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The Blue Cotton Gown: A Midwife's Memoir PDF, ePub eBook

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The Blue Cotton Gown: A Midwife's Memoir

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The Blue Cotton Gown: A Midwife's Memoir PDF, ePub eBook Heather is pale and thin, seventeen and pregnant with twins when Patricia Harman begins to care for her. Over the course of the next five seasons Patsy will see Heather through the loss of both babies and their father. She will also care for her longtime patient Nila, pregnant for the eighth time and trying to make a new life without her abusive husband. And Patsy will try Heather is pale and thin, seventeen and pregnant with twins when Patricia Harman begins to care for her. Over the course of the next five seasons Patsy will see Heather through the loss of both babies and their father. She will also care for her longtime patient Nila, pregnant for the eighth time and trying to make a new life without her abusive husband. And Patsy will try to find some comfort to offer Holly, whose teenage daughter struggles with bulimia. She will help Rebba learn to find pleasure in her body and help Kaz transition into a new body. She will do noisy battle with the IRS in the very few moments she has to spare, and wage her own private battle with uterine cancer. Patricia Harman, a nurse-midwife, manages a women's health clinic with her husband, Tom, an ob-gyn, in West Virginia--a practice where patients open their hearts, where they find care and sometimes refuge. Patsy's memoir juxtaposes the tales of these women with her own story of keeping a small medical practice solvent and coping with personal challenges. Her patients range from Appalachian mothers who haven't had the opportunity to attend secondary school to Ph.D.'s on cell phones. They come to Patsy's small, windowless exam room and sit covered only by blue cotton gowns, and their infinitely varied stories are in equal parts heartbreaking and uplifting. The nurse-midwife tells of their lives over the course of a year and a quarter, a time when her outwardly successful practice is in deep financial trouble, when she is coping with malpractice threats, confronting her own serious medical problems, and fearing that her thirty-year marriage may be on the verge of collapse. In the words of Jacqueline Mitchard, this memoir, "utterly true and lyrical as any novel . . . should be a little classic."

30 review for The Blue Cotton Gown: A Midwife's Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

    This book was half doctor's-office confessional and half saga of personal and professional ups and downs. The stories her patients told were interesting (albeit mostly depressing), but her own stories were so...ugh. I can see it being a memoir and all, but no one wants to read about your endless financial troubles and marital issues and worries over your children. Also, there was WAY too much focus on the insomnia and "sleeping medicine" (I think she "found" her jar of medicine every other page. This book was half doctor's-office confessional and half saga of personal and professional ups and downs. The stories her patients told were interesting (albeit mostly depressing), but her own stories were so...ugh. I can see it being a memoir and all, but no one wants to read about your endless financial troubles and marital issues and worries over your children. Also, there was WAY too much focus on the insomnia and "sleeping medicine" (I think she "found" her jar of medicine every other page. Did her husband keep hiding it in a different spot?) probably because it sounds like she did most of the writing of this book during the wee hours of the morning, so I'm sure the fact that she wasn't sleeping was forefront on her mind, but it was tedious to be reminded of it so constantly. Also, her "revelation" at the end felt like just grasping for some incident to wrap up a story that really had no neat ending. I didn't like it. Anyway, if you really love women's issues, and also want to hear a lot about IRS liens and the costs of running a private medical practice, this book is a good choice. Otherwise, I'd skip it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Meg B

    This book was not what what I was expecting. I was interested in reading about a midwife. The kind that deliver babies and tend toward more natural approaches to women's health. This "midwife" was far from that. In this book she doesn't deliver any babies. She did once but it was too expensive, so she only does OB/GYN stuff in a clinic throughout the book. I disagreed with her fundamentally on so many things that couldn't even relate to her. She prescribes drugs at every chance she gets, she sel This book was not what what I was expecting. I was interested in reading about a midwife. The kind that deliver babies and tend toward more natural approaches to women's health. This "midwife" was far from that. In this book she doesn't deliver any babies. She did once but it was too expensive, so she only does OB/GYN stuff in a clinic throughout the book. I disagreed with her fundamentally on so many things that couldn't even relate to her. She prescribes drugs at every chance she gets, she self-medicates with alcohol every night because it's the "only thing" that will help her sleep. She has so much debt she can't even see straight and has to cut her employee's benefits, but then describes her HUGE house AND her beautiful lake house which just rubbed me wrong. She tells stories about some of the women she examines which are somewhat interesting, but because of the disconnect I feel with the main character, I didn't feel like it was a satisfying read at all. This book should have been subtitled "A Gynecologist's Memoir"

