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Residency Blog Installment from student Svea Boyda-Vikander

Wendy Phillips, PhD, MS, LMFT's picture
MA Psychology-Counseling Blog
Residency Blog Installment from student Svea Boyda-Vikander
It's 9:48 pm and I'm at the Goddard College Psychology & Counseling program residency in Plainfield, Vermont. My sister and I are staying in the family dorm so my bulldozer of a baby boy can sleep right beside me and she can look after him during the days. He's 18 months old and passed out with just a few lullabies at 9pm. Whenever I get too excited with my typing he sighs and stirs. So I'll keep this quick.
 
I'm planning my installation for the Goddard Expressive Arts exhibit tomorrow. At the suggestion of Deborah Hickey, my 'Group Work' course mentor from last term, I decided to include my textile piece Shibori Healing in the show. My final project for 'Group Work' was to design an expressive arts/support group workshop for women who are pregnant with 'rainbow' babies. Rainbow babies are those who are born after an experience of profound loss in the mother's life - usually, the loss of a previous child. Not having personally experienced that tragedy, or the bittersweet joy that a subsequent pregnancy may bring, I wanted to explore some of the issues that may arise for mothers around developing secure attachment with these children.
 
A great way to enhance the bond between caregiver and infant is through babywearing - spending a few hours (or all hours of) a day in close physical contact, carrying the baby. This way, the infant can feel the parent's skin and heartbeat, which helps to regulate their emotional arousal so that they are calmer and cry less. It can also increase mothers' milk supply, and make breastfeeding easier. In my experience, it also makes daily post-partum life, in general, a heckuva lot easier.
 
My aim in creating the Shibori Healing workshop proposal was to bring grieving/rejoicing mothers together to provide support for each other in a non-judgmental atmosphere. To facilitate this - and hopefully to ease the transition into mothering this new child - I brought in the element of Shibori-dying and creating baby-carrier slings. Shibori is a traditional Japanese method of dying fabric after having knotted, stitched and clamped it, much in the way that it was fashionable to tie-dye one's clothes in the 1970s. I am interested in the healing potentials of working with textiles, an area that has been neglected within Expressive Arts practices. As a visual artist, I can personally attest to the healing and subtle richness of working with cloth, thread and the textile-dying process. I also have romantic notions about the value of women's work, in the sense of gathering together to talk, laugh, and make handicrafts. 
 
Following are some excerpts of the workshop proposal presentation. And a photo of my dear husband carrying our baby, Tiyo, in the Shibori Healing sling prototype.
I don't know how I will install the piece tomorrow. I like to work from the materials available, so I might hang it from the ceiling - or, if there isn't space for that, just leave it folded on the table for people to open up themselves.
 

 

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