Category: Clio Gets Personal

Breastfeeding During War

The fireworks began at 7 pm, and my anxiety, already made worse by sleep deprivation, was heightened. I had just returned home with my newborn from a traumatic birth experience, and we were struggling to learn to breastfeed and find a sleeping pattern. That evening, after a lot of fuss, I had finally put her… Read more →

Pandemic Academic: Mothering from the Home Office

Twelve years ago, Baby #2 fell asleep in her carseat on the way to the hospital for the weekly mother’s support group. Insomniac Baby #1 had taught us a crucial sanity lesson: let sleeping people sleep. So I picked up Mama, PhD from the passenger seat and settled in for some unexpected reading. Since the… Read more →

Ordinary Death in a Pandemic

On Tuesday, March 17, 2020, shortly after noon, my mother, Carol Lenoir Price Swedberg, died in home hospice at the age of 90. I had arrived to be by her side three days earlier despite the fact that COVID-19 had already started to disrupt travel and other aspects of our daily lives. Mom died an… Read more →

Dr. Fauci and My Mom

In these scary times, many of us find comfort in watching Dr. Anthony Fauci on TV. I like seeing Dr. Fauci for another reason: he rekindles memories of my mom, who died in 1990. Dr. Fauci was my mother’s doctor. For five years in the 1980s, she was a patient at the National Institute of… Read more →

An Imperfect Abortion Story

It’s probably not normal to fantasize about a better, less complicated abortion story, but since the current politics of sexual health and reproductive freedom are pretty much a colossal shitshow of complete insanity, let’s start there anyway. Here’s the abortion story I wish were mine: I wish I had been a carefree teenager or an… Read more →

Is a Historian’s Library an Archive or a Living Thing?

This week I purged my bookshelves. As a Ph.D. historian, it initially felt like a risky move — somewhere in between disowning my former self and cutting out part of my brain. In the end, though, I think the effect will be closer to pruning a big, old, tangled shrub so that it has some… Read more →

“The Egg” in the Twenty-First Century: A Family’s Holistic Healing and Cleansing Practice

In the early 2000s, my great-aunt performed a holistic healing act on my mother with an egg. My mother, sick and feverish in bed, hadn’t kept food down for days. My grandmother called her sister, my madrina at the time, and asked that she come perform the ritual — “the egg,” as we called it… Read more →

In Memoriam

Among the many things in academia that graduate school does not prepare you for is outliving your students and, in some instances, having them share their experience of dying. As I close out my academic career I think about the students I have outlived and I write in memory of them. I give them pseudonyms… Read more →

How I Met My Mother: The Story of an Unexpected Pregnancy

I was born seven weeks after my mother found out she was pregnant. I was not a medical miracle — I was a bouncing 9lb 14oz when born — but my route into the world was complicated by a series of doctors (all men) who repeatedly told my mother she was not expecting a child… Read more →

Labor, Birth, and Superstitions

On the morning that my daughter-in-law went into labor, a small bird crashed into our apartment window and lay dead on the terrace. At least that’s what I assumed happened when I saw its small black and yellow body lying on its side. Our internet research told us it was a Blackburnian Warbler, a bird… Read more →