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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
I waited a long time to post this review...because I had to digest this book. It was wonderful (at first)-- the stories were touching, and funny. I loved reading about all the home births and crazy politics surrounding midwifery. The stories are so wonderful and touching... I felt like I had made a friend... like I was actually there experienceing this entire journey with the author.

Now, I hate spolier reviews, so I won't spoil the book by revealing what happens, but I spent an hour crying after I finished the last chapter-- which I actually finished alone on my couch at 2AM-- probably not a great idea. I felt like I had been punched. You can't make me your friend and then slap me in the face!! The feeling didn't leave me for days.

This book is an emotional rollercoaster. I felt giddy, then happy, then crushed. But the whole thing isn't a bummer (there is a light at the end of this birth canal).

Just read it. All the reviews are true. This book is THE one.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 17, 2012
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 be...my grandmother was "knocked out" for her deliveries, my mother was alone, without her husband beside her...it'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.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 19, 2009
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.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 4, 2009
I finished this book last night & was just completely bowled over. I loved everything about it. Carol has created something wonderful & I feel honored to have been invited to share in her experiences. A thought came to my mind yesterday: why has it taken me this long to know about Ms. Leonard?? I'm relatively new to the Midwifery/birth scene, so I knew a few names before the Midwifery Today conference, but she is such a major figure, I can't believe I took my meeting her so casually! I guarantee that next time I have the opportunity to meet her, I'm going to be all goo-goo eyes & star struck. It's not a promise, it's just the way it is. LOL
I find myself thinking about various parts of this story during the day. I love her humble beginnings & I could totally see myself falling into midwifery the way she did (although I'm not sure lay midwifery the way she learned it is even an option anymore) and I can't agree more that book & class training doesn't even compare to hands-on, in-your-face real-life training. And she are so ballsy, I love it. I appreciated the ride she took me on, and certain women have stuck with me, especially the poor, abused women who endured so much. I don't know that I would have had her patience to deal with some of the men she had to encounter.
One of my favorite parts was after reading about Lynn Richards' VBAC, I immediately sent her a message & said, "hey! I just read about you in the book I'm reading!" It's so amazing to be a part of this incredible community of the most amazing women I've ever met.
Carol, I feel like there's more I want to say, but I am going to sign off now with an enormous Thank You in my heart for sharing your experiences with the world. And I'm so grateful to my hostelmate who recommended I read your book.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on July 31, 2008
I just finished reading this book! It's FABULOUS! I couln't put it down. (Would make a great movie!)
I've known the author, Carol Leonard, seems like - all my life! She is an exhilarating woman and excitement and fabulousness just follow her around!
I can totally see these things happening to her, thru her, because of her. She is a catalyst and well known in our State for all her work - pioneering midwifery and bringing it to the forefront of our legislators and the lay people.
I didn't know much about midwifery and STILL this book is a wonderful read.
You don't have to be a midwife to enjoy this story of love and life. You just have to have a pulse.
Wendy
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 6, 2010
I'm nine months pregnant and wanted to read something about birthing to supplement Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife, so I ordered this book from Amazon off the good reviews, along with Jennifer Worth's The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times. When the two books arrived I realized that Lady's Hands, Lion's Heart was almost certainly self-published. I sniffed a little at that and put it aside for a while. Well, yesterday I overcame my snobbery and started reading, and boy did I just relearn the lesson of not judging a book by its cover. This is a wonderful book. The writing is sharp, smart and intriguing; the story is brilliantly structured; and every anecdote and story contained within is worthwhile. What a remarkable story arc. Shame on the "real" publishers who must have turned it down before Ms. Leonard turned to self-publishing. Highly recommended for anyone interested in childbirth, the midwifery model of care or just being a human being in this strange, hard world we live in. Remarkable.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 22, 2011
Carol...I have just finished reading Lady's Hands, Lion's Heart and the tears are still wet on my cheeks. Thank you for making me laugh and making me cry and sharing so much of your knowledge and love and life. Your book will now stay with me for the rest of my life and sit next to Ina May on my shelf and in my heart.

I am a 42 yo Mum of five. My youngest has just started preschool so I thought it was time to think about working again. This is a magic time for me because I am a grown woman who is finally free of all the crap that weighs young women down, and I can now choose what I want to do with the rest of my life. I immediately commenced a Bachelor of Midwifery, it has been calling to me for a long time. I wonder sometimes if midwifery is programmed into my mind and body through some ancient knowledge within my being.

When I started reading your book I found your words..."It is an ageless knowing...I have finally come home" I started crying, That is what I was looking for....midwifery is in our hearts just as motherhood is! Then when you are describing the First International Conference of Midwives and you speak of your sisters...wow goosebumps! And Ina May....She was the first one who found me after I applied to uni and started looking for books or articles from Midwives who worked with a philosophy that I valued..believe it or not I googled midwife and other words like women love spiritual and of course "Spiritual Midwifery" found me.

You are an amazing woman and you personify all that is great about our gender....and Aristotle must have dreamt of you when he described Midwives......if it is OK with you I will carry a bit of you with me through my career.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2008
The writing style is lovely and the stories true to life. For those who enjoyed BabyCatcher and A Midwife's Story- this is a must read!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2009
Lady's Hands, Lion's Heart- A Midwife's SagaI loved this book. Couldn't put it down from the time I opened it. Carol shares her journey into the world of midwifery in such an entertaining and intimate way. This was a time that I remember well and, even tho I live in Canada, the memories I have are parallel to Carol's. I thought that I loved the book because it was a history that I knew so well and it was so much fun to read someone else's perspective of those times BUT a young midwifery student who is just beginning her journey also told me she couldn't put it down so I think it's a book for all women. Congratulations to the author. Highly recommend it.
Gloria Lemay, Vancouver BC Canada
[...]

<midwife> <midwifery> <childbirth> <vbac>
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 17, 2012
This book had me crying, laughing, nodding in agreement. I could have been sitting there with Carol having a 'cuppa' together like old friends. A very honest account of what 'with woman' midwifery is all about.
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