by Robyn

Echo Squires: A Pioneer Birth Story

June 26, 2017 in Birth Stories, Church History, LDS History, Robyn, Uncategorized by Robyn

Echo Lavinia Squires, Edward Martin Company

So, I want to apologize for neglecting the blog.  My husband and I were called to serve as the Trek Coordinators for our ward trek to Martin’s Cove, Sixth Crossing and Rocky Ridge this July.  We were given a late start, like the Martin and Willie companies and so we have been a little busy. We have been deep in preparations and while it is a lot of work, it has been a tremendous blessing to learn the stories in more detail and be filled by the indomitable spirit that these Saints had.

I wanted to quickly share a birth story I found while studying the efforts of the rescue party for the Willie and Martin Handcart Companies.  Patience Loader recorded the birth of a baby girl:

I well remember that when we campt in Echo Canyon that Sister [Sarah Cattlin] Squires was confind in the morning[.] she had alovely baby girl and thay named her Echo [Levinia Squires.] the morning she was born the father [Henry Augustus Squires] was run[n]ing around camp enquiring of everybody if they had apin to give him to pin something around the baby but I don’t think that he was able to get one[.] the breathren fixed the wagon very warm and comfortable for Sister Squires and boath her and baby ar[r]ived safe into the City.

There is also more to the story that John Jaques, who was a member of the Martin Handcart Company, recorded about Robert T. Burton, one of the rescuers:

The next camp . . . was in a small canyon running out of the north side of Echo canyon, a few miles above the mouth of the latter. Here a birth took place, and one of the relief party generously contributed part of his under linen to clothe the little stranger. The mother [Sarah Squires] did quite as well as could have been expected, considering the unpropitious circumstances . . . The little newcomer also did well, and was named Echo, in honor of the place of her nativity. She is still a resident of the territory, is a happy wife and mother, and lives in the north country (November 26, 1856).

It should be noted that Robert T. Burton’s job was to record the distribution of supplies which he cared for meticulously.  He did neglect to record that he literally gave the shirt off his own back to the little baby. His granddaughter later told the story, “After he had distributed all the clothing, Robert noticed a mother whose newborn baby did not have sufficient clothing to keep it warm, so he took off his own homespun shirt and gave it to the mother to cover the baby.”

Robert T. Burton, Rescue Company of 1856

His biography states that was just one example of how he lived his life with generosity. Some of his final words to his children were the reminder to “be kind to the poor.”

Kindness is an echo, isn’t it?  May we all look for an opportunities to “echo” service today.

 

Sources:

Tell My Story Too, page 431.

https://history.lds.org/overlandtravel/pioneers/1873/robert-taylor-burton

https://history.lds.org/overlandtravel/pioneers/19316/sarah-minnie-catlin-squires

https://history.lds.org/overlandtravel/pioneers/41265/echo-levinia-squires

https://history.lds.org/overlandtravel/sources/17824106200553894265-eng/archer-patience-loader-reminiscences-transcript-ms-6218-p-57-92?firstName=Echo Levinia&surname=Squires

 

 

by Robyn

Book Review: The Midwife: A Biography of Laurine Ekstrom Kingston

September 29, 2016 in Book, Book reviews, Church History, home birth, LDS History, Midwives, Robyn, Uncategorized by Robyn

laurine-ekstrom-kingston2

The Midwife: A Biography of Laurine Ekstrom Kingston  By Victoria Burgess

Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books 2012

I don’t know if anyone else out there loves reading midwife memoirs but I do.  I noticed this biography of Laurine Ekstrom Kingston on kindle and decided to give it a try.  The book is broken up into six sections: the history of her family, her childhood within the Fundamentalist group, her marriage to the son of a prominent Fundamentalist leader, her philosophies of midwifery care, stories from her work as a midwife, and reflections on her life and what she is doing today.

