You may be under the impression that I’ve spent a lifetime creating art. You’d be wrong. You may think I have taken art classes. While I’m eager to do that when time allows, you’d be wrong on that thought as well. But let me tell you, even in my untrained hands art has completely changed me.
When I started going through the trainings that led to St. Louis Birth Rhythms, I enjoyed art in “a who doesn’t?” kind of way. I was beginning my second pregnancy and while I was hoping to meet more of my goals in labor (ie. have an un-medicated delivery), I was on the same path as I had been with my first pregnancy. Creating art on a regular basis was something I wasn't even considering.
Everything changed when I was given the task to paint a labor arc. I listened to the music painted a few lines. I knew that piece was not finished but I had no idea what it needed to feel completed and I was out of time for the day anyway. About a week after, I was driving and thinking of my labor arc. I needed to fill in the blank spaces. I started to realize my painting was a “textbook” labor arc. Early labor for a long while, increasing intensity, most intensity during transition and pushing, and a nice different color as our lives were changed forever with the birth. How was I going to fill in the blank space? But knowing labor is a very individualized experience, I started to ask “What was my labor like?” How was I going to fill in the blank space? I knew I had wanted an un-medicated birth, but I didn’t know why. How was I going to fill in the blank space? I labored for what felt like forever then accepted the epidural. How was I going to fill in the blank space? That epidural made me feel…Now it was all hitting me like a brick wall. I had to pull over. I had wanted an un-medicated birth to feel connected to the event. That’s what feeling connected meant to me. Now I knew how to fill in the blank space. When I was able to pull myself together I went home and painted dark gray and black over the point where I had accepted the epidural. Now this was my labor arc.
I went on to create more birth art. I created another labor arc with mountains and running streams. Then I created a piece of art that reflected what my second labor ended up being like-long stretches of off and on activity followed by an explosion of labor and birth. I found more places where I had created textbook images. I found a perfect position drawing with baby head down in a mama’s tummy. After a little more reflection, I went on to create an image of where we both mentally needed to be. The baby isn’t even in that piece. Just my closed hand and the words “I have everything I need.”
Creating art has given me the opportunity to explore thoughts and feelings about myself and my experiences in a new way. While I’m selecting images (or non-images) and color I’m learning to trust what feels right for me. I’m learning that I don’t have to justify my choices to other people, but that there are deep answers in asking myself “Why am I choosing this?” It can be hard to put these things into words when I’m talking about my CAB course. It can feel overwhelming to say “This has changed my life!” But through my art, I have created opportunities to explore myself more deeply.
What about you? What experience unexpectedly led you to discover something profound about yourself or your life?