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ciara

    it's a good thing this book was such a fast read (i polished it off in about four hours) because it's one of the most depressing things i have ever read. i was practically on the verge of suicide by the time i finished it. we've got spousal abuse, childhood sexual abuse, teen moms, teen moms who die of drug overdoses, miscarriage, cancer, poverty, tax audits, alcoholism, malpractice suits, homophobia, transphobia...pretty much every bad thing that could possibly pass through a women's health cli it's a good thing this book was such a fast read (i polished it off in about four hours) because it's one of the most depressing things i have ever read. i was practically on the verge of suicide by the time i finished it. we've got spousal abuse, childhood sexual abuse, teen moms, teen moms who die of drug overdoses, miscarriage, cancer, poverty, tax audits, alcoholism, malpractice suits, homophobia, transphobia...pretty much every bad thing that could possibly pass through a women's health clinic happens in this book. & it's all written more or less in the style of a diary, which makes it even worse. it's just a carousal of misery & suffering, & just when you think there's going to be a silver lining or a life lesson, more misery & suffering happens. i told jared about it & he said, "wow, it sounds like a dorothy allison book, but by a straight person." pretty much. patsy harman is technically a nurse-midwife, & her husband is an ob-gyn, but they have recently stopped delivering babies due to the rising costs of malpractice insurance. but they still provide various forms of women's health care, & so they have lots of women coming in needing early prenatal care for twins conceived while on drugs, suffering from irregular cycles after giving birth to seven children in rural appalachia, needing to get their four-year-olds checked out for possible sexual abuse, etc. dr. harman still does ob-gyn surgery over at the hospital on a regular basis--treating endometriosis, performing hysterectomies, etc--& as a result, he's always being threatened with a lawsuit. which makes patsy panic, even though she's been providing health care for like at least fifteen years & you'd think she would have caught on by now that doctors get threatened with malpractice lawsuits a lot. it's just kind of the name of the game. in my opinion, patsy has a tendency to both get over-involved with her patients, & also stand in judgment of them a bit too often. when one patient comes in for an exam & mentions that she is dating a female professor over at the university, patsy's eyes almost fall out of her head. she knows the professor in question & never thought for a second that she might be gay. this is really annoying coming from anyone, but especially someone who bends over backwards to remind everyone every ten minutes that she used to live on a hippie commune & is so liberal & free & psychedelic. guess what, patsy? sometimes people are gay. this particular patient is named kaz & has made an appointment to ask if patsy & dr. harman will administer testosterone so that she can transition to being a man. patsy's all, "ummm...i have to think about it," & worries that it's against nature. kaz has already jumped through every bullshit bureaucratic hoop he needs to jump through in order to testosterone--now he just needs a doctor to write him a prescription & do the necessary lab tests to make sure he's tolerating it well. patsy is all, "you seem like a very intelligent woman," which is so insulting. patsy asks kaz why he doesn't just go to pittsburgh to get the tests done, & kaz is like, "uh, because it's an eight-hour drive round-trip & i don't have time to do that every week? i have a job, you know." finally patsy agrees & continues to refer to kaz as "an amazing woman" & "she" until kaz grows a beard & starts looking all dudely, & then patsy gets all uncomfortable because she's not used to treating men at the women's health clinic. kudos i guess to being honest about your feelings, but i really could have lived without patsy's amazing journey through transphobia, you know? i can't imagine how kaz must have felt if he ever read this book. i read patsy's second memoir, about her hippie commune home birthing days, & i complained at the time that it referenced a lot of problems with her clinic without going into detail. i found it confusing & grating. i hoped that this book, about the problems at the clinic, would help me understand & give me a more well-rounded perspective on how a person transitions from being a home birthing hippie on a commune to a frazzled nurse-midwife struggling to keep a clinic afloat without losing her lake house. but instead, i just found myself liking patsy a lot less than i did when i read her first book. it seems like she wants to run a business without actually having to get her hippie hands dirty with icky things like money & lawyers & taxes, but she doesn't want to give up her second home either. i think calling her a hippie-turned-greedy yuppie is a bit harsh, but she doesn't kind of personify some of the worst stereotypes of her particular demographic.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    One of the best memoirs I've read in a long time. She provides a very different take on being a midwife in a modern age when economics rule even when you are living with your heart. Beautifully written and also captures the bonds woven between mothers and daughters, between patients and health practitioners, and, mostly, between women.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Britta

    "I know the passion mothers have for their children...You give birth to them in pain. You nurse them at your breast. You hold them at your heart forever." "When someone you love dies, your life starts over. Right then, that moment, nothing is ever the same again. A blue sky, a snowstorm, the taste of cake, the feel of your own skin. Nothing."

