Seasons of life

A tribute to Amy Polk

by Mairi Breen Rothman, CNM

On April 29th of this year, an amazing life was cut short when Amy Polk was struck by a vehicle while crossing a street in downtown DC.  At 42, Amy Polk was truly in the prime of her life: A devoted wife and passionate mother of two boys, and an active community organizer who also held a 9-5 job and danced inIMG_8648eb_swordsBW.jpg a fabulous belly-dancing troupe, Amy was a tireless, unfailingly positive advocate for the advancement of women in engineering and a woman’s right to choose the birth she desires.  She was a beam of light into her family, her community and church, and the world of birth advocacy.  And while Amy’s professional and community accomplishments are many, in her final days, she was putting her energy into the creation of a birth center.

I first met Amy at a meeting that was held by the Takoma Birthing
Circle, which later became the Birth Options Alliance (BOA).  The
meeting was held by over 60 people in response to the closing of the
Maternity Center in Bethesda, which followed on the heels of the
closing of the Takoma Women’s Health Center.  Amy had delivered her own
two children at the Maternity Center, and was passionately committed to
preserving that option for other women. The BOA was formed by a
frustrated community of women and men who saw the local options for
midwife-attended birth dwindling away, and Amy was right there among
them.  She lent her considerable energy to the work the BOA did to
galvanize grass roots support for a family rally in Annapolis, for a
bill to change the regulation which required Maryland nurse-midwives to
have a written Practice Agreement signed by a physician in order to
practice in Maryland–a requirement that does not exist in Virginia or
DC.  The regulation is now changed, thanks in no small part to the BOA,
and Amy was a crucial part of that effort, which is now setting a
precedent for several other states.

After the rally in Annapolis, Amy began talking about starting a
freestanding birth center in Takoma Park.  She began to talk about this
idea to anyone who would listen, and soon the idea was well on its way
to becoming a reality.  Amy took a workshop on how to start a birth
center, joined the American Association of Birth Centers as a
Developing Birth Center member, and began talks with Washington
Adventist about putting the center, which she named Seasons of Life
Women’s Health & Birth Center, on the current campus of the
hospital when it moves up Route 29. For the past two years I had been
helping Amy as her midwife advisor, and it was quite astonishing to
watch as the plans for a birth center began to crystallize under her
direction.  In the past year, Amy had collected a dynamic group of
leaders into a Board of Directors for the Center, and was putting the
finishing touches on her application to make the center a 501(c)3
before her death.

For those who worked most closely with her, she was the rudder in our
journey, the one who pointed the way and urged us to row, and row
harder, and not be discouraged by the rough spots but to just do
whatever was the next step.  We will be hard-pressed to carry on
without her, but are committed to honoring her legacy through the
triumph for all women and families when the birth center she envisioned
opens it doors.   As her husband John Robinette said, “We miss Amy
terribly.  She was my partner, a beautiful wife and mother to our two
wonderful children. She meant so many things to so many people, but the
best way to remember and honor her life is to support her vision of a
birth center.”

Amy will be sorely missed by her husband John, her two sons, a brother and her parents..

Donations can be made to Seasons of Life (www. through paypal, or mailed to
Lisa Pratt, Treasurer, Seasons of Life, 8609 Spring Creek Ct.,
Springfield, VA  22153.

The service for Amy Polk will be Friday June 18 at 2 pm. The service
will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Silver Spring,
10309 New Hampshire Avenue, Silver Spring MD 20903

1 Comment on "Seasons of life"

  1. Barbara Goodrich-Dunn | June 19, 2010 at 1:08 am |

    I was a member of one of Amy’s many worlds-her dance troupe, and although I knew that Amy was deeply involved in the Birthing Movement, I never understood while she was living how powerfully and effectively she was committed to
    so may things. She was a Renaissance woman, deeply involved in the Feminine and yet able to navigate in what has just recently been a man’s world. Hat’s off to you Amy. Your life, though short, was a great success!

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