Literary Laboring

An illustration of

A day late, and a bad joke too many, but for labor day… I was thinking about fictional depictions of childbirth. Not motherhood, mind you, but proper labor. I think this is something most of us mothers would rather leave out of our fiction, but I’m curious if there are brave folks out there that I’m missing.

If there are, tell me who! What are they writing about labor?

The only in-depth labor scene I can think of is at the beginning of The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields. (Irrelevant note: I tried to read this once, at eighteen, and couldn’t get into it. Then about a decade passed and I moved to Bloomington, Indiana–where part of the novel is set, albeit in an earlier time–and I moved closer to mommyhood myself. The second time I finished it.)

Anyway, here’s a bit from the opening of The Stone Diaries:

“What she feels is more like a shift in the floor of her chest, rising at first, and then an abrupt drop, a squeezing like an accordion held sideways… She breathes rapidly, blinking as the pain wraps a series of heavy bands around her abdomen. Down there, buried in the lapped folds of flesh, she feels herself invaded. A tidal wade, a flood.”

Happy Labor Day!


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