  6. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    I picked up this book to read as I saw it at the ACNM conference in San Antonio and thought it would be about a CNM and her birth stories. As a student nurse midwife, I was eager to hear stories from a seasoned and experienced nurse midwife. However, I quickly learned at the beginning of the book that they had given up their malpractise to deliver and their hospital privileges. I was disappointed in this, but kept on with reading as I was still interested in her point of view regarding patient c I picked up this book to read as I saw it at the ACNM conference in San Antonio and thought it would be about a CNM and her birth stories. As a student nurse midwife, I was eager to hear stories from a seasoned and experienced nurse midwife. However, I quickly learned at the beginning of the book that they had given up their malpractise to deliver and their hospital privileges. I was disappointed in this, but kept on with reading as I was still interested in her point of view regarding patient care. I really enjoyed the patient vignettes and the story of her life interwoven amongst the patients' stories like a quilt. I also was shocked by her frankness and honesty - that is something that is hard to come by nowadays in memoirs. Typically they are only shining a light on all the good qualities of their person. Many people say that she was whiney and that they were privileged. Did they actually read the book? Harman talks about the fact that they were maxed out on loans, 2 mortgages and had 10s of thousands of dollars owed to the IRS. They were also paying for their sons' college tuitions and barely had money to live on. I do not consider that living in luxury. I can only imagine how stressful that must be to owe everyone and have a business that is sinking. What a nightmare! I would be complaining and drowning in worry too. I am also happy that she included all of the information regarding liability insurance with having a private practise and legal ramifications of being sued. I think insurance and the fear of being sued greatly changes the practise of practitioners here in the US. It is quite sad, really. My only qualms with the book were that she never said if she reported the FOB for molesting his daughter - that should have been something she did immediately upon knowledge of it, and I did not like the end of the book. It seemed the ending was all of a sudden upon me, as the reader, and tied up in a flash without much of a resolution to the problems that were lingering at the end of the book. Maybe things will be elaborated on further in the 2nd book, but I believe the 2nd book is a look at the past when they were in a commune and doing births. I am eager to read about their time doing deliveries - I look forward to a book about catching babies and doing midwifery work.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Desiree

    I do not reccommend this book. It was, basically, the author telling us (whinning) about the most depressing situations her job encountered. I cannot remember reading about a patient that was happy... she only told the negative, sad stories. Also, besides the fact that the author mentions putting up a nativity scene for Christmas time, and having a prayer request box, you cannot tell the author is a Christian in any other way. I do not have to read books only written by Christians, but she broug I do not reccommend this book. It was, basically, the author telling us (whinning) about the most depressing situations her job encountered. I cannot remember reading about a patient that was happy... she only told the negative, sad stories. Also, besides the fact that the author mentions putting up a nativity scene for Christmas time, and having a prayer request box, you cannot tell the author is a Christian in any other way. I do not have to read books only written by Christians, but she brought religion into the book, and then portrayed her life as mostly the opposite of the religion she seemed to claim. She encouraged her patients to go home and masturbate, and she wrote about how she, herself, masturbates (which made me literally sick to my stomach when I realized what she was talking about). Why would someone write about such a thing? Did she think her readers would actually enjoy reading about her masturbate? Also, she and her husband decided to help a woman "turn into a man" with hormonal therapy. Then throughout the rest of the book, called her a "he". Then she proceeded to justify her decision, which shows she knows a lot of readers will not agree with her choice to help this woman. I definitely did not enjoy this book, and do not reccommend it to anyone who doesn't like being grossed out or depressed.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Shana

    The title of this memoir is a bit misleading. Yes, Harman is a midwife but throughout the majority of the book, she does not practice midwifery. A better description might be "A Healthcare Worker's Memoir" because you certainly get a good idea of the many pressures healthcare workers face in their day to day work. But if you're looking for a lot of baby catching stories, this isn't your book. There are a great mix of characters and themes that run throughout. Harman does see patients when they ar The title of this memoir is a bit misleading. Yes, Harman is a midwife but throughout the majority of the book, she does not practice midwifery. A better description might be "A Healthcare Worker's Memoir" because you certainly get a good idea of the many pressures healthcare workers face in their day to day work. But if you're looking for a lot of baby catching stories, this isn't your book. There are a great mix of characters and themes that run throughout. Harman does see patients when they are initially pregnant, but she also sees women for a variety of other sexual and reproductive health matters. Sprinkled throughout are heart-wrenching accounts of addiction and other struggles faced in rural West Virginia. Harman is also incredibly open about her own health history, marriage, children, and innermost thoughts. It is clear that she is a thoughtful, caring person.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nadine

    I enjoyed this book a lot. It's just a quiet little story about the author's experiences as a midwife in Appalachia, and some of the big issues facing women in that area, including poverty, substance abuse, and domestic violence. A quick and easy read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kerry

    The personal narrative of this nurse practitioner-midwife (more nurse practioner accounts) reads more like a diary. This book captures what it means to practice medicine in a small town in West Virginia, be a co-owner of a medical practice these days and treat patients you know. Her encounters and difficulties with her patients are some of the most touching moments. The author is forthcoming about her own struggles and challenges which deepens my respect and compassion for her. This certainly pr The personal narrative of this nurse practitioner-midwife (more nurse practioner accounts) reads more like a diary. This book captures what it means to practice medicine in a small town in West Virginia, be a co-owner of a medical practice these days and treat patients you know. Her encounters and difficulties with her patients are some of the most touching moments. The author is forthcoming about her own struggles and challenges which deepens my respect and compassion for her. This certainly presents a different aspect of medicine than I have experienced at most of my own medical appointments.

