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Childbirth

  • I became hysterical and frightened and begged for sedation. And that was just the first prenatal visit.

  • I'm not sure if my husband is going to be there when I actually have the baby. He said the only way he's going to be in the room when there's a delivery is if there's a pizza involved.

  • Obviously there is pain in childbirth. But giving birth is also a moment of awe and wonder, a moment when the true miracle of aliveness, and of a woman's amazing part in that miracle, is suddenly experienced in every cell of one's body. It is in that sense truly an altered state of consciousness.

  • A mother never fully delivers.

  • I think of birth as the search for a larger apartment.

  • ... I wasn't very good about the pain. I started screaming for painkillers after the third contraction and didn't stop until my daughter was eating solid food.

  • My head rang like a fiery piston / my legs were towers between which / A new world was passing.

    • Audre Lorde,
    • "Now That I Am Forever With Child," in Arnold Adoff, ed., The Poetry of Black America ()
  • ... my babies tore out of me / like poems.

    • Audre Lorde,
    • "Change of Season" (1969), Undersong ()
  • Death and taxes and childbirth! There's never any convenient time for any of them!

  • In childbirth, as in other human endeavors, fashions start with the rich, are then adopted by the aspirant middle class with an assist from the ever-watchful media, and may or may not eventually filter down to the poor.

  • It seems to me that as my child was born I was full of agony and full of laughter. Then I remember that there was an earthquake, some cosmic catastrophe; the world opened up and all the stars fell, and I died. And when I woke again the world had never, never seemed so sweet.

  • 'Here's Pete, Junior, your son and heir,' Doc had said, and held up something that looked like a slippery fish in a wig.

  • Amnesia: The condition that enables a woman who has gone through labor to have sex again.

  • Hard labor: A redundancy, like 'working mother.'

  • Having a baby can be a scream.

  • ... my cousin Shirley, who never complains, screamed and screamed when she was having her baby. True, this was just during conception.

  • When my husband Edgar and I were courting, he said he couldn't wait to have a baby. It was only after we were married that he changed his mind and decided that I should have the baby.

  • Having a baby is definitely a labor of love.

  • All night I have suffered; all night my flesh has trembled to bring forth its gift. The sweat of death is on my forehead; but it is not death, it is life!

  • If God were a woman, She would have installed one of those turkey thermometers in our belly buttons. When we were done, the thermometer pops up, the doctors reaches for the zipper conveniently located beneath our bikini lines and out comes a smiling, fully diapered baby.

  • There were, in the beginning, seven children, each rising out of my great-grandmother's darkness every twelve or thirteen months like little full moons, following, even in birth, the quirky Jewish calendar. ... My great-grandmother conceived and bore them, I am told, with bemused passivity, as tolerant as the moon must be of her own swellings and thinnings and equally unconscious.

  • Birth is a bittersweet event ... a place where heaven and earth collide in a perplexing clash of hopes, dreams, facts, fears, questions, and expectations.

  • ... nature's sharpest pangs ... free thee living from thy living tomb.

    • Anna Laetitia Barbauld,
    • "To a Little Invisible Being Who Is Expected Soon to Become Visible" (1773), The Works of Anna Laetitia Barbauld, vol. 1 ()
  • Haste, precious pledge of happy love, to go / Auspicious borne through life's mysterious gate.

    • Anna Laetitia Barbauld,
    • "To a Little Invisible Being Who Is Expected Soon to Become Visible" (1773), The Works of Anna Laetitia Barbauld, vol. 1 ()
  • [On childbirth:] Like pushing a piano through a transom.

    • Fanny Brice,
    • in Norman Katkov, The Fabulous Fanny ()
  • Everybody was bustling about in a very annoying way, plumping pillows, chattering away about centimeters of dilation and how strong the baby's heartbeat sounded. Nobody seemed to have any interest in my heartbeat, and nobody, but nobody, was getting the picture here. I was not having a good time.

  • ... the loss of control that characterizes the Flume Ride of family life begins with the experience of birth — indeed, it is epitomized by birth. Labor turned out to be long, surprisingly painful, and most illuminating.

