Commissioned for BBC Radio 3’s experimental radio strand, Deliverance was a radio poem blending the words of Lemn Sissay with the audio diaries of five women in their final days of pregnancy.

Poet Lemn Sissay MBE was without his birth family until he was 21. Since then he can count on two hands the number of times he’s met his mother.  He realizes that the nine months he spent in her womb are the only time they were truly connected. Yet only his mother has the memory of it.

Pregnancy’s ordinary, yet mysterious. The inner workings of a pregnant woman’s mind and body are veiled, private. Yet five women nearing childbirth from as far afield as Russia, Bangladesh and Manchester reveal what many are too fearful to admit to. 

We hear Nikki, a surrogate mother determined not to bond with her baby. Sally weeps quietly in fear at 4am; if only she’d known 9 months ago that her final pregnancy would turn out to be twins. Diptee writes to her husband sleeping next to her in bed, that he hasn’t been helping enough and that he’s missed out on the final days before two become three. Olya, just 25, considers which country to bring her child up in: Russia her homeland, London where she lives, or Amsterdam, Berlin, even America. And Lynda worries about losing the bond with her toddler Joe, as she reads to him in bed for the last time before the new baby arrives.

The pages of lists, the frantic shopping, the endless waiting. We’re inside this drama, listening in to the events, literally held in their hands, an unprecedented closeness to these women’s experiences.

Armed with hand held recorders Diptee, Olya, Lynda, Sally and Nikki tape their journey, from shopping trips for disposable knickers and maternity towels, to the moment they wonder whether it’s finally  started, if this is it. With their machines constantly by their sides, they record all hours of the day and night, their hopes as well as fears of what’s to come. They take life in their hands and the question of death.

 Deliverance bravely bares all, through labour right up to birth, and Lemn’s poem (with the women’s words) and his thoughts on his own broken childhood reveal how through the process not only is a new child born but a new woman.