  11. 4 out of 5

    K.

    I went into this memoir thinking it would be a modern day version of Jennifer Worth's The Midwife. I was sorely mistaken. There are barely any stories of midwifery, especially since the author's practice had discontinued OB services prior to the writing of the book. The Blue Cotton Gown was about Patricia Harman and her husband's inability to manage their own finances time and time again.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dee

    I love memoirs, especially medical/ feminist ones. This one explores the life of a nurse-midwife who shared a rural practice with her obgyn husband and their struggles to keep afloat. She ponders spirituality, class, education, gender, and heartbreak.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Krista

    OK. A memoir. Interesting. Not a book for gleaning insights and trust of birth. Nonplussed by her alarmist description of a nuchal cord. The few birth stories could have been lifted straight from cable-TV: "be afraid, be very, very afraid."

  14. 5 out of 5

    Emily Rhoads

    The first thing about this book is that it surprised me as a midwife's memoir. I have read plenty of these and this is the first one I ever encountered that did not at all focus on birth. There were only three births in the whole book, as the OB/GYN and Nurse Midwife (the author) the book is about had already given up their malpractice insurance to do deliveries. I was disappointed in this at first, but later in the book got over it. Instead, I got to witness several stories about the delicate, The first thing about this book is that it surprised me as a midwife's memoir. I have read plenty of these and this is the first one I ever encountered that did not at all focus on birth. There were only three births in the whole book, as the OB/GYN and Nurse Midwife (the author) the book is about had already given up their malpractice insurance to do deliveries. I was disappointed in this at first, but later in the book got over it. Instead, I got to witness several stories about the delicate, awkward and beautiful relationship between a female midwife and her gynecology patients. I loved the stories and will get my fill of Ms. Harman's baby tales in her second book "Arms Wide Open". I do have one VERY large complaint about the book however. It put a sour taste in my mouth from the beginning and only got worse as the book progressed. Kasmar, the delightful transgender man we encounter near the beginning of the book is NEVER given the respect of being called by his correct gender until Ms. Harman is good and ready. Ms. Harman calls Kaz "she" until on page 194, Ms. Harman says, "Kaz widens his blue eyes, clearly a guy now, telling this story. He wiggles his eyebrows." So, Patricia Harman gets to decide when Kaz went from female to male? With no respect for him saying he was a male from the moment he walked in the gynecologist office? He even referred to himself as his female partner's husband, a fact that Ms. Harman later relays to her husband with waggled eyebrows and quotation marks as if it is a joke. Later in the book, Ms. Harman says, "Kaz's voice is low and doesn't have the adolescent breaks it did last time. His beard has thickened, and he's making an effort to dispose of the feminine gestures. I watch him, still amazed. Women can make their breasts large or small, slim down their thighs. We can alter our faces, smooth out wrinkles, lift drooping lids. We can even become men if we want to." No. No, Ms. Harman, you do not get to reduce this MAN'S lifelong struggle with his own identity to the same struggle as losing a few pounds off your thighs or choosing to have elective plastic surgery. As a self-proclaimed feminist and activist for social justice who spends half her book bragging wistfully about her hippie days and all the marches her children attended with her, she has no regard for the plight of a MAN who is struggling to be seen for who HE is. I found it disgusting and it makes me understand why so many transgender folks reject feminism as a cissexist institution. I liked Harman's writing style and hope her second book has more of the touching stories from her first and less of the cissexist crap that made this book difficult to swallow.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Roxanne

