I Birthed My Son

i first wrote our birth story out when elden was eleven months old — you can read it here. what haunted me most at that time was wondering if, as a c-section birth, i could claim that i even birthed my son. recently i was given the invitation to re-visit our story, as i prepared to share it with a circle of women. a circle that has become my village. i laid in bed one night and just before i fell asleep the first lines of this new story came to me. i sat up to write them down, and all of this flowed out of me. i had no intention of writing our birth story a second time, but it has been an incredible gift. to re-visit, to re-write, to re-frame this story two and a half years later.


i birthed my son
with a knowing of myself
an unknowing of him

i did not know his head size
i did not know that he wouldn’t fit through my hip size

but i knew myself

i knew i needed modern medicine
that their relief felt like safety
i knew i didn’t need a bath
that warm water wouldn’t comfort me like the needle in my spine would

i birthed my son
with the hands of many women
and the helplessness of man

with resources available to me
— resources from this place and time
from this operating room
from this science

and.

i birthed my son
with resources available to me
from the depths of my ancestors graves and wombs
— resources from the closeness and fullness of the creator

i birthed my son with a village
a village watching
a village waiting
a village monitoring two heartbeats
two lives
two bodies, somehow in one body

i birthed my son with my village; with my body
and now my body is forever marked by his birth
a slightly curved line deep on my belly;
deep into my belly

and he?
he is marked by our birth
centered in his belly
our button of connection
of creation
of nutrients
and life.

i birthed my son with a knowing disguised as defeat
with surrender disguised as pain
with cries for help and pleas for pressure
with hands trembling
— one holding tightly to my husband, the other firmly pressed on the red button

i birthed my son with a deep, abiding, honoring, knowing of myself
and because of that
i am capable of knowing him

on march 15, 2016 at 7:03 am, after 30 hours of labor and 4 of pushing, elden monroe emerged from my body and into the hands of a village of women
what a gift to be birthed from the body of a woman
into the hands of women.

i birthed my son
with a knowing
that i would need
the hands of women

i birthed my son
with a knowing
that we would birth my son.

mother’s day

it’s 6:15 am and my son has asked for a birthday candle six hundred and fifteen times. apparently my magic number was six hundred and fourteen, at which, if asked one more time i would lose my mind. he blows out a pretend candle. his way of asking one more time. i lost it.

i went and got the whole pack of birthday candles and set him back on his bed. not kindly. not gently. my husband stands by, probably scared. i don’t look at him so i can’t be sure. instead i throw my favorite blanket over my head and say “i am so tired of my entire days and nights spent kissing his ass.” which is quite dramatic, but then again i was just asked the same question six hundred times, so clearly we are a dramatic bunch.

i leave before 6:30 and before the next world war begins inside our home. hell hath no fiery like a mother who has hit her breaking point. i drive until i find a spot littered with wildflowers. they remind me that beautiful things grow even when no one is watching. they remind me that mother earth still mothers, even when no one is mothering her.

a rooster crows and i applaud him. and as i’m clapping, i realize someone is also probably cursing the same rooster. maybe it was the six hundredth and fifteenth time it crowed and six hundred and fourteen was their breaking point. understandable.

here’s what i’m getting at. sometimes we are applauding motherhood, in awe of all it has taught us. in awe of all the shit it has taken and tilled into fertile soil where wildflowers will grow. sometimes we are cursing motherhood, in awe of all the shit — the loss: of self, of child, of our own mothers. the relentlessness: of need, of attention, of death. sometimes we are breaking before 6:30 in the morning. sometimes we are popping our anti-depressants with leftover water in a sippy cup and bolting out of our home before we strike down our most beloved people.

sometimes we are applauding the rooster. and sometimes we are cursing it.

it’s mother’s day, did i mention that? and whether you applaud this day or curse it, you are not alone. whether you are covered in wildflowers or shit (most likely both), you are not alone. there is room for all of us, all of you.

and here beside these wildflowers, listening to the rooster crow, there is room for all of me, too.

a letter from an old friend

today your son turns two years old, and there will be a party, candles in pancakes shaped like mickey mouse, and 78 trips up and down the escalator to celebrate him. he deserves celebration.

much like you do.

because this day, even if you don’t want to admit it, is as much about you as it is about him. yes he was born. but you, dear one, were reborn. on this day two years ago he went from within you to beside you but birthing a new life is never just about birthing a baby. the little one may be what the world sees, but i see you.

i know how easy it is to feel like so much of your days, and nights, are invisible. it feels like no one is there to bear witness to your work. your sweat. tears. your grind. but it is not invisible. because i see it.

because i see you.

