Monday, May 30, 2016

Baby Catcher by Peggy Vincent

It was an accident! I really didn't mean to deviate from my Mount TBR plan, but I was at the library and I just ran across this book and I thought, "Oh, I'll just flip through it a bit." Well, that's not what happened. Baby Catcher by Peggy Vincent caught me as well. I was fascinated by the tale of a young woman in nursing school in the early 1960s finding her way to Obstetrics Nursing and then on to Midwifery. Just as Vincent unexpectedly became mesmerized by the world of Labor and Delivery, I was mesmerized by her telling of it.

I was hooked. I thought if I saw lots more babies born, perhaps I'd discover that missing bit of information, the secret of that enchanted moment when one person suddenly becomes two people.

Vincent wasn't the only one evolving during this time. During the 1960s, '70s and '80s, the philosophies surrounding birth changed dramatically. No longer were women being knocked out and waking to find a little stranger in their arms and Vincent found herself right in the middle of the revolution in Berkeley, California.

Women's bodies have near-perfect knowledge of childbirth; it's when their brains get involved that things can go wrong. When we force external rules on laboring women's behavior, their births may veer off track. The intrinsic intelligence of women's bodies can be sabotaged when they're put into clinical settings, surrounded by strangers, and attached to machines that limit their freedom to move. They then risk falling victim to the powerful forces of fear, loneliness, doubt, and distrust, all of which increase pain.

Vincent became part of the first group of nurses to labor women in Alta Bates Hospital's brand new birth center. These new methods ran hard up against the traditional practices of some of the doctors in the hospital, but she could see how well it benefited the women. Eventually she attended midwifery school and started her own private, home birth practice and even becoming the first Certified Nurse Midwife to have privileges at the hospital where she began her nursing career.

The stories Vincent shares of births she has attended both as a nurse and then as a midwife are wonderfully written and had me positively transfixed. This post would go on for days if I shared them all with you so really the only thing I can recommend is that you find a copy of this book and read it for yourself. It is fantastic!

I'll leave you with this one final quote while I wonder if maybe a career change isn't too late for me:

A midwifery school classmate once said to Vincent:
"As midwives, we meet wildly interesting people and stay up all night with them. We ask them questions about their sex lives, eat their food, feel inside their bodies, snoop around their houses, drink champagne at all hours, and best of all, we get to catch delicious little naked, wet babies. What I can't figure out is, why doesn't everyone want to be a midwife?"

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