My Journey to Midwifery

The formative experiences of sharing summers and hearing the riveting birth stories of her abuela in rural Mexico blossomed into a life’s calling.

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I often wonder if I chose midwifery or if midwifery chose me. There is no doubt that my journey to midwifery began with my Mexican abuela (grandmother). I am a first-generation Mexican-American and the first in my family to be born in the United States. I grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles, but had the privilege of spending my summers with my abuela in rural Mexico. My time with her gave me the opportunity to learn about my culture and the simplicity of life outside of the city. Although most of us would consider her poor by US standards, my abuela was a businesswoman. She managed market stands and sold farm animals while tending to a large family alone. My grandfather worked as a migrant farmer in the United States, sending all of his money home to her. She was a strong woman who instilled in me the importance of women having careers.

My Abuela’s stories about childbirth felt like riveting novels to me and kept me glued to her side.

My favorite memories of summers in Mexico are ones of my abuela sharing the stories of her 15 births. She birthed all 15 babies at home with the town midwife. Her stories about childbirth felt like riveting novels to me and kept me glued to her side as we cooked in the kitchen. I was enchanted with the transformation of pregnancy and how a mystical midwife was able to deliver all of her babies at home. Pregnancy and labor became so intriguing to me that I often found myself playing midwife as a little girl. Looking back, I can recall the times I would instruct my cousins to play the distressed woman in labor so that I could effortlessly birth a Barbie from under their skirts.

Pregnancy and Labor

As I grew older, my innocent curiosity for birth blossomed into something much bigger, a desire to become a midwife. And here I am today, in the middle of midwifery school at Georgetown University, finally doing what I’ve been dreaming of and practicing for decades. Without my abuela, her strength and unlimited support, I would not be here today. My journey toward becoming a midwife has taught me that midwifery is so much more than catching babies. Midwives are witnesses to women becoming mothers and to families beginning their life journey together. I chose to become a midwife because it allows me to be a part of what I think is the greatest gift of all, the gift of family.

By Susana Mendez, SNM, BSN, RNC-OB
Student Nurse-Midwife, Georgetown University

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