i see the messes you make with him. the ones you clean up only to make and clean up over and over and over again. i see the meals you prepare — the ones he asks for — only to have him change his mind three minutes later and yell ‘no’ when you offer him a bite. i see you prepare his next choice. i see the meals you don’t eat, the ones that sit out on the counter and get re-heated six times before you decide ‘fuck it’ and just eat it cold. i see every ‘fuck it’, even the ones that are silent.

i see every tear you cry. the ones cried in rage, exhaustion, gratitude, and bliss. i see every time you are changing a diaper and drop poop on the white rug. i see your stubbornness in refusing to move the white rug from by the changing table because damnit it looks good. i see every load of laundry that gets washed. and re-washed because you forgot about it. i see every time you let him help you sweep, knowing it’s not much help at all. knowing he loves to do it.

i see you. in the hospital room, pleading for help, knowing he wasn’t coming. but pushing. trying. i see you in the operating room, your body being cut open, insides becoming outsides as it took a village to birth him. i see you in lactation specialists’ offices, and at the breast center. i see you googling inflammatory breast cancer and the fear that washed over you. i see you in urgent care for postpartum depression. in pediatrician offices. in parks. playgrounds. coffee shops. kid consignment stores.

i see you. every time you lose your shit. and every time you find your peace. i see you hold it together and fall apart. i see you empathize with your son, and his big feelings. my god, you are incredible at empathizing. i see you punch pillows and do everything in your power to make it to your favorite coffee shop on double punch monday only to have him fall asleep on the way there. i see you throw the balloon up just one more time (but actually six). and i see you throw that damn little taxi car that might as well be made of knives and somehow always finds its way to under your feet.

mama, your work, your heart, your love, your body, your days, are not invisible. i see you. in your best moments, and your worst. in the highest highs, and the lowest lows. i see you.

and when i see you — all of you — i know that i know that i know that you are good.

you are a good mother.

so today we celebrate your son. and the fullness of life he brings. and. and i celebrate you, and the honor and gift it is to see you.

love,

the only one capable of seeing and affirming all you do; all you are:

yourself.

traveling partners.

so much of my work has been on being present with my pain. hearing its knock. inviting it inside. offering it a seat. and some tea. sitting in silence near it. with it. speaking to it. listening. letting it teach me.

it’s almost as if i got too good at being present with pain. too intent on keeping eye contact with it. too focused on hearing every last word, that even the silence — the waiting — was too loud for me to hear another knock.

but my son has learned to open doors. and he hears joy. he hears joy so loudly and easily that he comes running. shaking even. when her presence is near.

like meeting an old friend at the mouth of the river.

he opens the door. collides into her and his laughter bubbles over. i am not as in tune to her presence as he is.

but i am in tune to him. and his presence is enough for me to break eye contact with pain. and his presence is enough to invite me to see joy. to feel. taste. experience. her.

and before i even catch myself, we are dancing around the dining room table.

me. my son. maracas and tambourines in our hands.

joy. and pain.

because if i know that i know that pain is a great teacher. then i must have faith enough to believe that joy is too.

because my son — my son has taught me that joy and pain are traveling partners. never going anywhere without one another.

so come in, old friends. sit down. have some tea. you can make yourself at home.

I Resolve…

This was my New Year’s Resolution for 2014. I had never written a resolution before that year, and I have never written one a new one after. Because this one — this one sums it up for me. Over and over again.


I resolve to believe
that humans are hurting, hopeful beings
And that being human deems us worthy of relationship, grace and love
And that being human deems us worthy of sharing meals together, teaching and being taught by one another, seeing and being seen…
I resolve to believe that I am worthy of being seen
of being known
and loved
I resolve to believe that you are worthy of being seen
of being known
and loved
I resolve to share more meals with you

I resolve to believe that god is love
And that love is kind
And that the sharp edges of the religion I was raised in is just that
— the edges
and that the core, the depth, the intent, the body (and the god) beyond the edges is stunning
and radical
and compassionate
and kind

I resolve to believe that friendships come and go
and like the ocean, ebb and flow
and like the ocean, I have no control
over their tides
I resolve to trust gravity
and who it pulls towards me
and who it pulls away

I resolve to believe that my body
and all it’s slight curves and edges
are good
and powerful
and mine
and worthy of good food
and good exercise

I resolve to believe that love is victorious over death
and that resurrection has come
and is coming
I resolve to wait in the empty space that death leaves
and know that parts of me will die in this space
and that parts of me will come to life in this space

I resolve to believe that my darkest days are behind me
and still to come
I resolve to believe that my best days are here
and still to come
And that healing comes slowly
and all at once.

I resolve to believe
in myself
in our hurting, hopeful humanity
and
in our god.