Giving birth was, for me, THE moment; my whole life is before or after.

(It used to make me wildly frustrated when people spouted things like that, so if you are feeling furious right now, I get it.)

It’s not because I loved my baby more than I could have ever imagined, or that my old sense of self was completely and painfully dissolved and then reformed, or that I never completely got my mind back, though those things are true.

No, it was more fundamental than that.

Giving birth was like going through an initiation ceremony that brought me more fully to life.  It ignited something in me that I can only call a divine spark.  (I would not have used those words at the time.  In fact, I believe I used lovely, eloquent words like F******ck and holy shit you have got to be kidding.)  Birth was a ring of fire, not just for my yoni but for my mind and spirit.

If you have not given birth yet, or never intend to, and you are hating me right now for my birth-tops-everything arrogance, let me just speak to you for a minute.  I think that this divine spark is available to anyone, anytime.  But for me, it took that fundamental mind-and-body-inside-out-dance to awaken to me to who I was really meant to be.

May I just say, I think there are easier ways, and I highly recommend them.

Afterward, I yearned for some recognition of the phenomenal challenge I had been through; I kept looking for Birthing Goddess crowns in the sweet packages of baby clothes that arrived.  I wanted an acknowledgment of the strength that I found in myself—not just in the hours of laboring and giving birth, but in those furious, helpless nights and painful, breast-soaked days.

I needed time and space to process the most beautiful and traumatic event my body had ever been through.  I was sure that somehow, somewhere, there was a secret coven of mothers who would usher me in and perform some rites (involving red paint and Jack Daniels, perhaps) that would help me make sense of all this new power and purpose and pain.

I didn’t find those things. But I want them anyway.

My girl is four now. She chooses her own dresses.

I want them because there is something here in this moment of transformation that needs a little more attention.  This is a potent moment, the fulcrum for many of us.  I created individual Birthtelling sessions first, but I also wanted to start a dialogue that was more public and that was accessible to everyone.

I’ll just say it: I want us, together, to create a trove of birth wisdom.   I kept waiting for the Wise Women to show up and show us the way, but guess what?  We’re it.  We have to become our own elders.  The best way I know how to get started is to share our stories.

It can be hard to find places to tell the truth about giving birth, in real life or on the internet.  So I am making one here, for myself, for you, for all of us.  I’m just making it up as I go along, but that’s kind of how birth and parenthood go.

Come on in, honey– we’re at 9 centimeters and there’s plenty of room.

with much love,
Katherine North
-Founder, The Birth Story Project