How did I get here? Are you Next?

by Miriam McKinney, MS, ICCE

I am the current ICEA Board Treasurer. It’s hard to believe but this is my fourth and final year in this role. It’s been a blast. That said, I was an unlikely candidate. When I started my first term, I had never been on a board, and I was a new ICCE (ICEA Certified Childbirth Educator). To quote one of my favorite songs, “How did I get here?” 

I grew up in a house of teachers. My mom was a beloved seventh grade and community college math teacher. My step dad taught English and history. I fell into teaching while in high school as both a part time tutor and as a Hebrew school teacher, but I never thought I would teach as a career. 

While I was pregnant with my first child, my husband and I took an eight-week childbirth education class. We enjoyed the time together as well as the time with the other expectant parents. With both of our kids we also hired a post-partum doula to help us for two weeks. She helped us through those first difficult weeks of no sleep and adjusting to the new normal with a baby. 

As one does, we made friends with our postpartum doula. The more I talked to her about how she came to be a postpartum doula, I learned that she was also a birth doula and taught childbirth education classes. 

I was someone who loved telling my birth stories and hearing others talk about theirs. I tried not to give unsolicited advice (most of the time) but if someone asked me a question about pregnancy or childbirth, I couldn’t help but weigh in. Had I found my passion? 

My nine-to-five job was and still is as a data and systems analyst. I love math, data and problem solving. That said, as we all do, I’d been thinking about how I really wanted to spend my valuable time when not running my household or chauffeuring my kids to their activities.  I was so thankful to having found our childbirth education class and hoped to help other families in the future. 

Our postpartum doula friend pointed me to ICEA. I went to the website and instantly connected with the mission and vision of the organization, especially the parts about being evidence-based and a focus on family-centered care. 

With two small kids at home and a full-time job during the day, I started my journey through the certification program to become an ICCE. And I used all the allotted time. Whew. 

Fast-forward one year after I was certified, to ICEA’s conference in Louisville, KY. Being so new to ICEA, I was eager to meet other ICEA folks and I hopped a plane to Kentucky. I roomed with my same buddy who had introduced me to ICEA, and we went to sessions, meals and even met Penny Simkin. I felt a real kinship with the other birth professionals, if a little intimidated by the speakers and their wealth of knowledge. 

On the last day of the conference, the ICEA board treasurer came over to chat with us. She had been talking to attendees about being on the ICEA board. She explained the perks of the board and the responsibilities. Perks include getting one recertification fee covered per term and a stipend towards travel and room for conferences and the annual board strategic planning meeting. I set up a time to talk to her on the phone after I returned home. I read up a little bit on the Board of Directors and what they do and how non-profits operate in general. It did seem like a rewarding challenge if they would have me. I decided to apply. There were interviews with the ICEA nomination committee and I was chosen. I was nervous about this new responsibility but also determined to figure it out. I was used to creating a budget for my household and used that as the springboard to diving into ICEA’s finances.

The rest is history. I am so proud of the work that the ICEA board has put in during my four years and, of course, all board members who came before. I am most proud of chairing the scholarship committee and creating the scholarship application process. I only wish that ICEA could award all applicants with a scholarship. We are currently working to add a new scholarship opportunity specifically for teaching tools. 

Being on the board has taught me teamwork and compromise. I appreciate that our ICEA professionals and the board have recognized that we want to keep ICEA a relevant and relatable organization in the world. Maternal and infant health and social justice, as related to the disparities in healthcare, are showing up in the forefront of legislation and media. I truly believe that ICEA’s certified professionals make a difference in these areas and can continue to do so in the future. 

When I first found ICEA, I thought that maybe I had found a passion as a childbirth professional and now I know I have. 

Are you a passionate member of ICEA who would like to give back? Consider applying to be on the board and being a part of the future of ICEA.