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Scholarship Winner: Steps to Motherhood Through Education

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Amanda Russel

Hi, I am Amanda Russell. In my former life, I trained to be a school psychometrist – IQ testing, and  tests for learning disabilities were my forte. Then, in 2004, my sister and brother-in-law invited me to attend the birth of my niece, who was the only survivor of triplets. I fell in love with birth, then and there, and I fell hard. I also knew that there was a call on my life to serve women in joy and sorrow in birth work. Bless my sister and brother-in-law for deciding I needed to experience birth at least once. Since I was in graduate school at the time, I thought maybe I could be a doula one day as a hobby, but thought no more of it and dove back into papers and presentations.

Fast forward to last year, in April, I signed up for a doula course. The doula course snowballed into a Midwifery course (I am almost 2/3 finished), and that is what my bonus dad calls my “midwife crisis.” In October, I began a bereavement doula program and certified as a Still Birthday Doula. Part of my life call has been fulfilled, as I have attended a happy birth and a loss birth since my certification. Although I have not had children of my own, or ever been pregnant, I understand loss in a unique way. Due to past health problems and medications given for my survival, my ovaries took a beating. I had a 19% chance of my cycles returning, and an even lower chance of conception (this was one of the reasons I was at my nieces birth). I had wanted to be a mother my entire life, and infertility diagnosis was terribly upsetting.

Amanda RusselNearly three years ago, my parents gained custody of  two boys, a 9 day old, and an 18 month old. They are the most beautiful part of my life. Hopefully, by the time I finish building my career as a doula and midwife, the boys will be available for adoption, and I hope to be their mother. Perhaps I already am a little bit. They are 2.5 and 4 years old now, both incredibly smart and sweet, and at times infuriating. They are learning the bones in the head and face now, because I learn best by teaching, so both can point out their mentum and occiput.

It may seem that I literally have no time to breathe, but I do have time. In addition to past health problems, I have an arrhythmia that has rendered me unable to work. Until August, I was unaware that there was a cure. I had thought I would need to be on medication for life (for the last 8 years I have been on it). I will hopefully be having the surgery within the next few weeks. Once I have the surgery, they say I will have more energy, I won’t need as much sleep, and perhaps best of all, I will be able to exercise again! I hardly remember what life was like before. I have taken naps when the boys do since they came to live with us…it was a sad day when 2 naps turned to one a day, and 3 hour naps turned to 1 hour. But I don’t mind, really, I have hope now.

I wanted this scholarship because I want to be as broad in my training as possible. I want to build a birth service business that will serve women in all stages of pregnancy and postpartum, to someday include Childbirth Education and Placenta Encapsulation…in due time. Even after I certify as a midwife, due to the laws being what they are here in the US, I will still be doing mostly doula work. I have taken free workshops online from Bebo Mia in the past and always wanted to learn more. I am excited to expand my skill set to include Maternal Support Practitioner. I am also excited to join a community of others who are interested in and called to the birth profession. I look forward to getting to know everyone better and learning from each of you as well. Thank you to Bianca and Natasha for this amazing opportunity! I am blessed beyond measure.

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