Tiffini Young doesn't mind those phone calls in the middle of the night when she gets up out of bed, dresses and drives to the hospital to meet a mother in labor.
"Even at 3 a.m.," Young said. "You do it because you love birth.
"What other moment in your life do you remember more vividly than the day your baby is born? And we get to be a part of that!"
Young is the newest certified nurse-midwife to join Mesa Midwives, a St. Mary's Hospital-based midwifery practice comprised also of Janet Grant, Cynthia Busker and Ruth Ann Price.
When Grant, Busker and Price added Young to the practice in January, they knew firsthand who they were getting. Young had already attended hundreds of births as a labor and delivery nurse at St. Mary's since 1999. Prior to St. Mary's, Young worked two years at St. Joseph's Hospital in Denver.
She had always wanted to be a midwife ever since Grant delivered Young's daughter - now 20.
Thus, after more than a dozen years as a labor and delivery nurse, Young returned to school to add certified midwife to her credentials. She graduated with a Master's degree from the University of Colorado in August 2011.
"Midwives are perfect for women that trust that birth is normal, and trust that their bodies intuitively know how to grow and birth a baby," Young said. "And those who aren't comfortable with their body or the birth process - we help them get there.
"Pregnancy and birth are not medical conditions. They are normal life processes."
Mesa Midwives partners with physicians at Women's Health Care of Western Colorado for high-risk pregnancies, such as when a woman develops insulin-dependent diabetes, or if triplets are discovered.
"We do twins, but not triplets - they're a little more complicated," Young said.
An initial prenatal visit with a midwife lasts an hour, compared to 20-30 minutes with a doctor. Subsequent prenatal check-ups with a midwife runs 20 minutes. If you're seeing a physician, return visits are about 10 minutes.
Midwives also differ in that they arrive at the hospital when a woman is in active labor; when her cervix is dilated to five or six centimeters. Doctors show up to catch the baby.
"As a general rule, doctors don't do labor support," Young said.
Labor support "is our specialty."
With Young by her side, Grand Junction resident Nelly Ruiz gave birth to a daughter Sept. 21. Ruiz wanted a natural birth, so Young reminded Ruiz to stay calm by focusing on her breath during the contractions.
"She helped me a lot. She was very supportive, helpful with everything," Ruiz said. "It was a really nice experience."
Ruiz's first child, born in Denver, was also attended by a midwife.
"I feel like they know what I'm going through. I'm more comfortable with them," Ruiz said of her reason for choosing midwifery care. "I can ask them anything. You bond with them."
In a summer 2012 newsletter, "Quickening," the American College of Nurse Midwives published a report "ACNM Benchmarking Project" that summarized data collected from 203 midwifery practices across the nation, including data from Mesa Midwives.
The report found an average cesarean delivery rate of 13.8 percent, and an average pre-term birth rate of 2.3 percent - well below the national averages of 32.8 percent and 11.99 percent, respectively.
Many women seek out midwives because they want to avoid unnecessary interventions such as continuous fetal monitoring of low-risk women, routine IVs, or epidural anesthesia, Young said.
Medication is available for those who want it. However, support is also there for women who prefer to give birth without drugs.
Young has delivered 100 babies since 2011; 50 since January; and she's attended "countless" births over the years as a labor and delivery nurse.
At 39, Young explained her career shift this way: "I love taking care of women and their families and I wanted to expand my practice to include taking care of women during their pregnancies and establishing that close relationship midwives have with their clients. As a labor nurse you meet only during labor and birth. You don't see them again."
Janet Grant paved the way for more women-centered care in Grand Junction 30 years ago when she founded Mesa Midwives. She caught her first baby Dec. 10, 1983.
In September, she ran into the young man at a Grateful Dead concert at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Golden.
At 61, Grant has no plans for retirement any time soon.
"Tiffini is the perfect choice (to add to our practice). She has new energy and ideas," Grant said. "We hope by offering our experience and goodwill, Mesa Midwives will continue to grow and the midwifery circle will continue."