As long as I know, I have been drawn into birth. As a young child, my Barbie’s had a constant stream of pregnancies because I was fascinated with pregnancy! When I was 12, I started baby sitting for family, and in that I ended up baby sitting a lot of babies, and found I loved everything involving pregnancy, birth, and babies.
I entered my high school years, I became interested in nursing. I read about masters programs, and was fascinated that there was a midwifery program, and that midwives still existed. I knew then that I would have to learn more about this before I had babies, and this began the process of midwifery becoming such a strong focus in my life.
I worked hard and got accepted into the nursing program mid year of my senior year of high school. However, I became so scared about the concept of having to draw blood, that I dropped out of the program before I ever started. It is so silly to think now, but that was the reality then. I often wonder what things would have looked like if I had continued the path then, but I truly believe the journey wasn’t meant to begin yet, and things would look so different today if I had continued in my nursing journey path.
While in college, I volunteered at a pregnancy resource center, which aligned with my continual love of everything with pregnancy and babies! I also was very involved with baby sitting for friends from church with young children, including being the baby sitter for one of my friends when she delivered her fourth.
Before I was married, I started to hear about this elusive, under ground home birth environment. I am from Missouri, where home birth and midwifery were illegal when I was this age. A friend had one of her children at home, and it was this very secretive process to even get a midwife’s phone number. You had to jump through a number of hurdles to qualify for this process. I was quite intrigued, and would remember this for years to come!
My husband and I married in 2005. After a stent working in youth ministry out of state, we took a position as house parents at a maternity home for teens who were being pressured into an abortion and/or kicked out of there homes. Our time there was insightful. Two things came from that season. One, I started my journey to become a doula in 2007 after supporting many teen mamas through their journey. The second was there was no way on earth I was having a baby in the hospital!
I had my first baby several weeks early at a birthing center in 2008. Although as a midwife now, I know he should have never been born out of hospital, I am so grateful for that journey. I had a difficult pregnancy (although does not compare to my last pregnancy by any means) of nausea and crippling fatigue (that I discovered postpartum was an undiagnosed thyroid condition), followed by preterm labor and ultimately a late preterm delivery. My birth was seamless and without complication. It was empowering. After I had my water birth, I knew I had to be a midwife.
My husband was not on board unfortunately. We had some other things going on life, and he did not feel it was the right season. I started my doula business, and read and researched continuously on all things birth!
My second baby followed two years later, another hard pregnancy, with weeks more of preterm labor, followed by a barely term delivery at 37 weeks at the birth center again. His birth really solidified things for me. I talked with my husband, and he said he would support me if I began the journey.
To be in this sacred line of work, it has to be a calling. I talk and work with so many women who want to be doulas or midwives and so fully infatuated with birth, but then the first couple of births come, and they realize its hard. You have to miss holidays and birthday parties. You have to back out on obligations. You may pour all your strength into a marathon birth, and get called that the next mama needs you. You will miss a lot of sleep. Some births pour from one day into the next. Sometimes you may go 40+ hours without sleep. Sometimes you give 150% of yourself to your clients, and they are still unhappy. Birth work is not an easy work, but it is a calling you can not run from. It is beautiful, sacred, powerful, miraculous. It’s looking into a laboring mom’s eyes reminding her the power is within her when the war of transition rages on inside of her. It’s the joy and empowerment that comes when a woman births her baby on her terms. Midwifery is so much beyond words, and when truly called, the calling chases you. It is a calling that is deep within, Christ ordained, and cannot be run from. This is how you know you are called to this work.
– Midwife Shannon