Baby catcher : chronicles of a modern midwife by Peggy Vincent

By Peggy Vincent

During this enticing account of her profession as a midwife, Vincent describes the hilarious, occasionally scary, occasions surrounding the looks of a brand new human being.

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She gonna get mad at you for what I’m doin’. ” “Well . ” “Tell you what. ” and I nodded so vigorously my cap slid toward my eyebrows and I had to pin it back in place. “I’m fine, honey, and trust me, I ain’t gonna fall. So you just stand where you can see when she’s acomin’ and then you give me a sign, and I’ll lay me down in this here bed quick as a face-slap upside the head. Ohlordlordlord, here comes another one and it’s a biiiiiiig one. Oooooooh, yes, Jesus, Jesus, Jeeeeeeesus, oh Lord, raise me up unto the highest mountain where thy mercy shiiiiines the brightest.

As the sun set at the end of those long, hot afternoons, frogs croaked in the woods, magnolia blossoms drifted to the grass, and the Westinghouse fans whirred in our windows. We sat on the cool linoleum floor in white cotton underwear, and between bridge hands we shared snippets of our day. Some of my classmates told of bizarre behavior on the locked psych unit. Others talked about children with cystic fibrosis or toddlers maimed by drinking lye. Diseases we’d never heard of a year earlier now spiced our dinner table conversations: lupus, scleroderma, Huntington’s chorea.

Her terms. Her terms that had not been honored. Suddenly Mrs. Purdue reared back and looked straight into my eyes. She didn’t say a word, but her face turned purple, and her fingernails dug into my shoulders. I knew how a mouse must feel when an owl swoops from the sky on soundless wings and snatches him from the meadow. I flinched, but she just dug in deeper as if she feared I’d try to escape. Dr. Hammond ran to the doorway and yelled down the hall, fast, garbled words ending with “ . . ” People in blue and white rushed in and jockeyed a gurney to the bedside.

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