A Woman of Power
Once upon a time, I had to write a paper for a history class. Searching through my books, I began one that was an annotated diary of an eighteenth century midwife. Because I knew a midwife, who rented space in the doctor’s office where I worked, I decided to read that book and see what came to me.
Thus began a fascination that has lasted for 17 years and led to the publication of four novels—three historical and now one contemporary—with midwives as the central characters.
What fascinated me from a historical perspective is the unique role midwives played in society. I have read dozens of books on the subject since that first one, many of them books so old I wasn’t allowed to take them out of the college library, and in each one, the same message appeared loud and clear.
Midwives were women of power. Not bossy, running government power, but a behind the scenes independence. They were women of trust in whom other women confided, knowing her secrets would not be spread. They were honored, respected and, probably feared just a little. In old obituaries, these women were written about with love and respect.
Nowadays, the practice of midwifery is far different from two hundred years ago. Education is formal, not passed along by other women. The use of a midwife instead of a doctor is often controversial. But one aspect remains constant—they are women dedicated to the emotional, physical, and mental health of other women.