Statement About My Career
am a researcher, college faculty member, doula trainer, and educator focusing
on intimate relationships. I started out as a birth doula in 1988 and became
a DONA International birth doula trainer in 1997. Providing
doula care is still a satisfying part of my life. On my own and with my colleagues Karen Kohls, PT, and Ruth
Ancheta, M.A., I have taught over fifty beginning doula training
the last few years, I have also published research on women's
sexual experiences (see the Publications page). I teach several psychology courses at Madison Area Technical College, including their Human Sexuality course. I am also an AASECT certified
teaching doula trainings, I also teach Parent and Infant
Attachment workshops for professionals who work with postpartum
families. I developed these workshops for the Family
Living program division of the University of Wisconsin-Extension
main areas of research are on effective labor support by
doulas and the psychological needs of mothers and fathers
during their labor and birth experience. I completed my dissertation in June 2010 in Human Development and Family Studies at the University of
Wisconsin-Madison (see the Publications page). So far I have completed
interviews with 52 doulas, 30 mothers, 18 fathers, and 6
nurses from all over North America. One article has been published and others are
currently in different phases of the submission process.
I was raised in San Jose and in the Napa Valley of California. I
was lucky that my home was in a rural area and I was allowed
to roam outside for hours by myself. Nature is still
my anchor and my solace. My grandparents lived in Napa
for over fifty years and I am a frequent visitor to the area. I
have also spent a great deal of time in San Francisco and
can get around without a map!
I have three young adult children who all reside in Wisconsin. One of my unknown talents is that I like to renovate houses that are in poor shape!
my senior year in high school, my much older sister had
a home birth. Because of our age difference, we weren't
very close and she lived far away. But I was really
curious about her choice–why would someone DO that? A
few years later, my best friend from kindergarten went into
labor quite suddenly. I ended up as her only support person during a very quick labor and birth. It
left me with a lot of questions like:
she was having trouble breathing, why not have her sit up
than lay flat on her back?"
"If he was coming out so quickly (labor was one hour, 42 minutes),
why did they cut her vagina open and then sew her back up
"If baby Joel was crying so hard, why did they say his lungs
weren't mature and take him away to the nursery (where we
heard him bawling for the next 15 minutes)?"
returning to school, I wrote and researched about alternative
birth practices and birth centers for my classes. Eventually I had my own children, and became a childbirth educator and professional birth assistant.
birth, I see the opportunity for personal growth and empowerment
for my clients. They will need strength and to know
themselves in order to make the important decisions that
parenting demands of them. The world is in flux and
there are many opportunities to have one's values tested. Understanding
what matters to you as a person and as a parent and being
able to honor those feelings and values while still respecting
others who disagree is important work. I feel that
I teach and model that when I work with families. It
isn't important that they agree with me, but that they know
themselves and make choices based on knowledge and understanding
love this work because it feeds my soul. I couldn't
not do it. Babies are fully formed, conscious, small
people who are dependent on big people to meet their needs
and to form their consciousness. When we understand
that truth and how to nurture and guide our children by
our own behavior towards them, we change the world. My
part in it is to help families by spreading this knowledge
about birth and infancy and parenting and helping people
to open their eyes that this matters.
think most of us who are sexuality educators or counselors
initially started with a question. And that question
was, “Why?” Whether it was about a behavior, a value,
or a sexual practice, we wanted to learn more about it and
to understand what was behind it. Much of human sexual
behavior is still a mystery in one way or another. In
this last decade we are beginning to realize how much of what
we feel is actually influenced by our biology. Because
of the historical feeling that sex was private and somehow
shameful, asking questions about sex has had this same stigma. Unless
it is deemed relevant to public health, it is very difficult
to obtain funds for sexuality research.
studies show that open dialogue and acceptance of sexuality
as a normal part of being human leads to better adjustment
and satisfaction in life. Because I don’t
feel shy talking about intimate matters, becoming a sexuality
educator felt like a natural next step. Using my doula
and interviewing skills, people naturally open up to me about
their experiences. So I find sexuality research compelling
and needed in our culture.
You Wouldn't Know (Unless I Told You)
I could drive any car I'd drive: an Aston Martin Vanquish.
What I do drive: a 1998 Volvo sedan with a 'WI Doula"
favorite vacation: Usually involves somewhere warm
with a beach and flowers blooming.
don't like coffee.
I could have dinner with anyone famous who is not currently
I would choose Charles Darwin and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck to
discuss the development of their theories of evolution.
I could go back in time and change history, I would: Speak
up so that women's experiences of childbearing do not take
a back seat to reproductive rights in the women's movements
of the 1960's and 70's.
most annoying thing about growing old is: all the maintenance!