February 7, 2011
So once the brilliant, urging, insistent spark of an idea was kindled, I scrambled to figure out how to begin this big project of creating a comprehensive anthology of midwife memoirs. It is lucky that I was naïve enough not to know just how huge of a project I was taking on. But alas, Fortune Favors the Foolish. I made lists of eligible midwives whose life stories I would like to collect. My criteria for eligibility was that each contributing author had to be over 50 years of age, been in practice 25 years or more, and be a sage femme (wise woman) and leader in the midwifery movement.
There were over a hundred people on that list and each day, as I pondered the topic, I would add a few more names. There are so many extraordinary midwives whose life stories should be told. But in the end – with the intention of selecting a diverse group of midwives – I sent out invitations to about three dozen. Of that group I got responses from over two-dozen women. I began to finalize the participant process, which included sending each candidate a project overview and getting a signed consent form. Just as we got started, three people had to drop out because of life circumstances—caring for a dying sister, trauma related to a midwifery courtroom battle, and a very ill mother who needed hospice care.
But looking back – the minute I dropped those three-dozen invitations into the mail I began to panic, wondering what I had gotten myself in to. My good friend and writer, Barbara Gentry said, “You need a mentor; you need Max Regan.” Thus began my relationship with the “literary midwife” of this project. Max is the one who kept me breathing and focused on allowing the project to be born. He helped me stay open to the arduous process—messy and mysterious as it was.