Baby Catcher

Who are these men who love and date and marry midwives (and student midwives)? What an amazing breed! They don’t flinch or grimace when they hear words like “vagina”, “uterus” and “cervix” being bantered around the dinner table, they let you gush on and on about the beautiful birth you saw the night before, and they aren’t too miffed when you stop dead in your tracks to oggle the beautiful pregnant woman walking by. My own beloved boy is of this variety, and I am a lucky woman indeed. He knew absolutely nothing about homebirth when he first started dating me, but now he’s become a fierce advocate. He sometimes pumps me up for work on the days when I’m not in the mood by chanting “bellies, uteri, vulvas, babies” until I finally get excited again. And he buys me really cool books for the holidays, like Peggy Vincent’s Baby Catcher, which I just finished devouring during my flight back from England.

It’s a fantastic book. I mean, seriously, what a fun book! By the end of it, you feel like you’ve known Peggy Vincent for most of your life, and it really makes you want to just find her telephone number and call her up and chat with her (or, in my case, call her up and beg: let me be your apprentice for a year, I’ll cook all your meals, I’ll clean your car with a toothbrush, I’ll sleep on your floor, pleeeaaaase!!). The book begins with Peggy in nursing school, then follows her through several years as a labor and delivery nurse, a birth educator, a student midwife, and finally a homebirth midwife with a busy private practice. She has a very sharp memory, and the writing is descriptive and lovely, and it’s a really fast and easy read; you’re sucked in before you even know what hit you. The narrative is centered around the retelling of birth stories, and the myriad adventures Peggy had as a homebirth midwife, but there’s plenty of commentary tucked in as well. The book ends on a somewhat subdued note, as Peggy is sued by a woman that she wasn’t even officially delivering, and ends up losing her insurance just because she was involved in the first place, even though she didn’t do anything wrong. Sadly, this loss was echoed on the national level in 1991 when CNA Insurance, the insurance carrier for all certified nurse midwives in the US at that time, withdrew coverage from all CNMs who attended homebirths. While the ACNM now provides reasonably priced insurance for homebirth midwives, there are still so many barriers in place which prevent licensed midwives from attending homebirths, with our without insurance. Just look at the midwives in the capital region of NY, my own homestate: licensed, but still having to practice “bare” and undercover. Our society is always so quick to blame and mistrust the midwife—and homebirth midwives especially. Even if she did everything right, even if she was just standing in the room during a bad outcome while someone else was doing the delivery, I’m sure the lawyers and doctors and insurance companies would find a way to penalize her.

I’ve strayed somewhat, though. The point I was trying to make is that Baby Catcher is great! Just to give you a sample, here’s one of my favorite quotes from it:

I remembered my midwifery school classmate, Gaia’s, comment: “Just think about it. 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?”

My thoughts exactly! And now, I’ve got to hit the sack. Tonight is a school night, and the new semester begins TOMORROW!!

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