It was after the birth of my first daughter, Melissa, that I began to understand birth in a different way. After Melissa was born, I found myself ravenous to learn more about the birth process and soon found a mentor through my own childbirth teacher. She was an RN and certified Lamaze educator who taught childbirth classes and was very active with the International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA). She invited me to be her teaching assistant, and then to fill in for her as well. Occasionally, women or couples from our classes would ask me to join them when the time came for their baby’s birth.
Before long, I was teaching childbirth classes in my own home. I continued to learn from others in the birth arena by serving on the Board of Directors for the Boston Association for Childbirth Education and volunteering for a Boston-area shelter, Bridge Over Troubled Waters, to teach and accompany women in birth.
My own family continued to grow with the births of two more beautiful daughters. Both were born with the help of the midwives at the North Shore Birthing Center, the first free-standing birth center in the Northeast. At this point, I knew it was time to step back and direct my efforts toward raising my own children. These were busy, fun years, and I loved (and still love) being their mom.
Once my children all were in school, it was time to shift gears, and to join a very different workforce. The next several years were centered on business and administrative work, primarily in sales and marketing roles. Although it was sometimes challenging to balance family and work, I very much enjoyed the business world. Skills were acquired, problem-solving was honed, and there were always new people to meet and even some travel to satisfy my sense of adventure!
Another shift happened when I heard that some friends from church had bought and rehabilitated a nursing home. They then created a women’s group home, called My Father’s House, for pregnant moms and babies. There was no question about where I needed to be investing myself, so I jumped back in to serve in a “birth services” capacity, teaching childbirth education and acting as a support person at births.
In 2010, I moved to Charlottesville, Virginia. As it turned out, the house I rented was just a two-minute walk from the Central Virginia Pregnancy Center! In 2016, I completed their counselor training course, and in early 2017, along with two other childbirth educators, I launched the Center’s first-ever childbirth classes, Heart2Heart. In addition to teaching the childbirth series, I have also provided birth and postpartum doula support for women who come into the center.
Currently, I am serving with other birth workers at the Thomas Jefferson Area Board of Health in the Improving Pregnancy Outcomes (IPO) Work Group. And now, with the “birth” of Honeybee Doula Services, I am finally able to gather the nuggets of wisdom gained from all my experiences, the gracious sharing of countless moms, and vast amounts of study and make these treasures available for the next woman or couple that I support.
“Cindy’ instructional style is personal, spending individualized time with each woman to ensure she feels informed about best birthing practices, what her rights are as a patient, what to expect during the birthing process, and what her options are once labor begins. She listens to her client’s concerns and offers guidance and referrals to community resources as necessary. Her attention, instruction, and mentorship truly help to build confidence for a successful birthing experience.” —Jillian, Director of Albemarle Pregnancy Center of Central VA