6.18.2008

The Birthing Quilt


The Birthing Quilt, originally uploaded by LittleLumpkin.

It's finally completed. After 6 years of working on it. I started this quilt after the birth of my first child. We had planned a home-birth but ended up with a ton of interventions and a cesarean. For a long time I blamed my fear of motherhood and birthing on the "failed" outcome. But then, over time I came to realize as I now realize about everything- All things happen for a reason. My first birth experience led me to begin this quilt. I wanted to reflect on the power it takes for a woman to give birth and the incredible link we must have between own minds and our bodies at the time of birth. They must be working together through the whole process. The way I explored this concept in the quilt was through the use of vines which represent being rooted in ones self. I felt like the the vines growing up around the birthing mother signified her connection to the earth and the birth as an ancient ritual. I also used the embroidered Joan of Arc quote "i am not afraid, I was born to do this" as a background element and it becomes the mantra of the quilt. It doesn't matter how many times one gives birth, there is always that element of shock and fear which must be overcome while your in the thick of it. It's that mind/ body connection.

When I became pregnant with my second child, I again began working on the quilt. I spent many hours thinking of the inspiration behind the quilt and hoping to finish it for the big event. My first VBAC. This time i was going to concur my fears and embrace the birthing process fully. Follow my bodies lead and let nature take its course. My second birth was amazing, everything I could have hoped for. The quilt was however was still not completed. Later that same year when my husband Kurt died, I assumed i would never finish the quilt. I assumed I was finished having babies (a crazy thing for a 26 year old to assume, I realize, but being a young widow is a tough thing to wrap your head around).

When I dug the birthing quilt out three years later, I intended to finish it in earnest this time. I unfolded it from storage and discovered that the safety pins with which I had secured the fabric layers had rusted and left spots of orange throughout the quilt top. At first I was disappointed and I think I actually cried upon seeing those spots thinking I had ruined the quilt by storing it so hastily. Now, I love those tiny rust spots. Suddenly the quilt was alive. It had aged along with me over those years between my last baby and this next one. The quilt had weathered the storm with some scars to show for it, just as I had.

Six years ago, Kurt helped me paint the figure of the birthing woman, because I couldn't quite get her proportion right. At the time I started the quilt I didn't like the fact that I needed his help, I wanted to do it all by myself. That sound so childish now, but that's the way I felt. Now, three and a half years after his death, as his older brother Lorenz and I prepare to welcome our first child together into this world, I am again reminded that all things happen for a reason, and Kurt's contribution to this quilt is priceless to us now.

It feels so good to have completed this quilt. It will hopefully be a source of inspiration for my children and their children as they grow and experience the birthing process- becoming mothers and fathers themselves.

It's storming outside now. A lovely moody night to birth a baby, I think. My contractions started last night and have been coming slowly but surely all day. This labor is slow and seems to have started only as my body's reminder to me that I need to stop running around trying to prepare for this baby. So I'm staying cozy in my little nest of a bedroom tonight, hoping to hold my new baby soon.

bye bye for now

31 comments:

Valerina said...

This quilt is amazing and the story behind it is inspiring. Beautiful work! Best wishes with your new baby :)

Judy Merrill-Smith said...

Wow. I followed the link from your Flickr photo, and I'm glad I know the story now. Good luck and bright blessings!

Victoria said...

Your quilt, (which I truly think is a masterpiece) makes me cry at its powerful beauty, and wisdom.
Your story leaves me in awe of the power of life, spirit, love, and how they all weave together to guide us on our journeys as we grow into who we are.
Sending you love and good thoughts for you, your baby and your beautiful family.

LemonCadet said...

Thank you for sharing this. It's such a beautiful quilt and wonderful story.

Good luck with your birth and welcome new Baby Lumpkin!

paa said...

I'm truely impressed with your work and its amazing story. Thanx for sharing this amazingly beautiful work!!

ErinLee said...

I don't think I've ever cried at the sight of a quilt before. It's positively gorgeous and inspiring, a true masterpiece. and I'm not even talking about the story behind it- my goodness. Thank you for sharing..

Blessings to you and your loving family!

Lumpkin said...

thanks so much for the kind words, it means a lot to me

Cheilita said...

Wow. that's an amazing story. so touching and the quilt is stunning. I'm so impressed.

Nate said...

words cannot express the awe I feel right now. i saw the photo of the quilt and knew it was something special. i had no idea. what an incredible map you have created of your time and the time of your family. Treasure.

Sweet Pepita said...

That is such a beautiful story. Congratulations on your new baby!

marlisajoy said...

such a beautiful quilt..and story. i have fond memories of your family coming to my stand at market when your oldest daughter was little. you were some of my favorite customers.
your baby is delicious, and your work amazing.
marlisa

Kristinha said...

I don't think I've ever seen a work of art that so perfectly reflects the ineffable process of preparing for the unknown of birth and the birthing experience itself. I am in awe. Blessings to you and your family.

Susana said...

I love your quilt and your blog and your artistic talent on display at etsy!

I have put your quilt photo up on my blog and your baby's birth announcement. I hope you approve.

I also have a blog and website dedicated to my father who was killed by a drunk driver. They are my contribution to helping to stop drunk driving.

