Read Lady's Hands, Lion's Heart- A Midwife's Saga by Carol Leonard Online


A memoir of a young midwife practicing in the wilds of New Hampshire who trained with a wonderful old country doctor, fell in love with her obstetrician back-up, and ultimately became a national leader in the struggle to reclaim the profession of midwifery in the United States. A story of love, loss and deep dedication to birthing women....

Title : Lady's Hands, Lion's Heart- A Midwife's Saga
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780615195506
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 368 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Lady's Hands, Lion's Heart- A Midwife's Saga Reviews

  • Natana
    2019-04-07 02:21

    I would have given this 4 stars or even 5 if it were edited a little better. She has a tendency to ramble and to go on tangents. That being said, she has fascinating stories to tell and it's obvious that she loves her work. I had a hard time following the stories as a whole novel because they are broken into chunks that don't seem to lead to the next one. They are mostly good chunks though. Carol Leonard is an excellent story teller but she needs a little more practice as an author.

  • Launa
    2019-04-04 23:09

    I absolutely loved this book! Ms. Leonard has a wicked sense of humor. I am a midwife and a doula and I felt at times I was reading my own life. I found myself hysterically laughing and at other times reaching for the box of tissues to catch tears and wipe a drippy nose. This is a love story on many levels. I would recommend this book to any aspiring midwife and/or doula. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand why there are those of us who choose women's health and birth as our way of life. Why we choose to get up at all hours of the night, leave our family, and race to a client's home. It is more than a profession, it is a calling. Birth is a natural process........... If you log onto her blog you can read how she had the tenacity to publish this book herself and where she got the name for her publishing company. You will again, find yourself laughing! So far, this book is my favorite read of 2009. I would love to meet the author and give her a hug!

  • Sonia Reppe
    2019-04-12 02:26

    Click here to read my review on Bookpleasures. book is subtitled A Midwife's Saga. Saga means a narrative of heroic deeds, which is a perfect description for this book.

  • Sheridan
    2019-04-22 05:37

    EXCELLENT book for anyone, not just birth lovers. :) This book had a love story, intrigue, suspense and lots of great stories. I think it may be one of my favorite midwife memoirs I have read.

  • Carol Leonard
    2019-04-08 23:35

    © 2008 Feathered Quill Book Reviews. All rights reserved.Biographies/MemoirsLady’s Hands, Lion’s Heart: A Midwife’s Saga By: Carol Leonard Publisher: Bad Beaver Publishing Publication Date: 2008 ISBN: 978-0-615-19550-6 Reviewed by: Pamela Victor Review Date: January 2009 Lady’s Hands, Lion’s Heart has it all. It’s part memoir, part American history, part textbook, part spiritual journey, part love story. Carol Leonard relays her life story as a midwife, a mother, a wife and a health care activist from 1975 (the year her son was born) to 1987 (the year of her deepest, darkest time.) The yarn that winds seamlessly thorough this book is the moment of birth. As a midwife who has delivered hundreds of babies, Carol Leonard tells the best birth stories! By their very nature, birth stories are the ultimate adventure tales, full of fraught emotion and drama that would make any Hollywood producer envious. Danger, romance, mystery, comedy and sometimes, sadly, tragedy – Leonard’s stories will keep you turning the pages with anticipation. Carol Leonard is an outstanding midwife, in addition, she is an accomplished writer. She has a keen ability to tell a story cleanly with just the right amount of detail, humor and intrigue. Each chapter contains a nice mix of personal narrative, midwifery history, and many splendid and suspenseful birth stories. Leonard applies an unflinching truthfulness to the telling as she bravely shines a cold, hard light into her past, warts-and-all. Leonard reveals her finest achievements as well as her heart-wrenching mistakes in a devastatingly honest, heroic manner. Did I mention she is really funny too? Leonard has a charming ability to laugh at herself and the outlandish foibles she gets herself into in a manner that feels like she’s giving the reader a little, knowing wink. Like the time she delivered an unexpected Halloween baby while she was dressed in a stork costume. Or the time one mother decided the best place to deliver her baby was balanced like a gymnast between her washer and dryer in the laundry room. Always willing to accommodate the needs of the mother, Leonard caught the baby while wedged between the two appliances. She writes, “I am trying my best in these cramped quarters to guide the baby out. The amniotic fluid is dripping on my head. Dryer lint is sticking in my wet hair. I am covered, head to toe, with fuzz balls. When I finally stand up, I look like a gray Yeti.” Carol Leonard is a remarkable woman. Her enormous dedication to the physical and emotional health of women and babies is profound and admirable. Whether directly or indirectly, Carol Leonard had a hand in the shaping of the way all women are treated by their health care workers during their labor and delivery to this day, whether in hospitals or at home. Most readers will learn a lot from this book about the evolution of child birth in the mid- to late-1900’s, and they may gain an appreciation for the herculean efforts of pioneers like Leonard. Not only does she reveal her personal and professional life, but Carol Leonard shares her spiritual journey as well. If you are on her wavelength, you will be broadened by her attunement to the universe. She is intuitive to the point of a mystic with an unfailing sixth sense that she learns to trust more and more as her story unfolds. Her ability to trust her inner guide stands out as a take-away lesson to us all. OK, I just have to say it: I wish Carol Leonard had been my midwife, both as a baby and as a mother! All health care workers would do well to read Lady’s Hands, Lion’s Heart to learn from Leonard’s deep respect for women and her implicit trust in their bodies’ ability to know how to bring their children into this world. As one of her apprentice midwives tells her after a particularly touch-and-go delivery, “…somehow you knew to trust the process and to just sit it out. Jesus, that’s a tough thing to do – nothing. You’re crazy, Leonard, you really are. But that was a miracle, and it only happened that way because it was you.” All women should be grateful there are crazy, wonderful, wise women like Carol Leonard in this world. Quill says: Adventure, mystery, history, comedy, romance, tragedy – this midwife’s memoir has it all! For more information on Lady's Hands, Lion's Heart, please visit the author's website at: Bad Beaver Publishing

