A health visitor came to visit a few days after my daughter’s birth. She asked how the birth was. I stayed silent for a couple of minutes unable to answer. What was I to say? Fine? Fantastic? Grand? She only expected a one word answer: ‘normal’ would have pleased her. But those words don’t come near describing the textured, multi-layered, hormone-driven web of emotions and sensations that make up the experience of giving birth.
So in the couple of months after the birth, with my daughter asleep on my chest, I knitted blanket that tells this story through personal data.
The blanket is now being shown as part of Create: The Art of Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond, in the Science Gallery in Dublin until July 15th. The exhibition is organised by HRB Mother and Baby Clinical Trials Network and brings together work from Irish and international artists dealing with topics around pregnancy.
The launch was moving. It's rare to see such honest and diverse representations of that moment in life. A few pieces particularly stuck with me. The Other Side, by Emma Sheridan, is an impressive self-portrait highlighting perinatal mental health issues. A Faint Heart by Nollaig Crombie is a slider puzzle representing the hope, wait and grief of an unsuccessful IVF cycle. Everyday Breastfeeding by Fiona Carey, is a hanging curtain of delicate drawings of real breastfeeding mothers - they show women's bodies at work in the chaos of everyday life.
The show felt like a reminder of all the untold stories that our bodies carry.