Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Birth Art


From the book:
One kind of learning comes from books. But the learning necessary for you to participate completely in your birth must come from you. In making birth art or journalling, just bringing an image to light can be surprisingly revealing (and sometimes healing). Listening to it speak to you can tell you even more.

Dreams, reverie and art all carry messages from the unconscious. When exploring birth art, "We must," as Carl Jung observed in his discussion of imagery, "take the consequences of messages received."

An active, gentile exploration process not only brings overlooked resources and strengths to conscious awareness, but identifies obstacles and inhibitions that might prevent you from using them.

Birth art doesn't have to be pretty, colorful or carefully planned. It is as raw, honest, and spontaneous as birth itself.

- England, Pam, and Rob Horowitz. Birthing From Within. Albuquerque: Partera Press, 1998. p.32
Last night, B-rad and i tried our hands at creating our own Birth Art. It was a very interesting process, and the book gives several suggestions of images to create. After some encouragement, B-rad agreed to do some art with me. We each looked at the book and the suggestions, and without telling each other what we were doing (to eliminate the feeling of being judged while working), began creating art.

It seemed, for both of us, that getting that first initial bit of colour on the page was a bit of a challenge. I commented how hard it was to get what was so abstract in my head and put it on paper. But after a few minutes, and after the first few strokes of pencil... we both became immersed in our art.
When we finished, i was amazed at the range of feelings i felt creating my piece. We sat at the table, together, and told each other about our pieces and what we were feeling and what the symbols we used meant. It was very enlightening.

I'm posting my piece, but not B-rad's because i need to ask him his permission first. If he agrees, i'll post it here.

My pieces is called: "Labour Fantasy"

(Click to Enlarge)

So i ended up creating a yin-yang of sorts, starting with my hopes for labour.

The heart on the left is surrounded by flames - the flames symbolizing mine and B-rad's love. The heart is growing bigger and bigger as our love for Chewie grows.

i drew was the lotus flower opening up as the baby crowns. B-rad is pictured behind me supporting me as i push. The spirals that surround us represent our birthing energy - all in very calming colours and natural flowing shapes.

Next, i'm sitting holding and nursing our baby - just calm, surrounded by love and peace. Bonding with my new child.

(Click to Enlarge)

As i flipped the paper over to start on my fears of labour, the first thing i noticed was how my mood shifted, dramatically. I instantly felt agitated and stressed. I wanted to get this side of the drawing over with as soon as i could. I noticed i didn't take as much time or care on this side as i did on the other side. All the images were coarsly sketched.

The fetal monitor on the left symbolizes my fear of something going wrong with the baby. The monitor representing the medical community stressing and then not including me in what's going on, losing control of my own birth experience, having it taken away by the medical profession.

The next image i found to be very interesting. I am on a delivery table, on my back - with no arms. I am helpless. B-rad (the green image) and i are both faceless, unimportant. We are surrounded by faceless doctors and nurses we don't know, and the doctor has a very egotistical air about him, standing back, holding a clipboard with his hand in his pocket. The God of the delivery room. His head is also the biggest.

The third image is the Medical Red Cross, a needle, and a scalpel. I am afraid of medical interferences, unecessary drugs, and procedures like episiotomies and c-sections. The baby under the glass is my cesarian baby from my dream. It is faceless too, i'm afraid that i won't be connected with the baby.

The colours on this side were harsh blacks, yellows, and reds - and the lines were jagged and angled.

I flipped the picture back over to fill in the background with cool coloured spirals and swirls, and instantly felt calmer. Again, amazed that when i flipped it back to do the black and red jagged lines, how it made me unhappy.

When i explained it all to B-rad, i was able to finally verbalize the fact that i am terrified of having a c-section.

Later that night, B-rad held me as i cried and voiced out loud that i. am. scared. That this is the scariest thing that i have ever done in my life.

I'm scared of failing.

I'm scared of my body failing me - of complications that will rob B-rad, Chewie, and I of the birth experience that we deserve.

These emotions have been bubbling under the surface for a while now, and through artistic expression i was able to realize these emotions and have a platform to talk about them.

5 comments:

Surprised Suburban Wife said...

You are SO creative - I love it! And I love the way you said "Birthing from Within" is just the right amount of hippy:) That's how I feel about a lot of stuff...the cynic in me takes over at a certain point but I love embracing my inner hippie right up to her limit.
And I've said it before but will say it again (because you NEED more assvice right?): c-sections suck. Big time. I bawled at the thought and at week 30ish when Megan was still breech and the c-section seemed so likely, BOY was I scared and upset. THen she turned and I was so relieved. Then I had the c-section anyway. And I feel soooo connected to Megan and have come out of the whole experience just fine. You'll need this kind of spirit to get through the first few months, but try not to let your fears take over. The healthy baby/healthy momma is what's most important!

FourLeafClover said...

Just FYI... I was a C-section baby. I turned at the last moment and would not turn back.

And I can't think of a better mom in the world than my mom... there's no lack of bonding there.

(Btw.. I hate, hate, hate the word verification.. this is the fourth time I'm inputting this comment for some reason..)

i am the diva said...

Surburban,
i know that in the event of a c-section, i'll probably be just fine, but i was just shocked at how terrified it makes me. As i'm venturing into the home-stretch 3rd trimester, a lot of these emotions that i thought didn't exist have been swirling up to the surface.

4leaf,
i got rid of the verification! i didn't know it was turned on, to tell you the truth, cuz the computer recognizes me and never gives me words to verify. My aim is to please you, cuz i love you - cuz i'm sweet like that!! :D

Mrs. Dymund said...

One of the most powerful exercises in my Birthing From Within pre-natal class was to name our biggest fears about birth and then meditate and make a piece of birth art about how we would cope if those fears should come true.

My husband made a picture of himself driving a taxi like the wind, because he feared the baby being born in a cab.

teeni said...

Wow. I thought I had commented here already too and don't see it unless I'm being moderated. Weird, but maybe the same thing happened to me as happened to 4Leaf. Um, so I think I said something about how I love your art. But you don't need to be afraid of failure because you are already succeeding! You are already a parent (your child just hasn't been born yet)! And you are doing wonderfully by preparing the safest, most comforting home for him or her. Oooh - I forgot there was a saying somewhere I wanted to send the link to you - it was something about - don't worry too much because this is the first time for the baby too and the baby certainly won't be criticizing you! :) Hugs to you!

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