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Constructing the (M)other

Narratives of Disability, Motherhood, and the Politics of «Normal»


Edited By Priya Lalvani

Constructing the (M)other is a collection of personal narratives about motherhood in the context of a society in which disability holds a stigmatized position. From multiple vantage points, these autoethnographies reveal how ableist beliefs about disability are institutionally upheld and reified. Collectively they seek to call attention to a patriarchal surveillance of mothering, challenge the trope of the good mother, and dismantle the constructed hierarchy of acceptable children. The stories contained in this volume are counter-narratives of resistance—they are the devices through which mothers push back. Rejecting notions of the otherness of their children, in these essays, mothers negotiate their identities and claim access to the category of normative motherhood. Readers are likely to experience dissonance, have their assumptions about disability challenged, and find their parameters of normalcy transformed.

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Chapter Fifteen: Confessions of an Inept Supermom (Carol Rogers-Shaw)


chapter 15

Confessions of an Inept Supermom

Carol Rogers-Shaw

Like Julie Kaomea (2005), I, too, felt “from the moment my daughter was cut from me, our separation was sudden, harsh, severe” (p. 81), undoubtedly influencing our journey forward. Kaomea described seeing her daughter six hours after birth, “in her fish-tank-like incubator, with a mess of wires hooking her up to a series of monitors, an intravenous needle in her bandaged arm” (p. 82). I, too, remember that image, captured in a Polaroid photograph now tucked away in a pink chocolate cigar box, along with a hospital bracelet and newborn bib emblazoned with a bright yellow and turquoise stork. The photograph, showing my daughter in her incubator a few hours after her birth, was taken as I lay in a dimly lit treatment room with my own intravenous needle pumping burning magnesium sulfate through my veins to treat postpartum preeclampsia. I remember sobbing because I couldn’t see my daughter, hold her, kiss her. A nurse, recognizing my misery, took the Polaroid snapshot and brought it back to me, but like Kaomea, all I could think was, “How did this happen, what did I do wrong?” (p. 82). As I look at the photograph now, I see a beautiful baby girl that I’ve always loved with fierce protectiveness and pride, and I still feel the pain. Not the pain from the cesarean surgery, but from the overwhelming sense of not being good enough.


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