My Home Birth: A Graphic Graphic Memoir by Christen Clifford & David Heatley

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

By Christen Clifford & David Heatley

If you want to publish a story about motherhood the week before Mother’s Day and not be a hideous cliché, it better be good. It better be vivid and real and personal and unique. Something like a totally raw comic strip about home birth, complete with shit and placenta, hatred and love, Facebook, The Daily Show, and hot naked photos of the majorly pregnant author. We thought you’d like that.

Christen Clifford is a fearless writer who has appeared on SMITH before as well as on stage and in many other publications. Her intensely confessional works are so intimate and honest they elicit more me-toos than TMIs. She met cartoonist David Heatley on the playground, as creative New York parents are wont to do, and read his graphic memoir in bed the day after baby Vera was [home]born. Christen immediately saw the story of her daughter’s birth in David’s child-like, evocative style. Now, quite fortunately, we can, too.

Home Birth 1

Home Birth 2Home Birth 3Home Birth 4Home Birth 5Home Birth 6Home Birth 7Home Birth 8Home Birth 9Home Birth 10Home Birth 11Home Birth 12Home Birth 13Home Birth 14Home Birth 15Home Birth 16

heatley-photo.jpgDavid Heatley’s book My Brain is Hanging Upside Down was published by Pantheon Books in the US and Jonathan Cape in the UK in 2008. Three foreign language editions are scheduled to be published in 2009. His performance for the 2008 tour, which included music, slides and breakdancing is documented on Google’s author channel on YouTube. A mini-LP soundtrack for the book, produced by grammy award-winner Peter Wade, was released by WonderSound Records in October ‘08. He has drawn covers for The New Yorker and sometimes collaborates on comic strips for the New York Times with his wife, the writer Rebecca Gopoian.

clifford-photo.jpgChristen Clifford is a writer and performer in New York. Her writing has appeared in SMITH’s Memoirville, Nerve, Salon, Identity Theory, Evergreen Review, and the Huffington Post, and is anthologized in Everything You Know About Sex Is Wrong (Disinfo Press). Her solo performance, BabyLove, premiered in Slovenia and later ran for three months Off Broadway at 45 Bleecker in 2008. She has performed at The Moth, PS 122, The Public Theatre, Town Hall, Galapagos, Classic Stage Company, and Joe’s Pub.
Photo by Justine Cooper Photography

116 responses

  1. Snowdriftd says:

    Love this! It’s raw, sweet, profane and uncensored…just like giving birth. Bravo, Christen & David!

  2. MissIve says:

    Awwwsome. My favorite part: “Somehow I’d forgotten that the pain was going to be diabolical no matter the location.”

    So glad you stopped by my site and left this link. I needed it today. Baby fever getting the better of me.

    David, love the illustrations, too.

    Well done. More, please.

    Miss Ive

  3. Kevin C says:

    Great birth story, well drawn!
    I actually laughed out loud. The “roving neanderthal” frame was hilarious. I’m thinking a comic compilation of birth stories called “Placenta and the Roving Neanderthal” would be great…

  4. Emily S says:

    I also really loved the “roving neanderthal” frame.The drawing was great. I loved the story also.

  5. Clarissa says:

    I loved the squash and the computer game. I laughed so hard - WITH you, not at you, at the normalcy. Thanks for documenting and sharing. Joy to you and your family.

  6. Dee says:

    Wow, that felt like more of a psychological profile of the storyteller than the tale of her homebirth. Honest, but kind of disturbing - all of the self loathing and doubt (I’m not good enough, demanding assurances and shooting them down, etc)… that made me sad. It was a bit more revealing of a total stranger than I expected… is that the point? Yikes. Very brave and heart-rending.

    The end result was beautiful, and congratulations. Looked like a happy “baby-moon”!

    (I homebirthed as well, bee tee dubs. I know you can say some crazy sh*t, but WOW this was so very sad).

  7. beeweber says:

    On mothers day had to take another read/look. I appreciated the honesty, humor and joy. The needlepoint title is fantastic - just can’t get enough needlepoint. Thanks Christen and David!

  8. A Really Graphic Homebirth | Strollerderby | Babble Australia says:

    [...] Read the rest at Smith Magazine. [...]

  9. Cara says:

    I LOVED this! I had three kids, 1 - induced, 2 - at home (2 days!), 3 - 10 minutes after I got to the hospital. I found the website for orgasmic birth, and was so inspired, I reviewed my birth stories . . . yeah, the pain is daibolical no matter where I am! LOL! I so related to all of that! Ok, my last birth was actually the easiest, but still . . . I dont think its sad at all, its (dark) human nature.

