I've had the great privilege to work next to Hannah and Kluane many times over the past two years as they completed their midwifery apprenticeships at the Alaska Family Health and Birth Center. The real bummer about apprenticeships, it turns out, is that they come to an end. Hannah emailed me this week and asked if I might share this letter she and Kluane penned - INSTEAD OF STUDYING FOR THEIR EXAMS - to help share their deep gratitude to the community of Fairbanks for welcoming them into their families and training them as midwives.
Please join me in sending them love and the best of luck as they embark on their next chapters! As you'll read below, they will be holding a fundraiser at AFHBC in July to raise money for their upcoming charitible mission - I hope to see you there. <3
And now, onto their words. The following letter is authored by Hannah Brown and Kluane Tozier.
To the women and families of the Fairbanks area:
June marks two years since we became student midwives, and also the conclusion of our apprenticeships with Alaska Family Health and Birth Center. Time flies, and all that. While we really should be studying and preparing for the test that will determine if we get to be real, grown-up midwives, we have been talking and can't help but reflect on our time here. Along with this reflection comes a need for us to express our thanks.
None of this would be possible without you: the women and families of Alaska Family Health and Birth Center. Your willingness, patience, and good humor throughout every phase of our education has been amazing and so very humbling. We were never told that we were too young, or that we couldn't support a woman through labor when we have never personally experienced it. Through these years, we have laughed with you. We have cried with and for you in joy, as well as in sorrow and loss. We have been honored to witness the strength that can only be found in the birth room. We have watched you struggle and wiped your tears as you worked through pain and exhaustion to breastfeed your baby.
The last few weeks have been emotional ones. We've slowly been collecting my "lasts" at the birth center: the last Monday of clinic with Julie and Kate, the last lunch with the midwives, the last initial prenatal with Manga, the last postpartum visit with Erin. While it's true that we could never have arrived at this point in our training without the women, babies, and families that we have served for the past two years, we are equally indebted to the midwives of Alaska Family Health and Birth Center.
"Our" midwives. Oh, how I could go on and on about how much we love, admire, and aspire to be like each of them. These women are fearless in their love and support. These women are our heroes. They hold life and death in their strong but gentle hands. We have seen them be unflinching in their care through the dark moments, the painful moments, the moments when it is clear that they are grieving, too. We have heard whispered words of encouragement as a woman is at the end of her strength, as well as words of firm direction when danger is detected. These women have taught us so much, as women and as wives and mothers, as well as midwives. We will forever carry their teachings our my minds and hearts, and someday hope to be half the women and midwives that they are.
Truly, the last two years have been the most incredible, joyous, and sometimes painful years of our lives. We have grown so much; and while sometimes the growing pains were more than we thought we could take, we have emerged proud of the individuals and midwives we have become.
Thank you so much.
We could never express our gratitude enough. We really never knew that we could grow to love and cherish so many wonderful families in such a short amount of time.
The next chapter of our lives (and our journeys as midwives) includes a mission trip to the Philippines. We will be having a fundraiser gala at Alaska Family Health & Birth Center on July 2nd from 3pm to 6pm. This fundraiser will in part help us raise funds for our trip to the Philippines through the incredible organization Mercy In Action. Even if you can't give monetarily, we would love to see anyone who we served, for any encouragement or a kind word.
Hannah and Kluane