Sunday, February 24, 2013

Placenta Lady

Childbirth was not such a bad thing. It was dramatic enough that I was the center of attention for a few hours. Then when things got really bad, events sped along and finished up, and somebody offered me a hearty breakfast afterward.

I understand, of course, that your mileage may vary.

It gets even better on the spectator end, because your party troops along to the hospital knowing something exciting is going to happen that day (or the next). You get to cheer the mother on, and shout out when you see the baby's head. You get to run out of the room after the baby's born and call everybody you know, then run back in and watch the little guy look around the room, taking it all in. You get to watch big brother and little infant face off for the first time.

So I can imagine why Peggy Vincent fell in love with delivering babies. In her memoir, Baby Catcher, she takes us along as she runs out of the house, sometimes in her flannel nighty, sometimes deep in Bay Area fog, and attends to her patients right in their homes. Vincent's births are scenes of siblings with their elbows on the bed, watching raptly, of women swaying, moaning or singing away the pain (whatever works), and of kittens playing with her shoelaces while she waits out a particularly long labor. Sometimes she takes a tea break. Sometimes she calls an ambulance, riding along as she holds the emerging baby's head in just a little longer.

This being Berkeley, she considers buying some Birkenstocks, just to fit in with the other midwives. But Vincent's face is as round and wholesome as the 4-H fair's prize squash judge.

Her husband accommodated her crazy schedule. Her children took it in stride when she came to school and showed placentas to the middle-school sex ed class. And Vincent herself rode the waves of a career she was passionate about, logging each of the 2,000+ births in her little book and flooding with memories every time she read her patients' names.

If it were me doing all that midwifing, I would would want somebody to whip up some Bacon 'n Egg Wraps  as soon as the baby lay safely in the mother's arms. I guess everybody's hungry when all the drama concludes.


  1. Is it as good as Call the Midwife?

  2. Jocile, I don't know that book. Do I need to do more homework?

  3. Now you're reading in an irresistible zone (people story with a side dish of medical). I'm in! Got them both reserved at the library now.