Since we opened in 2017, we’ve been so blessed with community support. Many of you have tracked with us as we launched and then welcomed more and more babies into the world. We are growing in another way as well: we’re raising up our own professional staff from within. One of the goals is to add more midwives in the future. One way to meet that goal is for me to become a midwife! I’ve been working on it for about a year and am loving who I am becoming. I’ll tell you more as soon as I fill you in on some basics.
Two Kinds of Midwives
Texas law permits three professionals to catch babies: Doctors, Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM) and Certified Professional Midwives (CPM). Lenora is a CNM and an Advanced Nurse Practitioner. I will be a CPM once I finish training. CPMs have a slightly smaller scope and tend to focus a little more on the holistic and “crunchy” side of pregnancy, birth and postpartum. They are trained exclusively in normal, low risk, out of hospital birth.
There are several paths to becoming a CPM but all start with academic and hands-on training and end with passing an intense test called the NARM (because it’s issued by the North American Registry of Midwives). For my academic portion, I’ve trained with Mercy in Action which has a module based self paced program (actually my program is being phased out, so I’ll be one of the last to complete it). I send my graded modules to Lenora and a mentoring midwife friend Carrie Brockriede for extra accountability.
For the hands on portion, future CPMs must find preceptors who are willing to teach and guide them in the two to five years it takes to complete the apprenticeship. While Lenora had around 2000 births behind her, she had to have ten out of the hospital births before she could be my preceptor. Thankfully another midwife in Denton, Mercy Eizenga, allowed me to get my feet wet in her practice while we waited. Finally the tenth birth happened in April of 2018 and within days of the notice that she was official, I was at Lenora’s side assisting her with prenatal visits and births.
It has been very challenging for me to drop the deeply ingrained scope of a doula. Doulas are not medical providers and I’ve worked hard to stay in my scope over the years. It’s fascinating but quite scary to see my own growth in this changing of scopes and gradual gaining of confidence.
As a student, I start out assisting the midwife with prenatal visits, births, newborn exams and postpartum visits. Then as I advance, I take over the care in those areas while she watches and assists if needed. By the end of the year, I should be ready to lead the care for a woman and her baby during the birth and I’m very excited (and even more nervous!). It’s been very surreal to realize that I am leading the care in the prenatal visits for the women for whom I may guide through their births.
The biggest challenge is that due to the intensity of training, I can’t take care of “my” families as their doula when they call with the news of a new pregnancy. I’ve taken care of over twenty German families over the years as a doula. They call me their hebamme, which means midwife in German, since they don’t have a word for doula there. Tonight I had to turn away a potential German client for the first time ever. I hope my families will come to the birth center where I can still be involved in their care and truly be their hebamme. Of course my heart skips a beat when a non-German family tells me they can’t wait for me to catch their baby (or help them do so!).
I’m simply honored to grateful for the midwives and families who are helping me grow.