I recently picked up the book Birthing from Within at our local library. Frankly, a lot of what she says is a bit ... out there for me. I've found a few of the exercises really useful, though, even in ways I hadn't expected. One of the projects she leads her classes through is a series of art pieces related to pregnancy and birth.
As I first read over the description, I internally rolled my eyes. Sure, like I want to draw pictures of myself all pregnant. Yet, as continued to consider, I realized that it might really be useful in thinking about these ideas with another part of my brain. I don't know that I'll be completing every topic she has listed (there are 12 all together), but I did the first two and I've not only enjoyed myself, but learned something, too!
The Pregnant Woman
The first project is to draw the way you see yourself as a pregnant woman. I found this much more difficult than I thought it would be. To begin with, I don't like my body. For a variety of reasons, mostly related to poor and inappropriate messages I got growing up, I've never felt particularly lovely. For me, pregnancy just tends to reinforce these feelings. I really wanted a positive image, but wasn't sure how to create one.
Then one evening, I happened to look down at myself. For an instant, I didn't see me, so much as just the shapes and curves of breast, belly, and leg. In that instant, I simply saw a woman, a pregnancy ... without all the baggage of what I usually think of myself. I knew right then what I wanted to draw.
As I worked on the sketch, it started to look almost like the flowing curves of a mountain range. Not the Rockies so much as the Appalachians--gently rounded peaks stacked up across the distance. Having drawn in green pencil (which was all I could find when I looked) probably added to my sense of earthiness.
I'm really pleased with the way it turned out. It expresses to me all the things I was hoping for: femininity, fertility, grace, and beauty.
After enjoying the first drawing so much, I wasn't sure what I would do for the next one. The second topic description (What is being pregnant like for you?) seemed so similar to the first. As I began to think about how I felt pregnant, I realized I wasn't actually feeling very pregnant. In fact, as we approached our prenatal visit last week, I was beginning to think that I was fooling myself--we'd get there and not find a heartbeat and discover instead that my body was confused and we'd lost the baby but I hadn't completed the miscarriage.
As you have probably read in my previous post, that's not what happened at all.
In a lot of ways this pregnancy, I feel like I'm a first-time mom all over again. After two losses, I began to doubt I'd ever carry a baby to term. Actually, I continue to have lingering doubts about that. I wanted to portray the amazement and joy of having a moving, heart-beating little one inside--still! The wonder of "Wow, this is really happening to me!"
The pose is a pretty common one for pregnancy belly photos. I've never had a set done (and don't plan to), but I've seen quite a few from friends. If I could have managed to convey it, I would have made a glow emanate from inside the heart, representing the life force of the babe inside. Since I'm not that artistically talented, you'll have to imagine that part yourself.