Those Other Mothers

For as long as I can remember, I've had a small obsession with pregnancy, birth, and motherhood.

I've theorized that my fixation began at the age of six, when I watched my brother come into the world. Being so young, I didn't understand and couldn't contextualize what was happening; my mother's shaking body, her moans of pain. But I could feel the anticipation of those around me, knew I had to watch closely for whatever happened next. After what seemed an endless wait of terrifying sobs (my mother) and oddly cheerful encouragement (the doctor, nurses, my father), my patience was rewarded. A miracle had happened. My brother was born.

As I've grown older my fascination with the lore of mothers hasn't diminished, but it has changed. I've come to realize that there is a narrative surrounding the trinity of birth limits the reality that no pregnancy, no birth, no motherhood is ever the same, nor is any ever truly free of pain. There is something so purely bizarre about how these two bodies morph; during pregnancy, during birth and then after, still. A cycle the world has witnessed billions of times over.

But perhaps because it is a story that binds us all together, we can't look away from it. Those who have not borne children have still been born of someone.

So in honor of all of us who have mothers, are mothers, or will become mothers, here are some books that veer away from the accepted canon of what motherhood is, and instead celebrate it as a peculiar and personal experience.