Tag Archives: mothering

Mother Power: A Birth Story Memory For Luis Manuel


I had my baby in a hospital with a mid-wife and not the dicky doctor who was there harassing me at the end of his shift.

“According to your chart, you’ve been stuck at five centimeters for quite sometime.” He hung the clipboard back onto the hook somewhere near the foot the bed. “I’m going to recommend again that you take the Pitocin.

He knew I didn’t want it, kept checking his watch, eager to get off the clock and home to his Thanksgiving dinner. Who could blame him?

I had been laboring naked on my hands and knees just fine before he came in and now my resolve was beginning to cave.

“Give us a minute,” Ines said to the doctor, dismissing him from the room. “You can do it, Michelle. The mid-wife will be here soon. You don’t need that stuff.” He rubbed my arm and looked me in the eye.

I nodded and he was right. Raewyn breezed in all lightness and air, and she got me out of that bed. She wanted me off my back because that’s no way to labor. She wanted me on my feet where gravity could do its work. She put me in the shower and directed Ines, to spray my hard, stretch mark-lined belly with hot water, telling me to sit on the tool in the shower, whenever a strong contraction took hold. They used natural forces to encourage my body to do its job. My cervix, went from five to eight centimeters dilation in thirty minutes.

I was feeling strong again and prepared, feeling in the room of hospital sounds and encouragement and somewhere else at the same time, and I pushed that little baby out into the world sometime after midnight.

After delivering the placenta and resting and holding the thick, black-haired nene to my breast, the nurses helped me to my feet so I could use the bathroom. One nurse guided me by the arm to make sure I didn’t faint or fall on the way. The bathroom was several steps from the bed and once inside a large bloody mass the size of the baby’s head came flying out of me, bouncing lightly on the floor, resting somewhere near the sink.

“Oh, that’s okay, don’t worry about that,” the nurse chirped, releasing my arm to grab for some towels to clean the mess up and avoid embarrassment. “That’s normal,” she continued.

I nodded and smiled, unfazed, unafraid of my body, and still high from my new mother power.

Stretch Marks


photo by ilona sturm


The first bands of stretch marks lined my inner thighs and lower back, places exposed by my black and white striped bikini, the year my body blossomed into womanhood, smoothing, widening, and scarring.

While swimming at the river, surrounded by sparkly granite rock, I would crane my neck back and turn my hip to see if these first scars of womanhood were visible to anyone else. I sucked in my belly too not realizing at all that it was nearly flat — as tight, and, flat, and smooth as it  ever would ever be.


I didn’t bother putting any kind of wives-tale-advice lotions or creams on my belly when I was pregnant — no cocoa butter, no honey butter, no Mederma. My mom had stretch marks; my sister had stretch marks; I would have stretch marks too. The tattoo on my belly, once a water serpent, stretched to the size of a thunder lizard.

My breasts grew too, from a 34A to a 36B, to a 36C, and by the time I had the baby, I was a 36D. Within the first two months of giving birth, I went back to a C cup. For somebody who had in the past hardly ever wore a bra, I sure had collected a lot of them.


My son breastfed for two years; by the end of those two years, he would drain the left breast quickly and say, “mama, chicanana side,” referring to the tattoo over the right breast. I ignored people who said that children should be weaned before they could ask for it by name and those who said I held him too much. He loved chichi. He stared at my breasts, patted them, rested his head on them and soothed himself to sleep. While nursing, he’d gaze up at me with eyes so big and full of love that each time it was as if I had never recalled being loved that much before.


photo by ilona sturm


By the time I weaned us both, he was capable of reaching his dimpled hand into my shirt, under my bra, pulling out a breast and latching on. I’d let him do it; sometimes I didn’t even notice.  Now, my breasts are stretchy and elastic, and somehow larger than before, or perhaps just longer, and they are lined with stretch marks, scars of motherhood, the kind that you don’t hide, or complain about, or call a sacrifice.