It’s a surreal thing, to work on a project for so long, pick it up, put it down, get distracted, imagine it will never come to fruition – in between I cared for my mother-in-law with Dementia and after that, in a crazy moment of inspiration, started a business with the small inheritance she left behind – and still I played at writing my book.
Somehow almost fifteen years passed. Then finally I realised it’s ready!
And now people are reading my book and finding me on social media and sharing their reading experiences with me, and hopefully others. Pregnancy and birth are polarising topics, along with breastfeeding, vaccination, sexuality, in fact, anything in which our bodily autonomy is challenged or violated. I always knew my story might challenge some readers, elicit unwelcome emotions, reveal gaps in knowledge or trigger memories of trauma. I always knew I was riding a boundary between my personal story and the stories of vulnerable others. It was not just important to get it right. It was VITAL.
So there were stories I didn’t include, even though they were relevant, poignant and powerful – because they weren’t my stories to tell. I will always regret that I couldn’t include everything I knew, everyone I met, and acknowledge every individual whose contribution helped progress improvements to Australian maternity services. And there are many. The picture above is just a small number of amazing colleagues who came to support my book launch. I feel totally honoured they showed up to help me celebrate. Their support means the world. Every one of them a unique, generous and ethical human I’m proud to have known.
I worked on this book for such a long time. Finally achieving this goal has left a small hole in my life. I have started a new project, deeply personal, less political, and I don’t know if existing readers will embrace it. But when I started to write Being Born I never knew whether any reader would embrace it either, so I’m intrepidly forging forward with my project. What will be will be.
Back in 2005, I asked Dr Sarah Buckley, author of Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering, to sign a copy of her beautiful book for me. How unbelievable it feels that she now asks the same of me for Being Born. She wrote:
In this beautifully written memoir, Jodie generously shares the stories of her own four births and family life to background the important gaps in maternity care systems and the critical work of birth activism. What does it feel like being born is grounded in the sweet (and often ironic) details of domestic reality, while also offering inspiration and tools for paradigm-shifting activism. As anthropologist Margaret Mead says, ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.’
Dr Sarah Buckley, Author, Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering
Dr Sarah Buckley and me, 2021.