I thought the book was going to be more about her work as a midwife but the majority of the book is about her time as a part of a Fundamentalist Mormon Co-op.  Even though that is not what I was expecting, it was still very interesting.  I have to admit to not having much of an idea of how daily life flows in tightly knit polygamist (more accurately defined as polygyny) groups. I have never bothered watching Big Love or any reality shows depicting the practice.  So for me it was educational and handled tastefully.  Polygyny is an undeniable part of our history and Laurine’s life gave me a peek inside to what it might have been like for early Mormons who practiced it. For Laurine, it allowed her to work more freely as a nurse and midwife.  Many of the midwives from LDS history were part of plural marriages.

Laurine is a fascinating woman, one who was steeped in her religion, but often functioning outside of it due to her work as a nurse and midwife.  The critique I would offer is that the book could have used a little more editing and revising.  There are errors common to writing and sometimes the flow is choppy or the style distracting. However, that did not stop me from reading the entire book before my Labor Day weekend was over.

by Robyn

Women’s History Month: The Female Council of Health

March 7, 2016 in Book, Church History, LDS History, Midwives, Priesthood, Relief Society, Robyn, Uncategorized by Robyn

RS-Book-Cover-small

Has anyone else found this treasure?  I had been eyeing this new book, The First Fifty Years of Relief Society, and recently found out that there are portions of it already online with plans for the entire book to be available online within the year (source).  The timing of the release of this book is perfect with March being Women in History month.  It is another source to glean from our heritage of Relief Society sisters.  I love learning from my sisters of the past.  It points us to our future.  Heather has blogged about the history of midwives within the LDS church , in this post, “Midwifery as a Calling.” I recommend reading it if you haven’t yet. I found this excerpt from this new book that reaches a little deeper about the beginnings of organizing health care for women in the early church,

The hardships of the westward trek and isolated frontier settlement brought health concerns, including distinctly female concerns, to the forefront. Midwives and other women began attending meetings of the Council of Health with male practitioners when the group was formed in 1849.6 Some women, however, were uncomfortable discussing medical matters in the Council of Health, which caused “a slackness of attendence of the females, which was suposed to be caused by there being present male members.” As a result, the Female Council of Health was organized by July 1851.7 Midwife Phoebe Angell, mother of Brigham Young’s wife Mary Ann Angell, was designated president of the women’s council, and she chose two midwives as counselors. The women’s council met about twice a month, initially in Angell’s home. As membership expanded, the group later held some meetings in the newly erected tabernacle on the south end of the temple block.8 On November 13, 1852, the council selected one woman each from most of the city’s nineteen wards “to look after the poor.”9 After Angell died in November 1854, her counselor Martha “Patty” Sessions became president of the Female Council of Health, though by then Sessions was also serving as president of the newly organized Relief Society of Salt Lake City’s Sixteenth Ward.10

This council was separate from the reorganization of the Relief Society and took place before Brigham Young asked sisters to “get a classical education and then get a degree for Medicine” in 1873 (Daughters in My Kingdom, 54). This Female Council of Health was a precursor to the trainings that Dr. Ellis Shipp established for sisters in the Salt Lake Valley in the 1880s.  Midwife Patty Sessions often refers to attending these meetings in her journal (Mormon Midwife: The 1846-1888 Diaries of Patty Sessions).  Richard L. Jensen offers insight on what these meetings were like:

They heard lectures by local physicians, “discussed faith and herbs in healing, attempted to design more healthful female fashions, spoke and sang in tongues, and enjoyed a social and spiritual interchange” (see Richard L. Jensen, “Forgotten Relief Societies, 1844-67,” Dialogue 16, no.1 [Spring 1883]:107).

Our circumstances today are not exactly the same as our sisters of the past.  This council was organized to fill a specific need of their time.  I feel that it does reflect a desire of the priesthood leaders of the early church to meet the needs of women.  They knew there were needs specific to women that needed women. They wanted women to be a part of their councils and when they became aware that the women needed their own forum to better meet each other’s needs they formed the Female Council of Health.

