There Are Words
By Courtney Amber Kilian
I didn't write while I was pregnant with you. At least not like I did prior. Tiny journal entries here and there, and then weeks without anything.
I'm grateful for the moments I did record, but also grateful for the long spaces of quiet. Grateful that I knew somewhere deep I needed to be present. To process your growth. Not record it.
Pregnancy needed to be about experiencing.
About inhabiting my body deeply so that I could heal my wounds before you arrived.
Someone told me that creativity is depleted while pregnant. All of it goes into making you. That the flood gates would open after your pop into the world. And, they did.
Even in the no-sleep daze of those early days, I made entries. Felt like now is the time. Record this. Note that. This is something I won't want to forget.
Those first visceral moments:
Your body entering this world, that pop of your head emerging from me.
The midwife: reach down and feel your baby’s head.
The first touch of your silky soft hair, our warmth tangled up in each other.
That feathery whisper of skin, your arm around me, our first hug.
You are now ten months. And I've been writing since. About pregnancy, about your birth, about midwifery, about the female body, about those early days, about every day.
It feels important. Like the most important work I've undertaken.
And, even if it’s just for me now, and for you to read later—even if we are the only audience this work knows, it still feels important.
While I was pregnant, I told a friend, I just don’t know where to begin, where to find the words. I wish I could describe it. It’s a miracle, but that’s not enough.
She said, You can’t. It’s life. It’s been done over and over. And it is a miracle. But, there are no words. It’s all been said, and it’s all cliché.
This struck something deep inside me.
There are no words.
As someone who loved words, how could there be no words? Could I leave it at that? I spent the next eight months trying to find the words. It was as if she offered me a challenge that I had no idea would consume me subconscious. Because for most of the pregnancy, it was true, there were no words. It was only feeling, only distinctly being in my body.
But, there are no words persisted. It rooted itself.
There are words. I just have to reach into a deep, different place for them. A well I never knew existed. What I’m writing these days is that reaching, that discovering, that connection to the dark waters of the womb we all came from.
And, I've been writing and writing, digging deep into that earthy well to find the words. Words built on ancestry and simultaneity and nature and gravitational pull. Words connected to ocean tides and hawk calls and bee colonies and the super natural. Words of muscles and cells and breath and bone. I'm playing with language. And, it feels good to play.
A writing teacher once told me to make time to just get messy, to get in the sandbox and play.
And I've climbed in with you by my side, exploring each new granule.
These early drafts are fragile, precious, effervescent. Just like your early days. Hands to stone, dirt, grass, window for the first time. It’s as if I’m writing for the first time—filled with that willingness to explore, play, and get messy.
I won't say what I've discovered yet. These drafts hold magic and they need more time to marinate, more time to expand and swell, to become. They feel like pregnancy. I'm holding them close.
My wish is that when the project becomes something that is ready to be read and critiqued and processed by others that I was able to find the words. The words that stretched me beyond cliches, beyond me and you, so they could speak to anyone who has carried a child, and to those who have not.
A friend gave me Letters to a Young Poet, and I was struck by an early passage, which I’ve been carrying inside me these days, giving myself permission to just create:
“Everything is gestation and then birthing. To let each impression and each embryo of a feeling come to completion in itself, in the dark, in the unsayable, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one's own understanding, and with deep humility and patience to wait for the hour when a new clarity is born: this alone is what it means to live as an artist: in understanding as in creating.”
And, this is my wish for you, daughter: to always allow yourself to play, to get messy, to follow creative impulse, and listen deeply to that intuitive drum beat that rises within: this is your compass, and you are my greatest creation.
Courtney Amber Kilian - Courtney Amber Kilian is a writer and gentle yoga teacher. She received her MFA at UCSD, and loves working with others to inspire their creativity, deepen their intuition, and use writing and yoga as therapeutic practices. Want to breathe and write with her? Join her newsletter, visit her on the web, and follow her on Instagram @Om.And.Ink.