Artificial Womb – NICU
About this Painting
I created this painting two weeks after my first time in a Newborn Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Hospital in Vancouver. Shortly my niece was born, she had difficulty breathing and was quickly whisked away to the N.I.C.U. where she spent five days being poked and prodded, medicated and supervised. At one point she had 10 tubes poking into her. For two day she was not allowed to be held by her mother or father.
Initially I had an overpowering fear and worry for the baby. I sat down that night to pray and I was struck so strongly with a message, as if God was whispering in my ear, ‘Back off! This is my child. I will take care of her. Like a flick of a switch, all of my fear evaporated into the night sky and I KNEW that this baby was in good hands: in the hospital’s hands and in God’s hands.
In truth, these were the babies that in the past would often die. When we were able to visit again, three days later, to the intensive care unit, surrounded by babies the size of kittens, nestled in their incubators, covered in blankets, cocooned for a time in an artificial womb, I was at once grateful for the advances in medical science and at the same time, looking at newborn niece, a hefty 9lbs 11oz, I thought, ‘This is a healthy baby!’ She was a giant in a room of elves.
A few days later she was able to come home and I was so moved by the experience that I painted her in her half-world: neither in the womb, nor at the mother’s breast, but half way in between, cocooned in a white Calla Lily, surrounded by a bed of roses.
Shortly before Ruhiyya was born, I was pondering over the life crises that had unfolded amongst several pregnant friends. I reflected on my past pregnancies and the crisis the came with the birth of each new child: buying and moving to a new (old and broken) house (moving into it while I was in labor), losing a job and loss of income (for a whole year we were on government subsidies), marital crisis and instability, to name a few. I thought about each friend that I knew with children and the crisis that coincided with the birth of that child. I came to the conclusion that a crisis around a birth is necessary.
A crisis is a time when we are motivated to change and to grow, and each new child that enters into a family requires their parents to change, develop and grow in such drastic new ways to accommodate the development of that new being. The quickest way to growth is through crisis. Hence, a crisis is necessary around the birth of a child.
It seems counter-logical because, isn’t having a baby enough crisis?
But upon reflection, it is the the most illogically logical solution. Children need their parents to grow up FAST so they can parent them in the ways that they need. Crisis stimulates growth.
Having your newborn hooked up to feeding tubes, medication tubes, breathing apparatuses, not being able to hold or nurse your newborn, and in a sense being the hospital’s child for a time being, is a crisis. This is the crisis that my sister and brother-in-law went through.
Upon reflection with them about what they learned from the crisis, it was, without a doubt, patience. Little Ruhiyya, for the future development of her inner potential, needed her parents, and all the rest of us in her midst to learn patience.
For indeed, she is our example. Serenity. The calm eye in the midst of the storm. These are the qualities that describe this little being. From her we will learn patience. For her we will learn patience.
Artificial Womb – NICU
Materials Watercolor on Paper