On Giving Birth and Making Sense of it All

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Before giving birth to her first child, Hannah Gersen had hoped to find an anthology of birth stories. At The Millions, Gersen writes that Labor Day is just what she was seeking, though she didn’t discover it until after she had given birth. But she found that reading this anthology after giving birth may have been even “more helpful” than it would have been to read these stories during her pregnancy:

Before giving birth, I looked to birth stories as a way to prepare for the unknown, an idea that now strikes me as wishful thinking. But after giving birth, the stories I heard from other women helped me to make sense of what had just happened…

Readers of Gersen’s essay might come away with a larger lesson about what can be gained by reading literature: precise answers are hard to come by, but by reading about what others have experienced, we are given the opportunity to make sense of the events in our own lives.


Serena Candelaria is a Rumpus intern, and a self-proclaimed fiction addict. This summer, she worked at 29th Street Publishing and began writing a novella. She is currently a senior at Yale, where she studies Literature. More from this author →