Family Values

Tracey Moore is a midwife, and so much more.

With kind eyes and a mother’s touch, Tracey catches babies around the western and central regions of Kentucky. She is on call 24/7, 52 weeks a year. She’s a home birth midwife, one of few in the state. Tracey helps women of all kinds, she wants each and every woman to feel respected and loved through one of the most sacred moments of their life.

“Too many women are run through the birth machine," Tracey said. "My specific desire to help Amish comes from visiting with a lady up the road from my friend who had recently lost a baby.”

One day, not long after her eleventh child was born, Tracey and a friend went to visit an Amish friend. Mrs. Yoder had recently lost a baby so Tracey and her friend, Tina, went to visit her. When they arrived, Tracey let Mrs. Yoder hold her five week old baby, who would’ve been about the same age as hers, had it survived. Mrs. Yoder held the baby for a long time, wetting the baby's head with tears.

Tracey asked what happened. Mrs. Yoder told her that she hadn’t been feeling well the week they lost the baby, she’d had a headache and was nauseated, but decided not to head into town to see the doctor for several reasons. She had an appointment scheduled for the next week, the buggy ride would’ve been difficult and long for a sick pregnant mom and it costs extra to get another appointment. During the night, she woke up hemorrhaging. Mrs. Yoder had developed preeclampsia, and gone into full blown toxemia. Her blood pressure had gotten astronomically high and she had an abrupted placenta.

Her baby died before they even made it to the hospital.

She almost died.

Mrs. Yoder hemorrhaged so badly she couldn’t see for three days from blood loss.


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Tracey checks a pregnant woman's stomach in her office. Above, the ceiling is covered in footprints of the babies she's helped deliver over the years, she is about a year behind in hanging them up. Tracey has helped deliver over 800 babies.

Tracey wears a pendant everyday stamped with the word "midwife" given to her by a friend and client. The gift came at a time when Tracey was doubting being in midwifery and it felt like an answer to a prayer. The second pendant on the necklace is a gift from her long distance business partner and dear friend, Renee, who is more like family.

Tracey washes and sterilizes equipment. One of her children spelled out "love," "mom" and "dad" with the refrigerator magnets in her office.


“If she had had a midwife that she could have called,” Tracey said. “Her husband could have called and said ‘Hey Tracey, she isn’t feeling well.’ If he could’ve called and told me she wasn’t feeling well, I would’ve known in minutes what was wrong. I would’ve come out and seen her, I could’ve checked her blood pressure, her reflexes, I would’ve talked to her about what was going on.”

But there was no home birth midwife available to Mrs. Yoder. Because she didn’t go to town because of the money and she was sick and it was more work, her baby died and she nearly did.

Tracey sat in Mrs. Yoder’s living room, listening to her tell the story and explain what happened and all she could do was think and pray.

“I was just sitting there thinking if they’d had someone who could come out,” Tracey said. “I prayed and I asked God, ‘please let me be someone who could come out. I want to be a midwife someday, let me serve people like this. Let me be able to reach out to families like this.’”

Tracey has since delivered dozens of babies from Mrs. Yoder’s family line. She has been able to be the person to go to reach out to families like the Yoders.


“My neighbors in their 80s talk about their births,” Tracey said. “That was 60, 65 years ago. I’ve had many women in their 60s, 70s and 80s tell me their birth stories. Birth stories matter. How you were treated during that vulnerable and sacred moment in your life sticks with you.”



Tracey prepares a mountain of pancakes for her family on the morning of Thanksgiving for her youngest daughter's eighth birthday.

Tracey records one of the family members height onto a large ruler they have painted on the side of a bookshelf in their living room. The heights of family and friends are recorded all up and down the side of the bookshelf and updated whenever possible-- even the adults.

The Moore's pray before Thanksgiving dinner, which had been postponed to Friday because Tracey had to attend to a birth on Thursday.

Tracey answers questions concerning a mother while preparing Thanksgiving dinner.

Tracey hugs her daughter, Samara, before having to leave to attend a birth. It was Thanksgiving and Samara's eighth birthday, the family had to postpone celebrations until the next day so that Tracey could be there. They had previously talked about the chance that her birthday celebrations may have needed to be postponed, so Samara got to celebrate her birthday twice this year.


Tracey travels far and wide to take care of clients around this side of the bluegrass state, Amish and English patients alike. Her 2005 Chevrolet Suburban is packed and ready to go for anything, at any moment. A birth pool; bags stuffed with fetoscope and doppler, iron and urine testing strips; a whole set of drawers filled with odds and ends and important equipment takes up the furthest row.

She is ready to go early in the morning, late at night, immediately following her son’s wedding, during her nightly devotions, on holidays or date nights, Tracey goes to catch babies and expand families. Her phone is an extension of her arm and her car is equal parts office and storage unit. Family is her whole life, her own and others.

Tracey grew up as mostly an only child in a difficult and complex home, instilling in her a desire to create a family of her own. Tracey married David at 15-years-old and she had their first baby at 16. Over their 37 years of marriage, the Moore family has grown to 55 people, comprised of the two of them, their 16 children and nine spouses and then 28 grandchildren. At first, the couple only wanted a few children, but they enjoyed having kids and having them around and so they continued. After the first five were born, they decided to adopt five more children, all related and all needing a home together. Four children came first, and then their niece followed later.

When Tracey was a child, she spent time in a group home. She remembers watching kids waiting, day in and day out, to be adopted and go to a loving home, and sometimes, that time never came. This inspired her to adopt the hard to place kids: the kids that are older or in a big group of siblings.

