San Francisco

Installation of Making Mothers Visible, San Francisco. Mothers Day, May 12, 2012.
Margaret S. in front of her image at the installation of Making Mothers Visible, San Francisco. Mothers Day, May 12, 2012.
IMOW's Vice President of Exhibitions and Programs, Catherine King speaks at the installation of Making Mothers Visible, San Francisco. Mothers Day, May 12, 2012.
Aiste B. : "I had a very medicated birth experience in a hospital, when I was 29 years old. Motherhood means richness. It has expanded the spectrum of experiences, feelings, and colors in life. It also filled the void left after the death of my mother. My main concerns as a mother are excessive exposure to popular media and the lack of affordable childcare and schools. I wold like to be seen as a person able to manage multiple roles in life. I wish that all mothers could remember themselves."
Federica L. : "Motherhood means emotional freedom."
Caroline L. : "Giving birth was wonderful, powerful and joyous. I had one baby with a midwife and doula in the hospital, and two babies with midwives at home. Having children has healed old wounds and allowed me to experience unconditional love for the first time. I am happier, stronger, more resilient and patient."
Haleema F. : "I gave birth in the hospital when I was 21 years old. It was magical. All of my children were raised in San Francisco. It was a challenge but it made us all stronger and more independent. Being a mother has taught me so much about life, including patience, unconditional love and respect for our young people. I want to be seen as a person who has received the kind of knowledge and growth that only a mother receives from her children."
Jenna P. : "When I became a mother, I became a vessel for another spirit in this world. I hope to provide her with the guidance to connect and lead us to a brighter future. I wish that all mothers can love their children so that we can bring love into the future."
Dawn S. : "I am the adoptive mother of a foster youth. In the San Francisco Bay Area, every resource we have needed to help my son heal his heart and trust in his new home has been available. I would like to be seen as trying every day to do a better job. My wish all mothers could be gentle with themselves.Dawn Shaffer: "Motherhood is expansion. It has opened me up in so many ways."
Terri L. : "My first birth was traumatic. My second birth was wonderful. Motherhood takes me out of myself because you put children first. Motherhood is love. I would like to be seen as open, devoted, rational, and as a role model. I wish all mothers could have enough time for both themselves and their children."
Sara F. : "I had both of my babies in a hospital. It was joyous. It was also frustrating, because I was induced both times and there were rules and formality. Motherhood has made me more concerned for others and my emotions are even more powerful than before. I wish all mothers could feel confident and competent."
Amelia W. : "Motherhood has brought me more outside of myself and made me less selfish. I would like to be seen as a whole, rounded person for which motherood is one key role. I am concerned about having time for my children, giving generously, and also leaving space for myself. I wish that all mothers could be appreciated and acknowledged for their vital contribution to society."
Marina S. : "I gave birth when I was 24, in a hospital with my husband next to me. Giving birth was a feeling not described by words. Painful, and at the same time powerful. Since becoming a mother, I feel that I've become more mature and confident in myself. Motherhood brought me a stronger feeling of responsibility than I had before. I just feel like mother."
Sue B., Midwife: "I have attended more than 300 births. I love getting to know people intimately, sharing significant moments with them. Seeing people transform into parents. Seeing people share with each other love and pain and much more than they thought they could handle. All women deserve loving care as they embark or continue on the journey of motherhood. This is the kind of care that we should demand in so much of our lives: respectful, educational, holistic. Women deserve more than 15 minute appointments. They deserve to have a teacher/guide/resource to help them become the parents they want to be. And of course there should be funding for all of this so it is available to everyone. I want all women to know how miraculous they are and how important their love is."
Janette M. : "I had a good birth experience in the hospital. Motherhood has made my life rewarding. I wish all mothers could have unconditional love for their children."
Maria I., Midwife: "I have attended over 1000 births in the last 27 years. The midwifery model of care is a different take on maternity care. Our principles of respect, continuity of care and consumer rights to informed decision making are fundamental differences that empower women. I would like to see more women knowing their birth options with less fear. I think more women would consider natural childbirth and homebirth if they knew more about the safety statistics and infrastructure around homebirth in San Francisco."
Ellah R., Midwife: "I have attended between 200-250 births. I wish that all women could feel empowered by their experience of birth regardless of how the birth goes. A woman giving birth has the opportunity to experience a wild, untamed aspect of her humanity. It's kind of like the Old Growth of a forest. Protecting this possibility is a great passion of mine."
Margaret S. : "I have given birth in the hospital and at home with a midwife. Being a mother is an honor. It has given me new ways of seeing and being in the world every day. I would like to be acknowledged as the CEO of an amazing company that has way more challenges and requires 24/7 participation. I wish all mothers had more financial support from their own country, and were recognized by the community for the value they provide."