    I liked this book, however, I don't feel like I got what I expected. The cover of the book indicates that this is "a midwife's memoir" under the main title of the book. I would not consider this a memoir about being a midwife at all. It was a memoir about an ex-midwife who is now working in a clinic along with her husband who is a doctor. Patricia and Tom Harman had to give up delivering babies because their malpractice insurance became too much for them to financially afford. Patricia is suppos I liked this book, however, I don't feel like I got what I expected. The cover of the book indicates that this is "a midwife's memoir" under the main title of the book. I would not consider this a memoir about being a midwife at all. It was a memoir about an ex-midwife who is now working in a clinic along with her husband who is a doctor. Patricia and Tom Harman had to give up delivering babies because their malpractice insurance became too much for them to financially afford. Patricia is suppose to be managing the office and providing Gyn services to patients in their West Virginia clinic. I have worked for years in a multi-specialty clinic and I could relate completely with the operations of an office and the health industry itself. On the other hand, I often got tired of Patricia's whinning and wished she would have written a book on communal living instead. I had a very hard time reading about the marital and financial problems. Bla, bla, bla. Here is a tip. Sell your second home, tell you kids you cannot any longer help with their college expenses. Then, maybe Patricia can stop the worrying and drinking. The author failed at making me like herself or any of her patients. I just could not warm up to anybody. Maybe her playing the poor victim just got to be an excuse for her own behavior. Maybe malpractice insurance went through the roof for them because they induced a labor before nature intended just so they could get their last delivery in before their insurance expired. That was plain abuse of the Standards of Care that all patients have a right to. I could not believe she wrote about this in her book. Another breach of medical professionalism is that when a woman needed an appointment with Patricia for her young daughter because the mother was suspecting sexual abuse, Harman responds with "Well, this is my day off and I have a hair appointment at 11:00, so try to make it quick." WHAT! You even wrote this into your own book? The author has gotten my blood pressure up on a few occasions, and I am anxious to read her next book Arms Wide Open which is also suppose to be about baby deliveries. I hope this is true. I will definately not be purchasing her book, rather borrowing it from my local library. I'm not in the mood to padding her pocket for a so-so read. I think she could have had a spectacular book with a few changes here and there. I feel disappointed and hope that she leaves out her own masturbating in her next book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Peacegal

    2.5 stars -- Reading THE BLUE COTTON GOWN inspired a rather unpleasant dream in which a sixtysomething woman I know suddenly began to badger me to serve as a surrogate for her, and I began shouting in reply, "NO! I AM NOT A VESSEL!" This is a strange book in many ways. I could have done without the author's descriptions of her sex life, which felt rather intrusive. We also got several mentions of her huge lakeside home, usually bookended by complaints about her money woes. Some reviewers are comp 2.5 stars -- Reading THE BLUE COTTON GOWN inspired a rather unpleasant dream in which a sixtysomething woman I know suddenly began to badger me to serve as a surrogate for her, and I began shouting in reply, "NO! I AM NOT A VESSEL!" This is a strange book in many ways. I could have done without the author's descriptions of her sex life, which felt rather intrusive. We also got several mentions of her huge lakeside home, usually bookended by complaints about her money woes. Some reviewers are complaining that in the time period this book encompasses, the author's clinic isn't doing births and so there's not much midwifing here. Well, that's no problem for me. I personally find anything having to do with pregnancy or childbirth to be revolting, and am about as keen on reading a description of the birth process as I am on reading a detailed play-by-play of someone vomiting. Luckily, Harman divides her books into vignettes, usually headed by a patient's name, so anytime she reminisces a birthing story I can just go NOPE NOPE NOPE and skip a few pages to the next story. A lot of the patients' stories are sad. In West Virginia, abortion is regarded at about the same level as cannibalism, so we meet several teen moms in terrible situations who nonetheless refuse to consider ending their pregnancies. I don't blame these girls as much as I blame the culture at large. It's a terrible shame that girls and young women believe that bringing children into a poverty-stricken, hard drug-abusing home is a better option than aborting, or even releasing their child at birth to an adoptive family. These young women definitely need education and access to free, reliable birth control, yet so many slip through the cracks, and the cycle begins anew. Harman valiantly tries to involve herself and talks with her patients about their relationships and the need to use birth control, but there is only so much that can be done in the space of an appointment.

  17. 4 out of 5

    David

    Engaging memoir by a midwife about her clinical practice in rural West Virginia, working in tandem with her M.D. husband. Caught my eye b/c one of our children was born with the help of a midwife, and we had a great experience. The caring and holistic approach they tend to take comes through clearly in the book, as do some of the complications of working with a spouse, having your kids go through troubles, the wide range of minor to major problems that come up in OB/GYN practice, and the modern Engaging memoir by a midwife about her clinical practice in rural West Virginia, working in tandem with her M.D. husband. Caught my eye b/c one of our children was born with the help of a midwife, and we had a great experience. The caring and holistic approach they tend to take comes through clearly in the book, as do some of the complications of working with a spouse, having your kids go through troubles, the wide range of minor to major problems that come up in OB/GYN practice, and the modern headaches (fear of lawsuits, uninsured patients, tax problems of small businesses.......) associated with providing health care. It's organized by patient, with many of them recurring throughout the book as they come back to see the author (incl. a female-to-male transexual patient they follow through whole transition process), and the anecdotes about patients are the highlight of the book. The weakness of the book, in my view, is the writing itself. Really needed another edit. It's 289 pages, but would be about 175 if she'd restricted herself to maybe 5 mentions each of.... --she has insomnia and looks at clock in the middle of the night. does this at 2, at 215, at 220........ --she sips tea -- mint tea, peppermint tea, chamomile tea, tea-tea-tea --she hugs people -- reaches out to them for hugs, envelops them in hugs, offers hugs, hugs-hugs-hugs --she has sex on a regular basis with her husband

