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Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife

by Peggy Vincent

She never tired of the miracle. Each time she knelt to "catch" another baby, beloved California mid-wife Peggy Vincent paid homage to the moment when pain bows to joy, one person becomes two, woman turns to goddess, and the world moves aside to make room for one more soul. Trained as a nurse at Duke University in the early 1960s, Vincent begins working in the delivery room of a local hospital in the San Francisco Bay area. Even after establishing an alternative birth center at the hospital, however, she is still frustrated with her lack of autonomy. Too often she witnesses births changing from normal to high risk because of routine obstetrical interventions. Vincent then devotes herself to creating unique birth experiences for her clients and their families. She becomes a licensed midwife, opens her own practice, and delivers nearly three thousand babies during her remarkable career. With every birth comes an unforgettable story. Each time Vincent "catches" a wet and wriggling baby, she encounters another memorable woman busy negotiating her unique path through the labyrinth of childbirth. Meet Catherine as she rides out her labor in a car careening down a mountain road, her husband clueless at the wheel. Megan delivers on a leaky sailboat during the storm of the decade. Susannah gives birth so quietly and effortlessly, neither husband nor midwife notice much of anything until they see a baby lying on the bed, and Sofia spends her labor trying to keep her hyper doctor-father from burning down the house. More than just a collection of birth stories, Baby Catcher is a provocative, moving, and highly personal account of the ongoing difficulties midwives face in the United States. With vivid portraits of courage, perseverance, and love, this is a passionate call to rethink today's technological hospital births in favor of a more individualized and profound experience in which mothers and fathers take the stage in the timeless drama of birth and renewal.

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