Goodreads called "want to read". Currently, it's up to 2581. It went up. I also have several stacks of books tucked against walls throughout my house. Each is probably at least 3 feet high of books I haven't read yet. I periodically go through my list and purge it, but it still is not slowing down. Nor are the books that keep appearing on my Kindle. They're all still on my wish list, I just haven't gotten to them yet.
Each month I highlight 5 books I want to read. I don't set out to plan themes, but somehow patterns creep into my reading choices.
I don't know what it is about childbirth, but this month's theme morphed into books about midwives.
I gave birth to two children and both of whom were born in a hospital, where I was attended by a nurse-midwife each time. I am not a home birth advocate, because The Boy would have died had he been born at home. As it was, he came close to it in the hospital, but because a very astute nurse noticed he was slowly turning blue, he is a healthy 18 year old today. In fact, 18 years ago this weekend, on July 31, he came home from the hospital after 3 weeks in the NICU because he had open-heart surgery as a newborn.
My own experience aside I am, however, a "give birth in whatever way works for you" advocate and if home birth is your choice, I wish you the best.
Personally, I was very happy to be in a hospital because the necessary medical care was available, but I had the benefit of a nurse-midwife assisting my delivery. I never did see an OB for either delivery. Some of you will say that is not the same as a midwife-only birth experience. Perhaps not. But I am blessed to live in the Western world, with quality medical care available. I took it.
I hate that childbirth becomes a competition and that a woman who gives birth without medication or medical assistance is somehow a better person than a woman who gives birth via caesarean or with medication or medical intervention. Seriously? Birth itself is a natural process, regardless of your circumstances.
We should rejoice with each other in the birth of children, rather than criticizing someone else because their birth experience was different than ours.
End of soapbox. Sorry. I don't know where that came from. Without further ado, here is this month's wish list.
It’s the summer of 1967 and St Mary’s Maternity Hospital in Manchester is a place from a bygone age. It is filled with starched white hats and full skirts, steaming laundries and milk kitchens, strict curfews and bellowed commands. It is a time of home births, swaddling and dangerous anaesthetics. It was this world that Linda Fairley entered as a trainee midwife aged just 19 years old.
From the moment Linda delivered her first baby – racing across rain-splattered Manchester street on her trusty moped in the dead of night – Linda knew she’d found her vocation. ‘The midwife’s here!’ they always exclaimed, joined in their joyful chorus by relieved husbands, mothers, grandmothers and whoever else had found themselves in close proximity to a woman about to give birth.
Under the strict supervision of community midwife Mrs Tattershall, Linda’s gruellingly long days were spent on overcrowded wards pinning Terry nappies, making up bottles and sterilizing bedpans – and above all helping women in need. Her life was a succession of emergencies, successes and tragedies: a never-ending chain of actions which made all the difference between life and death.
There was Mrs Petty who gave birth in heartbreaking poverty; Mrs Drew who confided to Linda that the triplets she was carrying were not in fact her husband’s; and Murial Turner, whose dangerously premature baby boy survived – against all the odds. Forty years later Linda’s passion for midwifery burns as bright as ever as she is now celebrated as one of Britain’s longest-serving midwives, still holding the lives of mothers and children in her own two hands.
Rich in period detail and told with a good dose of Manchester humour, The Midwife’s Here! is the extraordinary, heartwarming tale of a truly inspiring woman.
Twelve Babies on a Bike by Dot May Dunn
It's 1957, and in a shattered post-war world, life goes on. Dot, a pupil midwife, negotiates the streets on her trusty old bicycle—come rain or shine—to help women in need. Living and working under the supervision of the strict Mrs. O'Reilly, she must complete her training with 12 deliveries: there's Mrs. Wardle who lives in a seedy slum; the eighth Clarke baby, born in an unusual place; the superstitious Wests, desperate for a boy; baby Murphy who is received with laughter; and brothel-worker Mrs. Maloney. Amid lectures, textbooks, and university dances, Dot must saddle up at any time of the day and night to attend deliveries. But just when she thinks she's got the measure of the job, fate deals her an unexpected hand.
The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth
An unforgettable story of the joy of motherhood, the bravery of a community, and the hope of one extraordinary woman.
At the age of twenty-two, Jennifer Worth leaves her comfortable home to move into a convent and become a midwife in post war London's East End slums. The colorful characters she meets while delivering babies all over London-from the plucky, warm-hearted nuns with whom she lives to the woman with twenty-four children who can't speak English to the prostitutes and dockers of the city's seedier side-illuminate a fascinating time in history. Beautifully written and utterly moving, The Midwife will touch the hearts of anyone who is, and everyone who has, a mother.
Delivering the Truth by Edith Maxwell
Quaker midwife Rose Carroll hears secrets and keeps confidences as she attends births of the rich and poor alike in an 1888 Massachusetts mill town. When the town’s world-famed carriage industry is threatened by the work of an arsonist, and a carriage factory owner’s adult son is stabbed to death with Rose's own knitting needle, she is drawn into solving the mystery. Things get dicey after the same owner’s mistress is also murdered, leaving her one-week-old baby without a mother. The Quaker poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier helps Rose by lending words of advice and support. While struggling with being less than the perfect Friend, Rose draws on her strengths as a counselor and problem solver to bring two murderers to justice before they destroy the town’s carriage industry and the people who run it.
The Midwife's Tale by Sam Thomas
It is 1644, and Parliament’s armies have risen against the King and laid siege to the city of York. Even as the city suffers at the rebels’ hands, midwife Bridget Hodgson becomes embroiled in a different sort of rebellion. One of Bridget’s friends, Esther Cooper, has been convicted of murdering her husband and sentenced to be burnt alive. Convinced that her friend is innocent, Bridget sets out to find the real killer.
Bridget joins forces with Martha Hawkins, a servant who’s far more skilled with a knife than any respectable woman ought to be. To save Esther from the stake, they must dodge rebel artillery, confront a murderous figure from Martha’s past, and capture a brutal killer who will stop at nothing to cover his tracks. The investigation takes Bridget and Martha from the homes of the city’s most powerful families to the alleyways of its poorest neighborhoods. As they delve into the life of Esther’s murdered husband, they discover that his ostentatious Puritanism hid a deeply sinister secret life, and that far too often tyranny and treason go hand in hand.
What about you? What books are on your "want to read/wish" list?
5 Books I want to Read is a monthly meme started by Stephanie at Layered Pages. If you want to check out some other terrific bloggers and what their wish lists look like, you can do that here: Layered Pages, A Bookaholic Swede, The Maiden's Court, A Literary Vacation.