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Excerpt from Lady's Hands, Lion's Heart, A Midwife's Saga ~ #34

Shoulder Dystocia

Ken and I have gone skiing out West for our winter vacation,
when a friend and colleague of mine runs into a midwife’s worst
nightmare. Roberta is a midwife practicing in the southwest part
of the state; she has attended home births almost as long as I. We
are close friends. I respect her expertise, and we have covered
for each other on many occasions.
Ken and I have just gotten home when the phone rings. It is
Roberta, asking Ken to meet her at the hospital to do a repair
of a deliberate fourth-degree episiotomy that she has just cut. I

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Holy crap you guys (from the "penis thread") ...just tryin to interject a little HUMOR here... (*whew*)

One such woman arrives with yet another unplanned
pregnancy, her eighth. She is upset because she has been using
her diaphragm religiously. She is confused as to how this could
possibly happen. I ask her if she is sure she used it every single
She replies, seriously, “I’m positive I used it every time,
because I had it tacked to my headboard so I wouldn’t forget.”
Not long after this story, one of our clients comes for her
yearly well-woman exam and Pap smear. She brings her two
daughters, who are in their early teens, with her to her annual

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Excerpt from Lady's Hands, Lion's Heart, A Midwife's Saga ~ #33

Siblings at Birth

Kids are wonderful at births. They are always welcome and are a
real and unfailing joy. We encourage the siblings to participate in
their mother’s pregnancy and to come to the prenatal visits so they
will be comfortable with Susie and me. When kids are at the visit,
I like to draw the exact position of the baby on the mom’s belly
with a magic marker. I consider myself a bit of an artiste; I find my
renderings are quite lifelike and surprisingly accurate.
First, I palpate the belly and find the exact location of the feet.

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Excerpt from Lady's Hands, Lion's Heart, A Midwife's Saga ~ #32

A Cow Named Carol

Of all the babies born with us, only one is named in my honor,
and I am extremely flattered. It is a baby cow.
Joyce is a physical therapist working at Merrimack Valley
Hospital. Her husband is a cow farmer. Joyce calls and makes an
appointment for an interview about a home birth, but I never do
meet her prenatally—she goes into labor before we can meet.
She has had care with a physician but feels that he really doesn’t
care about her, personally, at all. She has developed such an
aversion to seeing him that she gets stomach pains when she

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Excerpt from Lady's Hands, Lion's Heart, A Midwife's Saga ~ #31

The Second Birth

The day after the first birth, I am called to a birth with Dr. Brown
that is an entirely different story. This birth is the first for a
very high-strung, nervous professional woman, who definitely
tests my mettle. This labor takes twenty-four hours, which is
not unusually long for a first baby, but Sarah becomes a wild
woman. Dr. Brown remains at his office to continue seeing his
patients. He leaves me to labor-sit, with instructions to summon
him when Sarah gets seriously active.
For months now I have been reading every obstetrical textbook

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Excerpt from Lady's Hands, Lion's Heart, A Midwife's Saga ~ #30

A Lesson in Listening

Hilda is a blonde, buxom, Germanic woman with an endearing
gapped-tooth smile. She sits on our exam bed at her first visit
and tells me, in great detail, the story of her previous births.
She wants a home birth with her third baby because she has so
many complaints about the care she received with her prior two
hospital deliveries. The main complaint being that they almost
drop her babies.
Hilda says that with the first two births, she knew she had to
push, and she was positive the baby was coming. But in both

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Mamas, this is a letter I got in the mail today...

15 February 2009

Dear Carol,

I finished reading your book a little while ago, and even through my tears, feel compelled to write this note to you. Dr. Ken McKInney was my OB/GYN. He delivered my daughter into this world early in the morning on October 5th, 1982. This was after his time with "50 Fingers", when he was practicing at 33 Warren Street.

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The beginning of midwifery legislation in NH...

On a hot, sticky summer day, I am doing prenatal exams in
my apartment on the Heights, wearing my bikini. I am sitting on
the edge of the wooden cot, pilfered from the New Hampshire
State Hospital, which I use as an exam bed. I love this cot.
Printed on the side in bold black letters are the words: PROPERTY OF THE GRANITE STATE.
I have just listened to a woman’s belly. The room is very hot
and crowded. I hear voices murmuring on the other side of
the oriental screen that I use as a room divider. I assume more
women have arrived for checkups, as I operate on a first-come,


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