Debbie Cox didn’t start out wanting to be a midwife. It was a calling that found her after spending five years as an environmental engineer. Cox knew she wanted to change her career, but she wasn’t sure exactly what she was looking for, just that she enjoyed helping people.
That’s when a close friend invited Cox to join her for her home birth. Saying yes to this invitation would change Cox’s life forever.
“I went through the classes with her and at the birth was amazed by the power of the body and the midwife’s role,” Cox told Kaiser Permanente. “So I decided to go back to school and start all over again.”
Starting over again wasn’t easy. Cox had to earn another master’s degree. She was already raising one child when she went back to school, and she gave birth to her second in the middle of earning that second graduate degree. Cox returned to classes just 10 days after giving birth.
Cox has seen a lot of changes in labor and delivery during her career as a midwife. From natural birth to epidurals, and the ever-growing number of female OB/GYNs, Cox has been there, counting each of the births she has been a part of.
“It’s the engineer in me,” she said. “I’m a data collector. I have three little journals full of the times, dates, gestation – but never the names, for privacy. I always sat down at the end of a shift and entered the births.”
Whether delivering for friends, neighbors, her children’s teachers, and even her colleagues, Cox has always loved what she does. She now works part-time in order to spend time with her husband, and when she someday retires, she wants to volunteer for environmental causes and spend even more time with her family — including her own two children. Her son is a physician, and her daughter works for the Environmental Defense Fund.
Though there wasn’t any fanfare to celebrate her 5,000th delivery, Cox made a sweet gesture in honor of the moment. She gave the mother a cap for the baby, one that her own mother had knit. It was embroidered with the number 5,000, in celebration of all the lives she helped welcome to the world.