Saturday, October 11, 2008

Labor of Love

Last week I finished a review copy of Cara Muhlhahn's brand new midwifery memoir, Labor of Love. Cara is the CNM who was featured in The Business of Being Born. I'm not going to write a whole lot about the book here, because I'm reviewing it for CfM News. It was a fast-paced read and very different than Lady's Hands, Lion's Heart, the other midwife's memoir I recently finished. It was interesting to read this one on the heels of the other one and I wonder if I would have enjoyed it more as a "stand alone" rather as an immediately-following read.

This book was different in that it was much more autobiographical than most other books in this genre--there were lots of details about her personal life and family (details which were nearly absent in books like Baby Catcher) and much less birth stories than you'd expect (the birth stories were not very detailed). In general, it was more a well-rounded picture of her life, her path to midwifery, her thoughts about her career, her work experiences, and so forth than I expected, but less "birthy" than I expected. Overall, it was an interesting and engaging read and I recommend it--especially to aspiring midwives. I think it is more relevant to them than to childbirth educators or other general birth activists.

Quite a few years ago, I was doing a lot of soul-searching about my life purpose. One of the things that bothered me was wanting my role in life/my life purpose to be transcendent of time and space (i.e. not "I'm meant to be a Really Specific Title only relevant in the 21st century"--like an ipod programmer or something like that!). So, a quote jumped out at me from this book:

"But something deep within me insisted on finding some kind of work that would be relevant throughout time, from life in caves through life in outer space. I didn't know yet that I wanted to be a midwife. I just knew that one of the criteria for my career was that it did not permit built-in obsolescence."

I thought I was the only one who thought of careers in these terms! I swear, I used to lament to my husband, "But, what would my purpose in life have been if I was a cavewoman?!" (This was before I had any children--mothering is certainly relevant across time and space and cavewomen!)

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