When I was in high school I took an art class. Sculpture to be
exact. On the first day of class we broke free from the confines of our downtown classroom
and wandered the street. We had one mission. To find discarded bits of art and at the end
of the week to return with them and assemble a beautiful sculpture. This is called found
art. We wandered through alleys and parks. We looked in subways and behind grocery stores.
We found shiny bits of plastic and tin foil and interesting rocks, sticks and leaves. We
found bent appliances and home accessories. We found tattered clothing remnants and bits
of old advertising. At the end of the week we had a gallery opening where we showed off
our finished sculpture, a mishmash of urban symbolism. Found Art.
Sometimes I consider myself a Christian. In the loosest sense of the word, I AM a
Christian. I am familiar with the teachings of Christ (as most North Americans are--after
all, our laws are based on our Judeo-Christian values system) and agree that they are
indeed wise. I emulate these values and attempt a christlike demeanor of peace, love and
forgiveness. But then, maybe I'm a Buddhist. After all, Buddha IS peace and love and
forgiveness. But I've never set foot in a Buddhist temple and save what I've learned
watching some of the recent movies about the Dalai Lama I know very little about the
Sometimes the blood of my Celtic ancestors runs strong and I worship the trees, the
seasons, the sun and moon and nature is my goddess. Sometimes I am god. Perhaps I am a
Muslim, believing that it doesn't matter what you call it, how you worship it, we are all
in our own way paying respect to one common greater power. Perhaps I am a Taoist, knowing
that things are unfolding as they should and never fighting the current which carries me
I do not consider these thoughts contradictory. Quite the reverse. I
believe the many faiths of this planet complement one another beautifully. So I cannot
call myself a Christian, a Buddhist, a Jew, a Muslim. My spirituality is my own beautiful
piece of found art. As I hope my son's will be. So I cannot in good conscience tie him
down to one faith. Promise to teach him that one book is right, one group of people all
knowing. I don't believe that myself. I think we all hold a piece of the puzzle and each
piece is of equal value.
This however leaves a dilemma. In what way do I celebrate his
entrance into this world? In what way do I set him on a path as a spiritual being without
a set spirituality to guide him? My spirituality has no buildings, no officials, no holy
artifacts or symbols, but my child is as worthy of a proper introduction as any other.
This Sunday friends and relatives will meet in Sunnybrook Park. We
will welcome our boy to this world using bits and pieces of found religion, a smattering
of Christ, a pinch of Buddha. There will be overtones of ancient Celtic faiths and
undertones of pagan native Canadian ritual. There will be borrowed symbols including a
Victorian-style christening gown and a Celtic amulet of protection. There will be water to
cleanse, oil to anoint and ashes to seal the symbolic circle of life.
I look forward to exploring faith with my child as he grows. I can't
wait to take him to church or synagogue or to a temple. Maybe he will want to attend a
solstice party in the park or perhaps he will create his own symbols. If I'm lucky he will
share them with me. I want to nurture my child's natural curiosity and allow his
exploration of his world to blossom into a spirituality that is truly his.
I feel different somehow. My body is trying to tell me something. I stir in bed, unable
to put my finger on what is different. As I wake, my hands make their way to my abdomen.
Something about it is different.
Later, the stick says yes and the stick doesn't lie. I am going to have a baby. That's
it, nothing more to be said. No last-night-of-freedom, bachelorette-type party. From now
on I share this body with someone else. From now on I am not the only one my actions will
affect. From this moment on I will keep healthy. There is no turning back.
I am ecstatic. I am afraid. I am excited. I am apprehensive. He says he is pleased.
It's not like he has a choice though. Like it or lump it, it's coming. Everyone says they
are pleased. It's not like they have a choice though. I wonder if they all would say it if
they weren't pleased.
I wonder what this will do to my body. I just got to a point where I was pleased with
it. I wonder what this is going to do to my identity. I just got to a point where I was
pleased with it. I wonder if my friends will still be my friends. I wonder if I will turn
into one of those parents who can't think of anything else. I wonder. I wonder.
