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Lifting Up the Log #6: "A Splitting Open" by Alaina Scarano

Editor's note: When I first read "A Splitting Open," I was five months pregnant with my first child. I published it about four months later, just five days before giving birth. I still think of the first paragraph when I'm in the shower after a particularly hard day, and then I think back on my own history, remembering my first postpartum shower, when my heart was full of love and joy, but my body felt entirely unknown and riddled with strange pains and sensations. It was all I could do to whisper thank you as I soaped up and let muscle memory take over in my sleep-deprived fog.

Alaina mentions in her responses below that she usually tries not to write about motherhood, and I am so grateful that she made an exception in this piece. Her words have served as a beacon for me these past eight months, and I am honored that she trusted me with them. I believe that this kind of writing--the kind that doesn't shy away from the less glorious parts of being a mother/being a woman, but instead bears unapologetic witness to it--is so deeply important.

  1. How did you come up with the title? It came to me as I thought of the parallels between birth and sexual intercourse, between being a mother and a lover, of what happens when a person becomes a parent and those identities shift and split (or merge).

  2. What can you tell us about the inception of this piece? The week I wrote this in a flash prose class with Jenny Wortman, I had read April Bradley's "Like Water Flowing." I kept coming back to the way she described both her intimate moments with her husband and also the mundane, day-to-day life they shared. That week in our class we were focusing on movement in flash prose, and after my third reading of Bradley's piece this just came out of me. I usually try not to write about motherhood, but I felt like this piece wasn't just about being a parent, and it wasn't just about sex, and it wasn't just about identity. It was all these different things I wanted to talk about but wasn't sure how.

  3. If we could lift up the log of this piece, what would we see there? That the path to being a mother and a sexual being isn't linear. It's filled with ups and downs, it's hard to find your footing at times. You'd find a lot of messiness between paragraphs, between phases. But, to me, it was so important to get that part of my identity back to feel whole. Motherhood is wonderful, but it can be all-consuming. I never wanted to lose the other parts of myself to being a mother.

  4. If this piece were a small forest creature, what kind of small forest creature would it be? I'd have to say some kind of bird. Something small and unassuming, but isn't limited to the forest. In the end I hope this piece feels like a release, lifting off, a flying away. An escape to higher ground.


Are you a previous or future contributor to Gastropoda and want to lift up the log on the piece you published with us? Complete the form below:

Lifting Up the Log is an ongoing series designed to indulge our love for the story behind the story, as well as to give our beloved contributors an additional way to showcase the writing they have shared here.

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