  10. Shannon Park says:

    I birthed with Martine and Karen too. I loved being home, but I truly hate giving birth. Diabolical pain is the right expression. I appreciate this story and the drawings so much. thank you!

  11. ceridwen morris says:

    Whoa. This is hilarious. I will pass along to anyone planning a home birth. I love it. Brilliant at the end; uploading pics. We’ll pay you a $1000 to sleep on our couch!!!!!! So good. So good.

  12. josh says:

    Wow, fearless and unsentimental (though I wouldn’t have minded a a tad more sentimentality). Heatley was the perfect choice to illustrate this tale. Bravo, bravo

  13. suaphCmami says:

    This made me laugh, get teary eyed and scared…i’m due in a few days and having a home birth also. Kudos for using the names of real NYC homebirth midwives!

  14. (Readings) 6/2 and 6/4 Knocked Up and Bad News « Rutgers Human Sexuality, Summer 2009 says:

    [...] My Home Birth: A Graphic Graphic Memoir. Christen Clifford and David Heatley. Smith Magazine, May 2008. [...]

  15. jenny says:

    blow it out your hairdo, dee.

  16. Can I save money by giving birth at home? | Brokelyn says:

    [...] have Slope writer/performer Christen Clifford writing comics about home birthing. Erykah Badu twittered from her Brooklyn home-birth early this year. Brooklyn midwives are reviewed [...]

  17. drake says:

    Ha ha great. Just off to bookmark this!

  18. Digital LCD Frame says:

    That was creepy, but also beautiful in some strange way. Thanks for sharing your experience, it was kind of educational for me.

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  20. maria says:

    Fabulous cartoon… But why oh why did you end up in the lithomy position (one of the worst positions to give birth in)? Was it your choice, did you really feel more comfortable that way?

  21. kevin says:

    I birthed with Martine and Karen too. I loved being home, but I truly hate giving birth.

  22. Lauren says:

    LOVE THIS! I’m planning a home birth in March, and this is just awesome. I love the final frame… that after it all you were just HOME. How great to bring your baby not just into “the world” but into your world.

  23. Best Netbooks Reviews says:

    Wow, fearless and unsentimental (though I wouldn’t have minded a a tad more sentimentality). Heatley was the perfect choice to illustrate this tale. Bravo, bravo

  24. itouch 32gb says:

    [...] My Home Birth: A Graphic Graphic Memoir. Christen Clifford and David Heatley. Smith Magazine, May 2008. [...]

  25. Flavorwire » Daily Dose Pick: Smith Magazine says:

    [...] latest addition is My Home Birth, a hilarious and uncensored graphic memoir written by Christen Clifford and illustrated by David [...]

  26. Nina van der Roos says:

    I loved this, wonderful, absolutely wonderful. I am a midwife in a home birth practice here in the south of the Netherlands. I have had to (almost zen) home births myself. As I read through the cartoon drawings I could picture so clearly so many of the births I have attended. I have sent this url onto my colleagues, they are going to love it !
    Kindest regards, Nina

  27. Punk Rock Childbirth Ed. | Being Pregnant says:

    [...] what it’s like to take one of my classes, but I do know that “My Home Birth,” a graphic novel about a home birth, is definitely punk rock childbirth ed. And I love it. It’s totally honest, [...]

  28. Give It To Me Baby – Rocks The Night On Tuesday Oct. 18th at M.O.M. | MAMAPALOOZA™ Features says:

    [...] Press),and  Everything You Know About Sex Is Wrong (Disinfo press).  Her graphic graphic memoir “My Home Birth” on Smith Magazine, with cartoonist David Heatley, was a pick of the week on Flavorwire, which [...]

  29. Sara says:

    Um, I know this was written 3 years ago and all, but I’m pretty sure you were at my house about, oh, 7 weeks and 5 day ago. It was my 3rd birth but 1st home birth. I had imagined a quiet, controlled, zen birth. Yeah. I shouted the f-bomb at the top of my lungs for approximately 2 hours straight.

    (And would do it all over again in a heartbeat.)

  30. Genaro Merales says:

    Where did you read this?

  31. Home Birth Story – in pictures | BOLD says:

    [...] here to read this hysterical comic about a woman’s homebirth. This entry was posted in General by [...]

  32. Home Birth Story - in pictures - BOLD says:

    [...] here to read this hysterical comic about a woman’s [...]

  33. Home Birth Story - in pictures - BOLD says:

    [...] here to read this hysterical comic about a woman’s [...]

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