Mothers First

Poem by Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton

The series comes to an end

Through our limited series, Mothers First, you’ve heard from women and experts as they share their stories of fighting through bias, cycling on and off Medicaid due to their status, the vital role of midwives and doulas, and domestic violence during pregnancy. Each episode has debunked myths and shed light on the challenges of pregnancy and motherhood.

To sum up our series, join Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton, former City of Houston Poet Laureate, as she shares her poem on motherhood.
You can watch Deborah recite her poem, get more information and watch episodes at the Mothers First webpage here.

Thank you to IMH Houston and the Houston Endowment for partnering with us for this series.


When I decided to become a mother
People warned me
How hard it would be
That having a child is
Like forever having your heart
Go walking around
Outside your body
But after birthing
Two hatchlings into the gulf
I have come to know motherhood
Is not being any less than human
It is more about learning how to envelope the sea

It is watching your skin soft to slick to sucker to cradle
Trading your blind spot for the infinity of sightlines
Each pregnancy’s surge of hormones
Turning you more cephalopod
And if I never believed in evolution

My daughter confirmed me a sea monster
My son made me more Ursula
More sea witch in drag
My confidence has been a constant in camouflage
My spirit has seen the bottom of the ocean more times than I want to admit
But my children

Give the poor unfortunate of my soul venom
And a song
Give me a reason to plot and scheme us into a better sea
Made me unearth myself from the sand every dawn
And dream

Did you know that an octopus has 3 hearts?
One to take all of the rejection life sends
And other two to make sure that it has something to breathe for
The midnight risings often feel of palpitation
Their tangled sleep is me wrestling with myself
The most annoying parts are when I see too much of my ink in them

This world has tried to tell me
I can’t have it all
The abyss and the surface too
I respond with my children’s constricting laughter
We tighten and choke
The doubt that we can be this and bigger

Don’t you know that a kraken
Is merely a woman
With too much to lose to the sea
That if you come for her offspring
She will drag you under
Did you know that a mother has enough strength to swallow a ship whole?
Davy Jones is a just woman after too many miscarriages
I have a heart in that locker too
I know what it’s like to be a mile-long myth

To have to balance being visible
With just being
A bubble gurgling through self-conscious waters
But I wouldn’t trade a limb for them
Wouldn’t beg for bones or legs
I am happy drowning my sadness
In their salt-water cure-all

At the end of the day
When we have been stretched to distant oceans
When the pirates of work and school and sleep and stage
Have tried to steal our unison chest thump
And propulsion
We be devilfish
Be the things mermaids fear and envy
Make man into nightmare
And expectation into sinkhole
We are not hard

We are not a divided tether
We are an eight-legged doomsday
Are unity town terror
Our tentacles tangling us betwixt one another
Motherhood is a monstrosity waiting to surge
It is a strangling safety
It is knowing
That you have all the reasons to whirlpool
And are just waiting for the moment
To release