Giving birth was by far the coolest thing I had ever done. Even though the birth didn’t go as I had hoped and I required medical interventions that I had not planned on needing, it was an amazing experience. Then I had ANOTHER baby 2½ years later. Again, it did not go as I had planned, but it was seriously the coolest thing I had ever done! My husband was my sole support and the experience of birthing and parenting together deepened our commitment to each other and at the same time stressed our partnership in ways we could never have dreamed.
I went back to work and was enjoying parenting my two lovely babies but I just couldn’t shake the birth bug. I wanted to talk about it, read about it, heck if I could have bathed in it I probably would have! Finally, I had to do something about it. In the summer of 1999 I took a sabbatical from my position as an associate veterinarian in a local practice and took the childbirth educator training through CEAS (Childbirth Education Association of Seattle….now Great Starts)and the Labor Support Training through Seattle Midwifery School (now the Simkin Center for Allied Birth Professions at Bastyr University). I accepted a position at Evergreen Hospital teaching childbirth and early parenting classes and began attending births as a labor support doula.
Now, 12 years later, I have taught hundreds of hours of childbirth preparation classes and thousands of hours of early parenting classes. I also facilitate a support group for families struggling with post partum adjustment and mood disorder and teach the Bringing Baby Home Workshop (based on the research of John and Julie Gottman about how to smooth the couples’ transition to parenthood). In addition, I have had the privilege to attend nearly 350 births in local hospitals, birth centers and homes. This work is my heart. It is how I make a difference in the world, one family and one life at a time. The only thing in my life that has rivaled the satisfaction and joy I experience as a doula and an educator is the satisfaction and joy I get from parenting my own fabulous kids. I can’t imagine doing anything else.
As far back as I can remember, science, especially biology and physiology, have fascinated me. When I was 12 years old I decided I would channel that passion into becoming a veterinarian. With a single-minded focus, I pursued that goal and after I completed vet school, I went on to complete an internship and residency in small animal internal medicine. I really loved my work and thought I would practice for my entire career. Then I had a baby and my life changed.
I grew up in England, where birth is seen as a normal part of life rather than the medical event it is usually portrayed as in the United States. Midwives attend most deliveries, and homebirth is actively encouraged by the government.
I moved to the United States with my husband in 1989 to work in the software industry, and was pregnant within 3 months. I have given birth four times since then: twice at Group Health Eastside with the lovely midwives who worked there, once with the fabulous midwives at the Puget Sound Birth Center, and once in my tub at home, attended by Heike Doyle and Valerie Sasson. Each experience was unique and each fundamentally changed me.
After several years, I realized I was getting little fulfillment from working with computers, so I changed tack. In 2003, I apprenticed as a midwife at Puget Sound Birth Center. I was privileged to attend 50 deliveries during that exhilarating and exhausting year. I came to realize that when the team of midwives, childbirth educators, partners, and doulas provides the empowerment and confidence ahead of time to offset the negative messages around birth in our culture, most women can and do birth entirely with their own strength and innate birth wisdom.
So why did I not complete my midwifery training? Because a midwife's lifestyle is very difficult for her family. My husband and four young children found it hard to adjust to my being gone from the moment the pager beeped until the baby was safely born, which was anywhere from 4 hours to 64 hours! So I put my training on hold, intending to finish it later. But in the meantime, teaching childbirth classes has been a great opportunity to share my confidence and enthusiasm for birth with expectant parents, and I've since become one of the owners of Puget Sound Birth Center, which is fulfilling in a whole different way.
Although I am very done having babies myself, I envy you the experience of birth that lies ahead.