Why write about these painful experiences?

How many books about the experience of warfare were you required to read in high school? How many books about the experience of pregnancy and childbirth? And yet, which experience is more common? How many classmates went on to the military, and how many went on to become pregnant?

As a society, we have an incredibly poor understanding of what reproduction entails for females.

Pregnancy is dangerous, and so is childbirth. The experiences are physically and psychologically challenging, even in the best of circumstances. All mothers take on great physical risk for their children – the risk of pain and surgery, the risk of blood clots and hypertensive disorders, hemorrhage, infection, chronic bodily dysfunction, scaring, more pain, death. The risk of loss of independence and income, sometimes loss of safety and self-reliance. In some places, the risk of criminal charges and imprisonment.

Mothers bravely take on these risks. They learn to walk differently and use the bathroom differently, to lie down and roll over differently. They learn to stand strong in the midst of judgement and, often, harassment. To accept another body as a part of their own body. To accept indescribable pain. They learn to lie on their backs and say “okay, pick up that knife, I have to trust you, cut me open”.

But childbirth is common, and some of the mechanics are involuntary. Therefore, it’s often thought of as the most banal thing in the world. It isn’t. It’s a heroic act of bravery.

(Inspired by Dr. Kimberly Theidon who documented the years of atrocity and heroics endured by Sacha’s family in Peru, and who continues to stand up for the validity of women’s experiences)