  18. 4 out of 5

    Stacy

    I truly enjoyed Patricia Harmon’s memoir, and I felt her vignette style really worked. Her writing to me was quite eloquent, yet emotionally raw. It would seem to take a lot of courage to share her day to day struggles and insecurities. The outpouring of her thoughts was like reading her personal journal. I was most fascinated with her fantasy of escaping back to the previous farm life, the known and the simple. From her treatment room as a nurse/midwife, she tells us many powerful stories. One I truly enjoyed Patricia Harmon’s memoir, and I felt her vignette style really worked. Her writing to me was quite eloquent, yet emotionally raw. It would seem to take a lot of courage to share her day to day struggles and insecurities. The outpouring of her thoughts was like reading her personal journal. I was most fascinated with her fantasy of escaping back to the previous farm life, the known and the simple. From her treatment room as a nurse/midwife, she tells us many powerful stories. One of the strengths is her candid ability to speak freely with her clients (and ultimately with everyone who reads her book) about all the ‘taboo’ subjects…miscarriages, eating disorders, parenting, orgasms (especially womens'), STDs, transgender, drug use, depression, adoption, sexual abuse, and overdose. She made you care about what happened to her, as well as to each of these women. Ultimately her stories may save a life. I feel if we don’t tell our stories to someone, they get stored somewhere deep inside us and create havoc in the body. Many metaphysical educators believe this actually starts disease.……….in an addiction, a pain, an illness, etc. In a day and age when health care visits may feel rushed and even impersonal, Ms. Harmon offered a safe space for people to unload their anecdotes. Kudos to her!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lindsey

    This book was interesting, but it was unnecessarily depressing because this woman clearly has some kind of mental disorder that makes her a negative, whiny pain in the ass. Half of the book is just her complaining about money problems, even though she is no worse off than anyone else in the country right now. In fact, she mentions in one chapter that most families could fit their entire house in her master bedroom because her house is so huge and she lives there alone with her husband. Hm. Maybe This book was interesting, but it was unnecessarily depressing because this woman clearly has some kind of mental disorder that makes her a negative, whiny pain in the ass. Half of the book is just her complaining about money problems, even though she is no worse off than anyone else in the country right now. In fact, she mentions in one chapter that most families could fit their entire house in her master bedroom because her house is so huge and she lives there alone with her husband. Hm. Maybe if you are broke, you should consider scaling it down a little bit? I don't know. Maybe I'm just in a bad mood today, but reading about this stupid woman's problems and the little she seems to actually care about her job and patients agitated me to no end. It's obvious she thinks she's some kind of Mother Theresa of midwifery, but I know if I went to see her even once, I would never go back there because she's so cold and short with people. When a woman called and asked for an appointment because her four year old was being raped by her father, Harman had the nerve to say, "Well, this is my day off and I have a hair appointment at 11:00, so try to make it quick." WHAT! And you actually PUT THIS IN YOUR BOOK?! Fucking old hippies....