  • K
    2019-04-21 03:09

    A book review is supposed to be a readers opinion of a book and the talent (or lack thereof in some cases, but not this one) of the author in weaving a good tale. This book is Midwife Carol Leonard's memoir; this is a book that is clearly very personal to her. As someone who initially went to college to become a nurse with a focus on Labor and Delivery, and who was blessed to have three wonderful midwives deliver three out of my four children...number four seemed to think my husband and the nurse in the room at the time was more than audience enough for him; he's still impatient and a 7 year old man on a mission to this day...I was immediately drawn to this book. The birth stories were all so incredibly beautiful, be they difficult or textbook. I have forever loved the idea of birthing at home, in an environment that is purely your own, in whatever atmosphere is comfortable to you. I regret that I never got to experience that part for myself. Each story was a miracle and I'm so grateful to her for sharing her experiences.My opinion of Carol Leonard is tricky so I will be careful not to make this review something that it shouldn't be. On one hand she was a revolutionary in her field. She helped pave the way for birth to become, in many instances, a beautiful, nonstressful event. Not everyone is blessed with that kind of experience, I know. Thinking back to what birth used to grandmother was "knocked out" for her deliveries, my mother was alone, without her husband beside's truly amazing the changes that have occurred in this area, in very large part to her and her fight for women's rights in childbirth. I also found myself amazed at her strength in the face of difficult situations, be it a difficult birth or severe critics of her profession. She always seemed to trust herself and those "gut feelings" that I know, I personally, seem to second guess and sometimes ignore. On the other hand, there are some areas of this book that are very difficult to read. I won't expound on them but will merely add as warning to others like me, being someone who is pro-life there are areas that deal in abortion that made my heart hurt. In the author's own personal life there were also things that I didn't agree with but then again I don't have to. It took courage to lay it out there whether I agree or not...and the good Lord knows I am far from perfect.All in all this was a beautifully written book. I give heartfelt thanks to her for the position she took so that I too could have beautiful experiences in bringing my children into the world.

