Birthing Day

Twenty years ago, I labored to bring my daughter into this world.

Childbirth parts the scrim over our mundane lives, parts the clouds of our everydayness. Childbirth is just so much. The day descended into darkness, and yet I labored, the one work I absolutely had to do. The end of that labor carried me into darkness, into shivering cold, into fear, ferrying me beyond language.

A roomful of strangers in the middle of night saved my baby’s life, and likely saved my own. I was given—gratis, not a single string attached—utter joy when countless women in other times and places met agony.

The everyday world washed back into my life—as it must for all of us. The stuff of our working lives is made of mother’s milk, chopping leeks for soup, tending our hearths. But each day is imbued with the holiness of a birthing day for mothers. Our lives may tarnish this radiance in our lives, but it’s there yet, unbreakable by human hands.

All human life on the planet is born of woman. The one unifying, incontrovertible experience shared by all women and men is that months-long period we spent unfolding inside a woman’s body.

— Adrienne Rich


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