Mully: So I was pregnant with Oliver. I was a hippie, as far as you all are concerned. I actually referred to myself a “radical”, I was on food stamps and I used coupons to go to the doctor for my prenatal care. I had already had a child, so I was not a newbie. It was not my first pregnancy. This was one area where I could support women by being empowered myself.
I had already been part of this break-through birthing experience in the hospital when I had Cere. I did natural childbirth with a doctor who had never delivered a woman who wanted natural childbirth. He wasn’t my real doctor, he showed up that day because my doc was on vacation. I was asking him, “Why are you giving me a pera-cervical block, I don’t need it. I am fully dilated. Why are you strapping me down? They didn’t tell me I was going to be strapped down.”
I was birthing Cere and having these conversations with this guy and he was being blown away. I was just present and accounted for in the moment. He left the delivery room thinking everyone should have natural childbirth. “That was amazing! She didn’t yell, she didn’t scream, she talked to me.” I was told this all later. One thing he did for me was just great. He told me, “You won’t have any trouble having any more babies. Your pelvis is fine.”
So I had this confidence. I was having my baby at home this time. I had already had one in the hospital. I was a liberated woman! I was in control of my body! I wanted to have my baby where I wanted and however it happened, naturally.
So I went into the island clinic with Dr. Purdy who was maybe forty-five or fifty at the time. He already had five kids, well you know, his wife did. I told him my plan and he probably thought, “What planet are you from?” laughs. He said, “How are you going to do that?“ and I said, “I don’t know but it should work out just fine.”
So here I was, living in this little farmhouse with Robby and Skip and Cere and Bob. And one day in drives this school bus with a bunch of hippies in it. This woman, Deborah, her partner and their little girl moved into a tent in the back woods. She just happened to be a lay midwife from Northern California.
She had delivered a lot of babies and she was coming here to live, deliver babies, and of course offered to deliver my baby. So there was my answer and she was in my backyard!
Those are the kind of things where you need to trust the universe. They teach you to trust the universe. I wasn’t really worried about it. Maybe I was stupid, maybe I was ungrounded, you know, whatever anybody would label me as, but I basically just wasn’t worried. I thought it would work out fine and it did. We had Oliver at home and Deborah was there.
This goes back to your first question ‘Liza, about work. On the island the two questions are intertwined for me. I have had a lot of different jobs on the island. I started by selling the candy at the local movie theatre two nights per week for $3 an hour and I also took care of the old time islander grandmother named Effie for $1 an hour. I also opened the funky junk shop because I had all these things from people that I didn’t want and I thought, “Oh that’s what I’ll do next.”
Partially, the times allowed for this type of unfolding. It didn’t cost a lot of money to live in those days, there were social nets like food stamps and medical coupons, and life was slower with less technology and over stimulation. We wanted and could live a more laid-back life style and consume less.
There were a lot of pregnant women on the island who wanted to have their babies at home, so I started helping Deborah with births. Meanwhile, The woman, Janet, who lived next door, was mentally unbalanced. She had had five children and one miscarriage in seven years so she was nutritionally starved which had affected her brain.
So I was all over being supportive of her. That was part of my mission. Again, not thinking, it was just in my heart. I was like, “Well her kids can’t go to some house where they don’t know anybody, so I’ll get a foster family license.” I had her children a few times when Janet needed to be away from home, in treatment.
Anyway, I was just really open ’Liza, to what was showing up. I was just picking up the waves of what women needed. Women deserve to have control over our bodies. We ought to be able to have our babies wherever we want, with whomever we want and in whatever way we want. I went with every doctor and every lay midwife who would deliver a baby at home.
I went with a psychiatrist as the doctor once. I can’t remember his name. This woman lived over by where the motel is now. I got there and headed to the kitchen because the supplies were usually in the oven warming up. I opened the oven door and here was this huge fucking metal thing and I said, “Holy shit! What is that?” He said, “Those are my forceps” and I slammed the oven door closed and said, “We won’t be needing those!” I had never even seen a pair of forceps and there were horrible horror stories from my era of children that were really hurt by forceps. My friend Patty had lost her eye because it was a forceps delivery and they had damaged the optic nerve. I was like, “No way! Not on my watch!”
But, at the same time I never thought I wanted to be a midwife. Oliver was about 18 months old by now, and I wanted him to have friends to play with, so I decided to start a preschool in our old chicken coop.