I do feel that God does still care greatly for the health of women. We have recently witnessed a rediscovery of the divine nature of pregnancy and childbirth.  Many women have felt called to the work in one way or another.  I felt called to it over 12 years ago.  The spirit compelled me to become a childbirth educator. It has been a great treasure and blessing to me through the years.  I have come to a place where I am pondering my next steps forward.  I have loved being a childbirth educator and have found myself doing more and more doula work instead of classes.  And the promptings keep coming that I need to move forward with midwifery and health care training.  I have pondered different paths and at times feel confused about which one to take.  Studying the history of health care within our church is helping me find the path that God has prepared for me.  I don’t know all the details of it yet. It is different than what I expected but it is nonetheless His and inspired and I’m choosing to go forward and let faith instead of fear lead me there.

 

by Robyn

Midwives: What’s gender got to do with it?

February 1, 2016 in Book, Book reviews, Church History, home birth, LDS History, Midwives, Robyn, Uncategorized by Robyn

Mother George 2

A friend of mine shared with me this incredible piece of history from a community not far from where I live.  She happened upon a mini medical museum at Caribou Memorial Hospital in Soda Springs, Idaho and told me about Mother George.  It happens to be black history month and so I thought it appropriate to share the story of Mother George, a black midwife who lived near Grays Lake, Idaho in the 1880s.

Grays Lake

 

From what I have read of this midwife’s history, I don’t think she was Mormon but she delivered babies of LDS families in the surrounding communities.  Ellen Carney, a local historian, shared that she delivered both white and black babies, owned a ranch and practiced frontier medicine during the gold rush era (source).

The controversy concerning Mother George comes after she dies when it is discovered, as the body is being prepared for burial, that she is actually a man.  Yes, a man.  Nobody knew otherwise. The discovery was shocking for the community even though it was noted that she had some masculine features. Lee Cantwell, an LDS retired dentist and author, recalled that his grandmother, Effie Allsop Greene, who was born June 14, 1889, said, “I was delivered by a Negro nanny on a cattle ranch in Grays Lake, Idaho. My mother told me that Mother George had the largest hands she had ever seen on a woman and that she wore men’s shoes” (source).  However, it should be noted that once the true gender of Mother George was revealed most families would not admit to having had her services.

This small piece of history begs so many questions:

Who really was Mother George?

How did he come upon midwifery, especially as a black man?

We may never know but if you feel like cuddling up for an interesting read, “Mother George, the Midwife Who Shocked Grays Lake” is available on kindle for only $2.99.  It is the imaginings of author, Lee Cantwell, of how Mother George may have come to be. If you would like to read the first chapter you can go to this link. I admit I quickly devoured the pages of this piece of historical fiction.

Mother George book

As a black man of that era, pretending to be a female midwife may well have been his only way to engage in a profession that he found fulfilling.  White men of that time would not blink an eye at having a black granny midwife care for their wife, but a black man?  And what opportunities were there for a black man to become a doctor? Today, it wouldn’t seem controversial to have a male caregiver such as an OBGYN or MD but what about a male midwife?  There are more and more female OBGYNs and MDs.  But it is rare to find a male midwife.

I’m guessing that Mother George was nothing like this:

male midwife

You  should know that this advertisement is a farce but I couldn’t help but share it.  Too funny!

Do you know any male midwives?

Do you think they are just as accepted as female midwives?

Does gender matter when it comes to maternity care?

I’m not trying to pass judgment here.  I have had positive and negative experiences with both genders as it pertains to childbirth.  I have had a female OBGYN but felt my male OBGYN was more understanding and supportive of my birth wishes.  I’m sure that my experience is not necessarily because of their gender.  I have only received care from female midwives and I have been very pleased.  I felt their care was very personalized in comparison to my experience with doctors.  But I know there are midwives on both ends of the spectrum.  I have to wonder if I would have been able to have the same kind of bond with a male midwife.

 

 

midhusbands

There was a time when men took over childbirth and vigorously defamed midwives.  I would hope that today we can blend the strengths of the masculine and feminine to provide optimal care for women and their babies.