With ten kids in tow, the family moved to Summer Shade, Ky. to the 54 acre farm where they live now.


Tracey checks "baby noodle's" heartbeat in Rosie Hunt's belly. The couple didn't pick a name for their baby until after the birth and lovingly referred to the baby as "baby noodle."

When they moved to the property in the late 1990s, there were two tobacco barns on the property and they moved right in. The only electricity they had ran their computer and refrigerator. The family hand pumped their own water and utilized the internet to figure out how to make a barn into a home. Over the years, they have worked on their barn and transformed it from a “fall-through-the-floor kind of tobacco barn” into a home that can house up to a family of twelve, which is the highest number of family that have been living together at one time.

After they moved into the barn, they got pregnant again. Miriam, their eleventh child and first Kentucky child, was born in their barn home in rural Metcalfe county.

“We hunted and hunted and hunted, and we found a home birth midwife,” Tracey said. “We had Miriam here at home, and it was amazing. My house wasn’t finished, and nothing was perfect but it was amazing. My baby was born in the same bedroom she was conceived in, she literally lived here all her life-- was born here and lived here.”

Living in Summer Shade is Tracey and David’s dream come true. They both grew up outside of Los Angeles and had visions of living in the country on a farm and building a family.

“It’s the life that Tracey and I always dreamed of having,” David said.

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June Hunt was born at 7:13 p.m. on Nov. 8, 2019 to Rosie and Alex Hunt. June was born on the same couch her older sister was born a couple of years before.


Tracey's student, Jennifer West, takes notes as Tracey does a newborn exam on June Hunt while her parents, Rosie and Alex, look on.

"Babies are cute, but moms are amazing," Tracey said. "I'm more interested in the mother and her ability, the strength she doesn't even know she has."

Tracey and Jennifer say goodnight after the Hunt birth.


When their third Kentucky baby came, their midwife was on sabbatical and there wasn’t another midwife within a two hour radius. They decided to have an unattended birth, something Tracey would never recommend, and it was then that Tracey was able to begin buying midwifery equipment with the money they didn’t spend on a midwife.

From then on, Tracey found a midwife based two hours away who served a community at the halfway point. She took Tracey in as a student, and Tracey was able to start training as a midwife. She trained over the years, and eventually got her CPM after practicing for a while. She has been building her practice, Joyful Beginnings, since then, but Tracey has been interested in midwifery for much longer.

She first became fascinated with it when she was 16 and pregnant with her first child. She transferred care to a midwife after talking with a worker at a children’s consignment store she frequented throughout her first pregnancy. Tracey read all of the books for mothers from her midwife, and she then began reading the books meant for midwives. Her passion for midwifery has only grown over the years.

Tracey says she has different reasons for why she does midwifery on different days.

“Which day?” Tracey asked. “The day that I’m feeling totally altruistic and I absolutely want every woman to have the best experience possible, and feel respected and to know how much she cared for, and for one of the most important things in her life to be sacred and everybody to have individual care? Or the days that I want to pay the bills? Because they’re both true. But if I were rich, I’d still do it. So maybe that’s the answer."


In between home visits in an Amish community, Tracey checks her phone to see if any other mothers have contacted her.

Tracey takes a pregnant patient's pulse.

Laundry hangs to dry outside an Amish household while Tracey attends to a mother inside.


Read and listen to one of Tracey's writings about a day doing home visits in an Amish community.

What’s on my mind?

Moments of my day, warm smiles, shy smiles, Amish “see ya!”

Chubby baby legs, freshly painted outhouses,

mud puddles and cows enjoying the warm sunshine.

Geese flying overhead honking as they go,

friendly dogs with wagging tails.

Curious little boys with big brown eyes,

cows on the loose.

Warm bellies, with vigorous, active, rolling babies inside.

Worried momma’s eyes when she’s still spotting

praying that the subchorionic hemorrhage heals.

Deep coughs and runny noses and flu everywhere.

Fields of dry corn stalks,

a woodpecker running up the tree outside the window.

Gracious grandmas

crimson blood drops on filter paper

Great, big, beautiful belly with a pair of little loves rolling around.

Fun words from the momma, grandma,

who's almost as old as I am,

at the wonder of one more new life inside of her old body

Sleepy big brothers and sisters,

curled up with the new baby.

Paperwork, electronic charting,

Miles on the road.

Green roofs on white houses.

Chickens, ponies, horses, mules, giant draft horses

cows, goats, sheep.

A long bearded husband with a deep cough

up to his elbows in laundry water

“I feel kinda rough, but she feels worse.”

True love.

A porch full of littles,

Each born into my hands.

Young voices all around

“Oh! It’s Tracey, it’s Tracey! Tell momma it’s Tracey!”



Tracey has a chest of drawers that were specifically made for her car by an Amish friend in exchange for midwifery services.

Tracey leans on her husband for comfort after telling him about a complicated and upsetting birth she had attended hours before. She had to leave the house early in the morning to attend to the birth, and missed church and an outing with her family due to midwifery commitments. "For us, faith in christ has been the solid rock we’ve needed, because it’s not been always been easy," David said. "That faith has helped us have grace. When couples have hard times, they can either break or build together. Midwifery has shown us in our hearts where we were at with each other and challenged us to be better in Christ."


"It's so much hard work," Tracey said. "But it is filled with so much tremendous joy."


 

 

 

 

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