Faith, Family, & Focaccia

A faith and culture Mommy blog, because real life gets all mixed together like that.

Birthing Truth: Day 17 of the April Poetry Challenge

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For some reason the Gigglemonster  has been wanting me to tell him

“the story of when I was born, Mommy!”

This is a fun story to tell, of course, because it is such an intensely happy memory and it only gets better in the light of the delighted glitter in his eyes as he hears about his welcome into this world. On the way to school yesterday morning, however, it got a little tricky because he kept wanting more details. Plenty of such details exist — his was a nearly 22 hour labor — but those aren’t really details that are appropriate to tell my four-year-old. He wants more of the “Daddy’s eyes were full of happy tears” details, not the “Mommy used a lot of swear words Daddy had never heard her use” details.

Thankfully the drive is quite short so I made it out of the car without frustrating him too much by my non-responsiveness to queries about

“but how did I get out of your tummy, Mommy?”

All the same, the interchange has me thinking about what I will want to tell him once he’s really old enough to hear.


Birthing Truth



I will tell you the true story

the full story.

But this kind of fullness cannot be contained

in four-year-old words.

Right now I speak only of joy,

of smiles

and happy kisses

and wiggling baby body clasped in my arms for the first time.

This is all true – one of the truest moments of life –

but the birth of that truth is




Full of nine months of expectation,

whose waiting time was filled with growing, and dreaming, and wordless lullabies of love sung from my heart’s beat to yours;

but also full of aching, and discomfort, and fears of all the what-ifs that stutter through a mother’s chest to interrupt gestation’s rhythm.

Nine months of connection formed in darkness,

of intimacy without words

of sensation that reshaped my life, as much as it was shaping yours.

This is a fullness so much bigger than a distended belly can contain;

a fullness you cannot yet understand.

And then, of course, there is the pain.

the gripping,


all-consuming pain

of bringing into light the beauty formed in darkness.

It is worth the struggle, of course,

that is part of the fullness of this truth,

but that great purpose cannot negate the pain.

The Oh-my-God-I’m-going-to-die-





In those moments of excruciating, time-has-stopped slowness

it seems so far from true

that life can come from something that feels like dying.

And it is so clear

the only clear thing in the haze

that it is unfair!

Unfair that at the end I have to work,

to grab my knees and push,

expel the source of all this joy turned pain.

There is no choice.

You won’t return to your true nature

transform again from pain to joy

until I push you out,

share you with the world,

loose the secret, solitary bond.


And this is why, someday, I’ll tell you the full truth,

why I will let the story come – like labor pains – in surges of discomfort, even pain.

The story of how truth cannot forever live in the dark silence underneath your heart.

The story of how love held tight inside is both sacred and distressing.

The story of how birth requires suffering.

The story of how letting go can usher in new life.

These stories are important

Because someday you will need to know how





are all part of this transforming life.



Author: Serena Gideon Rice

In early 2011 my family moved our home, temporarily, from New Jersey to Milan, Italy. In the process I quit what had been my dream job conducting policy-directed social science research, to focus on my other dream job, raising our two young children. The three-year adventure was exciting, exhausting, disorienting, fulfilling, and countless other contradictions. It also birthed in me a desire to share my reflections on life's joys and challenges with anyone who cares to reflect with me. Now that we have returned to the US I'm finding that the new perspective I gained in Europe has come with me, and gives me a whole new way of interacting with my home. There's still so much to learn and share! I hope you'll share the journey, and add your own lessons to my daily education.

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