Abigail Eaves CNM, MSN, Executive Director, Founder (Email Abigail)
I was born and raised in Albuquerque and attended the Albuquerque Academy. I went on to UNM and received both of my nursing degrees — a Bachelor's in 2000 and Master's with a concentration in nurse-midwifery in 2002. I knew from a very young age that being part of natural childbirth was my calling and I realized that I was to be a midwife by the time I was 16 years old. The path has been difficult and long, but midwifery is my passion, my life's work and worth every minute that it took to get here!
Birth is one of the most important moments in a woman's life and I believe the caregiver, whoever the birth attendant may be, should nurture and empower a woman in that moment. I am passionate about all women receiving care that strengthens them as individuals and gives them the power to make informed health decisions about their own care, as well as their family's care. I attended deliveries at Lovelace Women's Hospital from January 2004 through July 2009, but have always had a desire to attend women in a birth center. I fiercely believe that women need as many options as possible to birth their babies, and the birth center option has been missing too long and is greatly needed in our community.
I am married and have a son who is 13 and a step-son who is 17. My husband and I also have a little boy born in February 2009. My family gives me infinite joy and ongoing strength as I continue to work on growing this incredible organization. I am privileged to have a family that believes in my path and supports my every step. We currently live in Corrales and have a house full of dogs and cats, smiles and laughter.
Melanie Yanke, CNM, MSN, Clinical Director (Email Melanie)
I grew up on a farm in the Texas Panhandle and spent most of my life there. In 1979, I finished my nursing degree and taught childbirth classes and worked in labor and delivery for a while until I took time off to raise my family. Kids, farming and working in landscape design in Texas and California occupied my time until I moved to Albuquerque in 2006. You know how life happens in mysterious ways? Well, I found my passion rekindled for nursing after being in Thailand during the Tsunami and helping in New Orleans after Katrina. I rediscovered my enthusiasm for helping women give birth and that led to my Master’s Degree in nurse midwifery at UNM in 2008. Much of my research involved out-of-hospital birth and how to provide a supportive birthing environment.
Before joining the birth center, I trained at the Tucson Birth Center and worked for over 2 years at one of the UNM clinics, but my real dream since graduation has been to help start this birth center. I am convinced that for the majority of healthy women, the birth center is a very safe and supportive place to give birth.
I feel grateful to have experienced a life full of challenges and learned great life lessons that I use to help women though their own experiences. I am passionate about being with women through pregnancy and birth and strive to guide them to find their own power and strength to meet their own personal challenges and be great women.
Many describe me as a woman with many talents. My other interests include gardening, landscaping, sculpture, hiking and biking. I love plants of all kinds and especially orchids. You may notice the landscaping around the birth center, which is my creative work in progress and helps me achieve a more perfect balance in my life.
I look forward to getting to know you and sharing in your birth and life experiences.
Patricia Caro Metz, CNM, MSN (Email Patricia)
Elena Campili Stauss, CPM, LM, Midwife Locum Tenens
I am originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Midwifery is my passion. I am a certified professional midwife (CPM) and hold a New Mexico license (LM). It is an honor to have the opportunity to work at Dar a Luz Birth & Health Center.
Dr. Larry Leeman, Medical Director, Medical Consultant
I am trained in family medicine and obstetrics with a primary focus on working with pregnant women and newborns. I work primarily at the University of New Mexico where I am an associate professor of Family Medicine, and OB/GYN and co-medical director of the new Mother Baby Unit. In my private practice at UNM, I especially enjoy working with women desiring natural childbirth. I also work with pregnant women at UNM with complicated pregnancies, including twins, diabetes, prior Cesarean deliveries, and preterm labor or in need of Cesarean delivery. I care for newborn babies, as well, in my practice.
I graduated from medical school at the University of California, San Francisco, and completed a family medicine residency at UNM prior to moving to the Zuni reservation. At Zuni, I practiced full scope rural family medicine and became the director of obstetrics. The Zuni women delivered in a birth center setting where over 90 percent did not request pain medicines in labor and where the Cesarean rate was only seven percent despite a high incidence of pregnancy complications due to diabetes and hypertension. The experience of working in the birth center setting at Zuni helped me to see that all women don't require a hospital for childbirth.
After leaving Zuni, I received a fellowship training in obstetrics — operative and high risk — at the University of Rochester and returned to the University of New Mexico in 1998. In addition to teaching maternal and child health to resident physicians in family medicine, OB/GYN and pediatrics, I also do research in the areas of pregnancy outcomes, rural maternity care and contraception. I have three boys and my spouse, Rebecca, is a nurse-midwife. Our recreation includes international travel, scuba diving and gardening.