I am so sorry about the loss of your first husband. I have lost both my father and my brother (when I was 4 and 12 years old.) Death is so painful.

I am create posters on flickr
http://flickr.com/photos/baigfamily/sets/72157605201396471/show/


and I just started creatubg t-shirts through cafepress which I am selling at cost.

http://www.cafepress.com/duivictimsvoice

I could sure use the volunteer help of a graphic artist to help me with some of the t-shirt images.

Would you be interested?

Oh, and what do you think about creating a poster or calendar with this photo? I'd love to see this amazing image in print. If I can help by promoting or selling via my blog I'd love to.

Susana
mamabaig at yahoo dot com

Jill said...

Oh my word. It's gorgeous. Just gorgeous. If you do decide to sell prints of this, I'd love to buy one. I could look at it for hours!

I also love the story that comes with it and am so glad you shared it with us, because it makes this beautiful work of art that much more special. Thank you!

rae said...

beautiful quilt!

Jody said...

Gorgeous quilt and gorgeous sentiments!!!

AtYourCervix said...

Your quilt is just beautiful! I absolutely adore it. I've linked to your quilt story on my blog :-)

Corin said...

Oh my goodness. It's like I was meant to read this tonight.

{lump...tear}

Thankyou for this beautiful story and sharing your quilt with us. And blessings to you and your family.

The MSILF said...

Beautiful. How about some details on how it was made? Is that hand-dyed fabric or painted or what? Is it all pieced?

Susana said...

She has the details listed with the photo on Flickr (which you can see if you click on the photo above.)

This is what she wrote:

About the quilt:
It's a a whole piece quilt made from fabric which I hand-dyed and painted in greens, purples and pinks. Hand embroidered. Hand beaded. Hand and machine quilted. Handmade detachable purple cotton flowers and pink wool felt blossoms.

kayla said...

very very nice, that was a great idea, i commend you for doing that, that is something im sure one day your girls will treasure from you.

kathy gail said...

Thanks so much for sharing your life experience. What a beautiful story. Your sentiments are so powerfully expressed. As a mother of six, I feel that you've captured the essence of giving birth. May you and your family continue to receive the blessings of the Universe.

kathy gail said...

Thanks so much for sharing your life experience. What a beautiful story. Your sentiments are so powerfully expressed. As a mother of six, I feel that you've captured the essence of giving birth. May you and your family continue to receive the blessings of the Universe.

Lith said...

Seeing that quilt made my heart pound. So overwhelmingly beautiful! And that was before I read anything about it.

Now, I am lost for words. xoxox

Blessings to you and your family.

Lumpkin said...

oh my goodness, I didn't realize i had so many comments on this post, thanks again for finding my quilt I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Amy said...

Hi, my name is Amy Swagman and I'm an artist that does birth art mandalas (http://www.facebook.com/mandalajourney). I'm adding a birth art page to my blog (www.themandalajourney.com). If you'd be willing, I'd love to post your birth quilt along with the description and a bio. It's so amazing!

If you're willing could you pass on this info?

What I'd need is:
- photos of the piece (title)
- short description of the piece (why you make them, process, etc)
- short bio about yourself (optional)
- bio photo (optional)

If you have any other birth art you'd like to submit please just let me know! You can check out the other birth art I have posted here: http://themandalajourney.com/birth-art/birth-art-gallery/ as well as browse other artists' profiles.

Please email me at amy@birthingbody.org to submit. Thanks!

Peggy said...

This is so gorgeous. You have obviously done amazing work to create this, both personally and physically. I would love to talk with you about this piece, and some ideas I have for helping other women achieve the birth they seek. Would you be willing to email me? My email is peggydoula@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you.

Bonnie B Matheson said...

Sara, I am trying to reach you. Is this the best way? Could you give me an email address? I want to use your Birth Affirmations if possible in a book I am writing about home birth.

Check out my Childbirth Solutions facebook page.

My name is Bonnie B Matheson

Joyce Pula said...

Beautiful story, amazing quilt. Thank you for sharing. I found the image already some years ago on internet - didn't know it comes from you. I think you captured wonderfully both the gentleness, fragility & the power and strength of women giving birth. I have to admit I have been using the image for my twitter-image: https://twitter.com/embracebirthNL. I would like to ask for your permission to do so. I can of course put your copyright underneath it. And I would love to put the image up on my website (that is to be build soon). I am a doula, childbirth educator and birth advocate (www.geboortebeweging.nl and www.humanrightsinchildbirth.com) based in Amsterdam.
Warm regards, Joyce

Joyce Pula said...

Beautiful story, amazing quilt. Thank you for sharing. I found the image already some years ago on internet - didn't know it comes from you. I think you captured wonderfully both the gentleness, fragility & the power and strength of women giving birth. I have to admit I have been using the image for my twitter-image: https://twitter.com/embracebirthNL. I would like to ask for your permission to do so. I can of course put your copyright underneath it. And I would love to put the image up on my website (that is to be build soon). I am a doula, childbirth educator and birth advocate (www.geboortebeweging.nl and www.humanrightsinchildbirth.com) based in Amsterdam.
Warm regards, Joyce