Welcome to my Birth Story Project page!I am a mama and a writer (see homepage for more info) offering mamas fun, healing, creative writing workshops for you to write your baby’s birth story! I offer 3-hour workshops to get you started and longer, more intensive workshops over several weeks. *Previous creative writing experience is not needed.
Testimonials from previous workshops:“Shani is a gifted teacher. Her input and support made it possible for me to write out the chaos of my son’s birth––a gift to both him and myself. Shani created a sacred space for me to express myself and feel good about doing it.”––Svea, Mother of Tiyo “Through writing my birth story, I let go of my disappointment about not having the birth I’d hoped for and realized my long labor was a feat of endurance and a testament of love for my child. Now I think of my birth story with pride and tenderness.”––Kate, Mother of Avi
I also offer private workshops in a beautiful Berkeley yurt temple!
* Home-brewed Chai will be served and pillows and backjack chairs will be freely available.
* Cost varies depending on length of workshop. Sliding scale available.
And I offer tailored workshops in the privacy of your own home:
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a few friends who want to write their birth stories too and you prefer to meet at your convenience in your own home or appropriate location of your choice. I am happy to try to accommodate your needs to the best of my ability!
Here is a link to Birth Without Fear an amazing blog site and birth resource of women’s birth stories where I was interviewed about why I encourage women to write their birth stories. The author of the post Svea Boyda-Vikander summarized it beautifully into seven succinct reasons:
1. To educate and support other women
2. To commemorate the experience
3. To reflect
4. To preserve beauty
5. To change the world
6. To give to the child
7. To heal trauma
Why I want to help women write their birth stories:
I have always wanted to give birth. To be a mother. After giving birth to my now two-year-old son in 2011, I was in absolute awe of the visceral experience of birthing, of an altogether separate human being with his own beating heart, his own incredible mind, his own divine soul passing through me, a new life. As a writer I wanted to capture this experience and “bottle it” as writers do onto paper. I wanted to process it, make sense of it, sanctify it. And equally important, I wanted to create a keepsake of my son’s birth, his legacy of how he came into the world. But it’s one that I’ll never forget and one that he’ll never know unless I tell him one day or he reads my story, his story, our story.
Our shared story tells both of my birth as a mother and his birth as his own person. I was told only vague memories of my own birth by my mother and father, whose views differ entirely. I wanted to know more. How long was my mother really in labor, what did she feel, both physically and emotionally, exactly what time was I born, what was the mood. Basically, like all writers I wanted to know the details of my birth, not just the facts. But the details were lost in 37 years of history. It wasn’t until my son was born that my own mother happened to be sorting through old papers when she came across folded pages that when opened revealed words typed by an authentic 1976 typewriter and the title read : “Labor Report”.
The report was a generic questionnaire typed out by the hospital in which I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and given to all new mothers hours post birth. My mother, being who she is, filled it out attentively, in as much detail as a few lines per question can allow, and then forgot to hand it back to them. So it sat for 37 years sandwiched between other important papers until she gave it to me. My birth story. Although it’s more a Q&A than a story. But it’s mine. It confirms the time I was born, it explains my mother’s pain, it details when and how she went into labor and more.
All too often I hear women talking about their births so matter-of-fact as though it’s a dry news report. They medicalize the experience as conventional hospitals and OBGYN’s encourage. They talk about dilation, as in “I was 8cm…” without ever mentioning the miraculous organ that dilates––the cervix. They talk about “having” contractions as though they are thoughts, something cognitive when these powerful, often agonizing, sensations couldn’t be more visceral. The stories are often linear and begin with, “Contractions started at 6am….” Well what did that feel like? Where were you? What was the mood in the room? They say “my waters broke” and “I went into transition” without really explaining what this means.
In my Birth Story Writing Workshops held in a beautiful Berkeley yurt, a quiet, safe space filled with divine feminine energy I encourage women to dig deep into their experience and to remember what it felt like, what it tasted like, sounded like, looked like. So that when our children, curious and wandering, wonder about how the hell they got from being inside our bellies, to the outside world, will know. I feel as a mother that I owe this to my child. And to me. So I wrote and completed his story and printed it out on beautiful handmade paper and I’ve sealed it and will place it in his photo album until he is one day ready and wanting at age five or ten or twenty-one or thirty-seven to hear the story of how he was born.
I look forward to helping you create a keepsake story of your child’s birth!
“As women we honor our stories as something that came through us, as did our children, but are now bigger than us, our personal journeys. Our stories become part of our family’s legacy or our child’s birthright that can last for generations.”