It starts. Noone wants to know if I have had any profound thoughts lately. Noone wants
to know what I thought of this movie or that newscast. Everyone asks the same question.
How am I. I feel happy. I feel amazing. I feel healthy. I worry. I feel restless. I feel
naked. It starts. I see my son onscreen. I wonder about his personality. I wonder who
he'll resemble. I wonder what it'll be like to be somebody's mother. I wonder.
I dream. I dream I am my own great grandmother. My grandmother sits on my knee, she is
a little girl. Her younger sister, now an old woman, just a baby in my arms. I dream. I
dream I am making love. My partners are many and shifting. I dream. I dream I have a child
and something awful happens to her. I dream.
I fantasize. I think about my baby. Who he will be, what he will be like. I think about
what his life will be like, all the things I will do for him. I will do anything for him.
I stop in the baby department in all the stores I go into, looking at things for babies.
Things to dress them in, to carry them in, to play with them with. I wonder if this is how
it will start that I may lose my identity to my baby. I don't try to stop. I don't tell
anyone how much I think about him.
I wait. I wait patiently at first, then impatiently for the day when I will meet him. I
worry about the pain, I worry about complications. Every moment that passes makes me
wonder if this will be my last moment pregnant.
It hurts. It feels like nothing I have ever felt before. I question my decision to
forgo painkillers. It feels amazing. It feels like nothing I have ever felt before. I know
I am doing this the right way. My world is this rolling pain, it hurts, badly, but somehow
not badly. Nothing else exists but my body and his, locked together but not for much
longer. People speak to me and I answer, but it doesn't mean anything.
I push and I can see the top of his head. It doesn't hurt anymore, it feels incredible.
Merryn is talking to me. It seems important so I refocus my attention for a moment. I am
tearing. My clitoris is going to tear, sex may never be the same again, do I want them to
make a cut to avoid this? My brain screams yes, my body screams no. For 15 minutes I am
locked in this place of indecision, tearing and tearing. Finally we go with the cut. They
have to push the baby back and I have never felt such agony. Nothing about this process is
good in reverse. My body screams at me. The cut is painless and moments later my baby is
there on my stomach. My mind clears for the first time in almost 10 hours. It's my son. My
son. My son....The reality of the situation truly hits me. THIS is what I've been doing
for the last 9 months. THIS is what I've been doing for the last 10 hours. I did this. I
can't believe I did this. I say so. I look at Dorian. I look at my beloved husband. He is
crying, he can't believe it either. I want to know if he's okay. I ask him. Laughter.
The placenta comes, it feels really strange slithering out. I don't care. I'm bleeding.
I'm bleeding too much. I don't care. I just stare at my little boy, crying, screaming,
shivering on my stomach as they pile blankets over him. I'm still bleeding. They cut the
cord and instruct my husband to take the baby downstairs. I'm bleeding. I still don't
care. I get a shot in the bottom to stop the bleeding. I can hear my son, meeting
relatives in my living room. He's crying. Slowly the bleeding stops. Merryn tells me its
okay now. I'm not haemorrhaging. I clue in to the fact that I've been bleeding excessively
and am a little shocked. I forget almost immediately. They are going to give me stitches.
I tore in 4 different places and then there's the cut to mend. I don't care. The stitches
seem to take forever. I'm hungry. I'm really really hungry. I feel wonderful and I talk to
Sylvie as Merryn and Edan finish me up. I feel like a turkey being stitched up. I say so.
No laughter. I almost stick out my tongue.
I feel fantastic. I can't walk. I hurt all over. I still feel fantastic. I could do
anything. I don't sleep for two days, riding high with my baby. He sleeps and I lay there
and stare at him. So beautiful, so perfect, so wonderful. My nipples are raw, blistered
and cracked from his voracious appetite. He is perfect. He vomits and urinates and
defacates on me. He is perfect. He cries and wakes me up in the night. He is perfect. When
he smiles I haven't a care in the world. He IS perfect.
copyright Denielle Baldwin 1999