence that I was both small and helpless, yet possessing the great responsibility to impact lasting change. I hope that I gave as much dignity to the families I encountered as I left with.
Upon returning to California, I began another home birth apprenticeship and within the year was blessed with the opportunity to work in a birth center in Wasilla, Alaska. At Matsu-Midwifery Birth Center I worked under Judi Davidson, DEM and her amazing team of midwives and staff. As “primary midwife under supervision”, my skills were tested and I grew as a midwife with constant feedback and accountability in an extremely inclusive community. With a higher volume of births in both the home and birth center atmosphere, I was challenged by a new pace, developed deeper relationships with my clients, and learned new skills, including IV administration and suturing. By the end of my stay, my hands on requirements through NMI were complete and I was ready for the licensing exam.
I sat for the NARM (National Association of Registered Midwives) exam in February of 2011 to obtain my CPM qualification.
In May of 2011, I received licensure (LM) by the state of California.
Natural Family Midwifery was founded in June, 2011 and I have been attending home births in California ever since.
I loved the family and support of the community at MSM so much I returned to work again in 2012 and hope my path will take me back again one day.
In my training and throughout my career I have been privileged to work with many amazingly skilled midwives in the Santa Cruz and Bay Area, and learned so much from each one of them.
Above all, I am thankful to God for this calling, directing my life, and the gift to truly live free because of his son, Jesus. I have deep gratitude for many people who have helped me along the midwifery journey; Heidi Thomas, who introduced me to natural birth, my family and friends who understand my calling is sacred, Veronica Wagner, for training me as a midwife, Judi and Harry Davidson, for mentoring me for life as a midwife and just plain life, Esther and my Ugandan family for adopting me and honoring me far beyond what I deserve. In addition, I have tremendous gratitude for all of my sister midwives, especially Lisa Showalter, who shepherded me from the beginning and Shannon Purpuri, for encouraging me daily when I struggle. Most importantly, I must thank all of the amazing women, babes, and families I have loved along the way. The invaluable lessons I have learned from every one of you and the bond we share have made me whole. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me be transformed!