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The Mother of all Challenges

For parents, especially mothers.

By Sam The Doula (Blooming Miracle)Published 5 months ago Updated 5 months ago 3 min read
Image credit: @jelinasonnenbergbirthsvcs, IL, United States

Yesterday, I posted my entry to Vocal's Smooth Challenge. Here's my entry, and here's the challenge, if you'd like to have a look.

Me being me, and my work being what it is, the angle I took with this challenge was: what is smoother than a brand new baby? So I wrote about the soft, smoothness of a newborn infant. Their skin is utter perfection, but also, they are a blank slate of sorts, aren't they? Unmarked, like new snow. So much potential overflowing in their little selves. There is so much poetry there. I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote. It was probably a bit too long, really.

And then I thought about the softness and vulnerability of brand new mothers, to match the new arrival. I wrote about that. I thought about the magic of the two meeting for the first time. That is a moment that is unique and universal at the same time. We who are mothers, we know. There is nothing like it in all the world. I kept writing.

I had some wonderful comments on my little piece, both on here and on Facebook, including on my private, personal page. And it got me thinking: there is so much emotion and creativity in those early moments. It is low hanging fruit for poetry, surely!

So here's my challenge to you: write a poem about the moment you held your baby for the very first time. Write about all of it - the good, and the not so good. It can be magical and amazing, yes, but there's stuff that's difficult, and bits that are messy and raw and painful as well. Some of us feel broken in those moments, and some of us feel whole. I tell the women in my classes: we run the gamut of human experience during this time. There are highs and lows; ebb and flow. Don't stint, pour it all out, roar it out. I want to hear your story, your unabashed down-to-brass-tacks version of yourself, when you were at your most vulnerable, and most powerful.

I really do think this is a challenge, in the truest sense of the word. I think it will be challenging for a lot of people to stir this up. This is likely detritus that might have settled years since, and a lot of people will prefer to leave it undisturbed. Creation will probably spring easily from it, but all the stuff that comes with it, the strength of feeling - it can take you by surprise.


This is primarily for women who have given birth. But dads, adoptive parents and mothers who had an elective caesarean (an entirely different sort of courage) can give it a bash as well, by all means! The first moment you held your baby is a powerful one, no matter what sex you are, how your baby arrives, or how your family is made. For women who have just been through the messy and challenging process of birth, there is a whole other layer of emotion, layered under (or on top of) meeting and holding your baby, and it's this mish-mash of two intense experiences that is so easy - and maybe so difficult - to mine and express.

The nuts and bolts

The poem can take any form - haiku, villainelle, free verse. I don't think a limerick would suit, to be honest. But anything else is fine! It can rhyme, or not. I'd expect it to be in the first person, but then again, maybe not. There's no word count. Just be as raw and honest as you can.

There's no closing date. There's no prize - except kudos, I guess, and probably not enough of it. (That's an allegory for motherhood right there.)

I will be so thrilled if anyone joins this one that I'll tip the first five. Link to your piece in the comments below, and link back to this one in your piece.

Thank you for reading, and if you join in, thank you twice!

Special thanks to Naveed for some beautifully eloquent comments, which inspired me to do this.


Classes to help you prepare for birth and newborn care:

Writing ExercisePromptsLifeInspirationCommunityChallenge

About the Creator

Sam The Doula (Blooming Miracle)

Childbirth Eductator since 2011

Building a resource for mothers-to-be to feel informed and confident about their choices

You can find me on Facebook or book classes with me

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Comments (10)

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  • Daphsam4 months ago

    Here is my piece. Thank you for the prompt- it was an emotional write for me. https://vocal.media/poets/womb-to-winter-a-journey-of-life-s-seasons

  • Waseem Chem4 months ago


  • This is an amazing challenge! I'm not a mother and don't plan to be one so the only thing I can do is read all the entries to this challenge! Looking forward to it!

  • Donna Renee5 months ago

    Hi! Not wanting to get into a debate. Just pointing out the inclusion/exclusion here… Mothers who have an elective c section do give birth.

  • Heather Hubler5 months ago

    And here's my piece! Thank you for such wonderful inspiration today :) https://vocal.media/poets/my-love-for-you-fills-galaxies

  • Heather Hubler5 months ago

    I love this so much!! Each of my births were such unique experiences. I've already started my entry :)

  • Test5 months ago

    Sam The Doula your insightful post on Vocal's Smooth Challenge resonates deeply. Your poetic exploration of the smoothness of a newborn and the vulnerability of new mothers is both touching and profound. The challenge you've extended, asking writers to delve into the raw and powerful moment of holding their baby for the first time, adds a layer of emotional depth to the creative process. Your encouragement to express the highs and lows, the ebb and flow of that transformative experience, reflects the true essence of motherhood. I appreciate the authenticity and openness you bring to the challenge, inviting writers to pour out their stories without constraints. Kudos to you for creating a space for genuine expression and exploration.

  • Mother Combs5 months ago

    This is a great idea! I'll see if I come up with anything.

  • Daphsam5 months ago

    Love this idea! Wow, I will need to think about this. It was 26 years ago!!! Hopefully, I can come up with something.

  • Paul Stewart5 months ago

    Love this, Sam! Great idea for a challenge. you can count me in. I am off to read your smooth entry now too!

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