Is it acceptable to be a male midwife or a contradiction?

by Robyn

Women in History Month: Mary Ann Hamblin

March 18, 2015 in Church History, LDS History, Midwives, Relief Society, Robyn, Uncategorized by Robyn

March is Women in History month so as I ran across this little tidbit I wanted to share. It is about Mary Ann Hamblin who was Julie B. Beck’s great-great grandmother and a midwife.  In case you didn’t know we counseled with Sister Beck as we worked on this book.  Her thoughts were invaluable.  (You can read more about Heather’s visit with her here.) Sister Beck shares about Mary Ann as she explained three paintings that hung in her office while she served as the General Relief Society President,

08288_all_001_05-Midwife

Midwife: Thy Path Her Chosen Way, by Crystal Haueter, courtesy Church History Museum

“This third painting that hangs in my office depicts a pioneer midwife. It reminds me that one sister, with one skill, can be a blessing to many. An example of this is my great-great-grandmother Mary Ann Hamblin, who was a midwife. She helped bring over 2,000 babies into this world. She made a valuable contribution to the Lord’s storehouse of time and talents.” (Basic Principles of Welfare and Self-Reliance, 2009, 4-6).

The manual that this excerpt is from is a training manual for Relief Society Presidents.  The word “midwife” literally means “with woman.” I couldn’t help but read this section and think of the many Relief Society Presidents on different levels who have been “with woman” just as a midwife is.  I wouldn’t be surprised to hear someone who has served as both a midwife and RS President liken the two callings.  It is a privilege to be with women not ahead or behind but beside them, serving next to them with compassion.

A RS President is often called upon to assess the needs of a family, particularly the mother.  A midwife also does this.  In fact the midwifery model of care insists the midwife monitor the mother’s physical, psychological and social well-being while providing her with individualized education, counseling and hands on assistance.  A RS President does much the same while adding to that list a woman’s spiritual well-being.  I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that many midwives also take into consideration a mother’s spiritual well-being.  I know my midwife did with me.  We spoke of spiritual matters often.  I often felt like I had just had a visiting teacher in my home only she was taking prenatal assessments as we chatted.

The Relief Society motto is “Charity Never Faileth.”  The midwives model of care has not named charity by word but midwifery care would have little to offer without it.  I have been honored to witness the charity of many different midwives as they watched over, counseled, listened, served and loved the families they come in contact with.  It is a midwife’s responsibility to love her work and the people she serves. It has been my observation that anytime charity leaves their work, the work seems to leave them.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Sister Beck is who she is because midwifery as a way to care for others was passed on to her.  I know that I am who I am because of the women who came before me and that is why I love honoring women in our history.  Their stories really do teach me that Charity Never Faileth.

 

by Lani

She Understands me

March 3, 2014 in Adversity, Church History, Death, Grief, Lani, LDS History, Loss, Midwives, miscarriage, Motherhood, Music by Lani

Ellis-Shipp

“It is to me the crowning joy of a woman’s life to be a mother.” -Ellis Reynolds Shipp

Did you know that Dr. Ellis Shipp, one of Utah’s first female doctors (who trained many women to become nurses and midwives), wrote a hymn in the hymn book? I had forgotten until yesterday when my friend (who is mourning her second miscarriage) posted this on facebook…

As I sung/listened to this hymn today, I realized that the woman who wrote the words understands me. Some of her own babies did not make it past infancy, yet she pushed forward, continued to bear children, and went on to help Utah women as their midwife and first female doctor. She has been a hero of mine for years, and only became more dear to my heart through the re-discovery of this hymn. Even though it made me cry, her song brought me joy and peace today.

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You can read more about Dr. Shipp’s wonderful legacy in Robyn’s post HERE.

Does the Journey Seem Long?

February 25, 2014 in Church History, Depression, Heather, Pregnancy by Heatherlady

This year in Relief Society we are studying the life and teachings of Joseph Fielding Smith, the 10th prophet of the church. As I read through the short biography of him given in the front of the manual I was very touched by a story about him and his second wife, Ethel Reynolds Smith. Joseph Fielding was a member of the quorum of the twelve and was away a lot on church business. When he was gone Ethel was responsible for their children at home (eventually they would have 9, plus 2 from his first marriage). In April of 1924  Ethel was seven months pregnant  and struggling. As he was traveling on a train to attend a stake conference he wrote her a letter and in it said, “I am thinking of you and wish I could be with you constantly for the next few weeks, to help take care of you.” Then as he closed his letter her wrote her a beautiful poem, which can now be found in the Church hymn book as  “Does the Journey Seem Long?”

