Chrissy Foreman’s “Landscape of Birth” and Transformations of Pain and Fear
Landscape of Birth (Copyright 2011, Chrissy Foreman. All Rights Reserved)
In the records of her birth blog, artist Chrissy Foreman’s writing and artwork provide other pregnant women with a unique treasure trove of visualization tools. Captivated at first by some of her images, I soon realized that Foreman’s writing, just like her artwork, is highly beneficient in reaching out in a positive way to the female imagination as it approaches labor and birth.
I intend to return to Foreman’s work in the future, but the piece that I look at today is her drawing, Landscape of Birth (pictured above). Depicting man, woman and baby at the top of a hilly incline next to the ocean, the drawing is a metaphor for the path to birth and the beginning of family. In our correspondence, Foreman has described her work in such a way that I believe it may be read by others in their own visualizations of birth:
The Landscape of Birth was a way for me to work through my feelings and visions about giving birth. The journey runs left to right…I’m sailing along until turbulent waters hit (contractions) and I’m forced to moor my boat and begin a journey on new land. Each incline gets tougher but I’m helped and supported with parallel intensity as our journey through labour progresses. My waters break, I cross the river and my baby is born. It’s not ever yet – there’s a bridge we cross where new connections begin with our new family.
The artist also explains on her blog that she wanted to take this image with her “to remind me of our journey together so far and my wishes, hopes and connection for our beautiful baby and birth.” Other helpful words about the drawing include those that her friend Marcy wrote to accompany the work, saying, “she did the only thing she could – she asked for help – she asked the grass and the stones and the sky and the birds and the water and the clouds and she asked the sun.” All of these descriptions may help other pregnant women in their own personal visualizations of birth.
Foreman’s image and words remind us that labor is a journey, a journey that may have stormy or tough moments, but one that will ultimately culminate in birth. Although contractions may be intense, they have a natural purpose, which is to help baby out into the world. Elsewhere on her blog, she has written about her anxiety and fear about birth during late pregnancy. And I find this section of her blog so helpful for other pregnant women to read that I would like to reproduce two of its paragraphs. They occur after she has just told her reader that her husband tried to comfort her in her fears about birth,
As much as he was trying to help me, I actually felt like I needed to let myself FEEL my fears and be okay with it being there, rather than trying to think it away or ‘fix’ them. I didn’t want to run from it – it actually felt natural to be afraid – it’s my first time being here.
It was strangely cleansing facing this fear – diving into it like a wave. In the aftermath of all the tears, I feel in a way I’ve connected today with the millions of other mothers who have gotten to this stage in their pregnancy and felt the same way. I almost felt like it’s a rite of passage to do so.
Foreman has hit the proverbial nail on the head with this description of how allowing oneself to feel fear also leads to acceptance of that fear, and subsequently to an almost calm realization that this fear is part of what it is to be a pregnant woman ready to embark on the path to birth. As Foreman suggests, fear in this sense is an integral part of birth as a rite of passage.
Chrissy Foreman is an Australian-based artist whose work is based on her own personal life stories, insights and experiences. She explains her creations as using “colour, nature-inspired symbols, layers and different textures as a way to recount my experiences and mould them to ‘feel’ the way I do on the inside.” Foreman may be reached or more of her artwork viewed through her website, shop or Facebook account.