(Left to Right) Martha, Wendy and Ashlyn
In our birth center, we are intentional and when we opened up, we purposefully chose the names of the birth suites. The favorite suite, thanks to the deep tub, is the Martha Suite. But who is this Martha, anyway?
Martha was one of the first professional doulas in Wichita Falls. Her husband, Lt. Colonel Patrick Testerman was the 89th Flying Training Squadron Commander when I met her, so she was very busy with the duties of caring for the squadron. What really got her blood flowing was nurturing others and she did this beautifully in her doula work.
She was already an experienced doula when I emailed her asking about the birth landscape in the Falls. She briefly answered my email and then put me on the back burner. She all but ignored me.
Obviously, I didn’t give up! Truthfully I didn’t know that other doulas had drained her of this type of information in the past then didn’t stick around for a relationship. When I continued to pursue her as a friend, she was delighted and we became fast friends. We soon learned that we were both homeschooling mothers who share the same faith and even used the same curriculum!
Since her role in the squadron took up more time, she started referring overflow clients to me. This started my doula work strong and she mentored me as I learned the ropes. She’s continued to mentor me as I walked through midwifery training.
But Martha didn’t just show me how it was done, she showed nurses too.
One of Martha’s first births in Wichita Falls has become a legendary story around the birth center. She arrived at the hospital to support her client who was already in a room. When Martha approached the nurses’ station to ask where she could find her client, the nurse said very pointedly, “I can kick you out whenever I want.” Martha was stunned but replied respectfully then quickly joined her client. While at her side she stayed in her scope of practice and gave the nurse plenty of space. At the end of the birth, the nurse invited Martha to the break room for a Coke.
We credit Martha’s professionalism with winning over a nursing staff that had been shocked by a previous doula’s lack of professionalism (allegedly barring the door with a chair so the staff couldn’t get to the client). She paved the way for the rest of us who would serve clients there.
Martha and Pat are retired from military life and now minister to people in and through their church in Chichester, New Hampshire. Many Wichita Falls families still know and love them – and miss them! A handful gathered in her suite to pray for her as she started treatment for breast cancer in 2019.
As of this writing, about 85 women have given birth in the suite named after her, even though she has yet to see it in person.