Jan Perrone, 2003California Association of Midwives » Brazen Woman: Jan Perrone, 2003
...Brazen Woman: Jan Perrone, 2003
went to her
first homebirth 31 years ago.The birth took place in the home of a casual friend, and a group of mutual friends had come out to witness it.They invited Jan
along.Until that birth, she
had thought of being a nun, a teacher and a doctor.In college she
studied to become an oceanographer.Her
goal had been to find resources in the ocean that could feed the planet.She
realized that day that being a midwife encompassed everything she
had wanted to do with her
life - blending spiritual practice, healing and education.
A number of women who witnessed the birth that day decided they wanted to pursue the study of midwifery.They convinced the male midwife who had caught that baby to return to Del Norte County weekly and teach them, if they paid his
gas for the journey.They did a series of weekly study groups that summer.Jan
then moved to Arcata and attended a 9-month midwifery program at the People's School for Holistic Health and Naturopathic Medicine
.At that school she
also studied homeopathy, reiki and herbs.
The school was on the forefront of alternative medicine at a time when it was all quite new.Because of this, they were under close watch by the authorities.Jan recalls one time when the teacher noticed plain-clothes policemen watching them from across the street.Jan
went out and confronted them in their car.She
asked them, "What are you doing watching us?If you want to know what we're doing, come in and see."They rolled up their windows and drove away.Concerned that the school would be raided, they moved all the files to Jan's house.She
remembers at transports having to "practically throw women out of the car" at the emergency room door and race away before their license plates could be read.Jan
went on into a one-year apprenticeship with her
teacher.She became office manager, teacher and clinical staff at the school.
The first class she
taught was pelvimetry, then Bradley childbirth preparation.As the apprentice, she would go first to the births.She
had a natural knack for watching and knowing what was going on.It was always easy for her
to figure out a woman's dilation.After apprenticing for one year, Jan moved up to Smith River and worked as a midwife with one of the women she had studied with.
Two years after having her
duaghter Jesse, she
returned to Arcata.She
has been attending births and teaching in Humboldt County ever since.She credits being able to practice for so long to having the same midwifery partner for 20 years.
partner retired, she
found a wonderful midwife to work with who had been trained in Europe and had an empowering and expansive view of midwifery.Since then, she
has been working with younger women, who bring a fresh perspective to practice.Jan
first midwifery class in September of 1983.She
expanded the series to include advanced classes in 1988.She
currently teaches about 2 beginning series per year and on-going advanced classes.Jan
has also trained 10 apprentices over the years.She
has made sure to always have apprentices, because she
believes it is critically important to be training new midwives.She
strongly believes that knowledge is power.She
feels that teaching is just as important as midwifery practice.This dedication shows.She
is an expert at stimulating the young women of the community to think of themselves and their role in the world in new and powerful ways.She
is adept at pushing people to their limits and supporting them in challenging themselves.
Always politically active, Jan
became involved with CAM
early in the organization's herstory.She
became the region 1 rep in 1985 and CAM chair in 1989.She
certified in 1988.From very early on in her
joined all of her
clients to CAM
feels it very important that they know about the politics in the state, receive the CAM newsletter and stay aware of the enormous efforts it takes midwives to continue providing the care they wish to receive.The clients are our greatest support base.Jan
has also made all her
students and apprentices become active in CAM
.Students must be politically active in order to be considered for an apprenticeship, so all the students in the area are pushed to join and participate.By the strength of her
personality alone, Jan
has carried CAM region 1.The small community in Humboldt County has been the most consistently active region in recent years, with regular fundraising and public education campaigns.Jan
is a shining example of the wide reaching differences one person can make, just by focusing on motivating the people around them towards change.Jan
believes strongly that there should be a midwife for every watershed.She encourages young midwives to become involved in their community on multiple levels - sitting on boards, volunteering in schools, speaking in classrooms and on the radio.
In this way, we get the community around us to admire and appreciate midwives for who we are, opening up the opportunity to spread understanding of what we do.For example, Jan sat on the Board of Directors of the North Country Clinic in Arcata for 10 years.
At that time, it was the only clinic in the area providing parallel care, and she
felt it important that they interface with a real homebirth midwife, to normalize midwifery for them.
provides a powerful example for those around her
of what one woman is capable of when she
own truth and listens to her
says you cannot vibrate in love and in fear at the same time.She
actively teaches young women to trust their intuitive awareness, to explore the energy they are putting out into the world and to be healers, of individuals, communities and the planet on a very deep level.Jan
received the Brazen Woman award in 2003.Now retired from midwifery (but not from teaching) after having caught over 500 babies, Jan
says that she
is really happy to have gotten the Brazen Woman award.She
is deeply honored to be included among the incredible women who have received it in the past.