by Emanuela Barasch Rubinstein
Delivery, by Emanuela Barasch Rubinstein, will be published this coming week, and as the launch date of 8th July approaches, we’re hosting an excerpt from Emanuela’s own blog on the origins of her novel:
Years ago, I ran into a classmate whom I hadn’t seen for years. I asked her how she was, and she replied, “You won’t believe it—I gave birth a week ago.” I complimented her for her slim figure. She smiled and said it was an easy labor, without complications, and that she was so happy with the newborn baby and glad to return to her daily routine. Despite her smiling face, as she spoke, tears began running down her cheeks. “Why are you crying?” I asked, and she responded, “I don’t know what happened to me when I gave birth. Something is broken; I don’t know what it is and how to fix it.”
After having given birth three times, having used my academic skills to examine the depiction of giving birth in fiction and films, and having taught fiction that includes scenes of labor, I came to understand that no single human experience is as repressed as giving birth. If we were to examine western fiction, films, philosophical and religious writings—even psychological research—we would have to conclude that this very primal act is largely ignored. Most people would compare it to other life-defining events: falling in love, marriage, separation from a spouse, illness, losing a loved one, or undergoing a trauma (accident, war, etc.). There are plenty of literary examples for all these events, but only very few examples of labor. I am not referring to couple of sentences about calling a midwife or going to the hospital. A full focus on the human experience of giving birth is almost missing in literature and films. …
I certainly felt the consequences of such repression. I think I can say that, implicitly, I’ve always feared giving birth. When pregnant for the first time, I shared my anxiety with my family and female friends. They all insisted that the pain and agony would be completely erased once the child was born. This did not happen. I love being a mother and it is a source of endless happiness, but I forgot nothing! … The body-mind relation is, of course, a complex issue. But when we read about a man suffering on his deathbed, we don’t dismiss his thoughts and feelings only because his body is decaying. Humans are made of both mind and matter; I believe in a holistic approach which takes both into account.
Delivery gives voice to mothers but also to those affected by the birth: grandparents, and young friends. Strangely, grandparent characters are very common in children’s books, but not so much in contemporary adult fiction. It would be rather difficult to find a full discussion on the emotional implications of becoming a grandparent, the changing role of grandparents, how past experience of parenting shapes grandparenting, and the fundamental change in the very perception of age and aging. In Delivery, a past trauma surfaces—emotionally bruising, yet heralding a change. …
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