Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Medicaid Midwife's Apprentice

Leigh, my preceptor, is beginning to get a reputation as the only local midwife who takes Medicaid. It's fine with me, since I don't get paid anyway. I don't mind not getting paid -- apprentices don't get paid, and some apprentices actually pay their preceptors, which seems like a conflict of interest to me. (The preceptor is supposed to teach the apprentice, and evaluate the apprentice's skills from an objective viewpoint. But how can she be objective about me if I'm paying her?) Aside from loving birth and birth-related stuff, I like the idea of midwifery from a feminist/empowerment point of view. Historically, midwifery has been taught from one woman to another. I like that. I like the idea of passing it down, and I like the idea of midwifery stemming from one original midwife who helped women give birth. Someday I'll have an apprentice and I'll teach her, and thus midwifery will continue.

So, "we're" trying to get the Carolina Community Maternity Center started. I say "we" because although I attend all the meetings for it, I'm not a midwife, and I don't really have a say about any decisions. But I still go to the meetings so I can learn. I figure that this is all part of my midwifery training. Someday I might move away from here, and maybe I'll want to start a birth center wherever I end up, and I can look back on this experience and draw from it. Basically, it's a lot of reading and paperwork, and making sure that we're within code for the health department. Once we get approval, it's going to be a lot of money and fundraising and finding volunteers and donations. Many many many many people in the Charlotte area have said they want to help; I'm really hoping that some of them actually do it. It's just like being a doula and getting lots of emails or phone calls -- usually only about 1/4 of those emails or phone calls actually translate into a client. But I hope I'll have help with the laundry and cleaning the floors and folding pamphlets. (Yes, I'm going to be doing my time as a grunt, just like every apprentice before me did, and every apprentice after me will do.)

Next week is the last week of my Childbirth Educator class. I'm taking it through Aviva Institute, and the program has been very comprehensive. I wasn't really sure what to expect, since it's an online course, and I didn't know how an entirely online course could really teach thoroughly, but it has. I feel ready. I think it also depends on how much time and effort each student puts into it, and I've put a lot of time and effort into it. Kathryn Berkowitz, the instructor, is so fabulous; I would take a class of anything she teaches.

Tomorrow I'm going to see her -- and all my former BIRTH women -- for dinner. I absolutely can't wait to see everyone! I was in BIRTH last September, and it was the most amazing experience: professionally, birth-wise, and personally. I got to perform on stage in front of 400 people; I got to learn even more about birth and pregnancy; and I got to spend my summer rehearsing with 10 really incredible women, my BIRTH sisters. That's how I really got to know Emily, who is my BFF. That's how I met Kathryn, who I consider one of my mentors professionally. Honestly, being part of BIRTH really changed my life. It was while doing BIRTH that I started researching weight-loss surgery and made that decision. It was while doing BIRTH that I really started to learn my way around Charlotte and feel comfortable (in spite of Lee, my GPS device).

Meanwhile, I've decided that I'm not going to do BIRTH this year. I'm apprenticing with Leigh, which hopefully will include lots of learning time, and I'm enrolled in Ancient Art Midwifery Institute, which definitely will take up a lot of my time. I've promised Dustin (and myself) that as far as "extracurriculars," midwifery is my priority, and I will let go of most other things. I still plan to keep up with Exploring Holistic Alternatives (since they're my people) and of course Charlotte Doulas, but being in BIRTH took up a lot of my time last summer, and I don't have as much time as I used to.

And now, since I don't blog as often as I'd like to (see, not as much time as I used to have, above) I'll include a picture of my youngest, laying on the floor in the computer room while I type this:


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