Reflections on Being a Home Birth Midwife

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It’s been about 1 year and 10 months since I was licensed as a home birth midwife. I am finally settling into a rhythm of providing midwifery care and managing my small independent practice. I am finally recovering physically and emotionally from a busy three-year apprenticeship. And I recently asked myself why am I doing this? I have enjoyed each family that has trusted me with one the most precious times in their lives. I have felt accomplished in finally becoming a midwife. I have loved contributing financially to our family. I have felt proud to be self-employed. But why have I chosen a profession that gives me sleep deprivation? Why have I chosen a profession where my phone is a vital appendage to my body? Why have I chosen a professions that upends and puts on hold my personal life for an undetermined amount of time at a moments notice to answer frantic calls from clients or go to a birth? Why have I chosen a profession that is mostly not accepted by the community at large and medical colleagues as valid or safe? Why have I chosen a profession that brings on the tremendous stress of monitoring a person and fetus, then a newborn and postpartum person for health and well-being? Why have I chosen a profession where my connection with my clients is so deep and forever, yet I can only sustainably hold them and stay close for about a year? Did I mention the tremendous emotional and physical stress midwifery brings?

This is why…

Yesterday, I attended the birth of a client. There was a moment about 2 minutes after her baby was born that she looked at her baby and cried. She cried, because her labor was so hard. She cried, because she was in awe that she was finally holding her new baby. She cried, because she gave birth in water just like she wanted. She cried, because she was overwhelmed with love for this new being. She cried because she was so immensely happy.

This is why I am a home birth midwife.

I tear up just thinking about her face at that exact moment. Imagine the love her baby was feeling at that moment. Imagine the love the mom was feeling at that moment. It was perfect. Today, I feel immense gratitude that I get to help people and babies feel this moment. And this moment may not come right at birth. This moment may be prenatally when the pregnant person hears their baby’s heartbeat for the first time. This moment may be in labor when the pregnant person realizes their birth is not going to look like what they imagined but know they will be loved and supported throughout. This moment may be during the postpartum period when they feel empowered to parent an infant. It doesn’t matter when it happens, but it happens…each and every time, with each and every client.

This is why I am a home birth midwife.

Attracting Perfect Clients

I am so grateful for this transition time from being an apprentice midwife to having my solo home birth midwifery practice. It has been a time of deep reflection and clear intention.

I picked up a book a couple years ago...Attracting Perfect Customers: The Power of Strategic Synchronicity by Stacey Hall & Jan Brogniez. What a great book to visit while building my new practice, right? I love the idea of attracting perfect clients! Every client I have had has been perfect for me in their own unique way (even the not-so-perfect ones!). I have learned something from every pregnancy, birth and postpartum time. It is one of the aspects I love most about midwifery...the women, the babies, the relationships. I am honored each time a family hires me to be a participant during one of the most precious times in their lives. I honor my role, whatever that may look like. So, the idea of starting off my new practice by attracting more perfect clients sounds, well...perfect!

One of the exercises this book encourages is listing out all of the traits of a perfect client. The idea is to revisit this list daily to attract these type of clients to you. I found that all of these traits are qualities that I admire in someone, and in order to attract these type of clients to me, I must possess them myself. So, not only has this book helped me have a clear intention on the type of women I would like to work with, it has also helped me reflect on which qualities I need to work on myself. I have written all of these down and posted them where I can see them daily. And now to post them to the world...

healthy     spiritual     calm     open     self-aware     loving     grateful
mothering     conscientious     natural     smart     well-supported     researcher     clean     honest     good communicator     funny
able to manage stress     happy     realistic     nice     giving
community-centered     active     respectful     strong in mind & heart
intuitive     accountable     responsible     decisive     collaborative

Awesome, right? This list grows each day as I interact with different people and notice more positive qualities in each of them.

Another exercise from this book is to list what I choose for my perfect clients to expect from me...

