Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Literary Mama Rewind: Birth

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Welcome to Literary Mama Rewind! Every few weeks we'll round up some of our favorite essays, stories, poems, columns and reviews from the Literary Mama archives relating to a particular theme. This week a new year is born, full of promise and hope, expectations and possibilities. It's a new beginning, so we're pulling out stories of the new beginnings that come with the birth of our children.

Labor Day, a collection of birth narratives from 30 women writers, captures the raw physicality, emotion, and unpredictability of delivering a child and gives us a sense of one of the most savage and joyful moments in women’s lives.

The book surprised me. Whereas I expected a didactic account of the history of midwifery in Canada, instead I stumbled into a fable where magic is intertwined with history.

This is day three. You sit in the bed, pushing,
you sit in the bath, pushing...

What would have been perfect that day: a full sky of mammati.

Lately I wonder if the obsession with crafting the perfect birth -- the one in a dimly-lit room with soft music where, free from drugs and episiotomies, we breathe out perfect babies and take them immediately to our breasts -- has caused some of us more harm than good.

I noticed warm liquid running down my leg on a Wednesday night. We put the rubber sheet on the foam mattress just in case, but remembered the woman who didn't go into labor for three days after her water broke. Dylan immediately went to sleep because he knew that if I went into labor, he'd have a lot of work to do.

I imagined eyes on me everywhere, saw fingers pointing at me, heard the verdict: Guilty as charged. Unmarried low-income woman. Unplanned pregnancy. Life sentence. I waited in bed for the doctor.

  • Birth Story by Amy Mercer from the Column Chronic Mama

My mother has told me the story of my birth ever since I was a young girl. Even though I am nearing forty, I look forward every year to hearing my birth story.


Amanda Jaros is a freelance writer and blogger, focusing on nature and science stories. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and magazines including Terrain.org, Newfound, Life in the Finger Lakes Magazine, Highlights for Children, and Cargo Literary. She holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from Chatham University.


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