Everyone has a mother. Many of us have children in our lives, even if they aren’t ours by blood. Children take a lot of work. After Jessica Bates gave birth to her first child in 2014, she wrote poems about birth, motherhood, breastfeeding, and sleepy baby days. She also wrote about fears that come with mothering, and the bond of family across generations.
Jessica wanted to bring to light some of the issues, complications, joys, fears, and major feelings that parenting bring out. With encouragement and support from her writing club The Paper State, she birthed her second child in the form of this book.
Birth & What Came After: poems on motherhood was published on May 9, 2017. It’s available on Amazon (in print & on Kindle) and in local Nashville boutiques, including From Nashville With Love & Atmalogy.
You can hear Jessica Bates and Barbara Demske, founder of The First Latch breastfeeding community, talk boobs, babies, VBACs, and beyond on episode 2 of The First Latch podcast. You can also hear Jessica read the poem Weaning there, the poem that Barbara connected with while feeding her (probably) last nursling.
Jessica has twice been a guest on Everyday Poetry with Sandee Gertz on Radio Free Nashville. The first show featured Birth & What Came After, and the second show highlighted Jessica and Sandee’s female writing influences.
Since releasing Birth & What Came After, Jessica has connected with mothers in person & online who have all been in the trenches of fear, loneliness, and soul-crushing love that are the postpartum period.
In March, Jessica took over the No Bullshit Motherhood instagram account for a few days and shared her poem Feeding from Birth & What Came After, as well as a portion of a piece on her recent miscarriage. She received such an outpouring of love, support, empathy, and commiseration that she published her full miscarriage piece in hopes that it will help others heal as it helped her heal.
*The cover photo for Birth & What Came After was shot by the incredible Nashville-based international wedding photographer Jennifer Cody.*