Shelley Black, CHt, BHE, Office Manager (Email Shelley)
I have been an advocate for natural birth and attachment parenting for as long as I can remember. Two natural births in hospitals convinced me that there had to be a better way to support women in labor and birth. After supporting my sister in an inspiring and beautiful midwife-attended birth, I was transformed into a cheerleader for midwives. When I found out that Abigail was starting a midwife birth center in Albuquerque, I immediately joined the cause, and served on the board of directors for three years. When Dar a Luz needed a hand in the office, I was thrilled to step into the role.
I graduated from the University of New Mexico and have been a both a business owner and a customer service manager in various industries from wineries to home improvement. I am also a certified hypnotherapist specializing in pregnancy and birth, and have been teaching childbirth education classes for many years. I am honored and privileged to support the birth center's business operations and to get to know all the wonderful clients who become part of the birth center family.
Mallory Wilson, Insurance Claims Specialist and Medical Assistant (Email Mallory)
Mallory helped launch a birth center in Alaska before coming to Albuquerque, where Dar a Luz was lucky enough to find her. She is tenacious in getting insurance claims paid. She also draws blood, gives injections and helps in the lab. She doesn't like to be in pictures or biographies like this one, but she loves our clients and gets to know each one personally.
Tracy Cooper, Receptionist (Email Tracy)
Tracy greets everyone with a warm and friendly smile. She is dedicated to excellent customer service, and her peaceful, calm demeanor puts people around her at ease.
Lauren Oberholser, RN, BSN, IBCLC, Birth Class Instructor, Birth Assistant, Lactation Consultant (Email Lauren)
I work as a birth assistant, prenatal educator, and lactation consultant at Dar a Luz. A native Burquena, I was born at the Southwest Maternity Center here in Albuquerque, which was the last free-standing birth center before Dar a Luz. With a family history of midwifery support, "birthwork" was a natural passion for me and I worked for many years as doula prior to studying as a nurse and lactation consultant.
I live in the North Valley with my husband and three children and we all enjoy raising an extensive vegetable and herb garden and walking the ditches at the Los Poblanos Open Space. When I'm not working at Dar a Luz, I enjoy the fast-paced environment as a nurse in adult ICU care.
Alyssa Swisher, RN, Birth Class Instructor, Birth Assistant
I am a registered nurse and one of the birth assistants who works here at Dar a Luz. I grew up in Germany and currently live in Los Lunas. I am married with three kids, the last of whom was born at Dar a Luz in December 2011.
I first found my love for labor and birth with the birth of my first daughter. I thought it would be amazing to be there at the moment when new life is brought into the world. This inspired me to go into nursing. I have enjoyed being a birth assistant here and look forward to working with you all!
Laura Wood, CHt, BHE, Hypnosis Birth Class Instructor
I teach the Blissborn classes here at Dar a Luz, and I am so honored to support parents in this amazing life event.
I grew up in New Mexico. I have three children and three very different birth experiences; one born by cesarean, one all-natural (but very long) hospital birth, and one peaceful five-hour home birth. My last experience with a midwife-attended home birth was life-changing in so many ways. I saw what birth can and should be, and it led me on a path to find a way to support other moms in finding their joy in labor and birth.
My degrees are in speech therapy and psychology, and I was a stay-at-home mom for 10 years ... before everything changed! Now I'm a certified hypnotherapist, as well as co-founder of the birth education program Blissborn. We worked to put together a program for savvy and involved parents, providing the best tools available in a comprehensive, fun course. Teaching Blissborn here at Dar a Luz has been wonderful -- I really enjoy the parents who share the class time with me, and teaching keeps me charged up and excited as we continue to build Blissborn and to support our other Blissborn teachers. We're growing fast and I feel very blessed to do what I do -- I just skip around smiling most of the time!
I live here in Los Ranchos with my sweet and supportive husband, our three awesome kids, and our two dogs.
Hayley Walters, RN, Birth assistant
I am honored to be part of Dar a Luz as a birth assistant. I am grateful that such a wonderful place exists for women and families.
I have a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing from UNM. Prior to nursing I worked as an elementary and junior high school teacher in Albuquerque and on the Navajo Nation. I will be starting a midwifery program this year. As a midwife, I look forward to expanding out of hospital birth options to women in rural New Mexico.
Nancy Anthony, Certified Car Safety Instructor
I have been a NHTSA-Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician and Instructor since 2002. (NHTSA stands for National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.) I am passionate about protecting our children from one of the worst dangers in the United States – car crashes. I love to help parents select, install, and use their child’s car seat correctly. If you are unable to afford a car seat, I can also assist you in obtaining a new one for your child through the Child Safety Seat Distribution Program offered at Dar A Luz.
I live in Sandia Park with my husband and two children, ages 10 and 1. Our daughter, Charlotte, was born at Dar A Luz in 2011. I am a huge proponent of natural, peaceful labor and birth, as I believe it can be very empowering and strengthening for women, families and society. I look forward to meeting you!