Even though nobody wants to talk to a pregnant woman about, say, how she’s concerned because she’s leaking fluid, they’re happy to talk to her about what she should or shouldn’t be doing.
“Every decision you make, from the moment you conceive, you’re being judged on,” Solis said. “You cannot be at a restaurant eating a sandwich with sprouts in it and not have someone say, ‘Oh, you’re not supposed to have sprouts.’ I mean, every single thing. Coffee, wine, that’s the obvious stuff. But it’s everything. … And you feel like when you’re pregnant, it’s this series of denials: you can’t have this, you can’t do this, you can’t do that. And then you feel all this judgment about it.”
The icing on the cake of many women’s pregnancies? Once the baby arrives, it’s “mommy-who?”
“Mothers almost always get left out of the birth once the baby arrives,” said ASU creative writing grad student Natasha Murdock.
“Nothing else matters, but the baby, or at least, that's how it seems,” Murdock continued. “Somehow the mother's experience of birth is erased once the baby is born. Of course the baby is important, that's the whole point, right? But that doesn't invalidate or make disappear the fact that the mother just went through something hugely profound and complex and painful, and a lot of the time, something very traumatic.”
All these issues that negatively affect a woman’s experience of pregnancy and giving birth — lack of preparation; discomfort with one’s own natural body functions; judgment-induced shame or guilt; and isolation — led Solis to pursue “Creative Push.”
“Being an artist and a new mom, I had this twofold thing happening where I wanted to express my experience through my art, and I also wanted to talk about my experience, and I wanted to hear other women’s experiences,” said Solis. “But I didn’t think there was a place for that.”
So she created one.
“In seeking other women telling their stories, I’m seeking companionship … and I want to create a network of support ... and to validate those stories. Because quite frankly, just because millions of women do it, and just because it’s been happening for hundreds of thousands of years doesn’t mean that your personal experience isn’t important and doesn’t have meaning.”
And just because you haven’t given birth doesn’t mean you can’t participate. Former ASU grad student Haylee Bollinger created a sculpture based on Murdock’s story. Though she is not a mother herself, listening to Murdock’s story deeply affected her.
“When I listened to [Natasha’s birth story] I was feeling really upset for her because I didn’t understand how the doctors could ignore all these things she was telling them. … I was so indignant on her behalf,” Bollinger said.
After all, as Sussman Susser pointed out: “Everybody has a mother. And everybody, I think, has a vested interest in how mothers are treated in society.”
For Murdock, “Creative Push” reinforces that sentiment by doing one thing very well: listening.