This book is much more than the title suggests. It's the author's personal journey—not only her frequent travels to Mexico to learn about the tradition of midwifery there—but also her journey of growth as she learns about herself and develops purpose and meaning in her own life. It also tells the stories of individual midwives, both in their own (translated) words as well as Gabriel's interaction with them. Beyond this, it is a book about a traditional way of life that is being lost, and that deserves to live on.
Gabriel weaves all of these different fibers together wonderfully, with humor, insight, compassion and practicality. Black and white photographs throughout the book add dimension to the story, allowing us to see the women whose stories are being told. In a way, reading this book is like sitting on a couch with the author as she pages through a scrapbook of old friends, telling you a bit about each one.
Touching Bellies, Touching Lives lives up to its name, and then some. I know that my life is richer just having read it.
Judy Gabriel is a birth doula who has served women in Silverton and Salem Oregon since 1996. She is privileged to have helped over 450 women bring their babies into the world. Visit her website.
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