By Cathy Geimer, RN, BSN, ICCE
When the editor of the International Journal of Child- was during transition. My labor was induced and it seemed
birth Education e-mailed me and said she would like me to everything was on fast-forward. Contractions were one on
write an article in the Spotlight on the Educator column, I top of another and I was surrounded by medical people. My
was floored. I quickly pulled out a few past journals. One husband was trying to give me the hand signals for the AH-
featured an amazing educator teaching and also dealing with HEE, AH-HEE, AH-WHO breathing but I couldn’t see him.
major issues like apartheid in South Africa. Other educators I hollered for him to get where I could see him. Being an
had so many advanced degrees and multiple certifications, I intelligent man and realizing the wisdom of not arguing with
didn’t know what all the letters behind their names meant. a woman in transition, he stood on a chair and all was fine.
I e-mailed right back to set her straight and told her He would have hung from the ceiling fan if I had asked him!
that I had only been teaching 5 years and worked in a small I knew I needed training before I could teach prepared
clinic on an Indian Reservation in Wisconsin. There are childbirth class and looked into certification through ICEA.
surely hundreds of more qualified and experienced educators I observed an ICEA prepared childbirth series at Shawano
than I. I wanted to make sure she also knew that I am non- Medical Center, where all of our patients at the Menominee
Native, just turned 60 and hold my classes in the conference Tribal Clinic deliver. I was impressed with the classes and met
room in our clinic’s basement. She e-mailed me right back Mary Alexander ICCE, IBCLC. I admired her professionalism
“Surprise! I like stories that are different.” Yikes! and experience. Mary was due for re-certification and agreed
Well here is my story… to be my mentor. She helped me to develop a curriculum
If you would have told me twenty years ago that I would and came and observed my childbirth class series. Her help
be teaching childbirth classes on an Indian reservation, I was invaluable. The certification process was not easy. I felt
would have told you that you were crazy. I was working as a like I was doing my OB rotation again. The required reading
social worker in an early intervention program for children concerning labor and birth was extensive. ICEA also focused
with special needs. Before that, I worked in social services for on developing your teaching ability. The birth observations
15 years. My three children were entering their early teens. and experience being a birth partner in labor and delivery
My niece moved in with us for a few months when she was gave me practical and relevant experience. The papers that
finishing her nursing studies at Bellin College of Nursing in were required were substantive and the exam for certification
Green Bay. I always had an interest in nursing but thought I was challenging. I don’t believe anyone should be teaching
was too old to make a career change. I remember saying to childbirth classes unless they are certified and I think ICEA
her (my niece) that if I decided to enter the nursing program is the best. I went to an ICEA convention a few years ago
I would be 46 when I graduated. She said “Well if you don’t and attended a section entitled “Putting the Zip-a Dee-Back-
enter the program, in four years you still will be 46 and you in-the-Doo-Dah.” And that is what I think is what ICEA is
won’t have a nursing degree.” That did it!! I enrolled and about. The organization expects its members to know the
graduated in 1994. “Doo-Dah” and is there for help with the Zip-a-Dee.
I worked at a hospital in IMCU, in home health and Teaching Prepared Childbirth Classes at the Menominee
later in a positive parenting program. When our children Tribal Clinic is probably different than other places. Most
were grown, we moved and built a home. I found myself Menominee events include food. Childbirth classes are no
living on the Menominee Indian Reservation and I needed a exception. I was a little surprised but soon learned the reality. I
new job. I was hired as a Prenatal Nurse at the Menominee was expected to teach AND feed the couples that attend. Not