A brave memoir of the first modern midwife in New Hampshire.
Barnes & Noble.com
Bad Beaver Publishing
Often laugh-out-loud funny and irreverent, occasionally disturbing and deeply sorrowful, "Lady's Hands, Lion's Heart" is the saga of Ms. Leonard's journey as New Hampshire's first modern midwife. Her story intertwines three threads: her dedication to the mothers and babies she was groomed to attend; the growing renaissance, despite formidable opposition, of the profession of midwifery in New Hampshire and then in the United States; and finally, a powerful, tragic love story.
“Carol Leonard’s memoir of becoming a midwife in New Hampshire during the mid-1970s overflows with her gifts as a storyteller as well as intuitive midwife. Inspiring, often hilarious, always touching and full of beans, she takes us through her apprenticeship with an old country doctor, the politics of the US midwifery movement and her own personal story of love, loss and deep dedication to women’s health. She’s my kind of midwife!”
-- Ina May Gaskin, author of Spiritual Midwifery
Dr. Easey finishes up his needlework and comes up to
my head. I think, Now he’s going to congratulate me for doing an
Instead, what he says is, “Some women are meant to be
workers and some women are meant to be breeders. You are
definitely a breeder.”
That does it. The man is a sexist sadist. I need to get out of
I say to him, “I want to go home.”
Dr. Easey looks stunned for a moment, then gets an imperious
look. “You are aware that hospital policy is that you must stay for
at least five days postpartum for observation? You do understand
this? Comprehend?” he growls. “You absolutely may not leave
against my orders.” He turns abruptly and heads out the door.
“I am outta here!” I yell after him as he disappears down the
The OB night nurse comes back with the orderlies, and they
wheel me down some more beige halls to the beige postpartum
ward. This is a big, open room with about a dozen beds arranged
dormitory style; it is for patients without insurance who are
unable to afford a private room. They get me settled in for the
night; the nurse squeezes my flaccid belly with a vengeance. She
puts a veritable mattress of a sanitary pad on me.
After they leave, I slide out of bed and tentatively try walking.
I feel like I have a bowling ball in my butt. I’m sure I am popping
stitches with every step, but I am famished—and I want my baby.
I shuffle with baby steps down the hall, cringing with each
movement. I am following the sound of my baby crying to the
John looks surprised to see me. He is holding Milan.
I say, “Let’s go.”
The three of us leave in the early morning hours of April 9,
1975. It is written in my medical chart that I left “AMA”—against
This is the beginning of my life’s work.