Miscarriage Art: Self Portraits

Self Portrait, After: 1

Self Portrait, After: 2

Self Portrait, After: 3

Self Portrait, After: 4

Self Portrait, After: 5

Self Portrait, After: 6

Self Portrait, After: 7

Self Portrait, After: 8

Self Portrait, After: 9

Self Portrait, After: 10

About "Self Portraits, After"

On Mother's Day 2009, I miscarried a baby that was very loved and very wanted.

I dealt with my loss, in part, by researching contemporary art that had been created by women who had also experienced a miscarriage.

Consuming art that explored what I was going through felt like an obvious, natural way to attempt to heal in the painful weeks following my loss.

I sought out art of all kinds - literature, visual art, music - in the hope it would help me address and purge my own sadness and grief.

More than anything, I wanted to feel less alone.

While I did find some paintings, photographs, songs, poems and stories about miscarriage, I realized within days of losing my baby that I needed to do something personally meaningful to process what had happened.

I wanted a record of the experience, of how I had changed as a result of the loss.

I also wanted to capture something of myself when I was still recently pregnant and connected to my baby. That brief period of time when my baby was still near me - if not with me - before that also passed.

I decided that a series of self portraits would achieve what was needed at the time, and might be significant later when I felt ready to write about my miscarriage.

I used a digital camera to create the series of images I call "Self Portraits, After".

At the time I didn't know whether I would actually want to look at these photos once I'd moved further through the grief.

I also didn't think about sharing these photos with anyone. I simply felt I needed to take them, believing that doing so would help me heal.

I followed my instincts as I worked and did whatever I thought would express the right mood or feeling as I went along.

I decided to keep my face bare with the exception of red lipstick. I also used the lipstick to draw a red "x" across my belly.

I tried to relax my face and allow my feelings to come through without force or effort.

Now that I've returned to the photos nearly two years later, I can see how they capture my emotions and memories of that painful time.

I've arranged them in an order that I hope conveys a range of the thoughts and feelings I had, in some semblance of temporal order.

The first image was taken of myself lying in bed - the place where I spent hours coping with the physical and emotional pain of losing my baby.

I spent days in this exact place after my miscarriage trying to sleep and trying to recover.

The blurry images that come next indicate the confusion and the moments when the realization of what was lost started to become more clear and more real.

The photos of the red "x" over my womb signify the self-blame and mistrust/hatred of my body for not being able to protect my baby. For failing to do what it was supposed to for me and my baby.

The dark photos with my eyes averted represent the feelings of invisibility, loneliness and emptiness that followed the realization of the loss - as well as moments that felt surreal or dream-like.

The final image is of my "new" face, changed by the loss that is always with me.

I Can Make Life: Poems About Infertility and Miscarriage, Pregnancy and Birth

I Can Make Life addresses the impact of fertility treatments, pregnancy, miscarriage and birth as it re-traces the poet's long journey to her son -- and finally, to peace.
I Can Make Life addresses the impact of fertility treatments, pregnancy, miscarriage and birth as it re-traces the poet's long journey to her son -- and finally, to peace. | Source

A Book About Healing A Miscarriage Through Art

About Nicole Breit

I began writing passionately, if sporadically, in my early teens. At the end of high school I began to paint with acrylics and oils and took a few courses in textile arts. I majored in English Literature at university, but also studied art history, studio art and creative writing.

After graduating from university I continued to draw and paint, and began incorporating elements of collage in my work - maps, found text, as well as excerpts of my own writing. Throughout this time I continued to write poems and stories, but only occasionally submitted my work to publications.

Over the years I've participated in a few local exhibitions of visual art. I have had paintings selected for juried art shows, organized two large exhibits which I participated in with one other artist, and participated in some smaller art shows.

My most recent show was an installation entitled Metamorphosis. The project was centred on three fairytales I had written about the transition from girlhood to womanhood. Each story was exhibited and accompanied by photographs and paintings in which I was costumed as the main character. My friend assisted me with brainstorming the imagery to illustrate the stories I had written, and I created the paintings that hung alongside photos she took of me in character.

In recent years I have been focusing on my writing, in part because I have two young children and my art process is even messier than they are. It takes days or weeks for me to start and finish a painting, which requires me to leave out materials for long periods of time. I don't have a dedicated space for my art at this time, and while my writing process can also be messy, it is a bit less toxic and easier to manage around kids.

I love all art forms, but am beginning to believe that writing is my true calling. For the past several years my spare time has been spent working on poetry, creative non-fiction, postcard fiction and articles. I am the owner of Sparrow Writing + Editorial Services, and blog about my writing process when time permits.

Nicole Breit is a published author and poet. Her debut poetry collection, I Can Make Life, explores the physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual impact of fertility treatments, pregnancy, pregnancy loss, and birth. I Can Make Life was a finalist for the 2012 Mary Ballard Poetry competition. Her essay, “For Tristan: A Meditation on Loss, Grief and Healing” was published in The Sound of Silence: Journeys Through Miscarriage (Wombat Books, 2011). She is also the author of a number of online pregnancy loss resources. Follow her writing journey on twitter @NicoleBreit.

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Comments 4 comments

Reynold Jay profile image

Reynold Jay 5 years ago from Saginaw, Michigan

Yes, you are very unique with your writing. I've never read anything quite like this. I'll reaed your other HUBS as I am intrigued. I enjoyed this very much. You have this laid out beautifully and it is easy to understand. Keep up the great HUBS. Up one and Useful. Hey! I'm now your fan! RJ

CrossWords profile image

CrossWords 5 years ago

This is beautiful and sad at the same time. Thanks for sharing!

rambansal profile image

rambansal 5 years ago from India

Really a sad affair and sadness is truly reflected in pictures.

Thundermama profile image

Thundermama 4 years ago from Canada

Nicole thank you for sharing such a personal process and laying yourself bare. This hub will surely resonnate with others who have suffered the same kind off loss.

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