Monday, September 3, 2012

Book Review: The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman

Occasionally I get books from Penguin to read and review.  The books typically involve midwifery in some aspect.  I was absolutely delighted at the latest sending!  I've read other books by author Patricia Harman, such as The Blue Cotton Gown, and absolutely love her work.  Her newest book, The Midwife of Hope River, did not disappoint.

This fiction piece focuses on Appalachian midwife Patience Murphy.  Patience has come to midwifery in a roundabout way, having left her most recent job as a wet nurse, she meets an established midwife in the city. They eventually move to the Appalachians, on the run from political activism resulting in the death of Patience's husband.  Here, they find a population in desperate need of midwifery care.  In the midst of segregation, depression era conditions, and Patience's own fears and loss, she discovers a new chance at life.  She becomes involved in both white and black communities, tending to their childbirth needs, in conditions that I could never imagine working in.  She rediscovers a woman's capability and strength to overcome and triumph the harshest conditions, even falling in love again.

Being a midwife, I found the political climate and conditions shocking.  I couldn't imagine having to work under those conditions.  This book is easy to read, as Patricia's other books are, and I had to pace myself to not get through it in a couple days!  I recommend!

The Latest and Greatest

Have you missed me?  I've missed you.  So thought it was high time to write a damn post.

I'm still plugging away as a midwife.  It's been so wonderful to have my passion back for being a midwife.  I'm still in the same practice that is much closer to home for me and overall have been very happy.  There have been some struggles but I'm overcoming them now that I've been here for over a year.  The biggest two struggles have been the large religious population that comes to this practice and a midwife who was specialing lots of the patients.

Why would the religious crew be a struggle, you ask?  Well, I'm not a religious kinda gal.  I have a more alternative look about me which doesn't jive with this crowds' look.  I just don't fit it in.  So, I've had some issues with gaining their trust.  But, boy, once they birth with me, I'm their new best friend!  LOL.  I have mad labor and birth skills and I know it!  Just kidding....sorta....

What I've noticed about the crowd out here where I live is that, there's definitely this dependency vibe going on.  Once they have birthed with you - there can't possibly ever be another midwife who can support them.  Hence my partner (now ex-partner as she moved on to another opportunity) specialing so many women.  She had been there for quite some time and had built up quite the following.  It's crazy, cause they become so dedicated to their midwife.  So when my partner moved on, it was hell to try and get some of the women who stayed at my practice to give me a chance (and the other partner - who hasn't worked out very well in terms of fitting with the practice).  In fact, there were a few who decided to have the doctor attend them in labor instead of getting to know us two remaining midwives.  I don't understand that.....if you truly wanted midwifery care then why would you give that up so easily.  Then I realized that for some, it wasn't about midwifery was about having a provider they knew well.  I have had to coach myself to not take it personally....considering that many never even met me!

My current remaining partner hasn't been a big hit....frankly, she was the doctor's choice, not ours.  She doesn't even know why she became a midwife....there's no passion or genuine love for midwifery.  It's puzzled me more than once.  I really like her sense of humor but I think there are some issues with her communication style.  I've now found myself being asked frequently to special patients.  What a 360!  I'm trying not to do it too much but it's hard sometimes saying no.  I have a greater appreciation for those struggles with my ex-partner (who I do miss very much even though her leaving has made a huge improvement in my satisfaction with my job).  So my current partner is moving away and it will just be me for awhile.  I'm excited but nervous as I've never been a solo midwife.  I'm hoping it doesn't get too busy and I get too overwhelmed.  That could potentially take a toll on my health.  We do have someone in mind for replacement but I'm not sure yet if that is going to go through.  If it does, it will still take a couple months to get her up and running.  I'm totally psyched for this midwife as I think she will be a good fit and I really like her.

Meanwhile, my old partner is lobbying for me to come join her at her new practice.  I'm torn about that.  I am so much happier being out in the sun now, instead of in the shadows.  Would I really want to put myself back in that position?  But on the flip side - her place has health benefits that would be very important to me and my family that my current practice doesn't have.  I don't have to worry about a decision now since they aren't ready for a new midwife yet.  But when the time comes, that won't be an easy decision to make.

On the personal side of things.....well, wow - lots of change there as well.  As you recall, I have a sick husband - he's doing quite well after having a LVAD (left ventricular assist device) put in earlier this year.  There's a whole other blog about all that sort of drama (that blog reveals everything about our real identities so you gotta give me a heads up if you want an invite to that).  But he's doing amazing and also still waiting for a heart transplant.  Our kids are their usual pesky and lovable selves.

So, last post for another 8 months?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  We shall see!