Every mother has a tale to tell. That is the foundation of the Yellow Light, Write Birth Story Workshops — a non-judgmental workshop for mothers of any age and any writing experience. It’s a chance for each of us to get our story down on paper. Each person’s story will be different, not only because of different experiences, but because of who each person is as an individual. What did we take away from our pregnancy, labor and birth of our child? How did becoming a mother change us? What emotions are we still trying to process — days, months or years later. These things form us and stay with us. Writing it down makes it more concrete.
Is this workshop for you? Are you a mother? If you are, I think you will enjoy this night out to concentrate on yourself for a change. I write every day and I love to write; but the workshop is structured to help anyone walk their way through the story — experienced or inexperienced. The two hour workshop is spent working through prompts to get started, and then participants take the story home to finish at their own pace. Jill Kresse, who created this workshop, is available and encourages participants to continue communicating with her throughout the finalization and personalization of their story.
Mothers are encouraged to choose an audience. Many people choose to frame the story as a letter to their child — which I think is beautiful. Wouldn’t it be wonderful for every child — planned or unplanned, dreamed for or dreaded, easy or difficult — to know that they are loved and their birth story is cherished by their parents. Others write only for themselves or someone they wish had been present. I’m sharing my story publicly here, but please don’t let that scare you off. You pick your own audience; and it can be just you.
My story is not extraordinary, but it’s mine. After reading my story, I hope you think, “I can top that,” and you write your own story because this was rewarding. (P.S. Although I’m glossing over some more personal parts in this version, this is a very honest story and I apologize in advance for the language at the beginning.)
Every mother has a tale to tell, and this is one of mine.
Chapter One: A Less Than Perfect Beginning
“SHIT, SHIT, SHIT.”
“FUCK, FUCK FUCK!”
Not our finest moment in our parental careers — especially since when we’d married 17 years before, we had said we wanted a big family and now we were getting it. All of my pregnancies were at least a little unexpected, but this one came at what seemed like the worst possible time. Every facet of our lives seemed to be a struggle. The state of our usually strong marriage was precarious, and we were hemorrhaging money every month. On top of that, we already had a baby. Our youngest had just turned one. We had just gotten done with the horribleness of pregnancy and first-year parenting. Neither one of us were excited to jump back into that. We were still exhausted. This was not our plan. But it was God’s plan.
Chapter Two: Accepting, Enjoying, Cherishing
I gave myself permission to hate this pregnancy and to feel sorry for myself throughout. I don’t like pregnancy. I dread the first year of trying to balance a new baby with a career. I know some people seem to balance it all, but I tend to be resentful and bad-tempered. Which leads me (and I suspect all those around me) to dislike myself. This permission was likely the reason that I actually ended up enjoying this pregnancy. For once I gave myself the same compassion I would give anyone else in the same situation. For all that was falling apart at the beginning, this became my best pregnancy ever.
I felt good. I looked good. The fashion gods smiled on me when I went searching for maternity clothes. The state of my wardrobe seems so superficial in light of the state of my marriage and finances, but I can’t stress how important this little bit of good fortune was for my overall spirit. Two dresses, three pair of pants and a handful of shirts that all mixed and matched made the difference between night and day.
When I say my marriage was precarious, I mean I was actively looking into how I would do things on my own if it came to that. I’m not a particularly spiritual person, but even I could see the good coming out of the unplanned. This pregnancy forced my husband and me to communicate and to come to terms with things we had been avoiding. And it took much less than we had thought. We were still hemorrhaging money, but almost immediately we were a team again. Us against the world — something I had not felt in several years. We began to dream and plan again; and we re-aligned our lives to be what we wanted them to be.
There were a lot of hard questions to ask. How were we going to communicate the first year when the baby and other children were demanding so much of us? What could feasibly be changed to change our financial situation? What did each of us want out of life — both for ourselves and as a family? We asked the questions. We answered them. We re-examined and asked new questions. By 20 weeks, we were certain about each other and excited about this baby. And we made a conscious choice to be open to any new life in the future.
Chapter Three: He Arrives A Bit Early
We seem to have a family curse. Barring, drastic measures not to, we all have one child after 40. This baby was due the day after my 40th birthday. Therefore, he was scheduled to fulfill the curse, but he had other plans.
The months had passed quickly. With our first two children, we had names chosen years in advance. Now we found ourselves six weeks before his due date with no middle name. We were headed off to Lambeau Field to see my first Packers game. My doctor said it would be fine, but I was not so sure. I felt ready to pop, and I joked we would give him the middle name Aaron if he came while we were watching the game. All day long, I felt like I might be going into labor, but I kept it to myself. I didn’t want to panic anyone or look stupid when the pregnancy wound on for another six weeks.
He did not come at Lambeau, but through the following week, my Braxton Hicks contractions became more and more uncomfortable and frequent. I felt awful. The 40-minute commute home each night was excruciating. I wanted to quit, but I didn’t have paid leave and needed to save my vacation days. Six nights after Lambeau, I was sick and vomiting and still feeling the semi-regular Braxton Hicks contractions. The next day was Sunday again. Feeling weak, I sent my family off to church without me. They were walking out the door when I felt the uncontrolled gush of my water breaking. You expect to be certain when this happens, but I had to consult the internet. Though I still wasn’t certain, we headed to the hospital. We still didn’t have a middle name, so Aaron it would remain. It’s a good middle name.
Chapter Four: Reflecting
I wish I could say that I’ve learned to let go of my expectations and just live, but three years later when my next unexpected blessing surprised us, my reaction was only slightly less fearful. It’s one thing to agree to be open to life and another to face a new life and the change that represents. I’d also like to say that my faith has been strengthened, but I still struggle every day with it. We still have to work very hard on our marriage, but each scary, unexpected, unplanned thing we ride through together makes us feel a little stronger.
Are we done? I’ll let you know.
Next Workshop: Thursday, April 30 Time: 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm Location: Heartfelt, 4306 Upton Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55410 Cost: $35 — Includes email follow-up communication with Jill in which you can continue personalized work on your Birth Story (optional, but encouraged)! ** Email Jill Kresse with any questions or to sign-up: jill (at) **