  20. 5 out of 5

    Alicia Nieman

    I have run into a lot of mixed reviews from very positive to very negative. Of course, we are all entitled to our own opinions when we perceive anything that we hear or read, so that is to be respected. However, after reading this story, I am a bit shocked how some of the reviews could be as scathing as they were. A memoir is just that, a personal story; and then each person who writes his or her own memoir has the freedom to deliver it in a way that is personal for them. I feel like that is exac I have run into a lot of mixed reviews from very positive to very negative. Of course, we are all entitled to our own opinions when we perceive anything that we hear or read, so that is to be respected. However, after reading this story, I am a bit shocked how some of the reviews could be as scathing as they were. A memoir is just that, a personal story; and then each person who writes his or her own memoir has the freedom to deliver it in a way that is personal for them. I feel like that is exactly what we got with TBCG. A very in-depth and personal experience of the trials and tribulations of not only a woman, nurse-midwife, mother and wife, but that of a human being that was courageous enough to share her personal life with us as readers. Life isn't always going to be wonderful and pleasant, nor is it always going to be rough and down-trodden, but it is important to recognize that all of those things go hand-in-hand. I really enjoyed living through Mrs. Harman's trials and tribulations, the ups and downs of all of the experiences that she shared with us, and appreciated the seriousness of her material, while relishing in the events that brought her joy, as well. I am anxious to read her other works.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Watch this great tv interview with Patsy Harman, the author: http://www.wdbj7.com/global/story.asp... Whether you’ve been in the care of a Midwife or not (I haven’t), this is a book that just begs to be read. The rich stories of the women! First time author Patricia Harman weaves her own life’s triumphs and struggles into this memoir in a special way that meshes with those of her patients. There are the young girls who find themselves pregnant, over-worked women with a whole lot of children and m Watch this great tv interview with Patsy Harman, the author: http://www.wdbj7.com/global/story.asp... Whether you’ve been in the care of a Midwife or not (I haven’t), this is a book that just begs to be read. The rich stories of the women! First time author Patricia Harman weaves her own life’s triumphs and struggles into this memoir in a special way that meshes with those of her patients. There are the young girls who find themselves pregnant, over-worked women with a whole lot of children and more on the way, affluent middle-aged moms worrying about their daughters and a woman who wants the author and her husband to help her become a man. It’s also an unflinching insider’s view of the struggles of doctors and their teams as they face rising insurance premiums and other very real issues that hamper those in the medical field who strive to do right by their patients. At times I laughed out loud, at times I had tears in my eyes. This memoir kept me engaged. Oh to be a patient at that clinic, in the able care of Patsy and her husband, Dr. Tom. I didn’t want the book to end, always the sign of a great read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    I was expecting this book to be different, was actually looking forward to reading it knowing it was non fiction and about midwifery (a subject I love). Unfortunately, it was just sad and depressing in all the wrong ways! Ms. Harman's details about each of her patients did not have me caring about them much which is shame considering they were based on real people. Maybe it is an other testament to our poor medical system and possibly her inability to convey what really made these patients make I was expecting this book to be different, was actually looking forward to reading it knowing it was non fiction and about midwifery (a subject I love). Unfortunately, it was just sad and depressing in all the wrong ways! Ms. Harman's details about each of her patients did not have me caring about them much which is shame considering they were based on real people. Maybe it is an other testament to our poor medical system and possibly her inability to convey what really made these patients make the decisions they made. Coming from the wellness field, I could appreciate the struggles of working with your spouse, dealing with insurance companies, the rising costs in small business and insurance, questioning if what you love to do (serving people in a health industry is worth all the hassles), however she didn't share the wonderful rewards of this callling and why those of us in these fields of work continue to do it. I kept wondering why she just didn't close up shop. Could it just be time for me to read a happy book?

  23. 4 out of 5

    Betsie

    I am about half-way through and I am so enthralled that I can barely put it down. I was skeptical about it at first, but it is really a great book. ***************************** I was so absorbed in this book that I virtually ignored my kids all day so I could finish it. I am usually hesitant about reading memoirs because it's hard for me to get into non-fiction, but this book just swept me in with all the stories of the women that came through Patsy's nurse-midwifery practice. Some of the stories I am about half-way through and I am so enthralled that I can barely put it down. I was skeptical about it at first, but it is really a great book. ***************************** I was so absorbed in this book that I virtually ignored my kids all day so I could finish it. I am usually hesitant about reading memoirs because it's hard for me to get into non-fiction, but this book just swept me in with all the stories of the women that came through Patsy's nurse-midwifery practice. Some of the stories were uplifting, some were heartbreaking, some were infuriating. Most of them left me shaking my head thinking, "How could that woman let this happen to herself?" I do wish there was a little more closure at the end. I feel like everything was left with no resolution and there were quite a few things that I was hoping would be resolved. Perhaps there is a sequel in the future? I really recommend this book, it was a fairly quick read and enthralling. It was very interesting to get such a unique insider view of this particular field of medicine.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Daleen Berry

    This was an easy read, made more so by the concise stories about all the women who come to this midwife's medical office. I enjoyed it in addition because I had my first child in a hospital setting, with an OB/GYN, and the next three births at home, two of which were with lay midwives. (Traditionally trained, not academically so.) I wanted to compare what I saw in her work with what I experienced as a mother giving birth--even though Harman stopped doing births before this book came out. Each st This was an easy read, made more so by the concise stories about all the women who come to this midwife's medical office. I enjoyed it in addition because I had my first child in a hospital setting, with an OB/GYN, and the next three births at home, two of which were with lay midwives. (Traditionally trained, not academically so.) I wanted to compare what I saw in her work with what I experienced as a mother giving birth--even though Harman stopped doing births before this book came out. Each story was delightful, and I was happy to see that their threads continued and intermingled throughout the book. It was a very moving book, told in a gentle way, and I enjoyed being able to pick it up from my nightstand each night, and read as much--or as little--as I could. This book helped me see that the people we interact with touch our lives: for better or worse, or even just momentarily, as a light breeze blows across our skin. That's one of the best reasons to read it.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    I'm not sure what I thought this book was going to be about - maybe some beautiful birth stories, a few sad ones (of course), but mostly uplifting in the sense that bringing life into this world has to be a miraculous feat. Sadly, this was not to be so. IRS problems, marital troubles, hippy-chick fantasies, middle-aged sex worries ... And that's just the author's issues, not her patients. Those stories range from a 4-year-old's molestation, a sex change, rape by another gynecologist, a suicidal t I'm not sure what I thought this book was going to be about - maybe some beautiful birth stories, a few sad ones (of course), but mostly uplifting in the sense that bringing life into this world has to be a miraculous feat. Sadly, this was not to be so. IRS problems, marital troubles, hippy-chick fantasies, middle-aged sex worries ... And that's just the author's issues, not her patients. Those stories range from a 4-year-old's molestation, a sex change, rape by another gynecologist, a suicidal teen mother, a bulimic daughter ... I could go on, but why? This was a train wreck of a book that I personally felt had no redeeming value. There were passages that I just cringed at (and I think I'm pretty open-minded). Not enjoyable reading in the slightest. Not recommended.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

