Mothers set down birth stories in new workshop

A former English teacher, Korean language intelligence analyst and editor of The Rake is holding monthly workshops at Heartfelt to give mothers a chance to write their birth stories — with a cup of tea, a real pen and real paper.

“I call the workshop Yellow Light, Write because I’m encouraging parents to slow down and tell their tales,” said Jill Yablonski Kresse.

Regardless of writing ability, every mother has a story to tell, she said. Some moms who take the class spent years working to get pregnant, others are adoptive parents, and others feel overwhelmed. Many have not dealt with trauma or trying circumstances, but write birth stories as a gift to their children, Kresse said.

Kresse’s own birth story is set down in a journal she received while pregnant on bed rest at the hospital. She was admitted six months into her pregnancy, and after 11 days of bed rest, her doctors decided the baby was under too much duress and needed to be delivered. Kresse said it was an abrupt transition to motherhood — she didn’t have a crib, she hadn’t chosen a pediatrician, and many of her co-workers didn’t even know she was pregnant.

Amid the stress, Kresse took time to write and reflect. She paged through printouts of her daughter’s health records, pleased to see a doctor’s note that her baby had “quite a vivacious cry” at one day old.

Kresse said local moms have also appreciated the time to reflect at the workshops.

“They express gratitude for the two hours devoted entirely to themselves,” she said.

At the workshops, Kresse shares information on postpartum anxiety, which she suffered from after the birth of her daughter. Between 8 and 19 percent of women report frequent postpartum depressive symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“I’ve never had a roomful of chirping crickets when I bring that up,” she said. “It is such a common phenomenon, yet still so misunderstood and dismissed — even by my very own doctors when I tried to put a name to what was going on.”

Kresse lives in Fulton, and her parents own Harriann Upholstery near 44th & Beard. She plans to expand the workshops outside of Linden Hills as well, perhaps at area libraries.

“There are no prerequisites whatsoever and zero judgment,” she said.”A dozen strangers gather together and feel validation, by hearing stories similar to their own, while also trying to empathize with stories vastly different from their own.”

Upcoming workshop dates at Heartfelt are May 27 and June 24.

Photo by Sarah Bianucci