Sunday, September 10, 2006


Talking to a friend about poetry and catharsis this morning reminded me of this. When I was in hospital awaiting Ana's arrival the other waiting mothers and I were treated to a hideous symphony from above; a woman in the upstairs ward going through labour. It scared us all to death. It was everyone's first time and though we all feared the worst, none of us had ever heard it before.

There was this midwife who I didn't like much. She was bossy and rude and extremely insensitive. And she came round that morning and told us the most profound thing I had ever heard concerning childbirth. She said the noise a woman makes when she is giving birth is not related to the pain the way you might expect; it is not the pain that forces a woman to cry out. Rather it is the cry that keeps one going through the pain. It is a tool. And sometimes it might sound even louder than the pain. And that is partly the point.

A few hours later I would find out what she meant. The pain of birthing is not the pain of an accident. It is the pain of finishing. And the pain of becoming. Beholding. Everything new. Ouch.


The Harbour of Ourselves said...


AngelFire said...

well said! And very accurate.. I remembering moaning through the contractions with Talia last year, I knew if I moaned 5 times the contraction would be over and I would have a break. The moaning was more a distraction / measure of time left than a indication of how much I hurt. :)

Niki said...

Uhm. I don't think I want children.

mister tumnus said...

it was something that struck me lately as i listened to a particular ani difranco song. she writes so accurately but as i listened to her i found myself wondering why i would bother listening to a song that was making me feel worse... and then wondering why songs like that were even written... and then i thought about birthing and how i didn't do that task for anyone else or for any other reason than that it was nesscessary. for creation. for life. and i guess it is the same with poetry or music sometimes.

and sometimes in the telling you get this realisation of what art is sometimes for. and maybe that's enough reason to keep listening, reading, etc.

she's wise, ani.

mister tumnus said...

niki, it's the monotony of nappies that would put me off doing it again :) don't do it unless you want to. and if you want you it's great.

AngelFire said...

I would do it again in a heartbeat. There is something incredibly powerful about the ability to birth a child.. and if you skip the drugs the body has a nice little reaction of blocking the full memory of the physical pain within a few hours after the birth happens :)

beth said...

This was a really cool post, with the rude midwife's statements something I had never heard before!

I had my first two babies with no pain meds, and I am sure of this one thing: I have never felt more focused, more powerful and more ALIVE than in those hours of truly laboring to give birth. I absolutely loved bringing those lives into the world.

I had the other three kids with meds...but I'll always cling to that memory. There's something incredible and unique about that experience.

Thanks for this.