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Excerpt from Lady's Hands, Lion's Heart, A Midwife's Saga ~ #19

A Premature Birth

This is a birth that does much to damage my reputation as a
competent and credible midwife within the medical community
for years to come. It is difficult to decipher what was questionable
judgment on my part, as opposed to what was my being pushed
up against the wall for the greater part.
Ellen is an enormous farm housewife. She is jolly and
incredibly strong, baking pies and rising before dawn to milk
their dairy cows. Ellen doesn’t believe in “lite” or low-fat anything.
She drinks her cream straight. Her husband is a bovine artificial

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This one is for Sunflower~

I am asked to participate in a round-table discussion in Hanover
about the state of midwifery in New Hampshire. It will be filmed
for Dartmouth Medical School’s closed-circuit TV. The panel
consists of several obstetricians, a few nurse-midwives, and me,
representing apprentice-trained midwives. I am slated to speak
first about the new midwifery legislation that has just become
law in New Hampshire.
To this day I can remember what I wore for that discussion
because of the conversation that ensues with the MD, a
perinatologist from Vermont, who is seated next to me. I am

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Excerpt from Lady's Hands, Lion's Heart, A Midwife's Saga ~ #18

A Hospital Birth

On rare occasions, a woman comes for a home birth and then
is risked out because of a contraindicated, preexisting medical
condition. In these cases, the women are referred for a hospital
birth, but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee that they receive
adequate care.
In Sylvie’s case, she had four normal births but had developed
a bleeding disorder (disseminated intravascular coagulation, or
DIC) with her last pregnancy. She’d had an undiagnosed, severe
placental abruption, which was not picked up by her doctor, and

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Carol Leonard at Bluestockings Bookstore, NYC~ 2/21/09

Hi Mamas! I'm on for Bluestockings...yay!

* NEW YORK CITY~ 2/20/09. book reading/discussion and signing of Lady's Hands, Lion's Heart at Real Birth (www.realbirth.com) benefit for New Space for Women's Health. We have confirmed a date with Realbirth owner, Erica Lyon. She is opening her space to us on Friday, February 20th from 6:30pm-8:30pm. We will have a little refreshment and of course the book! The space can hold up to 30 ppl so we will be asking people to RSVP to Kelly at

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A silly snippet from Carol Leonard (duh...)

One night, when Mari has her own practice, I am covering
for her while she is out of town. One of her clients calls me, in
labor. I have never met this woman, which is actually unusual,
but the woman sounds pleased that I will be assisting her. When
I get to her home, she is very active. She thinks she might be
beginning to push. I put on a glove to check her progress.
What I find upon examination takes my breath away. In front
of the baby’s head, I feel the baby’s finger.
I think, Damn! A compound presentation! This is not a good
thing.

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Excerpt from Lady's Hands, Lion's Heart, A Midwife's Saga ~ #17 (Part ll)

Franny’s Cerclage Baby

Franny and Ned have another planned pregnancy about a year
after Opal’s death. This time they go to see Ken. He does surgery
to strengthen her weak cervix right after her first trimester. He
puts in a purse-string type stitch called a McDonald cerclage. It
goes around the entire circumference of her cervix and is then
pulled tight to prevent it from letting go again prematurely. He
is fairly confident that this will hold Franny until she is at term,
146 Carol Leonard
at which time he will snip the suture. Presumably, she then will

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Excerpt from Lady's Hands, Lion's Heart, A Midwife's Saga ~ #17 (Part l)

Franny's Cerclage Baby (Part l)
The Birth and Death of Opal

Franny and Ned are an extremely attractive couple—she, having
thick, prematurely salt-and-pepper hair; and he, classically
handsome in a John F. Kennedy sense. They live in an ashram
a couple of towns away. They come for prenatal care early in
the pregnancy because Franny previously has experienced two
painless miscarriages, both in her second trimester. Their regular
doctor has said not to worry, that miscarriages are relatively
common and that they’ll be fine. But they are worried.

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Excerpt from Lady's Hands, Lion's Heart, A Midwife's Saga ~ #16

The Cocky Apprentice

There comes a time in all student midwives’ training when
they go through what I call the cocky phase. The student feels
her skills have surpassed her mentor’s, and she chafes at the
restrictions dictated by her teacher. This usually comes when
the apprentice midwife has attended a good number of births
and is becoming quite skilled. She begins to become arrogant,
feeling she has an inside track to intuitive knowledge, and she
disregards her more experienced teacher’s advice. I know this
phase only too well from personal experience, as I look back on

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Excerpt from Lady's Hands, Lion's Heart, A Midwife's Saga ~ #15

A Car Birth

Because all of our clients are carefully risked out prenatally,
less than 6 percent of our actively laboring women need to be
transferred to the hospital for various reasons. Usually, it’s not
an emergency; it is failure to progress, or labor has become a
long, sluggish affair that needs a little goosing. Occasionally, it
is simply that the midwife doesn’t feel comfortable with a red
flag she is being presented with and would rather approach on
the side of caution, taking the conservative route. This was the

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