What is your background?
I am the oldest of 10 children, of which the last 7 were born at home. I clearly remember attending numerous prenatals with my mom through her many pregnancies, learning early about postpartum hemorrhages, herbs to prevent complications, and the importance of diet and nutrition in pregnancy. The midwife coming to the house to deliver yet another baby was completely normal to me growing up. I was 18 years old when my last sibling was born.
We lived on a small homestead in Oklahoma where everything was built, baked, grown and sewn from scratch. The first "babies" I actually helped deliver were those of our small herd of milking goats. Twins and triplets were normal, as well as sometimes needing to untangle legs and body parts during the birthing process.
Personally, music was my first love, and I started teaching private music lessons at the age of 15. I received my Suzuki Teaching Certification and one of my sisters and I ran a large music studio for several years. We had a family band of sorts and all 10 kids would frequently travel with my parents over the entire continental US, Mexico, Canada, and also to South Korea for several months.
Why did you choose to become a midwife?
By my early 20's I knew I wanted to do something to empower women, and midwifery was a logical choice for me, being so familiar with it.
At that time, midwifery was not very prominent in Oklahoma, so I enrolled in the Association of Texas Midwives Midwifery Training Program. I spent the next 3 1/2 years traveling back and forth between Oklahoma and Texas for academic workshops and apprenticeships/clinical training. My first apprenticeship was spending several months at the oldest free-standing birth center in Texas - Family Birth Services, in a suburb of Dallas/Ft Worth. Then I worked with a home birth practice out of Arkansas. And finally, in El Paso, Texas at a birth center right on the border with Juarez, where I learned so much about how to help mothers have a safe, vaginal birth even with more complicated histories.
All in all, I trained with 14 different midwives - and although it was insane to file all the paperwork with my school, it gave me a rich foundation of skills and styles on which to become a midwife.
When I became licensed in 2009 I traveled overseas to Israel where I had an incredible opportunity to live and volunteer with an Israeli midwife who had pioneered the return to home birth movement in Israel in the early 80s. I learned so much from her and the variety of clients we served. I also volunteered in a Jerusalem hospital as well as a Bethlehem birth clinic.
In 2010 I was back in Oklahoma and started a solo home birth practice. I lived, breathed and slept birth (well not much sleeping...but you know!). Oklahoma has vast areas of the state where there are not even local hospitals that deliver babies, let alone midwives. And so many births included a 1-2 hour trip one way. Speeding to births in the middle of the night took a toll on my driving record, but it was a small (ummm, not so small sometimes) price to pay for the amazing reward of being a part of so many miraculous moments.
Can you share your philosophy/passion for midwifery?
I believe that a safe out of hospital birth can be achieved by almost anyone if they are willing to put the work into becoming healthy and low risk.
Unfortunately, Oklahoma hospitals have some of the highest cesarean rates in the country, and VBACs (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) are also not well supported in most of the hospitals. This meant that the midwives do many/most of the VBACs. Oklahoma is also known for its generally poor diet choices and exercise habits.
I became known as a midwife who helped take mothers with complicated histories or who just didn't know how/what to do to be healthy - and help them change their lifestyle, eating habits, introduce herbs and supplements, chiropractic care and more, so that they could stay/become low risk and have safe, out of hospital births. Clients traveled to deliver with me from neighboring states and from as far as Montana, Israel, and Nigeria.
Also, it is legal in Oklahoma to deliver breaches and twins, so I was able to gain experience in those variations of normal as well. I have also traveled to England and Brazil to deliver babies for friends of mine, as well as being a midwife for two of my sisters (so far :).
Training other midwives has always been a passion of mine, and so I have always had 1-3 students in training under me throughout my practice. In the last 9 years since I started working there, Oklahoma exploded from less than 5 midwives to over 30. Still a small number compared to other states, but a huge improvement from where it was.
I was also a leading participant when out of hospital birth was recently threatened in Oklahoma. A legislator took it upon himself to pass a bill banning midwives and was determined to make it illegal. Through the formation of a coalition of midwives, and a huge outpouring of the home birth community, the bill was not passed and ultimately the senator was voted out of office.
What do you do in your down time?
In December, 2017 I took one more giant step in gaining experience in birth when, after delivering over 500 babies for others, I gave birth to my own daughter at home. My midwives were two of my former students to whom I had also been their midwives during their pregnancies, and it was just a glorious full circle moment.
Traveling is one of my most favorite things. Whether it is a road trip or a stint overseas, I always take time periodically to get away and see more of the world.
I still love music, although I don't play much at this time. I love to go Lindy Hop dancing when I get the chance, and I also really need/enjoy time just being outside in nature.
What is your favorite baked good?
What is your favorite quote?
I love so many birth quotes and affirmations, but I think one of my most favorites is, "I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it".
And a favorite variation that many of my clients like to repeat to me: “Faith makes things possible, not easy”.
We are excited to a midwife who has grown up knowing that birhting outside of hospital is just a normal, everyday occurance!
If you want to check out Faith's birth video of her daughter, click this link.