Still the Body
I got pregnant on my wedding night. I was forty-five. Several doctors had mentioned that children weren’t in the cards for me, and I had long since stopped contemplating the idea. We were terrified. A million things could go wrong, and we had already made plans for ourselves. Time passed and we made no decision. That became our decision.
I couldn’t let myself feel joy. I slept and I worried. Would my aging body be able to carry the pregnancy? Would she be healthy? What if we didn’t like each other? How would I know what to do? Would I disappear? I made photos as a way to manage my anxiety, to bring order to the chaos. And as I watched myself grow in the pictures, I saw that my body and my child were on their own path. The act of photographing allowed me to observe the process as though it were happening to someone else. I began to appreciate the oddity of the experience, the imbalance and the enormity.
My body became a signifier, a flag announcing my entrance into this most female of roles. A pregnancy is a strange in-between time, an odd state of limbo. My years before these months were defined by independence; I made several bodies of work about not needing marriage or children to feel complete. I hadn’t even adjusted to being someone’s wife and I was about to be someone’s mother. I had no I idea what kind of mother I would be. Some people regret not having a child. I was worried that I might regret having one.
While I fought my fears about losing my own identity, my body forced me to sit still. My body took over as I struggled with what to hold on to and what to release. There would be an end, there would be a beginning. This was my interlude.
Claudia Rankine has graciously allowed me to title the images with text from her book Plot. More images available on request.