Lovie: The Story of a Southern Midwife and an Unlikely Friendship

Lovie: The Story of a Southern Midwife and an Unlikely Friendship

Lovie: The Story of a Southern Midwife and an Unlikely Friendship

Lovie: The Story of a Southern Midwife and an Unlikely Friendship

Synopsis

From 1950 until 2001, Lovie Beard Shelton practiced midwifery in eastern North Carolina homes, delivering some 4,000 babies to black, white, Mennonite, and hippie women; to those too poor to afford a hospital birth; and to a few rich enough to have any kind of delivery they pleased. Her life, which was about giving life, was conspicuously marked by loss, including the untimely death of her husband and the murder of her son.

Lovie is a provocative chronicle of Shelton's life and work, which spanned enormous changes in midwifery and in the ways women give birth. In this artful exploration of documentary fieldwork, Lisa Yarger confronts the choices involved in producing an authentic portrait of a woman who is at once loner and self-styled folk hero. Fully embracing the difficulties of telling a true story, Yarger is able to get at the story of telling the story. As Lovie describes her calling, we meet a woman who sees herself working in partnership with God and who must wrestle with the question of what happens when a woman who has devoted her life to service, to doing God's work, ages out of usefulness. When I'm no longer a midwife, who am I? Facing retirement and a host of health issues, Lovie attempts to fit together the jagged pieces of her life as she prepares for one final home birth.

Excerpt

I am a midwife, and midwife means “with woman.” It does not
mean that I’m the creator or the miracle worker or any of that. It
means that I’m with woman and I’m helping her and supporting her
through the delivery of that baby. Which is approved by the Bible.
You read about it: midwives found favor with God, and he made
them houses. That’s a promise, and God keeps his promises. And
see I’ve got a house, even though it’s an old one with cracks. I’ve
got a family, those kind of things. It’s just part of the teachings of
the Bible, you know, because you’re doing his work. But you got to
do it like he wants it done! He don’t want you interfering and tear
ing up and stuff like that. You can bring comfort and you can be a
handmaiden to the woman, you can help her with her straining and
her pushing and the stretching of her perineum so that the baby can
come out. You can help with the control of the head so it won’t tear
her. Doctors spent a century teaching women that the hospital is
the place to have the baby, but it’s not the natural inclination of the
woman. The natural inclination of the woman is to be with her loved
ones in her home and to hunker down and just push her baby out in
a natural fashion.

All this business today of 25 percent of the patients in the United
States having cesarean sections? That’s not God’s plan. God gave
women this wonderful functioning system, he puts the babies in
there securely, he provides for nutrition, he causes them to grow, and
he protects them for nine months. He put the baby in there, and I
fully believe he’s capable of getting it out. And here menfolks who’ll
never have a baby have taken all the rightness out of it. They took

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.