To family, friends, acquaintances, and those I've never met. Thank you for reading and for choosing to invest in the future of midwifery.
My name is Kierra and I am becoming a midwife.
The greatest obstacle standing between me and my status as a returning student this fall is $11,767. This is my story:
I was watching a documentary on Maya Angelou recently and came across a quote that I have come to love dearly: “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated."
She continued: "In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” I had never heard the rest of the quote before. I felt it was meant for me.
Like many midwives, my calling is a sacred one. My divine tap, as I like to call it, came on August 16, 2016. I was serving as a birth doula for a family in Washington, D.C., my home at the time. A gnarly storm came sweeping through the city, the barometric pressure dropped, and the mama I was working with went into labor. Her labor progressed quickly and we found ourselves unable to transport to the hospital. The baby was coming now. After a few pushes, he came into the world. I caught him in the middle of his parents' bedroom before the paramedics had time to arrive. That hour profoundly changed my life.
After the birth, a midwife mentor of mine said, "Midwifery has a way of finding its recruits." I cling to this quote in moments when the cost of pursuing this calling feels like a bigger sacrifice than I can make. But, I have been called. Nothing can change that except a call in another direction.
Becoming a midwife is something I think about every single day. Almost non-stop.
It's a holy, social justice calling that first sparked in me nine years ago.
It's why I am on this earth.
It's what makes my heart sing.
It's where I am able to fully utilize and express my gifts and talents. Labor support, birth, and, eventually, serving as a primary care provider for women.
Last year, I began my studies at the Yale School of Nursing to become a Certified Nurse Midwife/Women's Health Nurse Practitioner. Because of a poor performance on my very first pharmacology exam, I did not get the required grade of 74% to pass the class. Yale doesn't offer remediation so in mid-December I was forced to withdraw from the program. After much introspection and debate, I decided to reapply. I would not be defeated. I am now eagerly preparing to re-enroll in Yale's accelerated nursing program this fall. The dual specialty will allow me to pursue my vocation with qualifications as both a nurse-midwife and a women's health nurse practitioner; serving women throughout the lifecycle.
According to the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM), our nation is in the midst of a severe shortage of maternity care providers. While the number of nurse-midwifery students has increased over the years, diversity within the profession lags behind with only 9.2% of students, in 2013, self-identifying as Black. Through my previous work as a perinatal community health worker and a childbirth doula in D.C., I have seen how being a woman of color grants me access to groups who may struggle to connect and confide in other practitioners. I am able to provide culturally competent and effective care to those populations which are currently in crisis.
Of course, this eight-month interlude between nursing school terms doesn't come without costs -- great stress, sadness, questioning, and a loss of time and resources. Shortly after I initially withdrew, I found out that one of my federal loans had been canceled without me knowing. After a lot of back and forth, multiple meetings with folks in the office of student affairs and financial aid, I was told that I owed $11,767 to be paid in full before I could re-enroll. My heart sank. To the bottom of the ocean. This was it. The end of my time at Yale. I had already requested readmission, been granted one of only 24 spots in the 2018 cohort of new midwives, and began making plans for the fall. My dreams were dashed. And the studying and prep work I had been doing in advance of beginning again had been for naught.
But! By God, and somewhat out of the blue, a family reached out to me and said they wanted to invest in my education and my efforts to become a nurse-midwife. This generous family has offered to donate $7,000 toward my balance if I'm able to raise $7,000; it's a campaign match if you will. What does this mean? This extraordinary act of generosity matches your gift, dollar for dollar, up to $7,000! All funds raised throughout the life of this campaign will be used toward my education: books, equipment, tuition expenses, lab fees, etc. This is an investment in the future of midwifery and in the lives of countless families that will be touched by my care.
The moments and situation I found myself in at the end of 2017 were not reflective of who I am. I am confident in that. My experiences will only add to the building up of my life and of my calling. There is a path for my return, and perhaps more importantly, an invitation for others to join me and participate in the work that is so much a part of my midwifery calling. I hope you will join me on this journey by donating today. Thank you!
Again, THANK YOU for your gift toward this campaign and for making my dream of becoming a nurse-midwife a possibility. Please check back here regularly for updates. I'm confident we'll reach or exceed our goal. With your help, we can!
- Jide & Barbara Ehimika
- Mary Ann Hiser
- Whitney Mahler