Halfway Mark!

This is the halfway mark!! Today marks exactly TWO years since I began my journey with Midwives College of Utah (MCU). When I considered becoming a midwife, I was a bit unsure of which school to attend. Could I really do long distance learning? Would it be structured enough for me? Would I be able to be committed? Would I be smart enough? So many questions, and no way to figure it out unless I tried it out.

Thankfully, MCU  has a continuing education program. Students can enroll in a few classes, without any on-going obligation. Entering the continuing education program was my way of testing the waters before fully committing to distance learning. After the first semester, I was hooked! I took a second continuing education semester, and applied to become an enrolled student. In Aug of 2015, I became an official enrolled student.  However, my academic journey began earlier that year in Jan 2015 with the continuing education classes.

Today, I reflect on how frightened I was to go full force, still unsure of my calling. Unsure if I was fit for long distance learning as a student over 40 years of age. Still praying about moving forward and wondering if this was God’s will for my life. Wondering if I could hold it together while still raising five children, with six still living at home, and cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, school runs, teaching P.E., helping my children with their homework, helping my husband with his business, continuing to be a doula, church activities, volunteering at church, yearly youth camp (week long) trips, periodic youth trips, my daughters school competition trip and then comes the preceptorship. What’s more, attending MCU is year round with a three week break between semesters to rest before the next semester begins. Their academic year is divided into trimesters: three-15 week trimesters with three week breaks. Thankfully, I have been able to continue the forward momentum.

This journey cannot be forged, though, without the support of many people. With the support of my husband, my daughters, my son and his finance who sometimes pick up the slack and will drive my school-aged children to school or pick them up after school if I’m at a birth, MCU students who have cheered me on and have been my study buddies and a listening ear, and my MCU house mother whom I can text or call anytime I need help, I am able to continue on this journey to becoming a midwife!!

Here is a small window into the support from my children:

testing-chair-watermarked
When I am taking an exam with an online proctor, there cannot be any interruptions. For this particular exam, I told all the children that they could not come in the room while I was taking the exam. When I was done with the exam, I found this chair they had put in front of the door to block entrance into the room. One of them wrote this note: Don’t go in. Mom is taking a test.

Completion of the didactic work should be somewhere at the end of Dec. 2018 (almost exactly two years from today). It does seem unreal to be two years into this work, it will be equally           unreal when it’s all completed!!

Why?

Oh, such a loaded, small, three-letter question…There is no other way to answer this question, than to simply submit to you the essay I wrote when I applied to Midwives College of Utah (MCU). It has been edited to shorten it for readers and to update some information.

“I believe midwifery is the gateway to a healthy baby but more particularly to a healthy birth. While a mother can definitely have a healthy baby in-hospital, she will have a higher chance of having a satisfying, healthy birth outcome at home. This leads me to have three main reasons why I am passionate about midwifery: I have had five home births with a midwife. I have been a doula at home births and hospital births. Finally, there is no one serving the Latina, Spanish-only speaking people in my community.

My midwifery path began with the birth of my own children. My first child was born via Cesarean surgery because she was in the breech presentation, and I was receiving care from an OB. My second child was a successful VBAC in-hospital, but was a highly managed birth. I was introduced to midwifery with my third pregnancy through an apprenticing midwife. That was the birth that changed my world, and led me into becoming a doula. I eventually had four more home births, for a total of five home births and three hospital births.

For my own birthing options, there is no other method of birth that can top having a home birth surrounded by a birth team of my choosing. My midwife soon became an independent midwife and asked me if I would like to attend births as a doula/assistant to the midwife. I was more than elated to participate as a doula/assistant. Although, I never provided any prenatal care, during births I attended births as an assistant to the midwife and a doula to the mother. I never caught a baby, but I was fortunate to have this opportunity for seven years, until the midwife moved out of town. I learned a lot about midwifery during this time, and it opened up my heart to a further understanding of the importance of midwifery and home birth options.

After the midwife with whom I was working, moved away, I became a hospital birth doula. This was a difficult transition. Witnessing the difference in care was astounding. The lack of personal one-on-one care from a main care provider was disheartening.

My desire was that all women who could and wanted, should have access to midwifery care. Yet, I still did not know that I had the capacity to become a midwife, because my own children were very young. I knew that I could not possibly take on the responsibility of being a midwife and being a mother to young children simultaneously. Additionally, I thought midwifery could not be something for me because I had no higher level education. I completely put it out of my mind, and continued serving women and families as a doula.

However, as the years progressed, I began to see a huge lack of diversity within the birth community in my city. I began to feel a sense of sadness knowing that very few women of color were being offered the MMC (Midwives Model of Care) or home birth options in my community. I did some research and found that women of color are underserved in the area of home birth options. It completely coincided with what I was seeing in my own city. I knew that no one in the Spanish-only speaking community was being served. I did not know what to do about this, or how to change this.

As my soul began to be burdened for the people of my Latino community, I became friends with a doula near my city who was studying to become a midwife. She has seven children, and was able to continue with midwifery schooling while parenting her children. Eventually, I began asking her questions about midwifery and how she handled going to college while being a mother and wife. She answered all my questions, encouraged me to look further into midwifery, and provided me with a bunch of links to read. This was the beginning of my calling into midwifery. Well, actually, this was the beginning of me finally listening and heeding to the calling.

With the help of my friend, she encouraged me to look into MCU for my midwifery education. MCU offers continuing education courses without the obligation of full enrollment. I decided to take four continuing education classes during the 2015 winter semester. It was a great method in helping me finalize and solidify my thoughts regarding the midwifery call. It was also a great way to help me see if distance education works for me. I thoroughly enjoyed the courses! My mind was blown away with all the new knowledge gained regarding health disparities women of color (WoC) face, maternal and infant morbidity and mortality rates among WoC, specifically African American women. Summer 2015, I took three additional continuing education courses through MCU to further my midwifery education. I learned that distance education, the structure of MCU, and the availability of the instructors works exceptionally well for my style of learning. These continuing education courses further assisted me in making my decision to pursue the midwifery profession.

After doing some further research, talking with my husband and children, seeking the Lord’s direction, and doing some soul-searching, I knew I had been called into midwifery! With all the knowledge I had learned in the last couple years, including winter semester, 2015, regarding health disparities in WoC, breastfeeding rates being lower for WoC, my children being older and more independent (not needing me for everything), my heart, soul, and mind moved into accepting this new role for my life.

It thrills me so much that I might be able to bring something to my large city that has never in the history of its existence had such a service from a Latina person. It is high time that my county, city and community had a Latina, Spanish speaking midwife providing the Midwives Model of Care to its Spanish-only speaking residents!

Ten years from now, I see myself as a midwife who has thrown the doors open wide for those who have never had the opportunity to have midwifery care due to a language barrier.I see my legacy being one of a woman who made home birth and midwifery accessible to a larger population of underserved and underrepresented people.”