Monday, August 30, 2010

Late Announcement

I failed to post on my blog that I bit the bullet and enrolled in midwifery school. If you've been following my Facebook page, this is old news. I just haven't gotten around to telling my blog readers about it.

After my first child was born, I got fascinated by learning about childbirth. I learned that while the physiological process is pretty simple, the cultural process of pregnancy and birth for a woman is much more complicated. Being a birth junkie became a hobby and my blog here was its product. If you are a regular reader here you know the process I've gone through. If you are a new reader, it doesn't take long to get an idea.

There came a certain point where I knew that my knowledge about birth had hit a plateau. In preparing for my second child's birth, my husband and I basically took a childbirth education class that was more like a crash course in emergency midwifery skills taught privately by our midwife's assistant. After my daughter was born, my midwife told me that if I ever wanted to attend a birth with her all I needed to do was ask.

I felt uncomfortable with that offer, though appreciative and excited at the same time. I didn't feel right inviting myself into a woman's labor because I had a compulsion to see birth as a witness rather than the subject. Attending a birth in that way would give me no official standing, no reason to be there other than voyeur. I would not welcome a person into my birthing space for that reason, I wasn't about to enter someone else's.

Perhaps though, it was my midwife's attempt to lead me into an apprenticeship. Now that I'm a midwifery student, I feel I have that official standing and the desire to become an apprentice formally. I'm hoping in the near future that I'll take her up on the offer and be available for prenatal visits as well.

Details, you ask?

I've enrolled in Ancient Arts Midwifery Institute in their Advanced Midwifery Studies certificate program. The school is owned and operated by Carla Hartley, founder of the Trust Birth Initiative and force behind the Trust Birth Conference. Its a 42 month program and an apprenticeship is not required during that time. Just in time for Christmas 2013, I will need to be done with the coursework.

The program started out as the Midwifery Homestudy Course which means that then, and now, its an independent study, apprentice based program where students get their book learning through completing the coursework and get their practical experience through apprenticeship and in person skills labs offered periodically.

Its perfect for me because I am dedicated to staying home and caring for my young children. I'm also dedicated to my sanity and developing my skills and talents. This course provides me with the balance to be anxiously engaged in a good cause though learning by study as well as being present with my children and their primary care provider. If I was able to complete a master's degree with the support of my husband while gestating two babies, I can do this program with his support as well.

I had been contemplating enrolling for awhile because I recognized the value of the education. Its very affordable in comparison to all on-campus midwifery programs. I also endorse the philosophy of practice and share the believes that birth belongs to mothers, not midwives or doctors or even the dominant culture. Earlier this summer, Carla was offering discounts to people in various places to enroll and I jumped at it. I later learned that she uses this trick to get potential students to take the step to enrollment. Clever and I'm glad she did it.

Part of the decision to enroll came because I had applied to PhD programs at the University of Washington to start this fall but I did not get in. I felt strongly that I needed some form of continued education and learning so when that didn't pan out, I saw the wisdom in becoming trained as a midwife as it would serve me in my academic career later. I think it might also help me get accepted into a PhD program in the future as well. I'm not disappointed that I'm not able to pursue a PhD at this time and I'm excited to immerse myself in birth at a new level.

My goals in becoming a midwife are not to own and operate a busy independent midwifery service. I'm not interested in maintaining a business. I'm more interested in the research, public policy and advocacy that will help midwifery become a more recognized and respected profession and provide a warning voice on the pitfalls of licensure and regulation. My birth experiences will continue to greatly inform my ideas as a birth advocate and I pray that I will never forget the primary need for the woman to consent and be the ultimate decision maker for her births. Please correct me if you ever suspect that I'm drifting from that position.

That's my hope for my future involvement in birth. To have the knowledge of a midwife which will inform academic research. When the time comes for me to apply to PhD programs again, I'll be looking at public health, women's studies, human development and public policy. Until then I'll be learning, serving as a midwifery assistant in a limited capacity and loving and enjoying my children.

I already had the chance to participate in the Basic Midwifery Skills Lab. These labs are taught a few times throughout the year in various locations across the country. In July, one was being held an hour from my home so I jumped at the chance to attend. In the lab, we were taught about the basics of midwifery practice as well as the hands-on skills of giving injections, starting IVs, suturing, inserting catheters, palpating fetuses, listening with fetoscopes, assessing blood pressure. The highlight, perhaps, was my introduction to the Vagina in a Box. I later learned that the midwifery and nursing students at the University of Washington wished that the nursing school would invest in this teaching aid. That was an indication to me that I'll be getting a better education than CNMs at one of the nation's top universities.

I met some amazing women at the SkillsLab. i even won a half price discount to the 2012 Trust Birth Conference. I've become friends with one of the women who lives just a couple of hours away from me. Together, we are planning to attend the Advanced Skill Lab being held in Oregon next year as well as rooming together at the conference.

If you've got any questions about the AAMI program, let me know, or if there's anything I left out or you want to know more about.


Corktree said...

I must have picked up on something you said in another post, funny.

The program you're in sounds ideal for managing a family at the same time. I'm in Idaho, and unfortunately there is practically zero in the form of options for my education here. Oregon is one of the places that we're considering moving to if we can ever get out of our house here, and there seems to be many more options out there and up north closer to you. I hope you'll post updates on your educational experience.

I, too, want to advocate for better maternity care through midwives, and I also want to see more of the emergency tools placed in the hands of those that actually need to use them, and not exclusively left to physicians. My hope is for a future where the care of mothers and children is placed back where it belongs, along with some of the life saving advances in medicine. I think it's great that you will be using your education to advocate as well.

Plus, as much as I know I'm done with having children, I'm sad to be done with the experience of labor and birthing. So I'm excited at the thought of supporting other women through the process. So few have the confidence to do it as you were able to. I read your birth story. Amazing.

Corktree said...

Sorry for all the commenting, but I just read your first birth experience, and it's scary how similar my labor experience with my third was! Midwives in hospitals are really no better than doctors. Wow...birth rape really does describe it. I'm glad you had such an amazing experience with your second to help heal from that.

Rixa said...

I'm interested in hearing lots of details about AAMI, once you get going with it. Every so often I think it would be really fun to study midwifery (well, I've studied it a lot, but not necessarily as a midwifery student).

Jenne said...

Rixa, I would think that AAMI would be a good way to continuing learning about birth and midwifery even if you never intend to practice as a midwife. I admit that is a large part of my reasoning in doing it. I think that for an individual considering it the important thing to think about is the time commitment and need to work to deadlines.

The suggested time to put in each week is 10 hours. I've just started phase 3. Phase 1 was introduction to the program, and introducing myself to the instructors. Phase 2 was some assignments to get started and to get a sense of what the assignments and submission guidelines are. Phase 3 is starting to write reviews, summaries and reporting on required reading. I think you'll find that you are already very familiar with many of the required reading texts as well as the web resources.

I wish that I had read Holistic Midwifery before enrolling. Do you have a copy of those volumes or have you read them? Its like a complete midwifery course in two books.

There are built in deadlines to give some structure, which is helpful because otherwise it would be easy to put it off. I'm a member of a study group where each friday we are required to check in and report what we have been working on.

Let me know if you have other questions. I'm off to write a quiz!

Rachael said...

That is great news, congrats. I started becoming much more interested in childbirth after my first (born in a hospital, epidural etc). I had my 2nd at home (unexpectedly, but was planning a natural birth). I have considered becoming a midwife after my kids are both in school.