  • provide clear choices and information

  • monitor health & well-being of mother and baby from pregnancy through 6 weeks postpartum

  • be honest

  • be organized

  • be prepared

  • answer emails & calls in a timely manner during office hours

  • be on call 24/7 two weeks before due date

  • provide most up-to-date safe evidences based practices

  • collaborate with other midwives

  • respect the mother's decision for herself & her baby

  • listen, support & validate

  • be nonjudgemental 

  • be loving

  • be emotionally & physically healthy

  • support family members

  • charge a fair fee

  • keep licenses current

  • be stable, trustworthy & decisive

  • provide excellent back up & assistant midwives

  • be reliable

Again, this list continues to grow as I practice and continue to build my client community. The book goes on to give 21 daily tips to build long and satisfying relationships with all of your clients. Being a midwife, the relationships I share with my clients is one of the most important aspects of my work. A long and satisfying relationship is essential in keeping midwifery safe and effective, so hopefully these activities and tips will strengthen my relationships and continue to attract the perfect clients to me!

Photo by  Kayla Gonzales

How I Got Here

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I have been thinking about what my first blog should be, and it finally occurred to me...ME! Why don't I start off this new blog with a snapshot of how I got to be a home birth midwife in Austin, TX? This way, you will get to know me and where I am coming from.

So, it all started here...

April 9, 1974 in Flagstaff, Arizona...my mom searched out a doctor that would allow her to give birth to me naturally after being put completely asleep with my brother 4 years earlier. My mom has always told the story how happy she was to see me immediately after my birth.

The years went on...we moved to Austin when I was three and then to Marble Falls when I was 11. My mom is a Registered Nurse, and throughout high school she ran a clinic in Llano providing prenatal care to Medicaid women.

I swore I would NEVER become a nurse like her, so I went to Texas State University (then, Southwest Texas State University) to study Physical Therapy, then Engineering, and eventually earned a degree in Anthropology with minors in Spanish and Mathematics in 1997.

Midwife with baby in Austin

Soon after, I met the love of my life and got pregnant. There was no doubt in my mind that I would have a home birth with Ann Dignan, CNM. Being due on Y2K, January 1, 2000, we took extra precautions to have our baby at my parents' house where there was a generator and well water just in case the world as we knew it came to an end. So as New Year's Eve came and went without a single computer getting confused by the date, we went back to our home in Austin to welcome our son, Samuel, into this world. It was such a powerful and empowering experience. My life was forever changed, and my soul knew that midwifery would be part of my future.

After a move to Baltimore, I got pregnant again and searched out a new home birth midwife. In 2001, home birth was illegal in Maryland, so it took a bit of work to find Kathy Slone, CNM. Our daughter's birth ended up in the hospital at the very last minute (everything ended up being just fine) which was just perfect, and my love for midwifery care and home birth intensified.

Six years later and back in the Austin area, I started training to be a doula. I was all of a sudden supporting lots of women giving birth, mainly in the hospital (here is the link to my old doula blog with lots of great articles...Beautiful Births). In 2010, I ran into a home birth midwife in the hospital, and we quickly became good friends. It felt natural to start apprenticing with her to become a midwife's assistant. After a year, I started to feel the strain of the midwifery lifestyle with small children, so I decided to take a break from apprenticing and continue my doula work. In 2013, after a quick thought to start apprenticing again and a simple text to a friend, I got the opportunity to train under Julia Bower, CNM and Honeydue Homebirth. When my mom passed on her blood pressure cuff and stethoscope to me, I immediately felt this sigh of relief...this is what I was supposed to do all along...be a nurse like her (well, sort of).

Midwife with her own baby

After three years with Honeydue Homebirth, 100 births (194 including doula work), lots of hard work, studying and good times, I became a Certified Professional Midwife and Licensed Midwife in the state of Texas in June of 2016. Which brings me to this first blog post!

Now that I am a home birth midwife, my passion to assist women, their babies and families experience a gentle home birth is realized. I LOVE to empower women to follow their hearts and intuitions in making the best decisions for themselves and their babies during pregnancy, birth and postpartum.

My vision for this blog is to pass on lots of interesting information to you related to home birth. I love new research on evidenced based midwifery practices, so I will share what I come across, as well as, sharing local resources for Austin area families.

So that's me in a nutshell! Thank you for joining me on the next chapter of my life!

Love,
Erica

This was my last birth as an apprentice with Julia Bower, CNM. So bittersweet! I tear up every time I look at it!

This was my last birth as an apprentice with Julia Bower, CNM. So bittersweet! I tear up every time I look at it!