Birth Poems

by Katie Thesing

The idea of writing and sharing birth poems came from a close friend of mine. Our sons were born seven months apart, and while our birth experiences were very different, they were life-changing events for both of us.  Our conversations centered on birth, and a year ago, my friend asked if I would like to write and exchange poems as a way to further explore our own births. The following are four poems that I wrote as part of that wonderful exchange.

_____________________

the head born
cord loose beneath fingers
a sudden warmth

____________________

The Moment Before Birth

I birth our baby’s head
And everything becomes still –
My husband’s hand against my knee,
My own body quiet.

And everything becomes still.
I touch our baby’s scalp,
My own body quiet.
Love, you are almost here.

I touch our baby’s scalp
And our midwives say
Love, you are almost here,
And reach to help me from the water.

And our midwives say,
Mama, let’s move you to the bed,
And reach to help me from the water.
I lift my head, grunting.

Mama, let’s move you to the bed.
My hands grasp theirs.
I lift my head, grunting
My feet firm beneath me.

My hands grasp theirs
And a wave builds inside of me,
My feet firm beneath me,
My body pulled to the earth.

And a wave builds inside of me
As I reach for him,
My body pulled to the earth,
His long pink body suddenly in my arms.

As I reach for him
I birth our baby’s head,
His long pink body suddenly in my arms,
My husband’s hand against my knee.

____________________

My lips against
the soft dome of his head,
the scent of birth.
I understand. I know now
that one day, I will die.

____________________

Ode to the Placenta

You are a brief organ,
one that I called mine
out of habit,
though you were ours
from the beginning:
my body,
my son’s conception.
Months before I interlocked my fingers
below my belly,
you put out your roots,
a tangled bark,
and gently knit yourself together.
Together, our centers
thickened.

I was already a fierce mother.
My pulse roared
in my baby’s ears.
My blood rushed
through spiral artieries,
bathing him in oxygen,
nutrients, hormones,
our first bonds.
My body cradled him.
     Grow strong.
     Come gently.
     You are wanted and loved.
His small fingers
felt the pulsing cord.

You grew heavy
in a secret place.
My womb
was a water-filled cave
that we explored by sound –
the midwife’s body
bent over mine,
the smooth, plastic curve
of the fetoscope
against her forehead,
our baby’s heartbeat
a soft whoosh
behind your strong,
shy membranes.

In the dark room
where I birthed our son
into my hands,
you unknotted yourself
from my contracting muscles,
blood clouding the water,
the cord still pulsing
as you slipped
from my body.
I understood
as love hormones
poured through my veins:
you could not bear
to be parted from him.

Our son held out his arms
as my husband
cut the milky cord.
     My arms will cradle you.
     My breast will nourish you.
     My voice will soothe you.
My new body a mother’s,
soft and billowy and strong,
and our placenta crimson red
when we buried it
two weeks later,
pausing a moment,
beautiful organ, our tree of life,
before letting the earth fall.

____________________

Bio:
Katie lives in a bustling multigenerational home southeast of the Twin Cities, where she spends her days mothering her young son and tending to a small herd of dairy goats. She and her husband look forward to welcoming their second child in June 2015.

2 thoughts on “Birth Poems

  1. Pingback: Blessingway Poetry and Readings | Twin Cities Midwifery Blog

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