Monday, 28 January 2013

The Seer

Whilst I was still pregnant, I had one image come to me very strongly (in between the exhaustion and nausea) which I turned into a drawing.

It was partly inspired by The Dark Mountain Project, a complex initiative that I recommend you read about. Partly it was inspired by a dream I had of Death's Head moths flying about my bedroom.

I never code meaning into my drawing deliberately, because I think, for me, it is more interesting to 'read' them once they are completed. That is a more intriguing process for me as it allows multiple meanings to come forward. I suppose this is what people do when they try to read strange dreams which they may have had. Or even what we do (or, at least, what old English Literature students like me do) when we read hidden, deeper meanings into the narratives of novels. We seek the authors' intended, but concealed, message.

When I first finished this drawing I thought it was about the way we cover our eyes and try not to see bad omens. I was thinking particularly about occurring and encroaching ecological disaster, how we often cannot face the fullness of reality. That maybe even to do so would be to go mad from powerlessness.

Since our loss, the drawing seems to have taken on new meanings.
The belly looks empty, the placement of the Deaths Head moth over her heart (initially I was going to place it lower, on the belly, but thought it might be bad omen so didn't. Ha.) where I now feel this pain, the gesture of covered eyes seem more grief stricken...

I have called the drawing the Seer, for it now seems omen-nous in itself. 


Anticipation does not create ease. We are often told that our fears will not really come to pass. But they can. They do.
I think now that our only real power lies in the way we respond in the face of fear, death and loss.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

In bits...

Just after I was able to leave hospital, I went home to Cornwall for a bit.

Whilst there I played with some clay, and made a little person. I was copying my little sister, who has been making amazing tiny clay puppets for her art foundation.

My mum, who is an art therapist amongst other things, asked if it was a therapy thing...I said no at the time, but look at it now I'm not so sure.

Here is the lady in bits...

And here she is once I had assembled her.

Shaping the clay was both incredibly soothing and deeply sad. I couldn't help but draw parallels between my thwarted attempt to grow a living child, and the symbolic potential of creating a doll. I'm probably over-thinking it...
A few times I wanted to stop and make the clay formless again. But I kept going, letting it dry, threading the body parts onto wires and decorating the joins with beads.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Lyra May

I had not written an entry here for several months. Initially this was for the joyous reason of three months of morning sickness. Now I'm writing to help me say goodbye to all of that.

At almost five months pregnant I noticed that my baby was not moving very much. And then stopped entirely.
An emergency scan confirmed the worst - the baby had died.

Typing those words is so easy, it and they do nothing to convey the depths of the pain and panic I felt in the hospital. That moment has formed the worst experience of my life, and I battle daily not to get stuck in the room of that memory.

On the 6th of January I was admitted to hospital to deliver my baby.
Once again these words do nothing to take you into that room with me, nor should they. It was a private place where only me and Andy and our baby-in-spirit were.
Labour was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. The pain taught me what to do, and the terror and physical shock burnt away for a few hours.

I delivered my lost daughter, and became her mayfly mother for a few hours. She was beautiful, not scary at all. I held her for a long time.

Leaving the hospital without my pregnancy, without my daughter, was the most painful experience of my life. Once again, typing these words is simple, but putting one foot in front of the other and walking out of that place took more strength than I knew a person could contain.

We named her Lyra May, as we had intended to should she have been born as we hoped.

I share all of this because it is true and real. I share it because I'm tired of our cultures death-taboo. I share it to acknowledge all the secret sorrows our lives contain. I share it because I want to hold the experience in words, to shape it into a story and add it into the chapters of my life.
I must do this to continue.

I write it down publicly too because I've come to realise how sadly common the of experience of losing a baby is. Several women have been generous and brave enough to share their experiences with me. Their stories make me feel less alone, and their strength staggers and humbles me.

My godmother shared a beautiful letter with me. It ends like this:

"For the gift that you were once given will always be yours"