Tag Archives: birth

catharsis – #WhatImWriting

DSC_0169There are many reasons why writers write: the urge to create, to find an outlet for a headful of ideas, a desire to connect with others, to make your mark, capture a moment, to explore, invent, imagine or just because you HAVE to.

One of the most powerful writing experiences I have found though, is writing for catharsis. I don’t necessarily do this often, as I’ve been lucky enough not to need to, but when I do it honestly feels like some sort of therapy.

I definitely wrote for cathartic reasons after giving birth to my third son twenty-one months ago. Not (thankfully) that anything too terrible happened – he was born healthy and (eventually) had a natural delivery – but, man, it was such an ordeal to get there. Nine days of stop-start labour (that meant I barely slept), followed by endless hours of contractions so strong they should have prompted a baby to shoot out across the room not simply lie around wriggling contentedly!

Anyway, once my bundle of beauty had finally emerged, even though I was so happy I could have exploded with it, I still felt I had a lot to process. My births have never gone to plan despite me being convinced each time that ‘this time it will be fine!’ so I think there was a frustration there that I needed to address. So, with baby firmly attached to the milk supply (i.e me) and a never ending pile of cakes, biscuits and hot-cross buns at my elbow (I looked so terrible that everyone who visited felt the immediate urge to feed me sweet things) I set about writing about my experience.

I’ve recently read what I wrote. There’s a prose piece written when he was a week old which alternates between ‘then’ and ‘now’ quite effectively (I was trying to capture the amazing difference a week can make, so it leaps from the intensity of contractions to the peacefulness of breastfeeding in bed by the glow of a nightlight). There’s also a poem that goes through the whole labour describing it as an approaching storm that sucks me in and nearly drowns me. Powerful stuff.

I remember writing both these pieces, then reading them back and it making an immense difference to me. Like a big release of emotion that made me feel both lighter and like I had more energy. Plus I felt like I’d captured something for later. Birth is such an epic experience I’m glad I managed to store it somewhere outside of my own head, even if I never show what I’ve written to anyone.

How about you? What motivates you to write? Do you (or have you) found writing to be a cathartic experience?

Writing Bubble

birth, babies and creativity

What with one thing and another 2013 has been a pretty creative year. By ‘one thing’ I’m referring to my writing, but by ‘another’… well, back in late February I gave birth to a beautiful, bouncing, baby boy (my third!). Actually he didn’t bounce (at least I assume not, I didn’t check) – newborns aren’t really for bouncing they’re for lying around looking very cute, rather wizened and vaguely not-of-this-world. But you get the picture; along came a new life and other things were rather sidelined for a while.

The thing was though, my writing was one of the few things not to be sidelined. In fact, in the weeks after the birth I felt I really needed to write.

For a start, I wrote about the birth. As anyone who’s been there knows, giving birth is an incredibly intense experience, unlike anything else. For me, it’s also a very lengthy business (not for me these ‘over in a few hours’ births, oh no) and one that I take a while to process afterwards. This was my third time and I’d love to report that it was beautiful or wonderful, or at least straight-forward, but it wasn’t: it was a great long, crushing, vomiting ordeal. Nice.

However, it was an ordeal that resulted in one of the most amazing times of my life. In those first few hours after the birth I felt suspended in time; cocooned with my boy in our own little haven. And afterwards I wanted to capture all of it; the raw awfulness and the perfect bliss.

Funnily enough, it came out almost entirely in poetic form. I’ve never considered myself a poet and it’s certainly not my forte, but when I started to write about the birth I found that prose didn’t seem to cut it.

In total I wrote six poems. That’s perhaps not a huge number for any real poets out there but for me, that’s quite a lot! I started with one about late pregnancy and then moved through birth, the aftermath and one about my newborn. Then to round things off I wrote one for each of my other sons – I’ve read them their poems. They laughed. I’ll say no more.

I’ve since returned to prose and stopped writing about babies and birth but I’m really pleased that I got it all down when I did and in the way that I did. Writing was cathartic, enjoyable and – since some of the creating was done in my head in the dark – a nice distraction from being repeatedly awoken in the night.

It’s been quite a year!