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I used to blog, but it takes too much time if you want to write books.

“We all said dumb things when we were young,”

April 21, 2011

On Thursday I whip through Chapel Hill, Raleigh and Greensboro, all beautiful green cities with huge shade trees and red, pink and white azaleas. The tour is beginning to blur. First I can’t remember which stores were in which towns. Then I can’t remember in which stores I met which people. I’ll have to keep notes.
Fly Leaf in Chapel Hill, was my first stop. Here, I met, greeted and signed books for one aspiring midwife, a professor of public health, two health educators and the book seller, Tina, who’s second part time job is to do arts and crafts and journaling with the pregnant women on long term bed rest at the medical center. What a cool idea! Women who are confined away from their friends, family and other children go stir crazy after a few weeks. Tina’s visits must brighten their days. I tell her that talking with the women, she could probably write her own version of The Blue Cotton Gown.
The person I most enjoyed talking to was a young woman with a two year old on her hip. “Where’d you have your baby?” I asked in a lull between book signings.
“At the medical center,” she answers, surprised that an author would ask such a question.
“I’m a midwife,” I explained. “We midwives are interested in such things.” She tells me her story, that she wanted to give birth with the midwives in town at the Birth Center but they had too many due dates that month. I smile to myself, business must be good!
“In the end though, the young mother continued. “I did ok. I read every book I could find. Spiritual Midwifery was my favorite. I brought my birthing ball to the hospital. I wouldn’t let them give me an epidural and I had my baby naturally.”
“Wow! Just you and your husband? Not midwife or doula to help you? That’s amazing.”
“Yeah, that’s what the nurses said. They had never seen natural childbirth. Even my doctor brought a medical student around to show him. All they’d had all day were C/Sections.”
I look at my new friend with awe…. but how sad. It’s almost like back in the 1970s when women had to fight not to be given twilight sleep, gas or spinals. When they had to beg to have their husbands in the delivery room and their babies not taken away.
Quail Ridge, the next independent bookstore, in Raleigh, is a family owned business since 1984. Here I sign books but don’t meet any readers. It’s what you call a drive by signing. Most of the time I spend with the woman owner and her granddaughter in the back office chatting about the book business and my new book. Nancy, the owner, is a big fan of The Blue Cotton Gown.
Back in the car, my will power about healthy low fat food breaks down. To keep myself awake on the drive ahead, I stop at Arby’s for jalapeńo poppers and a small mocha shake, and then hit the road again.
By evening, I’m in Greensboro with my publicist, Julie, at a large Barnes and Noble in an upscale shopping mall. Becky, the community events coordinator has arranged a podium, with a microphone, and four rows of folding chairs. She has also baked cookies. I look around, and not seeing a great crowd running my way, decide to rearrange the chairs in semi-circle with me sitting, comfortably in front. As it turns out, the chairs nearly all fill and the variety of people is notable. Usually few men are interested in The Blue Cotton Gown because it deals with women’s issues and midwifery, but in this group there are three males.
I read from the new book, Arms Wide Open: A Midwife’s Journey, and we discuss every thing from what’s happening to childbirth in the United States, to communes in the 70s, to trying to respond to the current environmental crisis, to the war in Vietnam.
“I was a soldier Vietnam,” the fifty something guy in the back row comments. (He’s the same one who told us that he’d watched his first baby born breech in 1974. He and his wife did Lamaze and she gave birth naturally. You could tell he was proud.) “I don’t want to lump you with Jane Fonda, but she still pisses me off!”
“We all said dumb things when we were young,” I apologize, “We in the Peace Movement didn’t give much of a welcome to the returning soldiers. We could have done better. We should have done better.”
At the end he comes up and hugs me.

Comments

  1. April 25, 2011 9:50 AM EDT
    We loved having you in Greensboro, Patsy! You are such a breath of fresh air! And to have the top Democratic strategist sitting next to the top Republican political appointee in North Carolina sitting next to each other for your talk says a lot about the message that you have and how it can unite people!
    - julie