Melissa Gordon-Magnus, CPM, LDM
When drawn into my first birth experience as a support person for my mother and witness to my little sister's birth, I knew I wanted to do more of that! I recognized that I could be helpful, and I felt such purpose and fulfillment- I couldn’t imagine anything better.
Combining what resonated as the ultimate service and excitement, with meeting an adorable new baby and witnessing new life as it only begins to unfold, struck me at the young age of 12, and still compels me to do this work.
In those very first birth experiences, I noticed some very useful observations, which would steer my career path 10 years later. I recognized a familiarity in the ways the nurses cared for my mom, to the way she cared for me. They were kind, compassionate, empathetic, dedicated, loyal, and just followed her lead to the needs she expressed in the moment. While my mom demonstrated honor and trust in her doctor, her doctor came in and out in brief visits throughout the labor process, while the nurses remained present. The doctor often did things to my mom, while my mom consented- that were not comfortable and sometimes didn’t seem necessary to me. I observed nurses providing actual care, while I observed the doctor providing management. I was destined to become a labor and delivery nurse!
In my late teens, I stumbled into community as a SE Portland kid, who introduced me to another lifestyle, which was known as “alternative”. These people were radiant! They drank carrot and wheatgrass juice and ate tofu, and drank filtered water! But more broadly, they were taking an approach to living which carried a consciousness that I’d never known as a possibility. They honored their bodies, and made informed choices regarding what they put in them, what they exposed them to, and then paid attention to their effects. I was eager to learn more about them, and their ways of living this holistic lifestyle, so began working in natural foods stores. These were incredible networking opportunities, which seemed to introduce me to one valuable theory after another, one valuable nutritional or fitness practice after another, and, they eventually led me to learn about my first midwives.
I was gifted with becoming a mom, myself, fairly young at 21. My community was all using midwives, and this was when I began being introduced to my first Portland area midwives and attended my first home births. I self-studied herbal medicine, nutrition and lifestyle, supplementation, and began learning about all sorts of holistic practitioners who were educated to help people enhance their well-being. I was young, intrigued, and driven! This propelled me to apply to the midwifery program at Birthingway College of Midwifery, where I began studies in 2000. The following is a brief timeline speaking to my experience with pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum:
*1988-1998- Attended family and community births as I was welcomed
*1998- Received birth and postpartum doula certification through DONA
*1999-2000- Took prerequisites of anatomy and physiology and applied to Birthingway
*2000-2006- Attended Birthingway College of Midwifery, as well as provided doula services to family and community, joining teams as well as a student midwife
*2003-2004- Apprenticeship with Birthingway Birth Services
*2004- Helped open Alma Midwifery as a student midwife, working under the supervision of Laura Erickson, owner/director
*2004-2006- Apprenticed, then interned with Laura Erickson, CPM/LDM
*2006-2007- Worked as an independent midwife partnered with Carrie Duncan for Roots Midwifery Service and Alma Midwifery
*2007-2016- Worked as a state-licensed primary midwife with Alma Midwifery, also mentoring student and assistant midwives on their paths toward midwifery
Over the years, I’ve had the honor to participate in around 700 births, though I stopped counting specifically some years ago. My service to families throughout the childbearing year is an innate part of me, and I can’t imagine doing anything else. My mother taught me when I was a little girl, that we were all life-long learners. I can’t fathom any other profession both keeping me on my toes, and continuing to remind me to humble myself.
I am the fortunate mother to Willow, Alder, and Madrona, who have by far been my biggest teachers in life. I am a Portland native, with much family here still. In my personal life, I continue to place great value upon diet, nutrition and lifestyle- as well as relationship. During my personal time, you might spot me up at Mt Tabor or enjoying other city or nature walks around the area, or in a local coffee shop engaged in conversation with friends. Thank you so much for your interest in learning a little about me!