Ethel Reynolds Smith

I have sung this hymn a hundred times but it as I read through the lyrics, now understanding that it was written by a husband to his wife as she struggled through a hard pregnancy– without him– it really touched my heart.

Does the journey seem long,
The path rugged and steep?
Are there briars and thorns on the way?
Do sharp stones cut your feet
As you struggle to rise
To the heights thru the heat of the day?
Is your heart faint and sad,
Your soul weary within,
As you toil ’neath your burden of care?
Does the load heavy seem
You are forced now to lift?
Is there no one your burden to share?
Let your heart be not faint
Now the journey’s begun;
There is One who still beckons to you.
So look upward in joy
And take hold of his hand;
He will lead you to heights that are new—
A land holy and pure,
Where all trouble doth end,
And your life shall be free from all sin,
Where no tears shall be shed,
For no sorrows remain.
Take his hand and with him enter in.
His words show a real understanding of the feelings his wife must have felt and show that he understood the joy that would come after “all trouble doth end.” I think his words also show that he understood the importance of what she was doing, carrying and giving life to a new soul, and that he valued her sacrifice.
I think that this poem is even more touching because later Ethel began to  suffer from “a terrible illness which she could not understand”. She struggled with severe depression and spouts of mania that left her exhausted and scared. She was even hospitalized for it, but nothing helped. After struggling with it for four years she died in 1937, leaving behind three children still at home.
Even though the words to “Does the Journey Seem Long” were written before Ethel’s illness, it strikes me how beautifully the words apply not only to her pregnancy struggle but also her struggle with depression. As I have watched friends and loved ones struggle through both pregnancy and depression I can see parallels in both of the journeys. In many way both are a “walk through the valley of the shadow of death” and require unprecedented amounts of spiritual and physical strength. Yet out of that trial and struggle comes beautiful new life. In the case of pregnancy a child and a mother are born. And in the  case of depression a new woman– wiser and stronger is born.
So if you find yourself now burdened down with a weight that seems heavy to bear I’d encourage you to remember  President Smith’s beautiful words:
Let your heart be not faint
Now the journey’s begun;
There is One who still beckons to you.
So look upward in joy
And take hold of his hand;
He will lead you to heights that are new—
The journey may seem long, but just know that it is worth it.
All quotes and information  is taken from The Teaching of the Presidents of The Church: Joseph Fielding Smith manual 
EthelSmith
by Robyn

Black History Month: Bridget “Biddy” Mason, Mormon Midwife

February 4, 2014 in Adversity, Book, Church History, Midwives, Robyn, Uncategorized by Robyn

 

Biddy Mason

Bridget “Biddy” Mason

August 15, 1818 – January 15, 1891

Because February is Black History month, I wanted to highlight Bridget “Biddy” Mason.  I first learned of her in reading Zion’s Hope: Pioneer Midwives and Doctors  of Utah by Honey M. Newton, CNM.  To be honest, the more I read about her, the more I wanted to know.  She is one of the people I hope to meet after this life.  I want to hear her story in her own words.  She is one of my new heroes.

Biddy was born into slavery on a plantation in Georgia. She was separated from her parents while still very young.  She learned midwifery and healing skills from other African slaves. She was eventually sold with her two year old daughter to Robert Marion Smith and Rebecca Crosby who were converted by Mormon missionaries. (It was not the practice of the church to require baptism of master’s slaves.  In addition, after the martyr of Joseph Smith, the baptism of blacks was no longer practiced.)  Biddy had two more daughters who were likely fathered by her owner. Upon baptism into the LDS church her owner was instructed to free his slaves.  Robert Smith ignored this counsel.  He travelled to the Rocky Mountains with his slaves walking behind his wagon train in the dust.  The slaves of his party were also required to do the bulk of manual labor for their white owners on this trek.  Biddy delivered both white and slave babies on this trip.

