As a midwife working in New York City hospitals for decades, I had a book’s worth of stories to tell about caring for women from all over the world. But how could I write a book without ever having taken a writing course? My book ambition went onto the list of things I would do “someday.”
After retiring, I ran out of excuses for procrastinating. In the fall of 2011, I discovered Gotham’s website. A Memoir I class in NYC was given at a convenient time and place, so I finally took the plunge, and began a continued study of the art of writing at Gotham.
My Gotham teachers, Kelly Caldwell and Cullen Thomas, were knowledgeable, encouraging and demanding. Weekly assignments gave me much-needed structure and discipline. Fellow students were highly supportive. Gotham Memoir classes enabled me to spin my memories of delivering 1,400 babies into stories on the page—stories that got more vivid with the rewriting that resulted from the critiques of my teachers and classmates.
Two years later, my book, Laboring: Stories of a New York City Hospital Midwife, was self-published. The response has exceeded my expectations. Invitations to read from Laboring and discuss midwifery and maternity care have come from colleges, bookstores, and senior centers. The book is on the curriculum of anthropology and nurse-midwifery courses at several colleges. The reaction of many colleagues who say, “This is my story,” is deeply gratifying. It is thrilling to be able to bring the message about the benefits of midwifery care to a wider audience through my book.
Thanks Kelly and Cullen for helping me transform decades of raw material into a memoir.