This writing is from Julie Hughes!
One of the first times that I remember experiencing the tingly whole body vibration, head to toe goose pimples that in my experience comes with that all over “knowingness”, was at 21 years old.
I had started University as a small town, first generation college girl majoring in Psychology. As I was completing my core classes, I decided to take a course called Women and Philosophy; this course BLEW MY MIND, opened me up and quickly shifted my path. Much to everyone’s total lack of understanding and jaw dropping, “What” all around me, I jumped on the path of Women Studies. This path ended up being one of many ways I have been given over my life to get deeper acquainted with myself and my intuition.
Years later, as I neared the end of college and contemplated what was next with a Women’s Studies degree, I was sitting in my senior capstone seminar listening to a fellow classmate’s presentation on Women and Health Care, and she began to talk about Midwifery. I had never heard the word midwife and yet I knew all over my body: inside and out that this was what I was…a midwife. I tucked that knowing away and focused on graduation and the all important next life step for me…wandering!
I marched my way to the travel agents office (that fact may date me pretty well) and I asked for the cheapest plane ticket out of town. At the time (prior to Lord of the Rings) it was a $500 ticket to New Zealand, all the way on the other side of the world. Once in New Zealand I made my way around the country hitchhiking, backpacking the trails and living on farms and working (WWOOFing). EVERYwhere I went the common theme was…midwives! A midwife from Germany, from Holland, from England and eventually a student midwife from New Zealand. The knowing began to grow and expand into possibilities of what would come next, but first I needed to finish wandering for a while and meet my next knowing, my husband.
I returned back to the States after a year wayfaring about and quickly got down to business. When I wasn’t working or taking care of my grandmother, who I had moved in with upon her diagnosis of ovarian cancer, I spent my time in a library researching and reading all that I could find about the history of midwifery and how I could become a midwife. I was really turned off by the history of U.S midwifery and all of the divisions that I was seeing, so I put my gaze back towards New Zealand. I refused to leave while my grandmother was sick and so when we heard she went into remission, I received the acceptance letter from New Zealand and got a $10,000 credit card that I never applied for (the cost of the first year’s tuition) all the same week; I jumped. I returned to the Land of the Long White Cloud and claimed one of the three international student spots available. I was home: in a country that felt so all encompassingly home, home in an education path that felt so true and most of all home with the women, my community of student midwives; still to this day some of the nearest and dearest people to my heart. These women introduced me to holding space, to women’s circles and to BEING with women.
At the end of the first year of midwifery training, I was sitting on the edge of a river in between final classes and I heard a deep inner voice say, “this way isn’t for you”. I had been struggling for some time with what my training in the hospital looked and felt like. What I was experiencing wasn’t “normal” and was incongruent to what I was learning. It was controlled, it was not trusting of birth and it was not aligned with the values that I signed up for. The voice was loud, like REALLY loud and it startled me. So I sat there and didn’t return to class, ever again. I went into the director’s office and gave my resignation from school.
I returned to Colorado and midwifery was put on hold as I found out that I was pregnant with my first child and had to navigate immigration for my husband. I now was able to experience the art of midwifery in a very new way. I was able to be held in the way that I imagined it could be but had not yet seen as a student. Within the first year after the birth of my son, as so many others do, I found my way to apprenticing with my own midwife.
The rest of the next 3-4 years was spent deep in the experiential part of training. There were many twists and turns as I apprenticed with 4 different midwives. I would settle in nicely to an apprenticeship when a midwife would: move, get ill, get divorced and I would be left to wonder what was next; within a few months or sometimes weeks I quickly found my way under another’s preceptors wing. Each midwife practiced differently, some more hands on, some more “Indie”, at this point I was just hungry to learn all and everything and then eventually to unlearn many things.
Midwifery to me is so big and expansive, so beautiful and rich. There isn’t one way but rather your way and listening to that inner voice, no matter how insane, scary, or hard what you hear is or how many obstacles are in the way, be unstoppable and follow it!
Julie is currently the Student Liaison and an Instructor for Indie Birth. After a decade of practicing as a midwife she has taken a pause and now works with women who are rebirthing their life. Women who are uncovering, rediscovering, rewilding, reconnecting and awakening to their soul self. She calls herself a Soul Midwife.