Marivette is another Bakersfield area local, and this is also her third time participating in the 31 Days project. She holds the record for most repins in her first post, Using the Rebozo in Labor. I had the honor of joining her at a very long homebirth recently, and with the casual nature of this labor, family, and birth team, in the long stretches between serious midwife-needed events, I saw Marivette's doula side shine though. Ever appreciative for all the support a woman gets in labor (and let's be honest, it made my job easier), I saw Marivette's knowledge and understanding come though her voice, her eyes, her touch. I know she will be an incredible midwife, and the families she will serve will be in great hands.
I have been a doula for 18 years. I began after the birth of my third child who was born at home with a direct-entry midwife. My midwife asked me if I would help her at births, and that launched me into being a home birth doula for seven years. She eventually moved away, and at that time, it was too far for me to travel to be a doula for her clients. I decided to start attending births at hospitals, and I have been an in-hospital doula for 11 years now.
When I was a doula at home births, I never saw myself in the position of midwife. I think at that time in my life, I wasn’t ready for that kind of responsibility. My children were all very young, and I wasn’t yet done having children. I was a lot younger, and I felt I wasn’t quite qualified and didn’t have enough experience to be in that role. So, I’d occasionally tell the midwife with whom I worked, that I didn’t want to be a midwife. I also thought that midwifery was not for me. After all, I had been pregnant while a senior in high school, barely graduated (attended a California’s continuation program to finish high school) and I had five children by the time I was 29 years old. By the time I was 38, I had eight children. Life was busy enough with homeschooling, church, helping my husband with his business, and being a doula. I couldn’t possibly add anything else to my over-flowing plate.
Well…that all changed in 2014. I noticed a trend in homebirths not only in the nation, but in my own community. I noticed no midwifery care was being provided to Spanish speaking women in my community. While English speaking women at least had the option of receiving midwifery care from a midwife who spoke their language if they so desired, Spanish speaking women in my county do not even have that option. “Someone should do something about this!” I thought. I still didn’t think that person would or could be me.
I became friends with a doula in a nearby city. She also has a large family, AND she was studying to be a midwife. I was excited for her! A doula-turned-midwife was a great journey. As the months and years of our friendship developed and grew, she eventually finished midwifery college, passed the NARM exam, and became a licensed midwife. During this time, I began being moved to pursue midwifery. I think it was always in me to become a midwife, but I just couldn’t imagine how I would pursue a midwifery degree. Watching my friend inspired me, so I began asking her questions about midwifery school.
My friend patiently answered all my questions, provided me with links, and fully encouraged me to go this route. I talked to my husband, I prayed about it, and I -- finally -- knew this was the next step for my life.
After looking at different schools, I chose Midwives College of Utah (MCU). MCU offers continuing education classes and these classes are a non-committal fashion to figure out if a distance education platform works for a person. After one semester of continuing ed classes, and getting a feel for how MCU operates, I knew, for sure, this was the school for me. I began the process of enrolling, and I was accepted into the Associates of Science in Midwifery at Midwives College of Utah in August, 2015. It will take me three years to complete the academic portion of the associate’s degree, and possibly another year to complete the clinical portion, totaling four years before taking the NARM exam.
Changing careers at the age of 45 has been an exciting and stressful adventure. My whole life, and how I operate, changed drastically. I went from having plenty of time to do all the things household, to doing school work 6-8 hours per day, including the weekends. I had to adjust my way of thinking, accept that going to school is the same as having a full-time job. When deciding to take vacations or weekend trips, or even day trips, I look at my calendar. I may have to do extra school work to make up for days I won’t be able to get any work done. I may have to take some school work with me, and get some studying done while on vacation. I have had to adjust everything around my education, and it has been difficult to make that transition.
Everything, right now in my life, is all planned around my schooling. In case any of you might by thinking, “Well there are summer breaks.” No, actually, there aren’t any summer breaks. MCU operates on a trimester schedule. That means, school runs all year long. We have four – fifteen week semesters: fall trimester, winter trimester, spring trimester, and summer trimester. Between semesters, we get a two-week break. That’s it, folks! So, no summer breaks! Now, if I plan it just right, I can finish up about 3 weeks early, and have about a 5-week break, but that means doubling up on assignments to get done early. It’s doable, but not an easy task!
Currently, I am in the assist phase and working with a preceptor (a licensed midwife who has been approved by MCU to be my supervising midwife). Being in an apprenticeship is such a blessing, but such a huge change for me! I have been accustomed to being in the doula role (education, information, and labor support – which means, never any medical advice is given and no medical procedures are ever done!). Being in the midwife apprentice position is completely different. I get to check blood pressure, pulse, and feel the abdomen for the baby’s position (Leopold’s maneuvers). These are things which are out of the scope of practice for doulas, but within the scope of practice for midwife’s apprentice while under the supervision of a licensed midwife. It’s amazing and exhilarating to be in this new role!
Another big change, for me, is that I now call meetings with my preceptor’s clients “prenatal” appointments. As a doula, I never felt comfortable calling meetings with clients a “prenatal,” because that, to me, is a term used to describe an obstetricians or midwife’s appointment to receive prenatal care. But, now, I am in the midwife’s apprentice role, and can call these "prenatal" meetings.
Going from doula to midwife is completely polar opposite. Doulas provide one to three meetings before birth, provide education, information, and emotional support, provide labor support, some breastfeeding support, and one visit after the baby is born. Doula support is invaluable! Doulas do not, however, provide any medical services, whatsoever.
Midwives provide one prenatal visit once per month from 4 weeks – 28 weeks of pregnancy, one prenatal visit every 2 weeks from 28 weeks – 36 weeks of pregnancy, and one prenatal visit from 36 weeks – 40 weeks and beyond if needed. That’s a total of approximately 15 prenatal visits. These visits include blood pressure, pulse, weight, and fundal measurements. They include lots of information on pregnancy health, nutrition, exercise, and things to expect. They make sure mom and baby are well, and that there are no medical issues. If there are issues, they refer them to an OB. Each prenatal visit typically lasts an hour, sometimes more…Postpartum, they provide approximately 3-4 visits…
So, for me, going from the doula role, to the midwife assistant role, has been a huge transition. Being part of the care a woman is receiving during her entire pregnancy is a completely different role from the doula role. I am in transition. As we know, transition is a hard place to be -- and I am eager to make the changes to get to my dream of becoming a midwife.
Marivette Torres is the founder/owner of Tender Doula Hands, a rebozo trained instructor and distributor. She is a CBI certified birth doula with 19 years experience serving the Bakersfield, California area. She has eight children ranging in ages from 26 to 8 years old. Her first child was born via surgery at a community hospital due to breech presentation. Her subsequent seven children were all VBAC births, two of which were born at a hospital birth center and five were born at home attended by a midwife.
She is currently undertaking her dream of pursuing a midwifery career. You may visit her website and
Facebook page. She also has a page dedicated to specific rebozo class information.
♥ four young boys and a boy dog (offspring)