So, here I am, my children both asleep cuddled up to Taro in the family bed, and I'm up late to quickly tell you about a book you HAVE to read.
Lady's Hands, Lion's Heart is Carol Leonard's memoir of becoming a midwife in New Hampshire in the mid-1970's, and it is as juicily, beautifully, wonderfully written as any tale I have read in recent years. The fact that it happens to incorporate tons of amazing, touching, jaw-dropping birth stories makes it all the more enjoyable for someone like me to read because I am especially interested in the topic of birth -- however, the book is so compellingly crafted that it should appeal just as much to those who have never read or cared about the relatively esoteric topic of midwifery. It is simply an amazing story, by any standard, and a seriously engaging, well-told one at that.
The book weaves together three distinct threads; the author's personal journey of becoming a foremother of the modern midwifery movement, the history of the charged political atmosphere and multitude of changes that happened during the 1970's as home birth had a bit of a renaissance, and a passionate and tragic love story for the ages.
Ms. Leonard's spirited voice propels the reader through the chapters with vibrancy and wit, never failing to convey the excitement, suspense, joy and frustration of her work. Her story brought me to tears as often as it made me laugh out loud. Leonard's words deftly maneuver between self-deprecatingly slapstick humor to deep spiritual revelations without ever skipping a beat. Her deep dedication to the women and babies she served through a profession marginalized by the medical establishment and the government is palpable on every page, and should be an inspiration to anyone who values birth freedom and the right to give birth outside of the hospital.
I could go on, but I really just want to say one more thing and go to bed: Read it. You'll be so very glad you did.