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As mothers, our birth journeys are an infinite source of wisdom, power, and healing. Each of us experiences a unique transformation, no matter how we give birth or how we come to be mothers. It is critical, for the sustainability of our existence as mothers and the children we nurture, that we develop authentic language for ourselves about our stories. We must learn how to take up more space in the world with our stories. We must practice whenever we can, sitting face to face with one another, eyes meeting genuinely over conscious, deep breaths, ears tuned in to the truth of another mother’s evolution, hearts open wide for as long as it takes to listen.
The Birth Stories program is designed to support this important work and to encourage healthy and dynamic communication practices related to how we tell our own stories and how we listen to each others’ stories. The more we explore the layers of our stories, and share them with humanity—especially with the mothers and women in our lives, the more empowered and active we become in the work of authoring and owning our own narratives.
Birth Stories celebrates an expanded definition of birth, and seeks to make visible the diversity of mothering experiences. Birth is the emergence of a baby from the mother’s womb, and birth is the transcendent awakening of the woman spirit into the mother spirit. For many mothers, this process is deeply rooted in the physical body with a baby growing inside a mother’s belly and entering the world through a mother’s labor. For some mothers, the physical part of this process happens in another woman’s body, either with a surrogate mother or the gestational mother of the mother’s adopted baby. And also for some mothers, the phenomenon of that transcendence happens even when there’s no breathing baby in her arms to represent the mother’s work, possibly because of a miscarriage, an abortion, an ectopic pregnancy, or a stillbirth.
It is essential that we be inclusive in our dialogues about birth experiences. Too many mothers suffer in silence because they believe their journeys are somehow not good enough to be told. Maybe she had a traumatic birth, maybe she didn’t get to push her baby out and birthed by cesarean, maybe she’s never been pregnant or breastfed her baby, maybe she got pregnant through in vitro fertilization, maybe she is unpartnered and had her baby anyway, maybe no one has ever acknowledged her right to feel how she feels about her birth story, maybe life has been a whirlwind and she’s still searching for the words.
There can be many reasons why we haven’t fully opened up our birth story or felt safe enough to share it with someone. Birth Stories nurtures an environment where every mother, including pregnant women preparing to birth their first child, can be supported in identifying and telling her story. If just one mother’s story is invisible, then there is an infinite void along the continuum of birth wisdom that sustains the heart and genius of motherhood. It’s up to every one of us to help each other fill in our gaps, to water and grow all of these stories. Our work is nourishment for the whole.
Birth Stories Revisited is a collection of essays exploring the theory and practice of Birth Stories, a program of the New Mommy Writers’ Workshop. Learn more about the upcoming April event, Birth Stories 2.0, and all the ways you can participate.