  • Audacia Ray
    2019-03-30 04:15

    I have never been so viscerally affected by a book as I was by this one. Seriously, never. I squirmed, I clutched at my heart, I cried. Let me explain: in my admittedly limited and very finite universe, vaginas are for fun and especially for putting things into, they are not for pushing out babies.This book is all about pushing out babies and the intense physical, emotional, and family stuff that comes along with it. That's stuff I've never personally experienced, or actually thought about all that much.In the reality of the world and the female experience of vaginas, most women in the world push a baby out of their vaginas at some point. Carol Leonard is all about giving women the opportunity to do this in a way that honors their bodies and their individual experience and is not medicalized, sanitized, and dehumanized. In other words, she's a midwife, and has become a powerful and noisy proponent of undisturbed birth. Starting in the 1970s she has fought against the medical takeover of birth by empowering women to make their own choices about their birth experiences. This means that she's attended thousands of births in rural New Hampshire and caught babies in all sorts of peculiar circumstances, many of which she writes about in this book.I learned a hell of a lot about the birth process and especially the power of women's bodies in this book. Even if I never give birth, this book was so worth reading, just to know and understand how strong women are. Also, Carol Leonard is really hilarious, and approaches her work as a activist with a big heart and a huge sense of humor. Behold these few sentences about teaching women about their bodies and encouraging self-exams:"Susie and I are Abbott and Costello with a speculum. We take off our pants in church basements, in universities, in consciousness-raising groups. It is educational - and a little bit naughty."Amazing.Since I finished this book a week and change ago, I have thought about it often. I suspect that I'll think of it often for years to come.

  • Becca
    2019-04-13 05:13

    I read this 363 page book in one go yesterday-- it was like sitting in this woman's den in comfy navajo-blanket chairs, talking all night in front of a fire. Her voice is so immediate-- funny and sometimes bitchy --always honest. She has some funny verbal hiccups: "from soup to nuts" and "dog and pony show" -- charming! She doesn't gloss over tragedy and loss and abuse in the lives of her women and herself. But she's just as clear about the joy and miracles she's seen being a midwife, or "with-woman," through birth and life and death. The birth stories are just wonderful-- I love her magical intuitive sense, and her faith and gratitude to the universe, the Universal mother and the moon. She interweaves her education as a lay midwife with the story of her romance, and midwifery's legal struggles for recognition. It's a riveting braid!She has a calling to be a midwife-- she dedicates her life to it from the first moment she knows there is such a thing-- even taking her tiny son to the births so she can spend time with him. I'm impressed and a little envious of that level of clarity-- she is willing to sacrifice her own health and family and sometimes personal safety in order to give women, in general, better choices about birth. She has a cause! A mission in life! Made me feel like a bit of a lump, really, since I tend to use my family as an excuse to not Do Anything Big. Later, later, later.Spoiler: Her wonderful husband's sudden mental illness and death was very disturbing for me-- when he dies, her life is blasted apart. And the book just stops there. Everything she has been building up, including this story, snaps shut. It is heartbreaking. She mercifully throws in an epilogue, telling us in one terse paragraph that things have turned out okay now, 20 years later, she's remarried, has started midwifing again. I am still shaken by the end. She leaves us on our own to deal with it, and we get no cathartic view of her own healing to take us on our own. Made me want to throw my arms around my husband, make sure he's okay!

  • Ms. Online
    2019-04-08 23:38

    We like to think that obstetrics has come a long way since the 1950s, when women were often bound and drugged by obstetricians during labor, leaving them with no conscious memory of their birthing experience. But midwife Carol Leonard’s memoir reminds us that maltreatment of women in the delivery room has persisted. When Leonard gave birth to her son in 1975, she was shaved, forced to have an enema, strapped down and scolded for “touching herself” to relieve pain and pressure. Her delivery ended in a seemingly unnecessary episiotomy—a surgical incision that enlarges the vaginal opening. While suturing, Leonard’s doctor glibly announced his use of the “husband’s stitch,” an excessively tight re-figuring of her body. Leonard felt so cheated out of a spiritual experience that she became a midwife, committing her life to encouraging and assisting natural home births.Leonard maintains an irreverent humor about her work and her life throughout this lively memoir. Her writing is often more anecdotal than literary, but it is a detailed and compassionate account of her education in midwifery and her most significant birthing experiences. At times graphic but always tender, her memoir is a fascinating voyeuristic journey for any woman who has wondered about the realities of home birthing and the many ways such a delivery actually plays out.Sprinkled throughout the memoir is Leonard’s love story with an obstetrician who was so moved by her resolve that he stood up to the good ol’ boy’s club of obstetrics and pioneered one of the most progressive hospital programs for birthing in the nation. The meat of Leonard’s personal reflections comes when she recounts the tragic loss of her husband who ultimately crumbled under the incendiary pressure to conform in his field.Leonard’s bubbly, Spirit Mother outlook pervades this memoir and lends itself to a warm, sprightly story of her work for women.

