My personal journey to midwifery began long before I had any knowledge of my vocation. Growing up in northwestern New Jersey in a family of eleven, it seemed that in my formative years my mother was always either pregnant or nursing (or both!). This must have fostered in me a general ease around pregnancy, birth, and motherhood.
In 1997, when birth was just about the furthest thing from my mind, a friend asked me to attend her homebirth. I agreed, unaware that the experience would help to reveal what I now believe is my calling. I was too busy with my life as a vagabond to imagine anything that could keep me in one place for too long!
The birth itself was phenomenal. Dawn labored for three days. I was very impressed by the midwives (I had never met one before!) but what impressed me most was Dawn. After days of labor, the time finally came for her to push. I remember her wanting me to remain very close and I remember her looking so wild...and so strong! I had never witnessed strength like that in her before - I was filled with awe. I was humbled. Witnessing Dawn, a first time mother, bond so effortlessly with her son in those first tender moments after birth was a revelation.
I did not walk away from the experience feeling "the call" - I walked away happy that there were midwives and excited that birth was such an extraordinary event. While I was certain that I hadn't witnessed a typical birth, I had no idea just how far from typical Dawn's birth was. In the weeks and months that followed, it seemed that birth was the topic of discussion everywhere that I went. Birth stories abounded! I heard a handful of ecstatic stories, but most of what I heard shocked and saddened me deeply. It did not take long before I realized that had Dawn birthed in a different setting, the most likely outcome (due to several nuances of her labor) would have been a cesarean. The thought occurred to me that the most powerful moment of Dawn's life would have literally been "cut" short. It was in this moment of realization that I first felt the call to become a midwife.
Because I was certain that it was homebirth that I wanted to attend, I chose to pursue training that focused on out-of-hospital birth. I discovered that the CPM credential was the only credential that required training and clinical experience in the homebirth setting. I found the perfect program for me at Birthwise Midwifery School and simultaneously apprenticed with a wonderful midwife. In early 2002, I became a CPM and began establishing a practice in my hometown area in northern New Jersey.
The years since that first homebirth that sparked my dedication to families have been busy...I have spent time volunteering labor support, childbirth education, and parenting classes to teenage "at risk" mothers. I have been a guest speaker for the women's studies students at Montclair University and was invited to speak to a progressive group of young women at the Omega Institute's Teen Camp. I am on the faculty for the distance training program through both Birthwise Midwifery School and National College of Midwifery. I regularly mentor apprentices associated with these programs.
The most profound experiences over the years, however, have been the births of my own children...Eden, a winter baby, born in our cozy bedroom and Addison, a summer baby, born in the spacious tipi erected in our gardens. Their births and their lives mirror to me each day the reasons for my deep and continuing dedication to this work.