They lived in Salt Lake for only a year when they were directed to go to California to help build a Mormon community.  Once again, Robert was strongly warned to release his slaves, this time by Brigham Young.  Interestingly enough, this move to California, a free state, provided the catalyst for Biddy to claim her freedom.  Biddy had been carefully preparing herself for this inevitability.  Her owner, upon disagreeing with local church leaders and government, decided to flee to Texas where slavery was still practiced.  He would have succeeded had it not been for one of his slaves giving birth thus slowing their party down.  Robert claimed that his slaves wanted to remain as such.  The local judge met with Biddy privately and set her and the rest of Robert Smith’s slave free.

It should be noted that for many slaves the idea of freedom may have been enticing but at the same time, feared.  It was not uncommon for slaves to be threatened by their masters with death if they were to leave.  Others were afraid to go into a world without any formal education or protection from persecution or harm.  And still for others it was the fear of the unknown staring back at them that stilled their feet.  Biddy’s skills as a midwife likely gave her confidence to leave her owner and seek her own destiny.  It is likely she also knew the church’s position on slavery.  In addition to that, she had a good relationship with local LDS church leaders.  So much so, that when she was emancipated she was given the chance to choose her own last name.  She chose the surname Mason because of her many positive dealings with Amasa Mason Lyman, who was also the mayor of San Bernadino.

Because of Biddy’s good reputation she was hired by a local doctor as a midwife.  She carefully saved her money eventually becoming the first African American woman to buy land in Los Angeles.  Not only that, she became the wealthiest African American woman in they city.  She was known widely for her generosity and service to others.  She donated her money to many causes, even delivering babies for free to women who could not afford her services.  Even though she was illiterate she used her money from real estate investments to build an elementary school for African American children, among many other charitable ventures. She served people of all colors, socio-economic status and faith. Despite all this, she was buried in an unmarked grave.  One hundred years later the mayor of Los Angeles named November 16 as “Biddy Mason Day.”  A memorial was built in her honor on the same land she purchased as a midwife all those years ago. Her great granddaughter, Gladys Owens Smith, quoted Biddy as saying, “if you hold your hand closed,  . . . nothing good can come in. The open hand is blessed, for it gives in abundance, even as it receives.”

source: Zion’s Hope: Pioneer Midwives and Women Doctors of Utah by Honey M. Newton, CNM, p. 5-8

by Robyn

LDS Birthy Momma Christmas Wish List

November 27, 2013 in Book, Book reviews, Church History, LDS History, Midwives, Obstetricians, Robyn, Uncategorized by Robyn

It’s that time of year!  Lani wrote a great post on Birth Faith with ideas for gifts for the baby shower basket.  I love her idea of giving the gift of an emergency birth kit.  I love practical and useful gifts like that.  Along with that I have found a few birth books by LDS authors for your favorite LDS Birth junkie. If you know of any others by LDS authors, please let me know.  I would love to add them to this list.

 

Pregnancy, Childbirth and Your Growing LDS Family by Kathleen Tooley Johnson, RN

LDS birth book

This book is a hands on how-to of birth.  It is geared toward natural birth but any mom to be would find the information helpful in preparing for birth. I also liked how the relates scriptures and gospel principles to pregnancy and childbirth.

 

Zion’s Hope: Pioneer Midwives and Doctors of Utah by Honey M. Newton, CNM

ZionsHope5104975_detail

 

I have enjoyed the brief peak into different midwives and doctors of our pioneer history that the author compiled into this book.  Their faith in birth and motherhood is so uplifting.  You can read more about this book in this post where the author was kind enough to tell us more about the process of writing Zion’s Hope.

 

Wise Childbirth, What You’ll Want to Know as You Make Your Birth Choices by Jennetta Billhimer

Wise chilbearing

 

I admit that I have not read this one.  It is not geared specifically for an LDS audience but it is written by an LDS author.

 

The Way of the Peaceful Birther by Amy Cox Jones

Peaceful Birther

 

This book is available only on kindle.  I have only read the excerpt provided by Amazon.  It is not written specifically for an LDS audience but the author is one of the organizers behind the LDS Holistic Living Conference.

