My path to midwifery started subtly many years ago. My first glimmer of midwifery was in 1983 when my mother was pregnant with my brother and sister. In those days, siblings were not allowed in the birth room.  My dad complied with my request and to call me the moment they were born.  “You got what you asked for, a boy and a girl.” This is still one of my most profound and dearest memories, topped only by the births of my own daughter and son.
     There would be many years between that first pang and practicing as a primary midwife. After my first bachelor's degree in nutrition and dietetics (1996 - Life College, Marietta, GA), I began to do some soul-searching about what I really wanted to do with my life. I had the good fortune to live in Ithaca, NY at the time, a place that was crawling with midwives, doulas and folks interested in birth. I began inviting midwives to lunch with me and picked their brains. One of my final meetings was with two homebirth midwives in the area. They invited me to attend a group prenatal with their clients and instantly I knew I was hooked. At that time, I never imagined leaving NY.  To practice legally in NY, then and now, one had to pass the American Midwifery Certification Board (an organization closely associated with the American College of Nurse Midwives). I knew practicing legally would help legitimize my practice and home birth.
     Linda, a direct-entry midwife, who had jumped through all the hoops to become the first Certified Midwife (CM – non-nurse midwife) in NY had strongly suggested I get my degree in nursing before I pursued my midwifery path. She told me about an accelerated nursing program for those already holding BS degrees through Binghamton University, an hour from Ithaca. Within the next year I was enrolled in the accelerated nursing program and on my path to becoming a midwife. I gained so much more than I expected from my year at Binghamton University. I learned that one can be a midwife to more than a pregnant or birthing mom. Upon graduating in the fall of 2000, I began working as a labor and delivery nurse at a small community hospital in Binghamton. Binghamton also had a fair share of midwives that worked within the hospital system. Here I learned that beautiful hospital births can be possible too. My stay in Binghamton was short, however, so that I could continue on my path.
     I relocated to Poughkeepsie, NY and began working at Vassar Brother Medical Center. While this hospital had more of the typical medicalized birth, I became familiar with hospital systems and I attended over 3,000 births during my time there. I learned how to recognize abnormal, and in my opinion, learned to remain calm in the face of those abnormalities, both for myself and for my future clients.
     Finally I began midwifery school at Stony Brook University. I was committed to working in an out-of-hospital setting even before starting school and therefore was diligent about obtaining clinical experience in this setting.  A majority of my clinical experience took place at the Connecticut Childbirth and Women’s Center. Upon graduating in 2004, my experience in a birth center lead me to Wisconsin and to practice in a free-standing birth center where I worked for just over a year.
     In September of 2005, I married my beloved husband and my biggest fan, Mark Eisenhandler.  In October of 2006 our daughter Maeve was born at home into the loving hands of her parents with midwives Ingrid Andersson LM, CNM, Jane Peterson LM, CPM and Hannah Copp, CNM at our side.   During my pregnancy with Maeve I had been assisting and working with Ingrid in her home birth practice, Community Midwives. With Ingrid’s support, I began my own home birth practice in the winter of 2007.  In September of 2009, Mark, Maeve and I welcomed our newest family member, Jude, into the world. I was supported again by Ingrid, Jane and Britt Wanta, LM, CNM during his pregnancy, birth and post partum.  I will always be grateful to all the wonderful people that touch my life, personally and professionally.  They all help to make this work sustaining and rewarding. 
Open Arms Midwifery, LLC