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On writing and motherhood

Updated: Jun 29, 2021

As we launch our first poetry evening for Baby Umbrella, I thought I would try to explain what writing means to me and how it links to my motherhood journey.

I’ve not historically been a huge writer, I've never had a diary and I never wrote poetry before I became a mother. I suppose the first reflective writing I did was in processing my births. The birth of my firstborn was in some ways amazing and in other ways traumatic. I remember feeling, after that birth, a real need and desire to write everything down. It was such an intense and vivid experience and I worried about forgetting it! I knew that I needed to process it and I didn’t really know how, so I started by writing the whole story down in as much detail as I possibly could a couple of days after she was born. In a weird way, once I’d written it down it seemed like I could in some ways put it to one side.

I didn’t write anything for another few months, caught up in the crazy whirlwind of my first baby. Trying to understand out what was going on sleep-wise, figuring out breastfeeding, I felt completely at sea. A few months in, stunned by this new rollercoaster landscape of emotion, I started writing a very basic diary, just simple things she'd done like milestones or what I was feeling, what was going on for me and her. I just felt the need to record this experience. I actually ended up writing that diary for six years! Just a few sentences every few weeks or months. It's fascinating to read back, I can see how much I changed throughout that period and how much I learned.

I had my second baby, another traumatic birth, and again I felt the need to write to process that birth. So I wrote my second birth story too. Around the same time I started training as a Breastfeeding Counsellor, and one of our tasks as part of our training was to write about our own breastfeeding experience. For the first time I wrote reflectively about this experience and it came out in a sort of poem. It wasn’t rhyming, it wasn’t particularly structured, but it felt the right way for those words to spill out. From that moment forward I realised that it was a really helpful way to process what was going on inside me and it's something I've returned to time and again.

At the time I had two (then three) really young children... life was pretty intense, pretty full. It wasn’t really what I had expected, the explosions and overwhelm, the tears and lack of support, and I poured it into writing. The poem form seemed perfect for the small snatches of time I found myself with and helped me to quickly process my feelings. So I’ve now got quite a big list of poems on the notes app on my phone that document my motherhood journey. I might even share one at our poetry evening if I'm feeling brave!

Are you curious? For many of us the experience of motherhood begins a time of huge creativity and creation. Why not come along and listen to some poems at our Mums poetry evening? Hear some of the ways other mothers have processed this crazy experience. It’s incredibly inspiring and uplifting and you start to feel that you’re not the only one who is struggling with intensity or feeling overwhelmed, or lack of status, or identity changing, or making choices, or figuring out your way, or any of the other myriad changes we go through in motherhood.

And why not put pen to paper yourself? Think about the feelings that are inside of you, try and express them. It doesn’t really matter what it looks like, you don’t need to share it with anyone, this is literally just for you. If it comes out and you feel like it does deserve to be shared, then come to our open mic, or start conversation with one of us! We'd love to hear from you.

Lastly, why not join the Mum Poem Press too? It's a great place for mums to come together and share their writing on motherhood. It's a very accepting, non-judgemental space and everyone is there for the same reason. Do join us!

With love, Laura x

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