Tag Archives: Infertility

Lessons From Recovery

Today is  5 weeks post surgery and, as the days progress, so does my recovery. I can actually sit upright for periods of time, drive short distances and wear (almost) normal clothing. Simple pleasures I’d previously taken for granted!

I’d like to thank all of you who have sent lovely email and card greetings. I treasure the hand-stitched ribbon collage sent by Catie O’Leary (photo at the top of this post) and it made me feel wonderful to see your names in my email box. Each message felt like a hug.

I’m not quite making art yet, but I am slowly unpacking my studio, one book, one tool, at a time. I have learned several lessons during the last 5 weeks that I thought I’d share:

Lesson #1 – Inspiration can come from anywhere, even a hysterectomy:

Apparently I wasn’t done grieving, or making art about, infertility. A week after surgery I had a day of melting down and grieving for the reality that those “magic” pregnancies everyone tells you about when you are struggling to have a baby, really won’t happen now. No uterus = no magic pregnancy.  Fortunately in the middle of the sadness there was also artistic inspiration and I am now (mentally) working on two new artists’ books related to infertility. (And the goodies that my mom and dad sent to cheer me up sure helped, too! It was hard to be sad while eating chocolate covered strawberries for breakfast.)

Lesson #2 – Asking others for help is okay: 

It’s funny, but I much prefer to offer to help someone than ask for help. I’m not sure I knew that before my surgery, but I’m very aware of it now. Not being able to lift anything over 5 lbs, push or pull on anything,  or drive made me suddenly dependent on everyone around me. My brother, who spent a morning putting together a bookcase in my studio while I watched, said it best, “I’m not doing this because you did something for me – we do things for each other, that’s just how it is.” 

(A momentary pause for more thank yous: to Nicole and Mrs. B – thank you for the lovely meals, we hated to admit that I can cook again; to Melanie and Wendy, thank you for playing chauffeur and doing “normal” things like going out to lunch and shopping; to my mom and Trish, thank you for the daily chats; to my brother – thank you – you made me feel better every time I saw you. Who knew that the person I wanted to clobber most of my childhood would be one of my favorite people now?; and to my beloved husband, Greg – I don’t even know where to begin. THT.)

Lesson # 3 – It is all a matter of perspective:

Before my surgery I was packing, moving and unpacking for hours at a time. I made art for 12 hour stretches. Now working for 15 minutes and resting for 45 seems like an accomplishment! I’m unpacking my studio one book and one tool at a time and when I unpack 3 boxes in a day I feel like I’ve really made progress. I just hope I can carry this patience and sense of accomplishment back into my art making.

Off to rest and then spend 15 minutes in the studio.



Empty – An Artists’ Book About Infertility

Like many women, I struggle with infertility. And, like many artists, I make art about those topics which are the hardest, and the most important, to explore. For my BFA show last year I made a series of women’s figures and artists’ books titled, “Always Reborn.” The show explored issues particular to women’s experiences including infertility, family, love, and violence against women.

The books that I made for the show have been shown in galleries since then, but I realized that they weren’t quite yet in their final form. The wax covers were not realistic for handling and there were small changes that I needed to make to bring the book into the full focus of my original vision. Whereas I originally started with the women’s form and then added the book, I realized the book was all that is needed, the form became secondary.

I’ve been working on the final versions and am finally ready to release them into the world. Empty is one in a series of four books: Empty, I’m Telling You NowLoves Me/Not and Family Circle.

Empty explores infertility using the universal display of family photos. As my mother, my grandmother, and many mothers have before me, I imagined a display on the mantel of photos of my children: baby photos, first-day-of-school photos, graduation and wedding photos. Empty displays the frames sans photos. The lullabies I’ve hummed countless times to imaginary children weave through the book in a faded, almost transparent soundtrack.

Edition of 10, archival inkjet printed on Rives BFK.