Advanced Midwifery Studies was just titled The Midwifery Home Study Course when we started as Apprentice Academics in 1981. We were the very first distance academic program. One of our most important distinctions is the fact that we offered the original course and nothing we offered then, or now, is patterned after anything else. It is as important to me to maintain that distinction as it was in October 1980 when I started working on the curriculum and March 1981 when I started publicizing it. There was no other curriculum to look at then, and I do not look at other curriculums now. In fact have never laid eyes on any midwifery curriculum that has come after ours. I have seen my curriculum with someone else's name on it and my copyright whited out. And I have had people who offer other programs admit to me that they "patterned" their program after ours or that they just condensed what we did. As amazed at I am at the lack of integrity in this matter, I have still never been tempted to look at anyone else's curriculum. I am careful not to compromise my integrity in this area. I will never borrow someone else's hard work intentionally.....NEVER.
When Carolyn Steiger heard I was writing a book for beginning midwives at the same time she was also writing a book on the topic, she made the first call and we became fast friends. Her book was published just before a MANA conference in October. Mine was not published until the next June. I was thrilled that she gave me one of the very first copies but I glanced through it quickly, in her presence, and never opened it again until my book was DONE. In the interim, Carolyn asked many times for me to read her book. She was anxious for my opinion. My response was always that I would read it the night I got back from the printer. She assured me that she trusted me and begged me to read it! As wonderful as knowing how much faith seh had it me, it was not enough to cause me to take that chance. I did not want to ever wonder if I had inadvertently changed something or added something to improve upon what Carolyn had already done. If I deposited my book at the printer before I read her book, I would always know, without a doubt, that I had never leveraged anything from her hard work or claimed something as my own that was really hers. As it turns out, our books were quite different and actually very complementary. We are still very good friends. By the way, Becoming a Midwife has been out of print for some time. You may hear a rumor that she has given her permission for it to be photocopied or reprinted but I assure you that is not the case. Contact me if you know of any copyright abuse concerning Becoming A Midwife.
I will end here, coming round to my original point. We have always been original, and will always be original. If you choose AAMI, you can be sure that you are not getting a reworked version of any other course. That is an important distinction.
A lot of the talk amongst the staff and students at AAMI centers around the idea of knowing what you need to know so you can stay hands off and have the ability to recognize and act upon abnormal events in labor should you need to.
As a doula I have attended hundreds of births. As a student midwife, I am in the first year of my clinical work. I recently attended a birth as a doula that illustrated over a dozen points for me about listening to mothers a their own best experts, taking care that technology does not exacerbate or even create problems, and responding to the person in front of me as a unique individual.
The birth was devastating for mother and baby because although we transferred into the hospital for higher level care, they largely ignored everything she said and did not connect the dots between the clinical symptoms she presented with and developed over the many hours she was under their care. She is living proof that the hospital mantra "healthy mother, healthy baby" undermines everything that is necessary and true in birth—there is so much more than just the final outcome to consider. I came to see that the comfort level of the staff and OBs was couched in the many print-outs, read-outs, and electronic alarms they surround themselves with. They believe they can save anyone and have no concern for keeping mothers and babies out of the situation where they need to be saved in the first place.
This birth, although wretched in nearly every way, was a pivotal point event for me as a midwife. I learned a lot about myself. Although the birth is a how-to manual of avoiding over-use of technology and under-use of human creativity and mindfulness, the main message for me did not come until I was talking about the birth 24 hours later with dad. He said to me that towards the end I was freaking him out because I was "psychic" about everything.
Here is my AAMI message. I was not psychic. I am knowledgeable. I have learned. I can incorporate. I am not afraid to take the time to observe and listen to mother. I have skills that have been developed which have instructed me to track symptoms and connect them to create a picture. I am trained in normal by being drilled in abnormal. the hospital staff are trained to treat abnormal symptoms with medicines which make the symptom—mother or baby's strongest communication to the provider about their state of being disappear. I am trained to listen to and honor mom's voice about her own health and the health of her baby. The hospital staff is trained to manage labor, delivery, mother and baby in a way which overrides mother's voice and discourages professional creative thought process in favor of what they "do" in a given circumstance. I was not psychic. I was smart, aware, thoughtful and present. This is AAMI training. The births where everything goes as expected: I always think—my AAMI training—look how we do nothing to interfere! But this birth gave me more awareness and insight into the value of the bone grinding quality and volume of academic work at AAMI that dozens of other births could ever have done for me. My intuition and experience have a great partner in the breadth and depth of knowledge AAMI has given me. And I am not even done with the course work yet.
Yesterday I heard from two students about the difference that being a part of this course had made in their HEALTH. It is not unusual for me to get feedback from students that they love what they are learning and who they are becoming.....but to find out that an assignment or a quiz resulted in important information about their own health issues...well that is just Icing On the Cake! Sometimes the benefits of our efforts are complete surprises! - Carla