 

Creating a Joyful Birth Experience by Lucchia Capacchione and Sandra Bardsley, RN

joyful birth

Sandra Bardsley is LDS and co-authored this well-balanced childbirth preparation book.  I bought this book before I realized Sandra’s connection to the Church.  I even used a quote from their book when writing my “Healing From Sorrow” essay in The Gift of Giving Life.

 

Polly’s Birth Book: Obstetrics for the Home by Polly Block

Polly's Birth Book

 

This book is great for emergency preparedness and/or midwifery educational purposes.  You can read more about this book here and here.  You can order this book on Amazon or contact Polly’s daughter on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/PollysBirthBook.

And we can’t forget The Gift of Giving Life!

babyandhandxsm

 

We hope you will take advantage of our upcoming sale price on our book for the holidays.  Stay tuned!

And, my wish as a LDS birth junkie momma would be to have a lovely spiritual birth DVD documentary for moms.  Doesn’t that sound lovely?  Someday maybe . . . but if you have some resources you would like to put to use, let us know!

Do you have any great ideas for birthy mommas?

Happy holiday shopping!

by Robyn

Zion’s Hope: Pioneer Midwives and Women Doctors of Utah

October 23, 2013 in Book, Book reviews, Church History, Midwives, Robyn, Uncategorized, Zion by Robyn

ZionsHope5104975_detail

 

Last Mother’s Day I told my husband he didn’t have to get me anything because I had already picked up a copy of this book.  I immediately started devouring it.  I knew I was going to like it when I read these words from the introduction, “The tradition of service by our foremothers whispers to all of us and urges us on . . . to give our time, knowledge, and skills, to rise at the eleventh hour to answer a cry for help, to keep the faith for a brighter Zion.”  I had the opportunity to connect with the author of this new book, Honey M. Newton, who is also a Certified Nurse Midwife.  I asked her to tell me about the journey of putting this book together.  I’m so glad I get to share her words with you here.  -Robyn

 

I initially never thought I would write a book. When I had long nights at the U of U and all was quiet – I would read old journals my husband dug out of the Church History archives (he was working on his PhD). I accidentally came across a few midwives. What I read was INCREDIBLE. I was amazed to discover that despite the gap of a few centuries, I had sisters. Women so much like me (and you) in desires, talents, trials, view of our sacred privilege in bearing new life, etc. I had often felt alone in my understanding of this miraculous experience. The glory of creating, the passion of it all. So often we simply went through the motions – so to speak – and forgot what we were really a part of. These journals helped refocus me (as did your book). I would randomly share my new historic “friends” with other providers, nurses – anyone who wanted to listen. They kept saying – “Oh Honey, just write a book already.”  I finally took their advice and spent time in the basement of the DUP museum, the Church archives, etc. I was surprised at how many there were. Humble women who gave everything – who never would want to have the attention I was giving them. They were the best examples of Christ, and I wanted them to be an example for me and for others.

I initially submitted my manuscript and never, ever thought it would be published – but here we are.

As for my own journey – I caught my first baby by accident, and it felt so natural. Like I was remembering something I had always known. This was kind of like my journey of investigation and membership in the Church – so familiar and comfortable, like breathing. I have looked into the eyes of laboring women and seen the most profound courage and unconditional love. I never tire of the miracle of helping little ones cross the veil – and oh how thin this veil is at the beginning and ending of life.  Your book so eloquently captured these emotions and experiences, better than I can even recreate. I feel that the spiritual experiences I have had as a midwife are so many I would be hard pressed to pick just one. But, I think an excellent examples would be when I have seen a Priesthood blessing suddenly change a baby’s malposition, or witnessed a mother state that she sees her deceased Grandma present during a difficult labor. Too many to count. If only we could truly understand and appreciate our roles as mothers and midwives. Thank you again for inspiring women everywhere.

 

Honey M. Newton MSN, CNM, was born and raised in the mountains of Colorado.  She enjoys chasing her seven children, gardening, keeping bees, racing triathlons and enjoying the outdoors with her husband Sam.  She is a certified nurse midwife practicing at University Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah.  She is inspired by the miracle of new life and those who work hard to make a difference in the world.

You can buy her book from Amazon, Barnes & NobleDeseret Book, at Seagull Book and other LDS book stores.