The Way To Midwifery
By Karen Winstead, CNM
Photo from Karen’s personal collection
Although I disagreed with God for quite a while about His plan, I finally told God I would go if He would do two things: 1) provide someone to go with me and 2) convince my husband, too.
I didn’t know how He would do this, but I knew I must keep my end of the deal when He did.
Within a couple of weeks I was assigned to orient a new nurse to the labor and delivery unit. I’m sure my mouth dropped open when she revealed she was applying to a nurse-midwifery program and jokingly invited me to join. “Hey, do you want to go to midwifery school with me?” she asked. “We’ll do it together. It’ll be much easier that way.”
Then, I was amazed once again when my husband agreed to the plan, though he had some wise reservations about the sacrifices he knew would come. I spent the following two years in two distance-learning programs: Frontier School of Midwifery and Family Nursing (now called Frontier Nursing University) and Case Western Reserve University.
These prepared me to meet the challenges we face both here in Roanoke and in Virginia with regard to nurse-midwives and freestanding birth centers becoming a part of the healthcare system. I was planning on doing a home birth practice, but the month I graduated, homebirth malpractice insurance was no longer available.
I considered various physician practices but could not find one where midwifery was welcome by all the partners.
After carefully reviewing the situation and praying about our situation, I decided that in order to have the biggest effect on prenatal care and birth services, Roanoke needed a freestanding birth center.
I then spent every moment of free time for the first few years writing a business proposal for New Life Birth Center and trying to figure out how to get a freestanding birth center up and running.
Instead of being a hospital nurse or providing midwifery care, I was suddenly learning marketing, business, finance, networking, and all that goes into establishing a healthcare organization in a very competitive market. It was both a great challenge and a blessing in many respects.
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