    The stories about the patients in this midwife/gyne nurse' s practice were interesting and I thought well written . The details of running a medical type practice, in the USA, costs of doing so and the legal concerns often not really mentioned by authors. But the whining about lack of money, and their own lack of taking responsibility for their financial situation very off-putting. Sell the second residence, cut your own expenses, and get on with it until you can handle the debt load. Try those The stories about the patients in this midwife/gyne nurse' s practice were interesting and I thought well written . The details of running a medical type practice, in the USA, costs of doing so and the legal concerns often not really mentioned by authors. But the whining about lack of money, and their own lack of taking responsibility for their financial situation very off-putting. Sell the second residence, cut your own expenses, and get on with it until you can handle the debt load. Try those problems with poverty income, and no way to change the situation, that is misery, not the life the author describes self-pityingly.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Heather Barson

    I'm being generous with the 3 stars, since disappointment is my major complaint. I was hoping for something more along the lines of Patricia's other book, The Midwife of Hope River. While I understand that many nurse midwives practice gynacology and don't attend births, I feel like a book that claims to be about a midwife should be about attending births! Mostly, I found the book terribly depressing. I'm all for telling women's stories, but shouldn't there be a bit more hope? I was depressed for I'm being generous with the 3 stars, since disappointment is my major complaint. I was hoping for something more along the lines of Patricia's other book, The Midwife of Hope River. While I understand that many nurse midwives practice gynacology and don't attend births, I feel like a book that claims to be about a midwife should be about attending births! Mostly, I found the book terribly depressing. I'm all for telling women's stories, but shouldn't there be a bit more hope? I was depressed for days after reading this.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    This is a year in the life of a West Virginia midwife. She and her husband, an OB/GYN, in practice together, face many ups and downs as they navigate the sick healthcare system at the beginning of the 21st century. Her patients' stories are touching, often sad and sometimes horrifying. Patsy Harmon faces life, death and all the pathos and bathos in-between with a remarkable bit of aplomb. Recommended to those who enjoy short stories, are passionate about women's issues and/or would like more inf This is a year in the life of a West Virginia midwife. She and her husband, an OB/GYN, in practice together, face many ups and downs as they navigate the sick healthcare system at the beginning of the 21st century. Her patients' stories are touching, often sad and sometimes horrifying. Patsy Harmon faces life, death and all the pathos and bathos in-between with a remarkable bit of aplomb. Recommended to those who enjoy short stories, are passionate about women's issues and/or would like more information about the life of a medical practitioner.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nette

    I enjoyed this book -- not so much the woo-woo stuff where she goes outside and bathes herself in starlight, but the gritty stuff about trying to run a practice when you're being hounded by the IRS and malpractice lawyers. And all the patient stories were fascinating. But here's my beef: how come a struggling ob-gyn clinic in Appalachia offers its patients nice soft cotton gowns, and my fancy-pants HMO in Redondo Beach gives us a blue paper-towel poncho ("opening to the front, please") and a sin I enjoyed this book -- not so much the woo-woo stuff where she goes outside and bathes herself in starlight, but the gritty stuff about trying to run a practice when you're being hounded by the IRS and malpractice lawyers. And all the patient stories were fascinating. But here's my beef: how come a struggling ob-gyn clinic in Appalachia offers its patients nice soft cotton gowns, and my fancy-pants HMO in Redondo Beach gives us a blue paper-towel poncho ("opening to the front, please") and a single piece of origami paper to cover our nether regions? I'm moving to West Virginia, damn it.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    For some reason, I thought this book would be a series of childbirth tales. It isn't. The word "memoir" in the title should have been a clue. But it is a strangely compelling story of a year or so in the life of a nurse-midwife (who has stopped delivering babies b/c of malpractice insurance). She's a little ditzy sometimes (as person and as writer), and some of her choices as a midwife don't seem to match her hippie past, but the women's stories she shares are compelling, as is her own. Quick re For some reason, I thought this book would be a series of childbirth tales. It isn't. The word "memoir" in the title should have been a clue. But it is a strangely compelling story of a year or so in the life of a nurse-midwife (who has stopped delivering babies b/c of malpractice insurance). She's a little ditzy sometimes (as person and as writer), and some of her choices as a midwife don't seem to match her hippie past, but the women's stories she shares are compelling, as is her own. Quick read, too.

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