  • Bethany
    2019-04-12 00:29

    Most of the time, I don't both to read books unless I have a reason to believe it will be a 'five start' book. I picked up this book out of curiosity knowing it would have different beliefs from mine. In the end, I give this book three stars because it desperately needed some editing and more describing words. I could imagine what the author was saying because I am a student midwife but I would think that people who are not familiar with birth would need more. The writing is not top notch but wow, what a story! It sure is entertaining! Carol has been through a lot in her life. As a conservative, pro-life Christian, I most certainly do not agree with her choices but I respect the work she has done to bring credibility to midwives. She is a historical figure and Lady's Hands, Lion's Heart chronicles major historical happenings in the midwifery world. Every student midwife and every woman thinking about becoming a midwife should read this book, at least eventually. For those that are pro-life, I would recommend reading this book also. It is good to read the opinions from the other is easier to see their folly and have compassion for them. The ending of the book is very sad because life without Christ has no hope! This book does contain accounts of abortion, murder, adultery, abuse, poverty, birth and death. Nothing is stated in explicit detail. A conservative reader will not agree with the choices of the author, but I do believe there is still much to be gained from this book. The explanations of physiological birth are wonderful and I do think many people would choose home birth after reading such a saga. Thankfully, nothing is graphic so I think young people could read this book as long as their maturity level is adequate.

  • Kathy
    2019-04-04 23:18

    Quotable:Crystal's story brings up the issue of abortion, which most midwives try to avoid like the plague. No professional midwifery organization to date (copyright 2008) has adopted an official position on the abortion debate, preferring to ignore it in the hope that it will go away. Although our ancient craft is to preserve the sanctity and holiness of birth - and therefore, life - the title "midwife" still means "with woman."To me, this means that midwives are beholden to honor and respect a woman's decision, no matter what side of the abortion question she ends up on. We are charged to support and aid her in all phases of her reproductive journey, not just childbirth. This needs to be done with a clear heart, without judgement.Midwives of antiquity often helped women procure abortions, either induced with abortifacients herbs or otherwise. The midwives of old used "quickening," or the first perceptible fetal movements felt by the mother, as the indicator that it was too late to abort. They believed that the soul entered the body at quickening... Personally, I don't think that church or state should be involved in any manner in this most intimate decision a woman must face.[Y]ounger nurse-midwives stubbornly stand their ground. They are butting heads with authority. They express their belief that nursing should not necessarily be a mandatory prerequisite for midwifery study. Midwifery is a separate profession in its own right, of which nursing is only one component.

  • Molly Westerman
    2019-04-12 06:09

    Lady's Hands, Lion's Heart is a deeply-felt book. It's funny and sad and engaging, in large part because of its very straightforward and honest narrative voice.This memoir covers the years 1975 to 1986, beginning with the author's experience giving birth to her only child--not a great experience: "This is when the conflicting emotions begin. I am incredibly high from giving birth, proud that my body is so strong and wise. [...] I feel thwarted that my accomplishment has somehow been belittled, that I have been strapped down [...], degraded and humiliated in the most sacred of times." From this moment of joy and anger, Leonard throws herself into women's healthcare and advocacy, starting to volunteer at a clinic and apprentice with a family doctor who assists at homebirths while her own baby is still tiny. The book follows her intertwined professional, romantic, and family lives from there, narrating many birth experiences along the way.The book could have used more careful editing. There are some bizarre semicolons, for instance, and the use of the present tense throughout creates some issues of clarity and style (including some confusing and/or ugly moments when verb tenses are mixed, apparently accidentally, within a sentence). But I sort of got used to it as I went along, and the book's content and voice certainly overcome these details.There's a more detailed review at my blog.

