Imprint, 16 years later

November 23, 2011

I’m going through old files this week and opening a part of my life as well as others’ lives that I haven’t seen for a while. It really inspires me to (re)member much of what I’ve taken to be a part of my history of birth and motherhood and realize that it is part of me. Going through files, I find memories of my own midwife for my son, Abigail Odam, for she had given me files and articles about birth from when she was a young mother and midwife. I find pieces of history of birth resurgence of the 1970s. I looked through Imprint: from conception through motherhood. It is a 75 page zine that I wrote back in 1995 when I was a young mother documenting my journey through motherhood inter-spliced with interviews from Abby as well as obstetrical history. It even has the local cesarean birth rates by hospital which has been on all of our minds as of late especially as Mary Birch (Sharp) has moved beyond 43% (in 1995 it was 31.2%).
Oh how much I’ve grown since then. Yet, there is something about being in that moment / time period that has magic to it and has much to teach me in this moment as well. It is raw, real, unapologetic, unfettered, alive. It is self-expression, art, feeling. So, I find that it is time to start taking part of this history and these moments and putting them in my current context.
I haven’t really kept this blog section up before now. And as births slow down for a few months, we’ll see how it goes. For it is time, as a midwife, as a mother, and as a woman to reconnect and speak up about what is going on in our community and our world.

So here I begin, at page 1 of Imprint, just having last week read Charlotte’s Web to Nilaya (my 6 year old). I cried the last few chapters as she wondered why I could barely move on to the next line. She didn’t know what I know as a mother. She too will cry someday if she were to read it to her child. I cried for the beauty and the sacrifice of Charlotte. This spider who is intelligent, small, and weaves her magnificent webs. The spider who knows that she will die after she makes her egg sac. She knows that she will have to release her control, that she will no longer be able to directly influence the matters around her. Yet, she will leave her legacy. She reminds me of the intuition that whispers in our ears and as with a yearly cycle continues may die and slowly grow again.
Oh, yes, page 1 of Imprint, it is very simple:

“PART 1: From the Beginning

‘This is what I am: watching the spider
rebuild – “patiently, they say,

But I recognize in her
impatience – my own –

the passion to make and make again
where such unmaking reigns

the refusal to be a victim
we have lived with violence so long

Am I to go on saying
for myself, for her

This is my body
take and destroy it?’

[Natural Resources” Adrienne Rich]