University of Texas School of Nursing – graduated in 1994 with BSN
University of Cincinnati – graduated in 2013 with MSN, Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner
When I started nursing school at the University of Texas in 1990, I had no idea what a midwife was. Since then, I’ve been told that one of my favorite childhood books, Jacob Have I Loved, had a midwife in it. I must have known on some level what midwives were about, but I did not know the true meaning of midwife, “with woman”, until much later. I “discovered” midwifery my 3rd year at UT and have not looked back. I spent my last year in nursing school observing prenatal appointments once a week with a local Austin midwife and as soon as I graduated from nursing school in May of 1994, I started apprenticing with her practice. I apprenticed for three years, 1994 to 1997, with three different midwives. During this time I also worked as a home health nurse visiting moms and babies during their postpartum weeks and as a staff nurse in a City of Austin Women’s Health clinic.
In May 1998, within a week of each other, I received my Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) certification in the mail and gave birth to my son Jonah. Jonah’s birth, although empowering in its own way, was very challenging for me. He was supposed to be born at home, but due to several inconveniences in my labor, such as ruptured membranes with no labor and his little head not perfectly presenting, we transferred to the hospital. After many hours and many interventions, Jonah was finally born by c/section. I was both devastated by the labor and birth method, and filled with joy and in love with my new baby! It was confusing having so many different feelings at once. I engulfed myself in motherhood and put my CPM certification in the desk drawer.
Three years later, I was delightedly pregnant again. This time I was even more determined to have my baby at home. I spent much of my second pregnancy in self-reflection, counseling, and emotional ups and downs. Laurel’s labor, in November of 2001, was quite different. In fact, I denied I was in labor for the first 3-4 hours as I sat on the toilet in the middle of the night thinking, “What is wrong with me?” and, “Why do I feel so weird?” I finally occurred to me that my baby was coming. My labor with her was fairly short, but I pushed for a number of hours. It was so hard! I will never be able to fully explain the amazement and glorified happiness I felt when she came out! I am sure many mothers can relate to this indescribable feeling. I now was completely involved in parenting not one, but two children.
In the spring of 2002, a friend asked me to help her have her baby, and then another friend asked me to do the same, and then someone I didn’t know asked me, and then another, and suddenly I had started my own little midwifery practice. Since 2002, I have been honored and humbled to help many families welcome their little ones into the world. I have helped women from many different communities, on their own or with large families around them, having their first babies or planning vaginal birth after caesarean, even a couple twin births! My experience has allowed me to change my practice style into what I truly believe being “with woman” is all about. I think part of being a midwife is not only helping women and families birth their babies, but also continuing to educate one’s self and being involved in the development of the profession. I enrolled in a women’s health nurse practitioner program in the fall of 2008 and graduated with a Masters Degree in Nursing specializing in women’s health in December 2013. This further education, certification and licensing allows me to expand my practice to include a full spectrum of holistic women’s health care, helping women from the teen years through menopause. I have also become certified in The Arvigo Technique of Maya Abdominal Massage, which greatly enhances prenatal and birth care.
In regards to professional development, I became involved with the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA), the professional organization for all midwives in the US, in 2003 as a committee member. In April of 2009, I became the 2nd Vice President on the MANA board, responsible for the annual conferences; I served in this capacity until October, 2013. Since then I have become more involved with midwifery at the national and international level, working towards national midwifery legislation by serving on the steering committee of the Midwives and Mothers in Action Campaign (2010-2012) and on the scientific program committee for the International Confederation of Midwives Triennial Congress in June 2014. I am also involved in an advisory capacity with Texans for Midwifery and Mamas of Color Rising Mama Sana Clinic.
I live with my partner and my two children, Jonah and Laurel, on a small farmette in southwest Austin. We have chickens, goats, and a llama, who respectively provide eggs, milk and cheese, and lovely wool for spinning. I like to read, listen to live music, knit, spin and sew, and walk or run with our dogs.
I believe birth is a natural, miraculous life event. A woman’s body deserves much respect for the amazing changes it goes through in order to carry, nourish, birth, and care for a baby. In addition to the physical changes that occur, I believe that pregnancy and birth can be a great emotional and spiritual growth opportunity, and I see it as my duty as a midwife to assist this process as best I can. Therefore, I support the mother’s body and the baby to do the work that must be done to grow, give birth and be birthed; I intercede only when difficulties arise. There are many aides to help assist pregnancy and birth to be a wonderful experience, and I try to provide these to my clients.
I believe a baby is one of the most precious gifts we are given in life, and there is little else sweeter than holding and nursing a newborn. Over the years I have gained much experience helping mothers give birth and families care for their babies. I enjoy sharing this knowledge and guidance with families; however, I do believe each person should have the opportunity to explore what birth and parenting styles fits best with their belief system. These may be different than expected before and after the birth and during the parenting journey, as nothing stimulates, pushes, or guides us like our children.
It is of utmost importance to me that each woman is fully informed about all aspects of her care as she is the only one who can truly make educated, personal choices regarding her own health and that of her child. I am comfortable supporting women in choices they make, even if they occasionally fall outside of the medical model of care.
Many of the modalities I use in the role of nurse practitioner are holistic and alternative therapies that support a woman’s healing process. I believe it is important to work in partnership with my clients to create a plan of care that is empowering, yet realistic and practical, to their healing process whether the condition is acute or chronic.
As a midwife and nurse practitioner committed to the care and well-being of women and children, I am here for you.