*I received a free ARC of this novel, with thanks to Cornerstone / Penguin Random House. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: No sleep for twenty hours. No food for ten. And a ward full of soon-to-be mothers… Welcome to the life of a midwife.
Life on the NHS front line, working within a system at breaking point, is more extreme than you could ever imagine. From the bloody to the beautiful, from moments of utter vulnerability to remarkable displays of strength, from camaraderie to raw desperation, from heart-wrenching grief to the pure, perfect joy of a new-born baby, midwife Leah Hazard has seen it all.
Through her eyes, we meet Eleanor, whose wife is a walking miracle of modern medicine, their baby a feat of reproductive science; Crystal, pregnant at just fifteen, the precarious, flickering life within her threatening to come far too soon; Star, birthing in a room heady with essential oils and love until an enemy intrudes and Pei Hsuan, who has carried her tale of exploitation and endurance thousands of miles to somehow find herself at the open door of Leah’s ward.
Moving, compassionate and intensely candid, Hard Pushed is a love letter to new mothers and to Leah’s fellow midwives – there for us at some of the most challenging, empowering and defining moments of our lives.
Deeply intimate and honest, Leah Hazard gives us an insiders view of modern midwifery in the UK.
The anecdotes she presents are funny and touching in turns, but regardless of the context she writes of the women (colleagues and patients) and their babies with a warmth and respect that make it easy to see why she chose this profession as her own.
Hazard doesn’t hold back from the more political aspects of the service too: staffing levels, financial struggles and bureaucratic meddling within the NHS, and she presents a clear and obvious case for burnout levels in midwifery specifically, and medicine in general.
My only criticism of the book is that each vignette is quite brief, so I felt like we dipped in and out of rooms without seeing the ‘characters’ through to a satisfactory conclusion. Which, as Hazard notes in the book, is pretty much what she faces as a triage midwife, so I definitely felt she captured not just the content, but the tone of her profession!
I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in midwifery, birth, or just looking for a quick, warm memoir.
Another night, another vagina.
It’s not unusual for me to spend the night between a stranger’s legs. Sometimes two or three strangers in the space of twelve hours. Tonight is a bit different, though. It’s 3.42 a.m. and things aren’t going to plan. Sitting in point-blank range of this particular vagina feels like staring down the barrel of a gun. Birth is inherently risky, a kind of physiological Russian roulette, but every midwife prays that she’ll dodge the bullet.
– Leah Hazard, Hard Pushed
Hard Pushed is out on Amazon right now!