Pregnant: First Trimester, 2000, Helen Sargeant ©
Pregnant: First Trimester, 1/4, Photograph, 2000, Helen Sargeant ©

It’s cold, only the gas fire,

on the brim of the hill in Tufnell Park,

the attic flat reached by Jacob’s Ladder.

Pregnant: First Trimester , 2/4, Photograph, 2000, Helen Sargeant ©
Pregnant: First Trimester , 2/4, Photograph, 2000, Helen Sargeant ©

A bay window looking out over to the pub opposite,

drunken people spill onto the pavement

filling the flat with raucous laughter.

Pregnant: First Trimester , 3/4, Photograph, 2000, Helen Sargeant ©
Pregnant: First Trimester , 3/4, Photograph, 2000, Helen Sargeant ©

I ask you to take some photographs,

to document my body changing,

see my breasts enlarging, the areola darkening.

Pregnant: First Trimester , 4/4, Photograph, 2000, Helen Sargeant ©
Pregnant: First Trimester , 4/4, Photograph, 2000, Helen Sargeant ©

I am thin,

The first few weeks of pregnancy,

have eaten me.

About Helen Sargeant

I am a visual artist, mother of two children aged 12 and 4, and co-founder of the MeWe arts collective. I intend to use this site to explore how my personal experiences as a mother informs my arts practice. To reflect upon the maternal in relationship to memory, loss, and mental health in particu…Read more


More posts by Helen Sargeant

4 Responses to “Jacob’s Ladder”

  1. Mo

    I am moved by the pensiveness. . The girl becoming mother, sensing the huge change to come.
    And when it come pensiveness is no longer allowed, you must be the mother who knows all, can do all, or remain a girl

  2. Helen Sargeant

    So perceptive of you Mo, thank you for your beautiful observations.
    I do remember feeling very pensive and literally overcome by the enormity of my first pregnancy, the radical shift that was taking place in my mind and my body. The growing of another child, the becoming of a mother, the parting with the child in me. As a middle aged woman, I hold onto these photographs, the images of this young woman’s body,the memory of it, with great fondness. It is a struggle to live up to the ideal of the mother that knows all and can do all. I feel that I fall short of this daily. I long for the girl that I was, but I cannot go back only forwards in my maternity. Sink or swim, I was unprepared for being a mother, perhaps I would never of been ready, motherhood surprised me, snuck up on me. But when my baby was born, I melted, there was a tidal wave of love, and with it hand in hand came exhaustion, but some how I found inner strength, I rose up to meet him. To be his mother, but it was not an easy transition.

  3. Eti

    Does anyone know anyone who can honestly say ‘I was prepared for motherhood’? I think it is so common to experience early motherhood as a shock. Why is it so often that women feel like ‘why didn’t anyone tell me it will be like that?’
    My theory is that we lack the language to communicate early motherhood. If we accept Luce Irigaray’s claim that language is mostly patriarchal, then it makes sense that an experience that is uniquely female will be poorly served by language. Maybe this is where art can step in and offer another way of sharing..??

  4. Helen Sargeant

    Lack of language to communicate absolutely, I could hardly string a sentence together after my first child was born. After the birth there was a chasm. I remember promenading the maternity ward watching other women, caring for their babies, surveying, copying, mirroring. The voices of the babies cries. Yes maybe art, visual expression of this early motherhood can step in.


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