“Her courage is written on her body.” –Molly (Talk Birth)
Last year I made several cesarean birth art sculptures by request. It felt like a “risk” of sorts to make them, like I was trying to interpret another woman’s experience artistically, but I did it and they were well-received. I chose to imprint words in the figure’s cesarean scar because I kept thinking about how that mother’s love and hope and courage are all permanently written on her body. Recently, I had a request to make another and so I re-visited my Cesarean Courage idea and made some new figures. She is wearing her baby and her scar with pride and strength. These sculptures are not supposed to send an “at least you have a healthy baby” message, they are communicating that her birth journey with her baby is seen and acknowledged and validated.
“I became a mama goddess, too. I became a wonder of fertility, of softness, of late nights and warm beds; a body capable of unimaginable things. I labored and tore open, too.”
–Amanda King (in Being a C-Section Mama In the Birth Goddess Club)
When I shared the cesarean courage mama picture on Facebook, someone responded: Usually I look at the scar as a forever reminder of my failure. The idea my courage and love is forever written on my body in the marks of a surgeon’s knife is so transforming. I am humbled and amazed and inspired and encouraged by the ways in which birth art “speaks” to other women. It is a powerful experience and I feel so honored to communicate and share in this way. When I stopped teaching birth classes, I worried about no longer being “of service” to birthing women, but through my sculptures, jewelry, and writing, I still am doing this work and I am grateful.
Thinking about it reminded me of this wonderfully powerful photo of a mother-assisted cesarean birth in which the mother (a midwife, IIRC) caught her own baby…
You can read more in the accompanying article.
WHEN a baby is born by caesarean, the hands that lift it from the womb to the world usually belong to an obstetrician. But now, there’s someone else who can help deliver the baby: the mother.
This picture and article were published several years ago and also covered in a Radical Doula post.
This week I was also touched to read a mother’s story of homebirth plans turned hospital birth plans turned cesarean birth after the baby developed an atrial flutter and was risked out of homebirth:
This has been a big week, with deep shifts that I’m sure will keep happening as we go through the coming days. Sometime in the next three weeks, I will subdivide into two women — one a mother, and one a fresh newborn infant, each with our own developing story and life path. I will find that I care more deeply about some things than I ever thought possible, and other things that were important markers of my life and identity are no longer significant. I’ll celebrate and I’ll mourn…
I knew I was going to be a mother very soon. I focused on not freaking out, and on enjoying my last moments of being so intertwined with my baby. I sent her telepathic messages of love and reassurance. I knew I wouldn’t be seeing her right after the surgery and that likely she would have to go through some trials before I could be with her again.
The operation itself was not as bad as I expected. One critical piece of my experience was having the accompaniment of a labor and delivery nurse friend, who served as a kind of impromptu doula, helping me to hold my ground when treatments being offered were inappropriate or unnecessary, and to fully embrace with less fear and more trust the life-saving help that hospital staff had to offer…
These mamas have taken powerful birth journeys. They have laid down their bodies for their babies. They hold their experiences, they wear them, their courage, love, and hope, upon their skin. The birth experience is there, loud and clear, and yet new experiences and joys are too. She is whole.