...where every woman over 50 is TOP DOG!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Blue Cotton Gown - Patricia Harmon

Over the next two days, WOOF will feature a very special WOOFer, author, Patricia Harmon, or Fuzz (the name she chose for the the sisterhood of WOOF!). "My dog mix is beagle-fox terrier and my name will be Fuzz. Don't ask me why. It just came to me."

That's what's nice about being an over-50 woman! We don't have to explain everything we do! So, without further delay, here's Fuzz, er...I mean Patricia Harman!

Patricia Harman, a nurse-midwife, manages a women’s health clinic with her husband, Tom, an ob-gyn, in West Virginia—a practice where patients open their hearts, where they find care and sometimes refuge. Patsy’s memoir juxtaposes the tales of these women with her own story of keeping a small medical practice solvent and coping with personal challenges.

Her patients range from Appalachian mothers who haven’t had the opportunity to attend secondary school to Ph.D.’s on cell phones. They come to Patsy’s small, windowless exam room and sit covered only by blue cotton gowns, and their infinitely varied stories are in equal parts heartbreaking and uplifting. The nurse-midwife tells of their lives over the course of a year and a quarter, a time when her outwardly successful practice is in deep financial trouble, when she is coping with malpractice threats, confronting her own serious medical problems, and fearing that her thirty-year marriage may be on the verge of collapse.

Patricia Harman has spent over thirty years caring for women as a midwife, first as a lay-midwife, delivering babies in cabins and on communal farms in West Virginia, and later as a nurse-midwife in teaching hospitals and in a community hospital birthing center.

For the past twenty years, Ms. Harman has been a nurse-midwife on the faculty of The Ohio State University, Case Western Reserve University and most recently West Virginia University. In 1998 she went into private practice with her husband, Tom, an OB/Gyn, in Morgantown, West Virginia. Here they devoted their lives to caring for women and bringing babies into the world in a gentle way.

When, in 2003, the cost of liability insurance for Obstetrics sky-rocketed from $70,000 a year to $110,000, the Harman's decided to give up deliveries. Though many loyal patients grieved the loss of their favorite mid-wife/physician team, the change in life style gave the author time to begin writing her first book, The Blue Cotton Gown: A Midwife's Memoir.

She still lives and works with her husband, Ob/Gyn Thomas Harman, in Morgantown, West Virginia at their clinic, Partners in Women's Health Care. Though she no longer attends births, she provides care for women in early pregnancy and through-out the life span. She brings to this work the same dedication and compassion she brought to obstetrics.

Praise for Blue Cotton Gown:

“A flower child who found her calling after coaching a friend through a home birth, nurse-midwife Harman works with her ob-gyn husband at a West Virginia clinic. In her sweetly perceptive memoir, she reveals how her exam room becomes a confessional. Coaxing women in thin blue gowns to share secrets—about abusive boyfriends, OxyContin habits, unplanned pregnancies—she reminds them that they’re not alone.” —People Magazine

“Here is an intimate account of a woman, both her career as a midwife and her life as the wife of a doctor in West Virginia. Her patients’ lives are stories of hope and loss; her marriage is a story of love and faith accompanied by debt and tension. Well-written and heartfelt.” —Boston Globe

“A moving and illuminating memoir from a talented nurse-midwife about the troubled courageous women in her care.” —Shelf Awareness

Check back tomorrow for the interview with author, Patricia Harmon!

An Oct. 2008 Indie Next selection

Blue Cotton Gown - Amazon

Also featured this week on Bookland Heights

Mary Cunningham (Milkbone)

Mary Cunningham Books

Cynthia's Attic Blog


Diana Black said...

I think Patrica's work is so important...

Birthing women as well as children...


Mary Cunningham said...

Well said, Diana! I never thought of it that way, but you're right.