BY MARGO BLACKSTONE
Back in good old 2010 I graduated from Northern Arizona University with my bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies. I immediately started a graduate program in Applied Criminology and my trajectory was to work in domestic violence policy reform, specifically around fatality cases. It was seriously heavy work, and it didn’t feel like there was a whole lot of room for creativity or radical approaches to solving this enormous and heartbreaking issue. My advisors were less than inspiring, and something felt off. Maybe later in my life I’ll return to this work, but in the moment it was clear that I needed a change. I still wanted to work with women, and wanted to work on encouraging positive change and transformation in the world and in peoples’ lives.
After school one night, in my little bedroom that I had recently moved into with Russell (now the dad of my two kiddos) I hopped on my computer as started ferociously googling, doing a brainstorming sessions/survey of what on earth I could do with my life. I can’t remember where else my search brought me, but eventually, racking my brain at the keyboard, a memory flashed of a fellow Women’s Studies student sharing about her project on VBAC in my senior capstone. She had also done a doula training. I had been intrigued in the moment, but never looked into it further.
A doula! Maybe that was what I was supposed to be! What IS a doula? How do I become one? I researched more, and eventually came across some really mainstream midwifery websites as well, most of which were focused on nurse midwifery which seemed a little out of reach in terms of going back to school for a new degree entirely. I didn’t totally write it off though, and figured I’d stew on it all and gather more information.
Next time I was on campus I checked out some books from the library, including Spiritual Midwifery (which I have a critique of now here). I can actually still remember standing in the stacks in front of the tiny birth section and having a…..feeling? The feeling like you are on the right path. An excited, beginning of a good adventure movie feeling. I read Spiritual Midwifery really quickly, and suddenly wanted to learn everything about home birth and direct entry midwifery. THIS WAS SO BADASS! Home birth?! I had never even heard of it, and it seemed like the most epic thing ever. These women were doing this miraculous, counter cultural, natural thing, and I was in awe.
Sidebar: I had gotten really into wellness, herbs, fertility awareness, and holistic healing in my college years as I was trying to figure out my own health issues, and I already really loved the whole DIY ethos around health, so finding home birth felt like a missing puzzle piece.
It was within that same week that Russell and I went to a campus event that had free food, mostly for the free food but there was also a good speaker. I went a little overboard eating, and started feeling queasy before the lecture even began, which is not something that normally happens to me, in case you were wondering. I told Russell we needed to GOOOOO before I barfed in public, and as we were dodging out the door, avoiding professors and friends who might slow us down, I bumped into a friend that I babysat for. She asked how I was doing and I blurted out that I was considering dropping out and becoming a midwife or something (totally a big topic and if I were better at boundaries I would have told her I couldn’t talk, but luckily my Minnesota nice came out!). She nonchalantly said I should totally explore that, and that I should get in touch with the midwife she used, who lived down in Sedona. Her name was Maryn at Red Rock Midwifery. I had NO IDEA that this particular friend had had home births, so this was a total amazing coincidence that I mentioned this to her. Maryn also didn’t have tons of clients up my direction (maybe 10 in the whole city??), so it is all such a coincidence.
By the time we reached the parking lot I was feeling much better but we still went home, and I went straight to Google. I pulled up Red Rock Midwifery and saw immediately that her logo was the exact same woman symbol, color and style, that I had tattooed on my arm for my 21st birthday that same year. I got in touch with Maryn immediately (I think I emailed her?) and we set up a time to meet on November 1st, the Day of the Ancestors.
We met for lunch and I was SO NERVOUS. She had baby Belgium along and we had a nice conversation. I don’t remember too many details other than wanting to be sure she knew I was committed even though I wanted to finish out the semester and get started January 1st.
I am not an impulsive person, and am generally a really anxious and calculated person actually, so this series of events felt totally outside my comfort zone in so many ways, but also felt like I was following a trail of breadcrumbs. Once you know this feeling, it is hard to miss, and hard to ignore.
I started going along with Maryn for prenatal appointments on January 1st 2011 (thats some sweet numerology), and attended my first birth as an apprentice on February 13th 2011. I was, by all accounts, a total baby still myself! I was 21, fresh out of college and had never had a baby of my own. All I knew was that this immediately felt like the right thing for me, but without the few random/magical events (the VBAC report in my class – which was the ONLY time birth was talked about in my 4 year Women’s Studies degree – and bumping into the home birth friend who was Maryn’s client) I’m really not sure I would have found midwifery another way.
Except that I imagine some OTHER random events would have brought me where I was meant to be 🙂
The rest is history. You can read a lot more about this and all things Indie Birth in our book Indie Birth: A Story of Radical Birth Love