Call for Birth Short Stories

Posted on Sep 4, 2011 in Birth Stories, Birthing | 5 comments

I love reading birth stories but sometimes I find them a little long. As someone who is still writing my 6 month old’s birth story, I recognize that it’s often really hard to decide what details to put in. How much back story is necessary? Which twists and turns in the story need to be put in? How many TMI details do I feel comfortable sharing?

For the person telling the story, it is all gloriously relevant. Every action, reaction, in-action, every word, every intervention, every moment…it all coalesced into the birth experience of that mama. As a means of documenting a life-changing event it is understandable that mama wants to get all of it down. Not to mention, some of the back story or early seemingly insignificant events take on meaning as the story progresses, explaining why things were done or not done.

I’ve read a lot of birth stories and I see how they change depending on the audience. The ones posted on forums within days of the birth are heavy on the details, plot point after plot point, this happened and then this happened. The ones I’ve read in Mothering magazine may have less details and more dialogue, more thoughtful reflection, more arc.

It occurred to me that a shorter birth story forces you to really boil it down to the salient details. What stood out for you from that birth? Was it the time of day? The way the room looked, the shadows on the wall? Was it the care you received? The interventions you either asked for or refused? Was it the person who held your hand? Was it the baby’s gender? Or the baby’s health? If you had to tell your story in 100 words or less, what would you feel was absolutely vital to share?

So I’m putting out the call. I want to hear your stories. I want to hear the most important parts of your birth stories, the parts that resonate with you right now, in this moment – because certainly the details that matter now might be totally different than the ones that mattered in the first days postpartum, or that will matter when your baby is 20.

The Rules:

  1. Your story must be 100 words or less. I will not post stories that are 101 words or more. I will email you back and ask you to shorten them. I realize that this is a totally random arbitrary number but it gives us a framework so I’m going with it.
  2. You can do whatever you want in those 100 words. It can be a poem, it can be a paragraph, it can be point form, it can be a haiku. It can rhyme, it can be complete sentences or it can be fragments. As long as you put whatever matters to you in that story.
  3. If you choose to give it a title, the title will not be included in the word count.
  4. You can submit more than one story. Send one for every birth if you like. Or if you want to, you can write more than one about a single birth as long as you are clear that they are describing the same birth and you were interested in comparing points of view, exploring multifaceted emotions. My hope is that each one can stand on its own. I’m not interested in multiple short stories that just continue the same story; I don’t want a mini-series. If you write more than one about the same birth, please add a note indicating that both stories are for a single birth and I will post them together.
  5. You may include 1 picture with each story.
  6. Send your stories to by September 30, 2011 at midnight PST. Please add your name as you would like it to appear and the link to your blog, twitter or facebook pages if you want me to post them.
  7. Depending on how many I receive I will begin posting 5 each day starting October 1, 2011. I reserve the right to change the number posted per day. I will post every story I get.

This is not a contest. There is no winner and no prize. I just want to hear what is important to you and I think others want to hear it too.

I look forward to reading and sharing your birth short stories.


  1. I’m someone who writes blog posts that seem to go on forever – this will be a great challenge and a lot of fun for me!

    Will you accept a Word attachment, or do you prefer cut & paste into the email? Does the title count toward the word count? What about photos?
    .-= Alicia C.´s last blog ..I haven’t Worn My Wedding Ring in Almost 3 Years! =-.
    Twitter: amccrenshaw

    • My blog posts are always too long too. I’m working on that.

      As for picture and title, I was thinking about those last night and was coming here to add info for those. Title will not count in the word count. You can send (1) picture per story.

      I will take stories in the body of the email or as word attachments.

      I really look forward to yours. I agree – it’s a fun challenge. I’ve had fun trying to write mine.

  2. This is such a great idea. I’m super long winded though I’ve gotten much better from blogging, tweeting etc. But I actually don’t have an official birth story because they turn into epic novellas! I might work on this.
    .-= Hillary´s last blog ..Peace Begins With Me: A Mother’s Hope for Peace =-.
    Twitter: hillaryboucher

    • None of my three birth stories is finished either. I hope you’ll join in the fun. I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes for everyone.

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