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I have this thing about pens. If I weren't a midwife or a writer or a photographer, I'd own a stationery store that sold pens and paper and maybe cards.

I only use Uni-Balls and have only used Uni-Balls for as long as I can remember (high school?) For years and years, I only used the basic Roller Pen, black, of course, especially because of charting. I know many people don't like them because they can smudge or can smear when wet, but I know the Roller Ball's personality and am careful with her. I keep at least half a dozen pens in my purse and carry-alls with me at any given time, pens on the center console (Boo holds them), pens all over the house and office and everywhere you can imagine a pen could hide - I have them hidden. Long before computers, I wrote with my hand and I wrote with Roller Balls and notebooks.

I still keep notebooks in my purse and carry-alls, too (I'll show you if you ever come across me), a variety of sizes, shapes and colors, depending on my mood and how thick I want to carry at the moment. I'm carrying two right now - a bigger and a smaller one. I haven't written in either one, but they are both ready in case I want to.

And I have a LOT of pens in my purse and carry-all in case I need to write, too. Last count was about 38 of them. Somewhere around there.

Over the last couple of years, I have been branching out and have tried a few other Uni-Balls. I like the Roller Grip and used that for awhile.

I was at a client's house a couple of weeks ago and left my purse outside (where I easily had about 25 Uni-Balls inside - no exaggeration) and her husband gave me a Uni-Ball I had never used before. I fell in love immediately! I tried to memorize the name - should have written it down. Instead, I stole the pen from him. I coveted the pen through several days, made note to order it from Quill and then we had those two back to back long labors where I gladly charted using the beloved new pen. I held it aloft on a silk pillow when not in use, I loved it so much.

Then, in my exhausted haze, as I stumbled out the door of Client #2's home that morning, I left The Pen. When I was driving the 90 miles back the next day, the apprentice and I reminded each other to look for it, actually, I mentioned it several times, but the dad waylaid us with decompressing and by the time we were putting our supplies away, we'd forgotten about The Pen again. On day 3 postpartum, The Pen was but a memory in that house (but not to me) and dad offered to "look around," but said he also only used Uni-Balls, so couldn't guarantee anything if he liked it himself.

I went to Office Depot to try and find the thing myself. I held pen after pen, loving each one, thinking, "Are you she?" Confused more and more, wanting to buy them all and thinking, "I only have $6 in my wallet. What am I going to buy these with?" I ended up using the office credit card to buy a 12 pack of Gel Grips and liked them lots. They even have water-resistant ink! But, alas, my apprentice said they were not The One my client had "donated" to me that day that now seemed oh so long ago. I also bought a 4-pack of the Power-Tank because it said it was pretty hefty in the wet surfaces department. We're going to put those in the prenatal bag specifically for births.

Dejected about The Pen, my apprentice and I flipped through the Quill catalogue, guessing, over and over which pen it was. Did it look like this? Could it have been that one? Was it a gel pen? A roller? I knew it wasn't ballpoint.

Really disliking ballpoints lots, I took a stab at trying one that said it would be kind of like a rollerball. We bought 2 dozen Jetstreams. I like it well enough, but it still isn't The Pen. Now that I have about 849 new pens, I think I have ruled out all the pens it wasn't and think I know the pen it was.

I believe The Pen was the Vision Elite. I am going to go buy some today at Staples (I forgot I have a free coupon!) when they open in a few hours. I can hardly wait. (Am I a sick puppy or what? I can see my apprentice laughing her ass off as she reads this!)

I have met enough other pen whores to know I am not alone and am not sure why I felt compelled to write an entire blog spot about my pen fetish, but it seemed appropriate at the moment.

What quirky things do YOU insist on having for your midwifery practice? What won't you compromise on? What will you own 1000 of and continue to buy more of even though there is no chance in hell you will ever run out? Do you carry a slew of Records Releases like I do? Intrapartum Chart Notes? Napkins?

Why do I hoard? It isn't like I grew up in the Depression or anything, either. It's all tied to the food thing, I just know it. There's never enough.

Gotta have plenty of Venezuelan chocolate and Uni-Ball pens. Just gotta.

Reader Comments (12)

I, too, am a fanatic about pens.

I love the Uni-Ball pens. But they're not waterproof! I do so many waterbirths and smudged charts make me crazy.

I used to use the Hybrid Gel pens - here is a picture of them. I couldn't find them anywhere after buying them by the box for years. They're waterproof and write sooo smooth. I adore them!

And, I'm pleased to say that your post made me search online for them and now I will order them again! Whoooo!

;) Yipppeeee!

October 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSage Femme


Spent a couple of hours trawling through your blog last night. So much to think about.

Pens! Yes. I love the old Bic Orange ballpoints. I'm not sure if you ever had them in the states. They're totally retro looking and SUPER fine. When I left South Africa, I brought a couple of bags with me.

Have had to pointedly retrieve them from colleagues (when I was a journo). Never had ANY compunction about demanding their return.

And yes, I too went searching and found someone selling them on e-Bay! Groovy.

Sage Femme's coment on soggy paper at water births reminded me that there is waterproof paper for printers...


October 8, 2006 | Unregistered Commentercooler*doula

Hmmmm... What am I thinking? Y'all know about water-proof paper, I'm sure... Carry on...

October 8, 2006 | Unregistered Commentercooler*doula

Never heard of waterproof paper.

October 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

Waterproof paper is a fantastic idea, but damn is it expensive!! There is no way in the world we could afford to use it for charting. Perhaps someday the price will come down, though. For now, we will just shoot for the waterproof pens, right, Sage Femme?

October 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

I use to use water proof paper when I worked at a fish hatchery-- we kept records of mortality-- it was a government paid for resource

October 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Dearest Pen Thief,

Nightly I have sobbed sence said "uber-plume" has been "liberated" from my tyranical, albeit safer, possession. The spot it occupied in my bag has gone cold with lonliness and malcontent.

Now, The Pen is lost forever. All atempts to replace it are futile gestures of denial. This is karma, oh pen rogue.

October 9, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterVictimized

I have the pen fetish and same Uni-ball preference.



I too found the perfect uni ball pen. It might be the one you are talking about because I bought a 2-pack of them on a whim one day and I quickly fell in love. Now they are absolutely nowhere to be found. Did they stop making them? I don't know. But the original two are almost out of ink. Dread! Dread!

October 10, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterHeather

Pens, no matter what size, shape, type, or brand, are not safe in my presence. I stick them behind my ear, in my hair, in my purse or pocket, and you'll never see them again. I am picky about the ones I'll use, though, and have found that my beloved fine-point pens are getting harder and harder to come across. I prefer pencils, mechanical ones that I can refill, to pens, but pens are a necessary evil, and so I continue buying every fine-point I can find because I'm afraid they'll go out of style completely and I need to have enough to last me the 25 years it'll take for them to come back.

October 15, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterSiomha

my name is anonymous and i am a pen whore...

Uniball all the way baby!
I like em thick too. (does this sound like porn?)
The uniball Impact RT is pretty good, but skips occasionally.
BUT: OOOOh,,, the feel of the riduculously expensive Unibal Signo with squishy grip ahhhhhh.

October 23, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterdoulamom

I am not a doula, but I love pens so much that I have asked where store clerks, waiters, pharmacists, etc. got their pens if enjoy the write. I have pens falling out of my drawers, baskets, purses, and carry-alls, too, and my children know that they dare not touch mama's pens. Funny thing is that I prefer the ink fountain pen, which I use for bill writing and most things when I am home, but I am constantly searching for the perfect back-up that is NOT a ball-point and does not skip.

~Shawna Lee in SC

October 24, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

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