Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Safe Motherhood Quilt Project

It was with great honor and reverence that today, on Mother's Day, I completed a small piece of a very special project in which I am privileged to participate. The Safe Motherhood Quilt Project was founded by Ina May Gaskin, the mother of the U.S. modern midwifery movement, almost ten years ago. Ina May's vision was that each mother who has died in childbirth since 1982 (the year after which no improvement in maternal mortality has been made in this country) be commemorated with a unique quilt square.

My first assignment for this project was to create a square commemorating Susan Goodrich. Susan, a Latin American scholar and associate professor of modern languages and literature, died on January 11, 2009, giving birth to her son, Charles Moses Martin Goodrich.Although shocked and grief-stricken, Susan's husband Robbie gathered the strength and presence of mind to care for baby Moses, in the way Susan would have wanted. This included breastfeeding Moses. The hospital where Susan gave birth didn't store breastmilk, and Robbie learned that the nearest available would take days to reach them. After speaking to a dear family friend who was still nursing her own child, the pieces of the puzzle fell into place, and now there is a community of women in Marquette, Michigan, who are taking turns nursing Moses from sunup to sundown. Ironically, the first literary reference to this kind of nursing was the story of baby Moses in the Bible (Exodus 2:1-10). When I received Susan's name from Ina May, I had already heard a piece of this incredible story. Though I know it is impossible, I tried to capture this moment of new life, new death, mourning, embracing, and community in a single quilt square. Most of this square was created on Friday night, with a full moon shining at my back through my dining room window. There was also a full moon the night Susan gave birth to Moses.Ina May hopes that this project will receive the national media attention it truly deserves very soon. When this happens, she expects to be overwhelmed with names of mothers, sisters, aunts, and daughters who have died giving birth in this country. She will need quilters to help commemorate these women and educate our nation about this dangerous trend.

Please
contact me or comment on this post if you would like your name added to a list of quilters that we may contact for help when the time comes.
"The Safe Motherhood Quilt Project is a national effort developed to draw public attention to the current maternal death rates in the United States, as well as to the gross under-reporting of maternal deaths, and to honor women who have died of pregnancy-related causes. The Safe Motherhood Quilt Project is a voice for women who can no longer speak for themselves."

10 comments:

Christine H. said...

OMG, Laura, I got goose bumps reading that post. What an absolutely incredible job you did honoring and comemorating her journey in this world and her all too soon passing into the next. Your work is amazing and I think it is wonderful that you are now part of such an amazing project/cause.

Liquid Pen said...

That is so beautiful.
What an amazing piece of art and a wonderful tribute. You are such a giver of spirit. Congratulations on another beautiful contribution!

Mama Bird said...

Oh, Mama! You captured everything you set out to so beautifully here. You know you are in the right place when two passions unite - quilting and maternity care advocacy - into one project. Keep on this path - magic is sure to follow.

Erin said...

Your square turned out beautifully! It is amazing to know so much of the mother's story. I did some googling on mine, but didn't come up with much. This will be such a powerful piece when completed.

Amy - Park City Girl said...

Beautiful post, and block. I've often thought that this should no longer be an issue in this day - thank you for sharing your work and your heart!

Anonymous said...

This is a beautiful square you made. I knew Susan and am part of the nursing mothers. It is a beautiful tribute to Susan

readd96 said...

Ina, After many emails between you and I, you sent me a picture of the square that was made for my daughter in law Lara. What a wonderful thing you have done to make people aware of the countless young mothers dying after childbirth. This quilt celebrates their lives and I am so proud to see her name there and to show it to Kaitlyn. What a wonderful and caring person you are. I can't wait to see the quilt with my own eyes.

BirchLeaf Designs said...

Tears are streaming from my eyes...such a lovely quilt square you have made and what an awesome project Ina has created. I am from Marquette and knew Susan...and the mamas who are breastfeeding. So incredible to live in such a community of loving, caring folks!
Wendy

danielle said...

Thank you for such an amazing tribute to a beautiful woman. Your thoughtfulness and care is evident in the finished piece. Susan was my professor, advisor, and friend while I lived in Marquette...such a bright spirit. I can feel her spirit shining through your radiant moon.
I now work as a studio assistant/editor for a quilting publications company and would love to contribute a block for this project! Ina's writing was such an inspiration to me while I was pregnant.
Thank you again.

Kangaroo said...

Danielle--that is beautiful! Please email me your contact info!