Elizabeth C. : "All my children were born in the hospital. I had an unplanned C-section and two VBACs. The last birth was attended by a doula and a midwife. As a mother, I want to be both loving and firm, and give my children the space to become who they want to be. I wish all mothers could trust their body because it knows what to do."
Susan L. : "As a birthmother, I would like my role as a mother to be recognized." Birthmothers have been made invisible and shamed. I am proud to be a mother. I had my daughter in a hospital with a midwife. My birth experience was beautiful. An altered state. I as able to go inward and trust that my body knew exactly what I needed to do. And I experienced the agony and ecstasy of loving another being so deeply. Motherhood means growth.
Janine R. : "I had a fantastic birth experience with amazing midwives. Motherhood is love. As a mother I worry about education and safety. I wish all mothers could have a great support system."
Athena A. : "Both of my births, attended by midwives, were opportunities for growth and learning. One birth was at home and one was in the hospital. Being a mother has improved my ability to see what is important and what is not in all aspects of life. Motherhood means receptivity. I wish all mothers could be supported in ways that allow them to fully experience the joy of being a parent."
Melanyann G. : "I am 34 years old and pregnant with my first child. I am planning for a home birth. Now that I am pregnant I am putting someone else, my baby, first. Motherhood means love, purpose and giving of yourself. I wish all mothers could have healthy, safe children."
Betty F. : "I am 88 years old. Being a mother has made my life worthwhile."
Liz F. : "I had my baby at home with two midwives. My birth experience was perfect. I proved to myself that I could do it, and I had the support of people I admire and trust completely. Motherhood means radiance. I would like to be seen as strong, confident, happy, powerful, sexy and sophisticated. I wish all mothers could feel empowered by their birth and mothering experience."
Sandra C. : "I first gave birth when I was 25 years old. All four of my children were born in a hospital with midwives. Motherhood has helped me learn acceptance of constant change. It is the most radical, changing part of the circle of life that one can imagine!"
Karen F. : "I had my first child in a hospital and my second child in a birthcenter. My birth experience was beautiful, scary and perfect. When I became a mother, I discovered my true calling as a writer."
Joyce C. : "I gave birth in a hospital with no midwife or doula. Motherhood means giving. As a mother, I would like to be seen as having done the best I could. I wish all mothers could have a supportive network of mothers and fathers."
Robin S. : "I became a mother through adoption at age 37, after 10 years of trying. When I became a mother I felt completion. My son's birthmother is part of our extended family. She taught me how to change his diaper the first day I saw him in the hospital, when he was just three hours old. Motherhood has expanded my capacity to love, find patience and also to worry about the future. My largest concern is for my son to be a contributing member of society and find compassion for others less fortunate."
Diane F. : "My 'birth' experience was through the adoption of two children. Motherhood means responsibility. As a mother of racially mixed/Black children, I am extremely afraid for the future of all children of color. Black mothers still have to counter society's depiction of Black children as lacking and not as good as others. I have been a mother for 35 years. I am still worrying but still smiling, and I can say I'm glad I did it."
Chri L. : "I would like to be seen as inspiring, strong, creative and individual."
Amanda G. : "I was very proud to give birth without any medication."
Kerherve C. : "I gave birth in the hospital, with support from a doula, when I was 30 years old. It was a good experience. I wish all mothers could believe in their bodies."
Joanne J. : "I wish all mothers could take pride in their motherhood."
Elizabeth C. :"I wish that all mothers could enjoy health care, clean water and good food. I wish that all mothers could have access to education for both themselves and their children. And I wish that all mothers could have the ability to make their own choices and have fulfilled lives."
Mary S. : "I gave birth in a hospital when I was 27 years old. Motherhood means responsibility. As a mother, I worry about disintegrating families and communities."
Norma L. : "Motherhood means love."
Hiromi W. : "I gave birth at home with a midwife and doula. Motherhood means love. I wish all mothers could have the time and means to stay at home with their children as long as they need to."
Beah H., Midwife: "I have delivered over 3000 babies. Midwives are well trained to provide excellent care for low-risk mothers and babies. I would like midwifery care to be available to all women, regardless of insurance coverage. I decided to become a midwife after the birth of my son, when I was 19 years old. I love being invited to share one of the most transformative and intimate times in a woman's life. As she transitions into motherhood, I hold a woman in an emotionally and physically safe space. I wish that for all women giving birth."
Nile N., Midwife: "I have delivered over 70 babies. Midwives are experts in normal birth and respect the importance of the birth process for the potential empowerment of the mother and her family. All women should have earlier access to preconception care, more breastfeeding support and paid maternity leave. And for all mothers, I wish a healthy, empowering and beautiful birth - whatever that looks like for her."
Violeta K. : "I had an excellent experience giving birth in a hospital, with no midwife or doula. Becoming a mother has made me more aware of my powers and my flaws. I would like to be seen as giving love, love, love and a few good examples of a life well lived. I wish that all mothers could have peace…and quiet."
