Bones of the Womb

By: Roksana Badruddoja  

I write with great pain and urgency fueled by restricting definitions of mothering, motherwork, and motherhood. Co-creating three high-risk traumatic—read as “troubled”—pregnancies over the past fifteen years required me to call on the unschooling that is deeply needed around our cultural imaginations of mothering, motherwork, and motherhood (including pregnancy, birth and termination). In this ethnographic narrative about pregnancy trauma, I set out to unexcise the messiness of mothering, motherwork and motherhood in order for a deeper understanding—a woman-centric shamanic understanding— of maternalisms to arise. What I hope to demonstrate in this tale is that the dominant maternal ideology—the fantasy of normative motherhood—has allowed high-risk pregnant mothers, especially WOC, to become a marginalized and invisible category and engage in mothering, motherwork and motherhood at high physical and psychological (and economic) costs. Here, I ask what do the voices of the most marginalized have to say? And, how can we insert ourselves into a story in which our experiences have a fuller role to play locally, nationally and globally? This is a story about what it means to participate in socially prescribed and sanctioned mothering, motherwork and motherhood during high-risk and traumatic pregnancies. And, I do so in order to challenge the myths of maternal ideology and reclaim marginalized mothering, motherwork, and motherhood. As a gender scholar and a queer mother of color to three fierce energy beings, my mission is to recognize the voices of those of us left behind on the margins and affirm the dignity of all people.

Pregnancy Trauma, Mothering, Motherwork, Motherhood, Healing
Identity and Belonging
Focused Discussion

Roksana Badruddoja

Associate Professor, Sociology & Women and Gender Studies, Manhattan College