M.A.M.A. (Mothers Are Making Art) is a collaboration among ProCreate Project, The Museum of Motherhood, and Mom Egg Review.
Marketa Senkyrik- Art
hand-bound diary / drawings – fine-liner, watercolour crayons, crayons
My mum has plenty of photo albums – one from each holiday, one from each Christmas… When I am visiting my parents, we often look at the photos together.
I like to draw diaries. They are a bit like photo albums – they bring back memories.
This is a very special one.
It’s for Kaya.
To remind her how it was when she was growing inside me, passing through my body to this world and living as one with me in the very beginning of life
(as those things usually get forgotten with time).
Marketa Senkyrik – Czech born and a world citizen, living and working in London since 2013. Marketa studied book-design in Ostrava in the Czech Republic and fine arts in Clermont-Ferrand in France before she moved to London and started to work as a bookbinder. She is currently enjoying some time off with her daughter, co-runs an independent non-profit gallery 139artspace and is developing her own and collaborative artistic projects.
From ‘Mother Time’: Let Down
All these dark days and white nights, every two hours, the milk lets down. She feels the rhythm in her breasts: suck, suck, swallow. Sometimes it comes too fast, pools the side of his mouth, collects in the fat folds of his chin. Sometimes he falls asleep there, with the nipple in his mouth.
A diaper change. An attempt at a nap. At the hospital they said to record it all. Left breast, right breast, urine output, stool. 5 ml pumped milk offered via silver spoon. He’s so small, fetal with wrinkled skin, he can’t stay awake; she rubs an ice cube against his foot. He wakes cold, angry: sucks.
When babies are this small it is possible to weigh them before and after a feed and know precisely how much milk they have taken in. They weigh him at the hospital daily and then twenty-four hours later, then forty-eight, then wait a whole week. When she brings him home, he is four pounds eight ounces, his wrist the size of her thumb. He looks like a doll in his car seat; even the preemie clothes don’t fit.
In the news, she reads that a baby died of dehydration because the mother didn’t know she wasn’t supplying enough milk; she said she fed her child around the clock and he screamed when taken from the breast.
In this never-ending now, the mother puts the baby to her breast. He sucks, swallows. The present is a mouthful of milk. In his belly, proteins break down to digest. Nutrients travel his blood stream: calcium, DHA, Vitamin D. Their bodies share time and space, linked by mother’s milk the way they were once linked by the placenta. Infants who are breastfed adjust their body temperature and heart rate according to their mothers’. Their body clocks sync: mother time. Her body thins while he grows.
+ Another check mark on the log: wet diaper, dirty diaper, feed. +
If the baby sleeps: dishes. If the baby sleeps: diapers. If the baby sleeps: email. If the baby sleeps: blog post. If the baby sleeps: bathtub. If the baby sleeps: laundry. If the baby refuses: rock him. If the baby refuses: swaddle him, swing him, snuggle him. If the baby refuses: try the crib, the car seat, the bed with you beside him. Give him a new diaper. Give him your left breast. Give him your right. Count the hours. Count the hours. Count the hours.
If there are 60 minutes in an hour and 168 hours in a week, 52 weeks in a year, how many minutes of infancy, of toddlerhood? How many spent in the rocking chair, or pacing with a baby strapped to the chest, how many in the pediatrician’s waiting room, washing the spare parts of a breast pump, the innards of baby bottles? How many on the basic tasks of feeding, diapering, bathing? How many getting to and from, pushing a stroller up a hill? She’s walked when she needed to drink, walked when she needed to pee. Her legs and arms are spindly. Somehow, minutes pass; somehow, she has become mother. Her breasts swell and spurt; she feels the milk let down as the baby wakes, hungry.
Originally published in Mom Egg Review vol. 16 Mothers Work/ Mothers Play
Robin Silbergleid is the author of Texas Girl and The Baby Book. When she’s not teaching or writing, you might find her puttering in her kitchen; her kids eat a lot of banana muffins.