New mom Sylvia Elmer holds her baby boy Kai Elmer, Mount Auburn Hospital’s 14,000th midwife-assisted birth.
It would seem Clare Storck was born to be a midwife of legend—and not just because of that name. “I’ve always loved babies and pregnant people,” Storck tells me.
After finishing her undergrad degree in women’s studies and education, she was nannying in Los Angeles, and would often chat with the moms around her. Storck would hear birth stories that included painful procedures begun without the patient’s knowledge—let alone their consent.
Her animated interest in these stories soon lead someone to ask if she was a midwife. Her response? “I’m not… but I should be!” While it isn’t a far leap from women’s studies, Storck sums it up best: “What’s more feminist than reclaiming the birth experience?”
After working as a nanny, a licensed massage therapist and a birth doula, Storck became a certified nurse midwife in 2010. Her training as an LMT and doula brought a strong belief in the power of touch to her midwifery practice, and to the class she teaches at Mt. Auburn, Tools for a Natural Childbirth.
Talking is as important to Storck as touch, particularly with her laboring patients. During a birth, Storck will talk about all the procedures she is performing and what she’s doing, and she does her best to make sure a laboring patient is on board with any decisions before intervening in a birth. In talking through it as she goes, she aims to make sure that her patient is giving informed consent. Even if a birth doesn’t go according to plan—as many don’t—it’s important to Storck to have her patients coming out on the other side like they had a say in what happened. And this makes a huge difference to the parents Storck works with.
It’s also in tune with the values of the entire midwife practice at Mt. Auburn, Storck says, which is what attracted her to the job in the first place. The Californian moved to Somerville when she finished her studies in Nashville specifically for this job at Mt. Auburn. Working at Mt. Auburn is special, she says, as the midwives are a group of women who really value what they do. In a business dependent on word of mouth for advertising, the Midwives at Mt. Auburn are known for the empowering births they facilitate.
Since 1983, the Midwives at Mt. Auburn have delivered over 14,000 babies, and it was Storck who caught the milestone 14,000th baby, Kai Elmer of Arlington, in May of this year. She also caught the 9,000th and 10,000th babies several years ago. Storck doesn’t know why she keeps catching babies of note, but maybe it’s just her destiny. As she tells expecting parents at Mt. Auburn’s Meet the Midwives nights, “I mean, my name is Storck. What else do you need to know?”
Storck was also the midwife who cared for Evan Hempel—the trans man who made national headlines last year—during his pregnancy and labor, which led to an initiative at Mt. Auburn to increase the scope of care and inclusivity for pregnant and laboring patients. The relationship of pregnant person to caregiver can be a wonderful bond if managed well, as Storck and Hempel went on to present together at the Partners in Perinatal Health conference in 2017. Their panel on the topic of Birthing Across Gender was designed to help medical practices examine their current practices and help them become more inclusive.
And, this being a story about a Somerville resident, we can’t end without talking about food—donuts, in particular. A fun fact: Storck is also the reason we have our beloved Union Square Donuts. Her partner, Josh Danoff, moved here with her when she took the job at Mt. Auburn. While Storck is hesitant to reveal her all-time favorite donut (fair enough, who could narrow that down?), she advises that a good sugar-raised donut is the mark of a good donut shop.
“If you can’t get that one right, you can’t make a donut.”
Original article appeared online in the Somerville Scout