#startasking How creating art can bring healing on your infertility journey.

For the last day of #NIAW, we wanted to reflect on why we find creating art helpful in our journeys.

Elizabeth

I’ve had a complicated relationship with my house over the past couple of years. My husband, Scott, and I bought it shortly after we married nearly 12 years ago and made the move across town from the house I purchased as a single woman, to this one where we imagined we might raise a child one day. We chose it because of the school district and because the walk out basement was reminiscent of Scott’s childhood home, and the archways and poured plaster walls reminiscent of mine. We walked in and immediately felt we belonged there.

Several years later, when it became apparent that having a child wasn’t going to come easily, I had a dream of recurrent house flooding. Water seeped in through the roughly textured walls and pooled on the hardwood floors. I was in the upstairs hall and trying to keep the water at bay when I heard a chorus of whispers. A chorus I soon realized was the voices of my house itself, resentful of us and acting out because we weren’t filling the house with children.

Even though I still love my home for many reasons, I started resenting it and the fact that it wasn’t fulfilling the purpose we thought it would when we first moved in 11 years ago.

Maria and I recently had a conversation about how our homes have taken on a different purpose and meaning due to our infertility and living in them as families of two. It got us thinking about nesting, which inspired me to create some artwork around that theme. I made this piece, my “Inhospitable Nest” around the memory of that dream years ago. Choosing the materials for this piece and setting aside time to create it was very calming. Weaving the wire in and out was a meditative process and, while I don’t always end up with a product that looks like it did in my head, this one did. Better even. It made me want to create more nests. I’ve since created two more that I will share with you in the coming weeks.

Inhospitable

Inhospitable Nest. Elizabeth Walker. Mixed media – copper wire, crystals.

Creating artwork around my infertility experience has allowed me to have tangible proof of my diagnosis. My disease is so invisible to those around me and making artwork that represents it has made it real to me and to those who see it. That’s been invaluable to me in coming to terms with my diagnosis and to explaining it to others, and why I’m so grateful we get to help others create pieces around their own infertility experiences during our ART of IF workshops. So, I encourage you to #startasking how making art might help you in your journey and would love to see what you create.

Maria

This September my husband and I will both turn 30. We actually were born exactly 2 weeks apart – Kevin on the 15th and me on the 1st. Since I was little, I remember the story of my birth. I was the first granddaughter to be born on both sides of my family, so my birth was rather exciting. My uncle always told me how it was a hot day in September and how ironic it was that I was actually born on Labor Day. For years, I grew up assuming Labor Day was about women giving birth — never considering how it was actually about the US labor force. I just assumed that I was special because of being born on this day.

As I have come to accept my infertility, though, I have come to think less and less that it was special that I was born on Labor Day. I actually think it is some kind of bad joke. This year, my actual birth day won’t happen on Labor Day. But as I turn 30, I have been thinking about how I now longer fit in with so many of my friends and family members who are now entering their 30s and having their own families. Kevin and I both talk about this, trying to develop strategies to cope with the increasing feeling we are loosing our closest friends.

I wanted to use the last day of #NIAW to share some pieces of art that reflect these feelings of loss. Many of our friends and family members post pictures of their family outings and announcements. In the height of my infertility, this would have enraged me. Now, with some years past, I am no longer angry but instead just deeply sad — knowing this will most likely not be our story, knowing that we are growing more and more distant with these friends and family members, knowing that there are days that its hard for me to recognize that deep desire I had to have a child. Below are some images I am using to create shadow boxes. I am trying to “play” on the other types of family photos that often fill my Facebook and Instagram feeds. The captions articulate the sentiment I feel in each of these images.

image1

This photo was taken right when Kevin and I started realizing we were having trouble conceiving. We had been living in Cleveland and decided to make a trip back to Wisconsin to visit family. Here, I am pictured actually with my little brother. We are 18 years apart and when I would babysit him and take him to restaurants or run errands — people often assumed he was my child not my mothers. I think back to the times when I would carry him in his baby seat and think that is quite often the closest I will come to feeling like a mom.

 

image3

I love this picture. While it looks like Kevin is holding a baby who just finished a bath, it is actually a cut out of him holding our new puppy — Mason. We had just picked up Mason from a farm in Southwest Michigan. He was smelly , dirty and had proceeded to throw up all over the car on the drive back to our house. We was so timid and tiny. Today, he is our 65 pound black lab. But he remains so gentle and eager to please. His presence in our life has made our whole navigation of infertility so much more bearable.

image4

This picture was taken in September 2013. I had just started my PhD program. Meanwhile, a friend of mine from my MA program had just had a baby. Kevin and I went over to their house to meet the newborn. I remember holding that baby and posing for that picture feeling so incredibly sad that we would never take our own family picture.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *