Lisa Yarger

Published by University of North Carolina Press

Published in print December 2016 | ISBN: 9781469630052
Published online September 2017 | e-ISBN: 9781469630076

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From 1950 until 2001, nurse-midwife Lovie Beard Shelton worked 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 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 gets at the story of telling the story. Woven throughout the book is an account of the relationship between Lovie and Yarger as they attempt to bridge the dramatically separate worlds they inhabit. As Lovie describes her calling, the reader meets a woman who sees herself working in partnership with God and who must grapple with the question of what happens when a woman who has devoted her life to service 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.

Keywords: Lovie Beard Shelton; midwifery; midwife; nurse-midwife; eastern North Carolina; documentary fieldwork; Mennonite; calling

Book.  320 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Local and Family History

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