Birthing My Feminine Soul

I lay in the hospital bed with my legs in the stirrups.  I had given birth four times already, but this time I was both the birther and the birthed.  I was done having babies so I was having a simple procedure done to eliminate the monthly struggle that comes with being a woman.  Everything was going fine until my body suddenly reacted negatively to the pain medication.  It started with numb lips.  I asked if that was normal and the next thing I knew I couldn’t talk.  I knew the words and I could move my mouth, but I couldn’t say what I wanted to say.  Soon my consciousness seemed completely disconnected from my body.  I could think rationally and nod my head in response to questions, but I couldn’t speak.  I could only use my body when the function required one step.  I could move my hand, but I couldn’t do anything with it.

My body shook uncontrollably.  “Are you cold?”

I nodded my head.  I didn’t feel cold, but I knew I probably was.

They moved a heater over to me.  “Can you feel that?”

I shook my head.  All of a sudden I started crying uncontrollably.  Then I was laughing.  Worst of all was my inability to speak.  I wanted to shout and scream and let the doctor know that I was fine and I understood what was going on and I felt nothing, and yes, it was okay if they continued on with the procedure.  But I couldn’t say anything and the doctor and nurse had no idea what to do.  Like a newborn baby, my body was not under my control.  I was simply a consciousness in a body that I didn’t feel fully attached to.  I felt that symbolically I had become a baby, much the way I have spiritually become a baby in the last several months.  Once the effects of the medication wore off and I regained control over my body again, I realized how powerless a newborn baby must feel.  No wonder I see sheer delight on the face of my two year old because she just learned to jump.  That ability to master something that we previously had no power over is amazing.

Giving birth can be an empowering experience, but being birthed feels powerless.  Being the birther of my own feminine soul has been empowering, at the same time that it has made me feel powerless.  When we give birth, we take something precious within us, something we have created, nurtured, and hidden inside, and we send it out into the world.  The life we have brought into existence needs a lot of care, patience, and nurturing at first, but once it grows in its ability to control itself, it has the power to change the world.  This is what happens when we give birth to our feminine souls.  This precious life and power that is hidden in us can awaken through birth.  After a time of nurturing, we send it out into the world to awaken the feminine soul of the world.  It is through our individual births and awakenings that we awaken the collective female consciousness and change the world.

Two years earlier I began the labor pains that would bring about the birth of my feminine soul.  I was in labor with my last child.  It was 1am the night before she was born and I couldn’t sleep because the pain was too great.  I went downstairs and turned on the tv, a dangerous prospect at that time of night.  After flipping through half a dozen infomercials, I came to a documentary on health care for women in Afghanistan.  As the pain swelled in my abdomen I watched women giving birth in dirty run down hospitals, most of them having no hope for their baby’s life.  One woman was asked if she was worried, as the doctor tried to resuscitate her premature baby.  Her eyes bore into mine as she said, “No, she will live or she will die.  That’s the way it is.”   I thought about the life within me and the joy that I felt in between contractions, knowing I would soon meet this new little human who would change me.  I wept for the mothers who were bereft of the hope I felt.  I wept for the women who suffered from fistulas, acid burned faces, and painful infections.

These weren’t just some women on the other side of the earth. They were me and I was them.  For a moment we shared the pain and burden of being a woman on this planet, and I was forever transformed by that moment.  I attribute this power of connection to the Divine Feminine, Heavenly Mother in all her glory.  She is the midwife who patiently, lovingly guides us through our labor pains and helps us to birth our own divine feminine souls.  This experience changed my consciousness, but I felt powerless to do anything for my sisters in developing countries.  The next day I went to a brand new hospital and gave birth to a healthy baby girl.  As I looked into her eyes, I saw the beauty and value that existed in her precious gift of life.  Though she was powerless to do anything for herself at that moment, her birth alone had changed the world around her.  Likewise, though I felt powerless to help my sisters who were suffering in other parts of the world, my birth and awakening to a consciousness in which they resided was one small part of changing the world.   As I nurture my feminine voice and power, it will grow into a precious life that I can send into the world to change the feminine soul of the world and empower women everywhere.


Jenny graduated from BYU with a bachelor degree in humanities. she teaches yoga classes and spends her time hanging out with her four kids, reading, writing, and running.

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21 Responses

  1. spunky says:

    This line is absolutely beautiful: [Heavenly Mother] “is the midwife who patiently, lovingly guides us through our labor pains and helps us to birth our own divine feminine souls.“– such peace, majesty and strength come from this that is breathtaking!

    However…. not every woman gives birth. Or can. Or wants to. Not all women menstruate, and not every woman has a vaginas or uterus (by nature or by disease or by surgery). So “so I was having a simple procedure done to eliminate the monthly struggle that comes with being a woman” didn’t work for me on a number of levels that would only detract from this post if I pointed them out. Likewise, “For a moment we shared the pain and burden of being a woman on this planet“… perhaps if the term, “childbearing” was added to woman, it would be a better balance… because again, not all women can, will or do have babies… and while I wrestled with stating anything on this topic in your lovely post, I came to the conclusion that in making female divine relationship about birth, I only read an echo of the same rhetoric of some members of the the church who preach that ‘women have motherhood, and men have priesthood’ have been saying …and hurting me with for decades…and that made me uncomfortable.

    Both men and women have femininity (and masculinity!) and can be feminists. Both of us experience the birth of the life of feminism within our souls. In this, you have created a beautiful parallel for possibly the majority of childbearing women that I wish would have been a part of the Exponent Birth Series from January!

