Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Anything But Ordinary: #WholeMama Prompt

Every day, something like 350,000 babies are born.

One way or another, they come into the world - through unmedicated or medicated births, C-sections planned and unplanned. They'll arrive in hospitals and at home, sometimes in a midwife's living room or in a pool, in bathtubs or in beds. They might be born within four walls or out under the stars or in the shade of a tree. Mothers, with their partners by their side, or their mom, a sister, maybe three local women or best friends... or sometimes, heart-wrenchingly, no one at all.

The babies are born.

It's an utterly ordinary experience.

While you are carrying your baby, there are over three hundred thousand other women walking around on Earth who will have a baby the same day you do. Odds are good that a large percentage of you are touching your stomachs to feel the little kicks at the exact same second, each of you standing in a very different place - in Norway or Kenya, Malaysia or the United States. A few of you, in your very different lives, pause at the exact same second when a little foot jams itself up your ribcage so far you feel it in your throat.

You lie awake at night while your baby does the rumba next to your lungs and somewhere, in China, a woman tries to straighten her back in broad daylight while her baby does the same.

It is, at its heart, completely ordinary.

There are over 7 billion people walking around alive today, and each of them was born, under very different or very similar circumstances, whether in joy or in tragedy or in both all mixed up together in hurt and love and horror and loss. I know women who have given birth to stillborn babies - on that day, something like 15,000 women around the world were doing something that should be the heart of joy and became instead the depths of grief. They each felt utterly alone as they simultaneously entered the worst kind of sisterhood.

It's ordinary, giving birth - even the tragedy of the loss, in the grand scheme of history, is essentially ordinary.

It doesn't feel ordinary.

It feels like life itself, and life is anything but ordinary. The knitting together of cells that reproduce with dizzying speed, dividing and dividing and dividing, feels sacred, even as your hips hurt and you're bumping into cabinets with a gigantic stomach that doesn't look pregnant yet as much as it looks like you've been eating too many burritos.

It feels like Genesis.

Let there be life - and also toenails.

To be home to stem cells declaring themselves to be a liver, a spinal column, fingernails or shinbones is to be creation walking,. You are the advent of life itself while you daydream about taquitos and jalapeno potato chips or cry because you can no longer see your toes. The way those first movements feel like air bubbles just under your skin, then they begin to feel like some little fish swimming in there, then you realize your baby is attempting to use your lungs and kidneys as their very own bounce house - is to feel the result that came from simple cellular division.

The potential inherent in Something inside of you telling something else, "You will Be."

When you stop being able to get out of bed without assistance, there are thousands of other women who are also discovering complex leveraging systems in order to stand, too. Thousands of women with swollen feet and aching joints and learning that "glowing" just means "so soaked in sweat that you feel like you've become home to endangered wetlands rather than a child".

Hundreds of thousands of women every day are waking up to the day they will meet their newest child face to face, hear the strangest hoarse little cries. Look into little eyes for the first time, maybe feel the impossibly fast birdlike heartbeat under palms spread across a chest only just learning to breathe, and realize that they will never, ever sleep again.

Or maybe they won't feel that heartbeat, hear that voice. Maybe something will go wrong.

That will be shared, too.

The extraordinary, ordinary truth of motherhood is that even the miracles and the tragedies are shared.

We carry each other, even though we will likely never meet.

As a backlash against what is likely the overexposure of so many mothers in the internet, we are often told to stop dwelling on motherhood, that having a baby isn't really anything to be proud of, "millions of people are having babies all the time". Stop navel-gazing about it, nobody cares except other moms maybe and not even them. That it's essentially meaningless because it happens so often, so constantly, because it's a thing it is assumed people will do, so it's not that important, it's just a thing you did.

Well, that's true and it isn't true at all.

Becoming a mother is just a thing I did, the way that becoming a father is just something Jason did one day when he and I had a baby. The day of my daughter's birth is just a day, one she shares with 350,000 other babies. People she will grow up and grow old alongside without actually meeting more than the tiniest fraction of them.

That day is one I share with 350,000 other mothers, around 700,000 parents who met their baby the same day I met mine. I was just another woman and Jason was just another man meeting just another baby.

Just an ordinary day.

It was a day on Earth where I and three hundred thousand other women had never been so tired, so abjectly and completely exhausted in our entire lives. All of us breathed that fatigue as one person. All of us, one way or another, were mothers in a new way that day - whether with the first child or the seventh or the tenth. It was a day where three hundred thousand husbands, wives, midwives, sisters, mothers, partners, and lovers listened to us cry that we could not do it and held our hands or our legs or our hair while we did.

700,000 people looked at each other and whispered, "We will never sleep again."

Sure, it was ordinary.

Three hundred fifty thousand women will sing babies who are exactly one week away from their first birthdays to sleep in over six thousand different languages in the 24 hours that comprise July 29th.

Utterly ordinary.

Anything but.

Whole Mama

Today's post is my third while participating in the #WholeMama linkup. You can find the linkup for this week's theme, "Ordinary", here on Esther Emery's blog. More information on what #WholeMama is all about can be found here. My other posts as part of the linkup or just inspired by the theme are SpacePrayer, and A Supermom is a Sleep-Deprived Mom.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks! I'm never sure to trust when I actually LIKE something I did, haha

  2. "It feels like Genesis." YES!!! Love that sentence in particular!

    1. Honestly, that is my favorite sentence of the entire post and it is the last one I put in, haha. Glad it's your favorite, too!

  3. Katie, this is so very good! I love how you showed the ordinary yet extraordinary in pregnancy and childbirth. It's a beautiful story that we share with so many others - ordinary, but Not just ordinary. We need to find a time to meet one day :) Maybe in downtown Greenville.

    1. I am downtown all the time! Especially the farmer's market... you'll find me there almost every week!

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  5. I love this so, so much! "It feels like life itself, and life is anything but ordinary." That in particular made me tingle. Thank you!

    (Also, I have no idea what's going on with my previous comment. Some technical glitch. So if you're getting two comments from me, or 1 blank one, or some other weird combo, sorry!)

    1. Blogspot's comment system is kind of insane, don't worry about it.

      Life IS anything but ordinray! How strange to be this ball of rock spinning through space and here is all this LIFE and here we carry our babies.


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