Infertility and Creativity
In Part 1 of this two-part series I looked at some of the feelings experienced by women who struggle with infertility. (You can read it here) Here in Part 2, I want to take a look at infertility and creativity. Or to be more specific, how you can use your creativity to help yourself feel better despite any fertility problems you may have.
Connecting to your creativity can help you process and transform your feelings about infertility.
Here are two creative ideas you may like to try.
Activity 1: Drawing down Wisdom
Take a slow, meandering walk around a park, garden, or beach. Look out for an object that seems to draw you in, an object that you can take home. It might be a stone, a shell, a stick, a flower, or a leaf.
Once you’re home, find some paper and a pencil, pen, charcoal or crayon, and start a drawing based on your chosen object. As you draw, practice really looking hard so you notice all the qualities of your object. What particular words or associations come to mind?
Try not to judge your drawing on its artistic merit! Telling yourself you’re bad at drawing (etc) will make you feel inhibited and will stop you getting the full value from your creative activities. Just draw, and try to gently put aside any undermining thoughts you may have.
If any feelings come up while you are drawing, see if you can gently let them emerge, hang around for a little while, and then dissipate. Perhaps you can get a sense of the drawing in some way ‘holding’ the feelings.
As you draw (and afterwards), allow yourself to wonder if the object has some sort of message of wisdom for you. There may be something in the object, and/or in your reactions to it, that has significance for you. Something might pop into your mind immediately; but it could take a long time (even days, weeks or months) before a message emerges.
Example: Lula’s grief and gratitude
Lula*, a woman in her 40’s who had had a hysterectomy, found herself drawn to a stone which had a ‘scar’ in it. Tears fell as she realised that this was connecting her on a deep level to her feelings about her own ‘scarred’ body. Lula felt grief — and then deep compassion — for what her body had suffered, what had been lost. The waves of sadness felt manageable to Lula as she felt them partly being transferred to her drawing. Then she felt a flood of gratitude too, for what her body still did for her.
Example: Janine’s search for perfection
Another woman, Janine, found wisdom through the process of looking for her object. She spent ages looking for a ‘perfect’ leaf, and was frustrated when she kept finding leaves with ‘imperfections’. Eventually Janine realised that this process contained her message: stop looking for perfection, and learn to love and embrace imperfection!
Janine even went on to make a series of deliberately imperfect drawings; then she challenged herself to see the value in them, and the unique beauty of the vulnerability of imperfection.
Janine also thought about herself, and her longstanding view that she somehow ought to be perfect – which in her mind involved having a child of her own. She began to let herself experiment with different ways she could be herself, without having to feel she ought to be different from how she was.Creative activities to try if you've been affected by #infertility Click To Tweet
Activity 2: Use your body
When you are concerned with fertility-related matters, your body is very much top of your awareness – perhaps coupled with a sense of anxiety, failure or despair. Using your body to make artworks can be a very important part of your healing journey. Try handling clay, wood, wool or fabric — see which material feels good in your hands. Mould it, twist it, fold it, tweak it… Experiment and find the movements your hands want to make.
Example: Tracy’s pottery
Tracy, a woman in her thirties, was very distressed about her fertility problems, and felt increasingly stuck and frozen inside. She was aware of a deep-down sinking feeling that nothing could ever come out of her ‘alive’. Infertility and creativity felt like polar opposites to Tracy; and she was certain that she was stuck with the first, but worlds away from the second.
But when Tracy saw a flyer for pottery classes in a local art college, she bravely decided to give it a try. And week by week, Tracy discovered that working with her hands, squeezing and smoothing the clay, gave her a sense that on a basic, bodily level she could generate something real and meaningful. The clay pieces she produced had meaning and significance for her — she felt that finally she was able to produce something that felt really ‘vital’ and alive.
This was a turning point in Tracy’s healing process, and made her realize that infertility and creativity were both parts of her, parts that could be accepted and experienced instead of hidden away in shame and anxiety.
Infertility and creativity: Could freeing up your creativity release something in your body to have a successful pregnancy?
You’ve probably heard occasional stories of women who became pregnant after experiencing a sense of an internal ‘shift’ through creative transformation. But I think it’s wise to let go of thoughts such as ‘maybe this will help me get pregnant’.
Notice any hopes and thoughts of that sort, then just allow them to pass, for now. Perhaps you’ll get pregnant; and perhaps you won’t.
Freeing up and expressing your creativity is likely to benefit you, either way.
You, too, are fertile when you use your creativity
If you’ve been caught up in unsuccessful attempts to have a baby, you may (understandably) have been overlooking other meanings and connotations of the word ‘fertile’. But if you think about a seed falling on fertile ground, or someone having a fertile imagination, you can recognize that in many ways you, too, are fertile.
You can create something, you can generate something, quite apart from whether or not your body can have a baby.
You may not feel like a fertile wellspring of creativity, and imagery – but you really can cultivate and grow that side of yourself. So begin today to take pleasure in your creativity.
Whether it’s knitting or coloring-books, life-drawing or crazy home-made glove puppets, see where your creative spirit wants to lead you. You may like to try joining an art group or class, or perhaps team up with a friend and encourage each other.
You could even set up a little Infertility and Creativity group, where three or four of you can meet in someone’s home and try out creative projects. Make sure the group has rules/ guidelines about being accepting and non-judgemental of all creations (and yes, that applies particularly to how people view their own artwork!)
See if you can relax, be curious, try things out, steer clear of perfectionism, and above all, have fun!
How do you blend infertility and creativity? What creative stuff do you find particularly helpful? I’d love to hear – let me know in the comments below.
*Case studies used in this article are fictionalised composites and not based on any one person.
Sarah Leitschuh says
Wonderful suggestions for those who want to process their emotions about infertility in creative ways, Emma. Thanks for sharing.
Emma Cameron says
Thanks for leaving a comment, Sarah!
Rachel Rabinor says
What a great way to approach one’s struggle with infertility, Emma! This feels so empowering: “you can create something, you can generate something, quite apart from whether or not your body can have a baby.” Beautiful!
Emma Cameron says
I’m so glad this resonated for you, Rachel! Thanks for commenting.