As a writer, the story of my baby’s birth is the hardest thing I’ve ever written. The fact of the birth is alive; any any words I can arrange to convey what happened, inside my heart, soul, body, inside the room where Merida was born, inside my family, are limbless, lifeless. What I write should be as perfect and amazing as what happened. (Impossible.) What I write will never match the experience. The space between facts and feelings and any paltry words I can summon to convey them is too huge, so as someone who is a dedicated recorder of things into words, I am in worse shape than a non-writer. The words to tell my story become too precious, have too much weight, so it’s difficult to write them. They come out too detached, like clinical records, too tame and devoid of color: how can any sentence convey, capture, hold my experience? Many writers face this with life events and experiences. But every sentence I write tastes like weak tea. It only makes you have to pee. No flavor, no lift. This feels impossible to write.

Horace Mann, education reformer and founder of Antioch College, admonished the graduates in 1859, “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.” This banner sometimes feels like an unattainable burden, and becomes a curse. As a 41-year-old first time mother, within the current medical climate, being able to have my breech birth naturally felt like a victory of which Mann might be proud. And yet, women’s bodies are made to birth babies, even breech babies. So the paradox: my story should not be so unusual.

And I keep working on the draft of the story of her birth…

3 thoughts on “The hardest things to write about

  1. You really really did well. You should be proud to have birthed the child without medical intrevention.
    The problem with describing birth is that it is so very close to death.
    Time is measured by birth and growth. Children are the visible reminder that we no longer grow physically. From the moment our children draw breath we know we’ll die. It’s still the most marvelous experience of all.
    When I had Anton I remember thinking at the end “Now I go to the gates of death and emerge anew.”
    When I had Marguerite I was struck by her beauty and fiestiness. I was made aware -as she was taken upside down to the warming bed-of my mother-in-laws description of the only other girl born in that family. Kim was wide shouldered and big and Peter and Greta lost her.
    In February both my children will go to SA and attend their only girl cousin’s wedding. Kristie was adopted and is much much loved.
    It struck me because I was adopted to replace and girl child lost.
    Dear God! Am I dreary? If so I’m sorrry. I’d love to talk about the ’60s and 70’s.

  2. Nancy, thanks so much for your recollections and candor. Reading your words brings to mind last summer, and reading your beautiful writing. I hope to read more from you, both formally and informally.

    And, sounds like you have some more things to write about. Thanks for posting!

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