    • Jenny says:

      You make some good points and I appreciate your criticism. This post was difficult for me to write for some of the reasons you mentioned. Of course this is just my experience with my own feminist awakening and I realize that it is not universal. The idea of birthing my feminine soul resonates with me and my experience. I think there are so many ways to relate to a feminist awakening that resonate with an individual’s experience in life. My experience is only a part of that. I think the differences in our experiences are beautiful. I probably should have expanded more on the complexities of it, but I pretty much stuck to my own experience. I realize that won’t resonate with everyone. I think the one universal thing in this is that Heavenly Mother helps us each on a personal level to achieve awakening. For me, that has been as a midwife, helping me to give birth. For someone else, it will be different. Also, when I mentioned that I shared the pain of being a woman on this planet with all other women, I was talking about universal pain, which included all the pain women experience. For me at that moment, I was physically experiencing the pain of labor, but on a psychological, philosophical, and emotional level, I felt a universal feminine pain of infertility, rape, abuse, neglect, every pain that women experience. I think that is what a feminist awakening is in part, an awakening to an awareness of feminine pain and joy beyond our own. Thank you for helping me to broaden this out. I hope that it alleviates some of the discomfort you felt with my post.

    • April says:

      I do not think Jenny was saying that giving birth is the way all or even most women experience a feminist awakening, nor was she saying that a woman must have these experiences. She was describing her personal experience. There is no such thing as an experience that is universal to all women, because all women are different.

    • spunky says:

      I see it now, Jenny. Well done. I am hyper sensitive in many ways, and hope that my comment was not hurtful. In no way did I intend to be hurtful or dismissive; this is a powerful piece, and you should be proud of it.

      • Jenny says:

        No, on the contrary, I think it is good that you speak up for your experience so that people do understand that there are experiences outside of the box they are in. Your comments helped me to think more about the words I use and how they might affect others. There is so much pain around the motherhood concept and I would not want to cause other women undue pain. I have felt enough myself and I just want us all to heal from this deep wound. I remember reading your story from the Birth Series in January and it was very powerful to me.

  2. Caroline says:

    Lovely post, Jenny. I love reading about feminist awakenings, and it’s poignant that you found your feminist self being birthed at the same time you birthed your daughter. I also absolutely love the idea of Heavenly Mother being midwife to our feminist awakenings. Thank you for sharing this experience with us.

  3. Mraynes says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience, Jenny! I think a lot of Mormon women come to feminism through motherhood in one way or another (this is also probably why so much of our work skews toward this subject, for better or for worse). Your post resonated with me, I too have felt called to action through my experience with pregnancy, labor and early motherhood. There is so much we can do to help women in this realm and I think it is beautiful that you came through this awareness through your own experience and spiritual inspiration from our Mother. Thank you for the image of Heavenly Mother as the midwife to our feminist awakenings, it is truly beautiful and one I will ponder for a while.

  4. April says:

    I love that you feel a connection to Heavenly Mother. I honestly can’t say that I feel connected to her. I think of Her as my Absentee, Noncustodial Heavenly Parent, but I think that is due to my difficulty overcoming my patriarchal culture. It is good for me to hear testimonies of Her, like yours.

    • Jenny says:

      Thank you April! There sure is a lot of patriarchy to tear down before we can all feel fully connected to her. I appreciate your perspective.

  5. Aimee says:

    “Being birthed feels powerless.” That is a very interesting way of thinking about an awakening of any sort–the realization that new knowledge and experiences usher us into a world we didn’t see before and we can’t stop seeing (even if we want to!). That has certainly been my experience as a religious person and as a feminist, among other things. The process of entering a new world does feel powerless, but I love how recognizing and naming it becomes empowering. Thanks for offering new ways for me to think about that today.

    • Jenny says:

      Exactly! Thank you for your thoughts!

    • Rachel says:

      The line “Being birthed feels powerless” stuck out to me, too. I have never considered that before, because in my one experience giving physical birth to another, it truly felt like she was cooperating with me. While she is still dependent, she has never seemed powerless.

      With that said, I found the metaphor(s) to be very fruitful, and I loved Loved thinking of Heavenly Mother as a midwife. It tastes true to me.

  6. Melody says:

    Jenny, what a remarkable essay. I’m not sure quite how to say this, but I feel a wonderful sense of connection with you through what you’ve described here. Whether or not we have ever physically given birth, women share the birthing experience of feminine awakening and empowerment. We are each others’ midwives in this way to. We encourage, comfort, and assist each other all along the process. It is a holy act. Thank you for allowing us to share this with you.

    I especially loved this: “Being the birther of my own feminine soul has been empowering, at the same time that it has made me feel powerless. . .” Really amazing and descriptive. Heavenly Mother gave us a spirit. Earthly Mother give us a body, but the perfect union of these two, we create. We are the mothers of our own souls. I don’t think it can be any other way. Thanks again, dear little sister.

    • Jenny says:

      I love that Melody, about our earthly mothers giving us bodies, Heavenly Mother giving us a spirit, and we create the perfect union of the two. That’s beautiful. In that sense we are in a three-way creation process with both of our mothers. Thank you for your thoughts.

  7. Cruelest Month says:

    I loved the imagery in your post and felt a connection to the birthing language despite never having experienced physical birthing.

  8. Laurie says:

    Thank you so much for this post. Your comment “…what a feminist awakening is in part, an awakening to an awareness of feminine pain and joy beyond our own.” really helped me understand why my journey is so painful. Because I have 5 older brothers, I learned at a very young age that I was limited. I thought it was just my experience because I was the youngest. I came to realize it was because I was a girl. As an adult, and especially in the last few years, I see inequality everywhere.

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