Arms Wide Open by Patricia Harman
A Midwife's Journey

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A midwife’s memoir of living free and naturally against all odds

In her first, highly praised memoir, Patricia Harman told us the stories patients brought into her exam room, and her own story of struggling to help women as a nurse-midwife in medical practice with her husband, an OB/GYN, in Appalachia. In this new book, Patsy reaches back to tell us how she first learned to deliver babies, and digs even deeper down to tell us of her youthful experiments with living a fully sustainable and natural life.

Drawing heavily on her journals, Arms Wide Open goes back to a time of counter-culture idealism that the boomer generation remembers well. Patsy opens with stories of living in the wilds of Minnesota in a log cabin she and her lover build with their own hands, the only running water being the nearby streams. They set up beehives and give chase to a bear competing for the honey. Patsy gives birth and learns to help her friends deliver as naturally as possible.

Weary of the cold and isolation, Patsy moves to a commune in West Virginia, where she becomes a self-taught midwife delivering babies in cabins and homes. Her stories sparkle with drama and intensity, but she wants to help more women than healthy hippie homesteaders. After a ten-year sojourn for professional training, Patsy and her husband, Tom, return to Appalachia, as a nurse-midwife and physician, where they set up a women's-health practice. They deliver babies together, this time in hospitals; care for a wide variety of gyn patients; and live in a lakeside contemporary home--but their hearts are still firmly implanted in nature. The obstetrical climate is changing. The Harmans' family is changing. The earth is changing, but Patsy's arms remain wide open to life and all it offers.

Her memoir of living free and sustainably against all odds will be especially embraced by anyone who lived through the Vietnam War and commune era, and all those involved in the back-to-nature and natural-childbirth movements.


About Patricia Harman

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Patricia Harman, CNM, is a regular presenter at national midwifery conferences. Harman got her start as a lay-midwife on the rural communes where she lived in the '60s and '70s, going on to become a nurse-midwife on the faculty of Ohio State University, Case Western Reserve University, and West Virginia University. She lives and works near Morgantown, West Virginia, and has three sons. A debut novelist, she has published two acclaimed memoirs.
Published April 12, 2011 by Beacon Press. 305 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Professional & Technical, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Arms Wide Open

Publishers Weekly

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Harman's first memoir, The Blue Cotton Gown, revealed the struggles of a modern midwife who began with no training but eventually became a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) in practice with her OB-Gyn husband, Tom.

May 16 2011 | Read Full Review of Arms Wide Open: A Midwife's J...

The Best Reviews

Patricia Harman's second memoir tells the story of her hippie years and later her years as a married woman developing and practicing the science and art of midwifery.

Jul 12 2011 | Read Full Review of Arms Wide Open: A Midwife's J...

Hippocampus Magazine

The civil unrest of the sixties and seventies has been over for almost fifty years, but in Arms Wide Open: A Midwife’s Journey, Patricia Harman (Beacon Press) manages to remind my generation (Generation X), and generations after, exactly what it was that those hippies were trying to accomplish.

May 01 2011 | Read Full Review of Arms Wide Open: A Midwife's J...

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