  • ... when you were born I held you wet and unfolding, like a butterfly newly born from the chrysalis of my body.

    • Joy Harjo,
    • "Rainy Dawn," In Mad Love and War ()
  • If men had to have babies they would only ever have one each.

  • Suddenly it seemed my little shut-in had been cooped up long enough. Suddenly it wanted liberty. It was coming like a locomotive headlight. It was coming quick as scat. God Almighty! Now this baby was helping. Now this baby wanted to be born.

  • Dancer / woman in childbirth / you alone / carry on the hidden navel-string / of your body / the identical god-given jewels / of death and birth.

  • nine months passed and my body / heavy with the knowledge of gods / turned landward, came to rest.

    • Sonia Sanchez,
    • "Rebirth," A Blues Book for Blue Black Magical Women ()
  • As often as I have witnessed the miracle [birth], held the perfect creature with its tiny hands and feet, each time I have felt as though I were entering a cathedral with prayer in my heart.

  • I'd rather see a baby be born in the world than to eat if I'm hungry.

    • Onnie Lee Logan,
    • with Katherine Clark, Motherwit: An Alabama Midwife's Story ()
  • Having a baby is like trying to push a grand piano through a transom.

  • little thing is brought in / nourishes from my breasts / i smile / i hold him / i know what tomorrow / is all about.

    • Wanda Coleman,
    • "Sweet Mama Wanda Tells Fortunes for a Price," Imagoes ()
  • The burning embers within me burst into flame / My body becomes a fire-lit torch. / Ho someone! Send for the mid-wife.

    • Amrita Pritam,
    • "The Annunciation," in Joanna Bankier and Deirdre Lashgari, eds., Women Poets of the World ()
  • Natural childbirth: a pain in the butt (or somewhere in that vicinity).

  • Two new beings are brought forth during childbirth: a newborn and a mother.

  • The revolting details of childbirth had been hidden from me with such care that I was as surprised as I was horrified, and I cannot help thinking that the vows most women are made to take are very foolhardy. I doubt whether they would willingly go to the altar to swear that they will allow themselves to be broken on the wheel every nine months.

  • Not alone is the child born through the mother, but the mother also is born through the child.

  • I have never heard two firsthand reports of childbirth that sounded remotely alike. The only thing that all women seem to have in common on this subject is a kindly desire to reassure you, the novice, and a natural tendency to discuss it over and over again.

  • I'll bet you one thing, if the man had to have the first baby there wouldn't be but two in the family. Yes sir, let him have the first one and the woman the next one, and his time wouldn't come around no more.

  • Before I had children I always wondered whether their births would be, for me, like the ultimate in my gym class failures. And discovered, instead ... that I'd finally found my sport.

    • Joyce Maynard,
    • in Nancy R. Newhouse, ed., Hers: Through Women's Eyes ()
  • [On home births:] In a house where there had been three people, there were now four, although no one had come in the door.

  • Giving birth is like jazz, something from silence, then all of it.

  • ... I am perpetually bringing or losing babies, both very dreadful operations to me, and which tear mind and body both in pieces very cruelly.

    • Hester Lynch Piozzi,
    • letter to Dr. Johnson (1775), in R. Brimley Johnson, ed., The Letters of Mrs. Thrale ()
  • Love set you going like a fat gold watch. / The midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry / Took its place among the elements.

  • The wife ought to have the first child and the husband the second, then there wouldn't ever be any more.

  • Ahhhhhhhh. There is nothing natural about natural childbirth. It is as close to a freak accident as anything I can think of. Why I picked a time like this to go off drugs.

  • To think we have the garment industry instead of nature to thank for the zipper concept when it would have come in so handy for childbirth.

  • ... one pain like this should be enough to save / the world forever.

  • ... childbirth is something worth remembering ... because when you forget ... you get pregnant again.

  • ... that epidural was better than the sex that got me there.

  • I remember being in tears at the hospital after Chloe was born, at the thought that someday she would have to leave home.