The yellow bed, Teresa Wilson, 2013
Teresa Wilson ©, The Yellow Bed, 2013

My mother told me a story about her mother, my granny.

I should have had an uncle. I say ‘should’ because he was a healthy baby, but he was born at the wrong time. In the 1930’s Caesarean births were not done.

My grandfather had to make the terrible decision – to save the mother or the baby.

It is hard to imagine the horror of this situation now, it seems like something from the middle ages rather just two generations ago.

The guilt my granny suffered afterwards was terrible, because my grandfather (who was a GP) had warned her that another pregnancy would be disastrous, but she really wanted another baby. She had a condition where the cervix did not dilate properly and she had had a difficult time with her previous labours.

Unfortunately my aunty inherited the same problem, but my cousin was born by Caesarean quite safely, this was in the 1970’s.

Thankfully my own five children were all born safely. But there is a fear which lingers through the generations, a knowledge that we are not completely safe, terrible things have happened and being told that ‘everything will be fine’ when the pains start is not helpful – it is a denial of nature. The fear must be acknowleged and then overcome by the joy of birth. Childbirth is a momentous experience, we carry the memories, fears and joys of our ancestors.




About Teresa Wilson

Graduated from the Visual Arts BA Hons Programme, Salford School of Art, 2008
Studied History of Art at Manchester University 1986 -1989

Working since 2008 in following areas:-

  • site- responsive installation using uncanny puppet sculpture,
  • artist led workshops fo…Read more

One Response to “The Yellow Bed”

  1. Ruthy Rabbitt

    I’ve always had a fear of dying in child birth. You’re right it doesn’t help being told “everything will be fine”. The fear comes from somewhere very primeval. In Africa the onset of labour often means saying goodbye to your family, just in case the worst happens. I had a placenta retention, luckily I had modern European medicine on my side. This is still not the case for many women who die in child birth around the world today or whose families have to make the brave decision your Grandfather had to. Your figure in her bed reminded me of an Egyptian Mummy, that probably says more about me and my ancestors. I’ve had an obsession with ancient Egypt since I was very young. Queen Cleopatra’s lover Julius Caesar, according to Pliny was born of a caesarean section, however this is probably not true. Caesars mother survived his birth. Caesareans were done on dead women at that time. Your Grandmothers survival is to be celebrated by you and your ancestors


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