The story of giving birth

This is a growing storyboard, a collection of ideas, images, and insights for the story of giving birth to my son.


Writing a memoir | I got a new notebook just for this book project. But more importantly, I am ready to lay these pieces down and paint a full story of the journey of birthing my son. For so long I have been tangled up in where to begin. But in these past two days I have come into new awarenesses around how I can create both fullness and nuance in my writing. I’ve sketched out the structure of the memoir, which of course includes this birth story! But it is such a huge relief to have come into a more abundant room from which to craft my words. In truth, I am re/membering the whole story from multiple points of origin. I am needing to find ways to say everything all at once without compromising the significance of each part’s relevance to the whole. I also wrote about this epiphany in my writing process last night and posted it on the facebook page:

Admittedly, I should be sleeping. My baby is resting and all is quiet. I’m doing what I used to do pre-mommyhood. Staying up and writing into the dark hours of night. That in between part of the day that is not clearly yesterday or tomorrow. Still though, I should be sleeping. Or at least doing laundry or setting the beans I need to cook tomorrow out to soak. But instead I am writing. Actually, I’m mapping out the memoir about the journey to be(come)ing a mother to my son. I had a beautiful epiphany about the process tonight. So even though I had a headache, and my munchkin was trying his best to snatch my pencil and grab my notebook before finally tiring himself out, I feel like I put in some good work tonight. I think the challenge is always that I want to cover so much ground every time I go to write. Mothering is teaching me how to recognize and celebrate micro-progressions. The little bits of more that one day will add up. So, I am giving myself the rest of this year to complete a rough draft of the memoir. Perhaps it won’t take that long. But everyday I am going to do something for this book project. Part of what was holding me up was feeling like I couldn’t identify a starting point for the stories I want to tell. But tonight’s discovery illuminated this whole new and exciting approach. I also think that was the lesson for me too. That it’s important to “show up” to the writing process everyday, not because I’ll necessarily go far in my words and write 20 pages a day. But because showing up to my writing means I will definitely go somewhere that is new. And that is always worth it.

I’m feeling a momentum. I can feel that these words will be rushing out of me. Come December, I will have something that will be the core of my first book. | added to the storyboard 4.22.2014

Thoughts on pain in labor | I am reading my doula study materials and just finished a chapter all about pain management during the first stage of labor. The more I reflect on my journey, the more I see how differently– in terms of the common discussions I am coming across– I experienced “pain” during contractions. For me, the reality of birthing a living child was my barometer of pain. Any sensation was less painful than the pain of losing my baby during so many miscarriages. Yes, my labor was intense, but I was finally having my baby. That was not pain to me. It was victory. | added to the storyboard 3.11.2014

The river | I imagined that my labor was a river I had to cross, alone. Not because I didn’t have people around me, but because my body was the only body doing the work of being in labor. With each contraction I was making my way to the other side, the space of visible mothering. Many times before, I had labored on the banks of the invisible mothering. I had come to the same river every mother crosses when birthing a child. I found comfort in this river imagery through my experiments in healing from miscarriage. It was vital to me that I acknowledge that my experiences of loss were real. That I had been through something that took up actual time and space, even though there was no lasting evidence of that mothering work. The idea of a shared river for all births offered me this tangible connection. This permission to finally identify my miscarriage journeys as another form of labor, one that is not often considered or honored, but that is still a very critical part of the birthing river’s waters. | added to the storyboard 3.4.2014

Thoughts on the process: oral traditions | I had to tell my story face to face many times before coming to a space where I could write it down. In the months immediately after our birth journey, I told my story to a handful of people who were close to me, and who had time– sometimes several hours– to sit and listen to my story. Every time I told it I would come to some new understanding, or appreciate a detail that I had omitted in an earlier telling. It was extremely important in those newborn days that I only tell my story in person. I didn’t even write any parts of if down in a journal, and writing bits of it online in an email was out of the question. I was only comfortable with the ephemeral capacity of my voice to come and then go. I needed the ritual of oral storytelling. I needed to say these important things, but for them to not yet take up any more space than the moment the words were being spoken. For my son’s six month birthday, I told him his whole birth story for the first time while giving him a bath. This inspired a whole new mood to the telling, opened up animated voices I didn’t even know were there, and forced me to describe complicated things in very simple, but honest ways. I am excited about this process of telling my birth story in many ways. Every time I share the story, I re/member something essential to the whole telling. | added to the storyboard 3.3.2014

walking up and down the steps of a cathedral during some early sensations (contractions), engaging gravity's natural intelligence to support the birth process.

My pre-labor walk | Walking up and down the steps of a cathedral during some early sensations (contractions), engaging gravity’s natural intelligence to support the birth process. I wrote a piece that same night about feeling the early vibrations of labor, A mother in motionadded to the storyboard 3.3.2014

photo-43Me in labor | This is the image I want to use for the birth story essay I am posting on the blog. That’s my midwife’s hand checking the position of the baby in between contractions. I haven’t officially started “writing” the story, but in my mind I have imagined the story beginning at several different points. Of the various openers, I’m least in favor of telling a chronological story, but maybe that’s what I should do. It would force me to comb through everything that happened and tell myself my whole story. I  think I chose this picture because it represents an important turning point in the labor journey. I don’t have many pictures from my labor so the ones I do have carry a lot of weight in memories. | added to the storyboard 3.3.2014


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