  • Carlie
    2019-04-03 02:37

    Another inspiring midwife story! Carol's tale is heartwarming and heartbreaking by turns. I thought it was a unique twist to weave through her days of babycatching the relating of her love life which of course has to do ultimately with the babycatching. I think this is the first midwife story I've read (and I've read a few) where I encountered a midwife I didn't agree with professionally but still respected and wanted to listen to. Leonard got her start working in an abortion clinic, being literally a hand-holder for women as they undergo abortions. I couldn't imagine doing that and couldn't imagine supporting the abortion facet of reproductive health but, to this midwife it feels part and parcel with all the rest of her work and somehow is right and good and seemed like an obvious place to get her feet wet. I feel pretty differently about abortion but, I still wanted to understand as much as I could of where she's coming from because her viewpoint although not mine is still valid and important in the field. And she's clearly a compassionate and sage midwife from whom I can learn a lot, no matter where differ. I think its good to see the other side of the coin even if that's not how you choose to go.

  • Danica
    2019-04-21 00:12

    A really interesting read; she is funny, descriptive, vibrant, and oh so strong-willed! This makes Leonard an excellent story teller. It was neat to look back at the start of midwives and their growing public and medical recognition as a legitimate source of care for pregnant women. Carol Leonard is clearly passionate about her cause and her enthusiasm is catching as you read along. After the first hundred pages or so I thought that I would get bored of the story (how many times can you read about at-home births?), but I found myself engaged the entire time. At points she was a little eccentric for me (rubbing the vernix under her eyes to prevent wrinkling?) and maybe a little too into the spiritual powers of the Earth (this obviously works for her), but this is to be expected considering the book starts in the 1970s and that was kind of the vibe of the time period. Overall I felt it was a very powerful, moving and informative book.

  • lola
    2019-04-04 00:09

    I was handed this book to read on Friday after I started interning for the New Space for Women's Health in nyc. I read it, completely enraptured, in one fell swoop, and then saw Carol talk at Bluestockings on Saturday. On Sunday, I sit here writing this review. This book is fucking hysterical, heart-wrenching and written with deft clarity. None of that gross fuzz that coats a lot of midwifery/women-fer-women memoirs of that time. It actually inspired me to become a midwife after I swore that I'd never catch a baby--although, don't get all hip on yourself, Ms Leonard, I was already gonna be a women's health NP. A seriously good read for anyone interested in the beautiful complexity of life, whether you think you care about midwifery or not.

  • Jessica
    2019-04-10 00:37

    I thought this book was engaging, insightful, and honest. I liked Carol's no nonsense attitude (especially being a New England-er myself, and fellow home birth mama), but also her deep connections to spirituality and the belief in women's bodies. For a midwife's memoir - I thought it was great - I could read birth stories all day. When I read a memoir and I know that the writer does not have a background in writing or composition I tend leave my literally critiques at the door (with exception to some really terrible ones I've read in the past). I still think it was very well written - with a few blips here and there (as well as some wonky flow). But keep kicking ass Carol - self publishing, heroine midwife, and farmer extraordinaire! I great read!

  • Emily Rhoads
    2019-04-26 01:36

    It was good, but not as good as Baby Catcher. I really don't appreciate Ms. Leonard's implication that giving birth is what brings a woman into womanhood. While I agree that giving birth is a rite of passage for some, it is not a rite of passage that CREATES womanhood as it cannot be experienced by many women, whether due to infertility or being trans.By the way, the ending of this book is devastating and the devastation hits fast and furious. The book is so good and beautiful and you have very little warning of the emotional train wreck you're about to drive up on. Before reading the last chapter, prepare yourself.

  • Heatherhh
    2019-04-20 07:31

    Very skilled writer sharing compelling stories as a midwife pioneering the way for the revival of midwifery in America. However, the author's frequent use of profanity, multiple pro-abortion comments, the frequently interjected bits of her religious beliefs (I believe Wiccan as she talks about portrayals of witches belittling her religion), and some details of her personal life required a lot of skimming over or ignoring on my part. Those are the reasons that the book was only a 3-star for me.

