The short version--Colorado has been my home since 1972. I am married with three grown children and three grandchildren. My oldest child was born in the hospital, which is why the two younger ones were born at home with direct-entry midwives.
My oldest son was born in 1974 after a supposed "natural childbirth" (according to the doctor and the nurses). I had gone to childbirth classes. I had done the "right" breathing and still ended up with pain medication at 9 centimeters, an episiotomy, and the removal of my son to the nursery for six hours. I felt weird. Something just wasn't right.
Then I read Immaculate Deception by Suzanne Arms and Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin. Those strange feelings of inadequacy about his birth were not unusual. Other women had felt the same way. Arms stated that midwives still attended home births in some areas of the country. I thought midwives were non-existent. Gaskin had basically written a manual for direct-entry midwives with accompanying birth stories. What lovely births! I wanted that satisfaction.
By the time I read these two books, I was teaching childbirth classes for the Association for Prepared Parenthood. Every so often we'd get one of "those couples"--the weird ones who were going to have their baby at home. Midwives were illegal in Colorado and these ladies were very protective of their midwives' identities. I was so curious, I decided to find and interview local midwives for a newsletter article. Who were these people and why were they illegal? What services did they provide? How could they consider attending births at home?
That was 1977. I pursued every midwife in southern Colorado for that article. It was quite a journey into the underground world of illegal midwifery. Then, in 1980, I decided to have a homebirth when I became pregnant with my second child. I was impressed with my midwife's personal and thorough prenatal care. I decided who would be there during labor. The birth was a family experience without masked strangers. It was a very satisfying and personally empowering event that left no doubt in my mind that home was the ideal place for healthy mothers to have babies.
Three months after this birth, I dropped out of nursing school and joyfully accepted an offer to apprentice with two direct-entry midwives. It was the beginning of a decade of training and fighting for the legalization of that training. In April of 1994, I became the 20th midwife to be registered in Colorado.