Sunday, July 25, 2010

Project Update: The Safe Motherhood Quilt

Tonight is the Full Moon in Aquarius, a time to manifest awakening and compassion, and to examine the relationship between individual expression and service to humanity. I felt tonight would be the perfect occasion to revisit The Safe Motherhood Quilt Project, and to honor a mother that lost her life in childbirth.

Pamela Jean Young Lippert died from an amniotic fluid embolism (AFE) just hours after giving birth to her son Vaughn (Cameron), who is alive and healthy today. Ina May Gaskin, founder of the quilt project, noticed a sharp increase in the number of women dying with this diagnosis; moreover, a majority of these women (like Pamela) were induced with Cytotec, also known as misoprostol. Cytotec is a drug that has never been approved by the FDA for labor induction and causes the uterus to hyperstimulate like no other medicine. Furthermore, unlike Cervadil, it cannot be removed once it is administered.

Ina May wanted to create a special quilt to bring awareness to the far too many women who have died of amniotic fluid embolism. Pamela already has a square on the larger Safe Motherhood Quilt, which is how I came to know her story. The square, lovingly created by her sister Lauren, was on the panel I was honored to quilt last year. I communicated with Pamela's family and they gave me their blessing to create a new square for the special quilt.
I received many loving details about this beautiful woman, younger than I am, who was obviously in great health and full of love for life and the world around her. But one line in an email from her mother caught my attention:

"I remember how she loved trees, and how, if she saw a huge tree standing in a field by itself, she would marvel at its creation and at how strong it must be to stand alone."
I gathered the fabric that spoke to me and began to create a strong and mighty tree, alone, with Pam in contemplation. (The fabric I used for the trunk is the same fabric that binds the panel of the Safe Motherhood Quilt with Pam's original square in it.)

As I was working on this piece, little b was digging around in my notions and found two little oval mirrors, and tossed them in my direction. One of them landed right in the center of the tree. This moment of contemplation instantly became a portal between Pamela's birth experience and the strength and solitude she so admired.
After placing the pieces on the 12" x 16" square with fusible webbing, I gave each a decorative stitch treatment to reinforce and embellish the details of the square. For Pamela's silhouette, I used a free motion foot; it may not be perfect, but I think its fluidity represents the moment in a nice way.
Pam was only 26 years old when she transcended this world. The real tragedy here is that her death quite likely could have been prevented. If you would like to join Ina May and me and many others in the fight for healthier childbirth, there are many ways to help. If you would like to create a quilt square for a woman who has died of amniotic fluid embolism, please visit this list and find a woman (who doesn't already have a quilter assigned) that resonates with you. Please comment here or email me with your contact information and I will fill you in on specifications, etc. These stories need to be told.


Amy said...

What a wonderful project! I am one of the very rare survivors of Amniotic Fluid Embolism. What a wonderful way to honor those who have lost their lives in such a devastating way. A fellow survivor has started a foundation called the Amniotic Fluid Embolism Foundation and we are trying to raise awareness as well as provide support to those who have lost their loved ones to AFE. If you are interested in learning more we have a page on Facebook that you can search if you type in "Amniotic Fluid Embolism Foundation".

Meredith Shadwill said...

Gosh, 26 years old. It's hard to imagine considering that's my age right now. I can't even begin to assume how her family must feel, but I'm so glad for this project. Cytotec is an awful, horrible drug with very real, dangerous consequences, and I am appalled that doctors take the risks with it that they do.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Laura. Amy I am Pams sister and a member on the facebook page.
Lauren Young

Toolie said...

Pam's square is beautiful Laura...reading this you made me feel as if I knew her. You do these women such a beautiful honor in your work and I am constantly reminded what a special and kind person you are....You inspire me and I'm so glad to know you.

Mama Bird said...

What a beautiful piece of art you created with this square. Your heart is so wide open for these women and their families... and you are opening more hearts with every stitch. These stories do need to be told; thank you for lifting up your voice for this cause.

Eileen said...

Thank you for remembering and honoring my friend in such a beautiful way. Pam was a wonderful person who touched, and in many ways continues to touch, many lives.

Anonymous said...

The square takes my breath away! Thank you Laura for honoring my daughter Pam and other women that have died of AFE.
Its so wonderful to see that there are people in this world who are quietly touching the lives of strangers in loving ways.
You are a very special person.

Nancy Young {Pam's Mom}

Theresa said...

How touching this project is-I never had the chance to meet Pam but have gotten to know so much about her through her mother. What an adorable boy her son is.

Anonymous said...

Laura, the square you created is beautiful and serene. Pam was a great friend of mine and I think of her almost everyday and I think it's amazing that she is able to touch others who may not have even had the chance to know her. Thank you for creating such an admirable piece of art for Pam- it's a great way to remember her by.

Anonymous said...

The square is both beautiful and serene and an amazing way to remember Pam by. Thank you for posting the pictures and sharing this.