  • Lauren Brown
    2019-04-27 02:18

    This was a decent book filled with decent birth stories, but was muddled a bit by the sometimes confusing and irrelevant details that the author chose to talk about. I didn't buy this book to read about her vacations, not even the history of the MANA, but simply for the birth stories. And sometimes even those were short and/or pointless. The ending was abrupt, sad, and disappointing. I feel she could have chosen a better way to end the book. Overall, it was an enjoyable read, but not one I will be picking up again.

  • Martha
    2019-04-12 04:15

    Fabulous....especially in my line of work. This is a tell-it-like-it-is story of midwifery. Beautifully told stories and personal anecdotes that bring the reader along with Carol as she rides the backroads of NH lovingly helping babies arrive safely into their parent's hearts. Love it! Thanks Missy, Amy, and Erin for the suggestion. Thanks Missy too for the encouragement on transforming my career!

  • Erin
    2019-04-14 02:21

    I plowed through this book after the birth of my third son. I was sequestered to my bedroom for a full week in order to heal and bond with baby. I spent many of my waking hours reading this book. The birth stories are beautiful, and Carol Leonard's voice is so powerful yet relatable. I wish I could meet her someday and hear more of her stories. Of course, I was in tears at the very end. True love stories always get me.

  • Gaile
    2019-04-22 07:24

    I LOVED THIS BOOK!!!!! This is full of many tales of a modern midwife practicing in New Hampshireand fighting to establish her trade as legal. The tales are funny, sad and somewhere in between. The author call herself a "Mountain Woman," but she is so much more. i have always liked books about the exploits of midwives as I had my children in a hospital where they insisted I stay in bed and wouldn't let walk around. I wish there had been midwives in my time but they were illegal back then.

  • Marti
    2019-04-02 02:34

    I read this for town book club in May. I was very apprehensive to read this book. I thought the subject matter wouldn't be interesting. It was good, but not a book I would have chosen to read. I recognized many of the locations of the book and suspect I know a few of the people within the book.

  • Shiloah
    2019-04-11 23:10

    An excellent book with true birth stories. Carol was a huge instrument in forming the Midwives Alliance of North American (MANA). A sad ending to her book, but not to her life. She is a strong lady and it comes through in her book. I did have a hard time with way she writes so I took off a star for that.

  • Karla
    2019-04-23 05:30

    Perhaps it is the hormones of late pregnancy, but Leonard had me laughing out loud, re-telling her stories, and sobbing during this read. What a beautiful, strong, giving, dedicated woman, and what a life story...and she only writes about the first 12 years of her practice as a midwife beginning with the birth of her son.

  • Sarah
    2019-04-13 07:25

    3.5 stars. I loved all the birth stories and I loved reading about how she was involved in the legislation to allow non nurse midwives to practice home birth legally. The language and some of the characters in the book were a bit rough/weird for me and the ending was sad. But still a great read for a birth junkie!

  • Jennifer
    2019-04-10 02:32

    Our book club chose this book because she is a NH author and one of our members had Carol as her midwife. She is planning on coming to our meeting when we discuss her book. Very well-written. It drew me back. Though I would not want a home birth, Carol has made it possible for many women to have one and to make hospital birth more home-like and less antiseptic.

  • Amy
    2019-04-12 04:32

    I enjoyed this book immensely. It's the memoir of a midwife that started practicing in the 1970's. I laughed, I felt angered, empowered. My husband's coworker lent me this book - she bought it in memory of her daughter's birth. Carol Leonard was her midwife and she paid for her services with a cord of chopped wood.

  • Kathleen
    2019-04-16 04:10

    Made me bawl like a baby (or rather a 26 week pregnant women!) Amazing amount and variety of natural birth stories. Masterfully weaves her life and spirituality into those accounts. I live in NH and loved reading about the history of midwifery in the state as well as the nation and to a small degree the world. What an amazing women! All women should read this!

  • Charissa
    2019-04-15 23:28

    Some sad parts to this book including a description of an abortion and a very tragic loss in the author's life, but beyond that I really enjoyed this book. Lots of great birth stories with humor, emotion, and inspiration woven throughout. Also included some historical tidbits about the growth of midwifery in the 1970-80s and the formation of the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA).