Monday, April 21, 2014

The world contracted

I've always been fascinated by birth and birthing. 
Now of course, with my third - and most likely final - birth rapidly approaching, it's never far from my thoughts.
My Poppet asked me recently about fairies, about magic. And I told her, sadly, that fairies are just pretend they live in story-world, not our world, but I'm making a baby in my tummy, and that's like magic.
When I was her age I remember trying to hatch an egg by wrapping it in a little doll blanket and trying to keep it warm, later I'd watch, awed and entranced as our chicks pecked their way out of their eggs. Even as a teen I was fascinated - one of the books I wrote then - later published by a small press, has a three page birth scene in it, wherein my eleven year old heroine delivers her friends twins – one of which is a footling breech, in the middle of a hurricane. I re-read it recently and couldn’t help laughing ruefully about how blas√© my character was about it all – I get more stressed trying to merge in heavy (okay, any) traffic!
It was the first of many birth scenes I've written or intend writing, relying heavily on the account my mama wrote of my own birth. Since then I've written several more - including one with triplets in myth-time Ireland, based on the birth of the Irish sun god, Lugh. And there are several more again in my 'to-write' list of novels.
One of my characters - an ex-were-wolf queen is going to have twins in a remote myth-world castle, surrounded by wolf-people. Another is going to have one birth in our world - and her next (twins again, seems to be a theme) shortly after being kidnapped into myth-time Ireland.
When my grandfather had a series of strokes and came to live with us while he recovered, he returned, again and again to the 'big events'. As a minister, the 'big events' for him were christenings and weddings, Christmas and Easter. He would often stop the family and say it was crucial for the service to be held immediately. Luckily, he wasn't so interested in conducting funerals.
For me, birth is the 'big event' and, even when not expecting any day, I remain fascinated.
I've always loved listening to people’s birth stories. I've read of people who hate being told 'horror' stories while they awaited the birth of their first born, and I've never understood it. I've always been honoured that people will share such an intimate and precious, life-changing time in their lives.
And right after a birth? I think many people do want and need to talk about it. It is massive. It can be very traumatic. It can totally change the way you see yourself and the world.
It's such a liminal, transformative, terrifying, exciting, joyous time.
Pregnant with the Sprocket, I'd ask if people were happy to share their stories, and they'd remember so clearly and seemed so happy to talk about their experiences, caught up in it again. And the stories were all so very different, as different and personal as the women themselves. I love reading about births, (although I'm still a little peeved that of all the birth stories I've read one of the easiest, pain-free sounding births was that of a young mum in the middle of nowhere in the desert, in a hippy camp, high on marijuana. It just didn't seem fair,) and watching birth stories on television.
Of course, before Sprocket, I assumed that other women's births had no relation to my own future births - which would be a series of 'rushes' in which I would breath my baby out to meditations of whales and dolphins easing through ocean and harp music playing. A-ha.*
And for some women, that's how it is - and that's wonderful. (Although Odent I think has a lot to answer for - just because he witnessed one woman give birth without pain because she 'wasn't afraid' does not mean that all women can, or will, do that, fear or no fear. We are actually individuals, and so are our babies. Our births are unique combinations of how our bodies and our babies bodies work. For some of us that involves a lot of pain or surgery, for some it doesn't.)
Now, not quite as sanguine, I'm yet excited, honoured. It does seem like magic, that soon another little one with all the potential, with all the promise and wonder, will come into the world. That this little one who has wriggled and kicked within me, whose brain has developed connections, whose tiny fingernails have grown, who has started to consider the noises, the changing light beyond her cocoon, will come out to meet us, to change the world for us.
Nine moons beneath my heart, my little one is preparing to make the hardest, most challenging and, in many ways, most dangerous journey of her life.
It is probably not surprising that my thoughts revolve so much around her and her coming, that I am so easily distracted and find it so difficult to concentrate on other things.
While I would like to say that I am keeping up to date with world events and am abreast with current happenings, that when I’m up half the night with heartburn and aching hips I’m busily tapping out my next novel, the truth is, my world has contracted to my little ones forth coming arrival. While I’d trying to think of other things to write about, and will try to stretch myself a little more, let me admit now that the next few weeks on my blog are likely to be heavily birth and baby focused. (Um, yes, probably even more so than now!)

*Well, he was yanked out to Enya, as the obstetrician remarked on pityingly.


  1. I love hearing birth stories & telling mine. My last two pregnancies found me watching TV shows about babies being born as my due date loomed & last time around I was engrossed in the books of the Call the Midwife series. This time around I'm refraining from watching as it really feels like it's been 5 minutes since I gave birth so everything is still very fresh in my mind. But I will thoroughly enjoy reading what you write about babies & birthing :)

  2. I just watched my first 'Call the Midwife's last night - the Christmas one with the wedding, and loved it, so I'm quickly getting the first seasons! I'll have to try the books. I've watched a lot less birth shows with this baby, and hardly read anything, but I'm finding in these last few weeks my intake has gone up rapidly!