As I work towards developing a collection of poetry representing women as mothers for my MFA in Poetry at Southern CT Graduate School I am so fortunate to have my poem regarding postpartum depression / anxiety published in the Winter Issue of Matador Review.
This poem hopes to show how women can struggle with the thoughts and emotions of motherhood. This is not to diminish ourselves as mothers because we love our children so much, it is the expectations and lack of support which lead the thoughts and feelings that can be overwhelming. We must recognize the level of expectations, stress, anxiety that women face on a daily basis. We must learn how to support one other socially (be a good neighbor to new families stop being strangers) and as a society we should fully support mothers and partners with guaranteed Family Leave. Insurance companies should cover independent childbirth education, doula care and postpartum support of all forms. The United States is far behind in fully supporting our mothers and as a result families suffer. This poem is in hopes of showing how women’s physical and mental health are at risk when they have no support.
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“MARRIED WITH CHILDREN”
Something told me that if they had survived
my angers, my self-reproaches, and still trusted
my love and others’, they were strong.
— Adrienne Rich, Of Woman Born.
My mother would casually say,
I wish I could just die. This was usually
a prompt for me to clean my room,
do my homework or simply give her a hug.
But I understand now, as I promise
until death do us part or I will love
my children until my very last breath.
It is the promise of death I can
understand, on the very bad days.
Maybe a glass will break against my wrist
as I scrub remnants of chocolate milk
forgotten again in my son’s room. The blood
will drain out of me. Offering me
time off from this everlasting love.
I doubt my mother ever wanted
the permanence of death, just the bliss
of a day or two in a coma. To pause the constant
press of claustrophobia while listening
to bickering or laughing of children,
watching piles of laundry gather around
me on a daily basis. No matter what
this love til death do us part plays
with the enticing edge of a curb on a busy street.
After waiting a week’s long hesitation
for the joyful stain of blood on my panties
knowing I couldn’t comprehend another
who will love me until the very end.
Katherine Sullivan is a childbirth educator and doula who aims to develop a work of poetry showing motherhood as it truly is- magnificently beautiful even with all the harsh jagged edges. Katherine’s poetry confronts the social taboos of pregnancy, birth, and parenting. She challenges poets and writers to write about the honest physicality of birth as an empowering, beautiful and, at times, a heartbreaking moment. Katherine is a student at Southern CT Graduate School’s Full Residency MFA Program developing a thesis dedicated to Maternal Poetry. She is thankful for the loving support of her mentor, Vivian Shipley, her husband, Joe Selvaggio and her twin boys, Ezra and Jacob.