Marcy Tardio, CNM, LM
Midwives have an esteemed place in history. I am honored to be part of this historical sisterhood. There are many avenues to becoming a midwife in the U.S.: certified nurse-midwife (CNM), certified midwife (CM), certified professional midwife (CPM), and apprentice-trained midwife. Although my training is as a CNM I choose to let go of titles other than the most inclusive: I call myself midwife.
My introduction to childbirth began with my mother's stories. She spoke of birth as a joyous experience. Yet, at her own first birth (with me) her doctor dismissed her desire for a non-medicated birth by giving her medication against her wishes. When she asked to wear her glasses to see her birth in the mirror her nurse responded: "You won't need those." And despite having taken natural childbirth classes, forceps were used as were routine in the early 1950s. Yet, her take-away was that childbirth was both empowering and beautiful. These were the sentiments she passed on to me.
My first personal experience in childbirth came in a non-traditional way.This is to tell my story, not to advocate for this woman’s style of birth:
I was nineteen. The twenty-three year old laboring woman chose to birth in a log cabin on our West Virginia farm, where she was attended by her twenty-four year old partner and about a dozen of her chosen ‘family.’ We gathered around her as she labored. She took no childbirth preparation classes, had no doctor or midwife. She prepared herself by remaining physically active in our biodynamic garden, eating fresh seasonal foods, reading Childbirth Without Fear by Grantly Dick Read--- a primary book on natural childbirth in 1970--- and trusting that what was natural would be right.
And then, the feet presented. The dad-to-be must have been an attentive student as he prepared to ‘catch’ his baby because (with what I know now) he did all the right maneuvers as he ‘caught’ his breech baby. His daughter needed some resuscitation-- tactile stimulation, a few breaths of mouth-to-mouth air-- when she was born. Mother and baby were fine.
I was moved beyond measure.
That began my ‘calling’ to become a midwife.Two years later I gave birth to my first son in my San Francisco home, with the attentive care of a family doctor. I then began to accompany friends as a primary support during their labours; a doula before the birth community embraced this title as a woman who mothers the mother. Several months following my birth I returned to college to become a registered nurse, completing my training at San Francisco City College. Eight years later I did my midwifery training at the University of California-San Francisco General Hospital Midwifery Program, graduating in 1988. I did my final Integration training at North Central Bronx, an exemplary center for midwifery care at that time.
As an RN I worked in areas as diverse as oncology (people with cancer), critical care, hospice, and maternity, all of which have informed my understanding of the varied life transitions. As a midwife I have worked in-hospital in the Boston area, and in two New York City free-standing birth centers---The Maternity Center andElizabeth Seton--- neither of which exists at this time. As of 2013 I am celebrating my twenty-fifth year as a midwife, and thirteenth year as a homebirth midwife.
My philosophy is that birth works most of the time, and that women’s bodies know what to do, especially when she is supported by loving people and attended by a skilled practitioner. I also believe that in a city as diverse as New York, providing culturally-sensitive and family-centered care is important.
At this writing in 2016 I bring to my Practice, and to the families who seek my care, twenty-eight years as a midwife. With this I bring the skill, intuition and mindfulness that these years and experiences have brought.