Write Your Birth Story (8 am ET / 5 am PT)

By Writing with Janisse (other events)

Saturday, September 3 2022 8:00 AM 11:00 AM EST

One kind of story holds a tremendous amount of power for women, and that’s birth stories. This makes sense, because birthing a baby takes superpowers, right? Yet, think about how few containers there are to hold our birth stories. 

I’m offering a virtual workshop for writing your birth story. We’re going to do it Labor Day (ha!) weekend, Saturday morning. That’s Sept. 3, 2022 from 8-10 am Pacific Time. See below for information about the last 30 minutes.

No writing experience is needed. This is not that kind of workshop.

This is a place for the stories to emerge and begin to live outside our bodies.

It’s open to anyone who has given birth or assisted at a birth.

When I was a girl, my extended family was large. My mom came from a family of seven children and my dad from a family of eight. At gatherings the women would gravitate toward the kitchen table, which was scattered with coffee cups, and suddenly they’d be talking birth. My Aunt Bertha gave birth to twelve children, my Aunt Doris to seven. My mom had four. 

I’d be in a corner playing with dolls and I’d realize—wait!—that the tone of the conversation had changed. The voices were lower and more intense. I’d start hearing words like “stirrups” and “contractions” and “placenta.”  I learned (from experience) to get really quiet and very still, because if I moved they’d realize I was eavesdropping, and I’d be banished from the most riveting, necessary conversation in the world.

And isn’t that what has happened, aren’t we mostly banished from the most riveting, necessary stories in the world?

So tell yours. Write it down. Write it down for the baby you birthed, whether they’re grown now or whether they’re still at the breast. Write it for yourself. Write it for healing. Write it out of pride. Write it for the novel you’re working on. Get it out of the deep tissue of your body and onto the sacred page.

I’ve been thinking about birth a lot with the overturning of Roe v. Wade. As Nina Burleigh, journalist of American politics, wrote in an op-ed, women share “the utterly exceptional, unique challenge of being impregnable.” Impregnable. In fact, Greg Olear, after interviewing Burleigh, helped me realized that two things keep patriarchy in place: one, women are not as strong as men; and two, women are impregnable.

(I want to recognize here the difficulty some women experience in getting pregnant.)

Birth is an event for which we prepare for nine months. We try to learn all we can during that time. We try to write a birth plan that works for us. We try not to think of the physical risk of giving birth, that every cemetery we’ve wandered through has at least one grave of a woman who died in childbirth.

There’s a lot tied up in our birth stories: power and powerlessness, choice and force, pleasure and pain, hope and disappointment. For a while the story consumes us, but it’s not the kind of story we can go around telling—not really—so we learn to be silent about it. 

I hope you join me to write the birth story you’ve been carrying. Registration is here, on my website. You will be sent a Zoom link for the event. 

The workshop is 2 hours on a Saturday morning, hopefully when things are quiet at your house. For those two hours you’ll be in LABOR. I’m adding an extra 30 minutes to the zoom for sharing the stories, 10-10:30. That is extra, just for you, Mama. So the entire timeframe is 8-10:30, but at any point if you need to scoot off into your day, feel free.

You are a magnificent creator of life. You birthed the baby, now birth the story.

Do it for your own healing.

Do it to clear energy.

Do it as a gift to your child.I’m going to provide a safe, inspiring, sacred container for you to tell your story.

I’m going to guide you through it, kneel beside you every step of the way. Think of me as your story doula. 

I’m going to get you close to other women telling their stories.

I’m going to help you feel the joy that comes from bringing new life into the world.

[Artwork: "Illumine" by Raven Waters,]