motherhood · Poetry

Birth Is Not Only for the Strong

Like many women who struggle during pregnancy, this one has been hard for me. It has been a mental labor and a physical struggle all throughout. It’s wild to see the way people talk about birth and pregnancy online. All the advice, natural things, do this, not that. On and on. I don’t get caught up in it and am very protective of where I go for information and the stories I read.

halfway!

But I’ll be honest, I’m approaching this birth “weak” as far as “they” are concerned.

I am not at all where I “should” be, and I can imagine many women are like me.

But I’m not intimidated by where I find myself at 39 weeks. Carrying my daughter has been a labor of love.

third trimester! (28 weeks)

And I’ve done it imperfectly.

There has been pain, fraility, struggle, anxiety, calm, anemia, long-lasting sickness, discouragement, excitement. . .

35 weeks! almost there!

As I approach her birthday, Psalm 71:6 is my anthem. “Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he (God) who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you.”

And that verse is the driving force behind this poem which says everything I want to say so much better and more succinctly than a long post could articulate.

This poem is to all pregnant women. But especially to those who have struggled and labored in love without the strength to do “everything just right.” To those who have been sick and weak for most, or all, of these last 9 months. To us who cannot and do not meet the expectations and ideals laid out.

Do not let the echoes of should demoralize your spirit.

Weak bodies dance.

Birth is not only for the strong.


Where Weak Bodies Dance

my body is not strong
like all the books
and my peers, professionals
say I should have been,
should be by now.

but when I’m asked to
deliver you,
I know I’ll do it strong.
without the shoulds,
with a weaker body,
with a zeal and spirit
only God could give.

and while my body works
relentlessly
after working hard
so fully and unwell,
so imperfectly
these last 9 months
for you,
my soul will be fully well,
right where it should be,
full resting.

for it is God
who brought me
from my mother’s womb
and it is God
who will bring you
forth from mine.

both our bodies
human, fragile
from labor
and deliverance.
from beginning,
heart and lungs
earthside.
from learning how to be
mother and child
in a world
where brokenness
and beauty,
shoulds and withouts,
meet safety and strength
in God.

and all the books
and voices,
though loud and long
and sharp,
can’t hold back the story
where weak bodies
dance and sing, rejoice
labor and deliver,
inhale, exhale,
the miracle!
over and over
us wholly here
half ready
all in
giving and receiving
life.

-S.V.F.

Poetry

Even the Brightest Flower

what happens when

you get thrown

into nothing?

spread out arms

wide to no one?

people move on,

but not you. . .

expanse of heartache,

a cliff for a timeline,

free fall of lost things,

you by a thread.

so, walk to the edge!

but go down softly

with hope,

without breaking

your bones.

sink yourself

into the ground.

way up there

on that precipice

flowers can grow

on cliffs–

the Edge is not

the End.


you can’t command

the sun and rain

or bloom all by yourself.

darkness, silence.

longer, louder.

chaotic stillness.

feeling it all,

all feeling numb.

but I promise

you chose

the way down

that is hope.

so,

hold fast.

hold tight.

wait.

impossible hours,

tangled up days,

six feet below?

no.

this is you

growing

roots.


how glorious the sun feels,

and it was always there.

and so were you

but underground.

the work of roots

and waiting.

all along, life.

but even the brightest flower

can’t force sunshine

on its skin

before its blooming

season.

-S.V.F.

Poetry

Birth Story Phenomena, a poem

it was laughter
and elation.
first hellos
skin to skin.
it was all the waiting
in my arms.
his heartbeat heard
in loud, small cries.
it was my baby
and all joy
settled on my chest.

BUT WAS IT AT HOME
OR THE HOSPITAL?
NATURAL OR PAIN-FREE?
WAS THERE INDUCTION
OR A C-SECTION,
WATER OR MACHINES?

I told you already.
how plainly must I say this?

let me try again.
are you listening?
okay then.

It Was Birth.

-S.V.F.

Poetry

For Young Mothers

people say so many things. . .
like you’re in a game you cannot win,
like your life has all but ended.
but maybe motherhood is a mosaic,
a hard wrought, stained glass window
where tears and laughter collide,
where wounds reopen in the working
and glisten if light filters through.

I am cut, reshaped, pieced back. . .
and I feel like I could shatter.

photo credit: Hannah A.R. Stories

“so what if you do?”
whispers the mother
beside me and beyond me.
“light will always poke itself through.”

her gentle words feel as balm
against the skin of my heart.
she holds an armful of sun,
scars from stained glass on her hands,
laughline wrinkles where
the window should hang,

but she wasn’t a game
or a life left for dead.

she was a stained glass story,
with no window to show for it.
and she held all the good things
all the people never say.
she broke and breathed,
stood long, and loved. . .
letting every inch of light
be every part of her.
she was a woman,
not a perfect stained glass
window.

and so I broke.
then shattered.
and breathed.

-S.V.F.