Updated: May 17
Dr Stuart Fischbein and his team of beautiful and skilled midwives, Beth and Nicole, and his students, my dear sister Alissa and I, for a home twin birth in San Diego
Feeling inspired to write a little bit about my journey as a midwife student so far, including my experience in shadowing Dr Fischbein (lovingly referred to as Dr Stu or simply Stu sometimes), MD who attends home births in Southern California in the Midwifery Model of Care, for the past couple of months.
About a year ago, when my husband and I learned we would move from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to Los Angeles, I couldn't believe my luck: I would be so close to numerous midwives in California and also Dr Stu, who has been a rock star in the home birthing business for a decade, sharing his experience, knowledge and services with home birthing families, including his expertise in vaginal breech and twin births. I was elated, but could not imagine that I would be working with him at some point... To learn more about him, please visit his website Birthing Instincts and listen to his podcast: Dr Stu's Podcast.
At that point, I knew I wanted to study midwifery with Indie Birth, but I didn't have the means to enroll in their school. By the time we flew into LA, I had already bought a ticket to meet my sheroes Maryn Green and Margo Blackstone while they were in town for a workshop to launch their book, Indie Birth - a Story of Radical Birth Love (you can get the book here). It was a memorable day for me being in their presence and getting their book from their hands. After that, I enrolled in their Midwifery Skills Workshop, which happened last January. And so my formal midwifery education had begun: I was taking two courses to prepare myself for the upcoming workshop: Wise Woman Prenatal Care and the Midwifery Skills class.
At the same time, I was trying to get myself an apprenticeship and had conversations with different lovely local Licensed Midwives. They all told me the same story: they either weren't taking students, or they really couldn't take me on because a) I wasn't officially enrolled in any school, and b) the school of my choice, Indie Birth Midwifery School, is NOT an accredited school. I was getting kind of desperate because I was feeling like a fish out of water: it was difficult to meet women who would be willing for me to try on some clinical skills on them for once, and moving countries and taking care of the house and kids was taking A LOT of my energy. I didn't have a community like the one I helped to create back in Malaysia. I looked for a couple of resonating doulas here and there, and tried to make connections, but things simply didn't click.
When I finally gave in to the Universe in my inability to control this process, things finally started happening. The IB Midwfery Skills Workshop in Sedona, AZ, was coming up, then Maryn and Margo awarded me a scholarship to their school (yeassss). So I could finally see the silver lining in this process. I realized that much like birth, I had no control of what was to unfold. My intentions had been very clear from the start and through surrendering, things literally started falling on my lap!
I had bought a domain name at the end of last year but had not yet manifested this website. Maryn had told me I should look for Dr Fischbein so I could shadow him for some time. So I made a deal with myself, saying that when I launched my website, I would look for him. When I did, he was encouraging. He told me he already had an offical student (my dear friend Alissa, who is a midwifery student as well and his official apprentice), and that I could come and observe him in his prenatals. I cound't believe my luck! And so my journey into coming twice a week to his office to observe him in his prenatals began at the end of March (when lockdown in this city started as well) and has been happening ever since.
Not only have I been exposed to how he deals with prenatals, learning tons about his medical skills and how he practices under the informed consent model, observing how he fosters respectful and loving relationships with his clients, but also I have been getting a lot of hands-on practice in midwifery skills. For instance, I started taking my fetoscope to the clinic and when there is time, I listen with it! We also palpate bellies, determine fetal positioning and I have gotten confident in my skills taking blood pressures, for example. We have seen clients with various backgrounds including people trying for VBACs (HBACs), Type 1 diabetes, twins, breech babies at term, high blood pressure, non-stress tests for the end of pregnancy, 2nd trimester anatomy scans just to name a few.
I am beyond grateful for this awesome exposure to all kinds of pregnancies and prenatals. Not to mention, the invitations that I have been getting to actually attend births with his team, which have happened a few times already. I have witnessed both a home breech birth and a twin breech birth so far, as well as participated in a couple of immediate postpartum care and support. I believe all this exposure to different kinds of things is part of my learning journey. I have been writing about them and journaling, as well as debrifring with people I feel safe with, because I think these are precious learning opportunities.
All in all, I have been trying to gather all this information, and together with my own reasoning and feelings about all that has been happening, I am able to find my center and what it is I believe in and how I want to practice. My intention is to work with birth workers that I resonate with more and more, and that more opportunities will manifest themselves when I'm ready for them. Even though the IB Midwifery School hasn't started yet (it will in July), I feel confident in my inner knowing and that being a midwife is sacred work as well as a spiritual practice. I will be witnessing exactly what I need to see and learn from. I continue to trust in the unfolding of this journey.
Are you also on this journey into becoming a midwife? How has your experience been so far? Have you been apprenticing with someone? I'd love to hear about your experience. Share it with me in the comments! Love, Maíra