Linda C. : "I had amazing birth experiences in the hospital. I gave birth for the first time at 18, and then had a child twelve years later. Motherhood has helped me be more nurturing and make sacrifices in all areas of my life. As a mother, I want to be seen as non-dependent on my children and engaged in learning, creating and contributing to life."
Zina Von B. : "I am 29 years old and pregnant with my first child. I plan to give birth at home with my husband and two midwives. In San Francisco, I have found wonderful support and resources. But it's also amazing the kinds of things we don't have access to here, like common midwifery care, a birth center, and financially-supported maternity leave. As a mother, I would like to continue to be taken seriously as an independent person, and have it be more commonly recognized that I can choose family and motherhood as well as my other interests and pursuits -- that both things can be valued, that both paths can be followed. It would be really neat if motherhood were seen as 'cool'! For all mothers, I wish more cultural and institutional support for family life."
Mariam M. : "Motherhood is the greatest thing in the world."
Juicy S. : Giving birth was the most challenging thing I have ever done and the most rewarding - by far. I gave birth in a hospital. My long-time girlfriend was my doula. My husband had a dude-la, who was also a longtime girlfriend of ours. Motherhood has changed my life in every way! Being a mom makes me more joyful and able to appreciate life in a new way. Every moment is so much more precious."
Nina A. : "I am 79 years old and had four children. All of my births took place in a hospital. In 1959, my third child was a stillborn. It was a disaster. Nobody acknowledged the death. I had to ask what happened. Nobody was there for me to mourn. It was as if it never happened."
Laura C.: "Mothering is bound up with my experience as an adopted person. As those two paths converge there is discovery, struggle and healing. Motherhood is transformation. I have learned to give and receive love more deeply. I have discovered a greater confidence, power and responsibility to make change in my own life and in the world. I understand that who I am and what I do really matters. And I see, every day, that love comes in many forms and it's all good. I would like to be seen as inspiring, kind, strong and always growing."
Clare W.: "I gave birth with a midwife and doula at home in San Francisco. It was a very intense but also very freeing and empowering experience. Being a mother brings you joy that you could never imagine. It also made me even more committed to following the causes and passions I believe in – in my life and work. If I expect that for my daughter, I can expect no less for myself."
Musimbi K.: "I gave birth twice in a hospital with midwives. They were great experiences. Motherhood means joy. I would like to be seen as loving, caring and responsible. I am concerned about whether the world will be safe for my children, our children, all children. I wish that all mothers could love their children while they are young."
Migdalia V.
Veronica C.
Marta Q.
Michelle S.
Linda L.: "I gave birth at San Francisco General Hospital with a midwife. Being a mother has given me great joy. It has also given me responsibility, not just for my son but for children everywhere. I would like to be seen as helping my son achieve his dreams and to live a healthy, loving life. I am very proud of him. I wish that all mothers could raise their children in a world that provides health care, food, shelter and education. No one should have to worry about raising children in poverty."
Marcella C.: "I am 83 years old. I had my first child in a military hospital in Occupied Germany when I was 25 years old. Becoming a mother has enriched my life beyond imagination. As a mother, I worry about peace and economic security."
Christine M.: "Being a mother has made me aware of all of the sacrifice and hard work of my own mother - and all mothers. I'd never given it a moment's thought before. I would like to be seen as a source of absolutely unconditional love. And sometimes, I am concerned about losing "myself" within the role of mother. I gave birth when I was 39, in the hospital with a doctor, with no regrets. My birth experience was dreamlike, very emotional and, briefly, frightening. I was very aware of being in a twilight state. I knew that nothing was going to be the same after this! I wish all mothers could see their children grow up safe, healthy, and with opportunity in their lives."
Mariedda G.: "I had my first child in a hospital with midwifery care when I was 30 years old. I never thought that being a mother would be so complex, so emotional. I never slept the same after the kids were born. Your life never belongs to you anymore. You think it will get easier but it never does. As a mother, I would like to be seen as a powerful and inspirational woman. I wish all mothers could be strong, love their children and never give up. Raising kids in the San Francisco Bay Area and being an immigrant makes you realize that it is one of the most interesting and balanced areas to raise children. It makes me feel like we made the best decision moving here."
Milena G.: "Motherhood has changed me totally, in many different ways. I love being a mother. It makes me feel complete."
Suellen M.: "I have been present with women at thousands of births. I love being present during some of the most amazing transitions in life, as babies emerge into the world, as women become mothers, couples become families, and families expand to love another family member. Midwives provide the safest and most supportive care for women and families. Midwives around the world are the front line health care workers in many places, but there are not enough of them. If there were more midwives, many more women and babies could survive childbirth. Even in the Bay Area, there are not enough midwives, not nearly enough options for women to have a midwife at the place of her choice (whether a specific hospital, or birthing center, or in her own home). I wish that all mothers can be treated with love and respect during labor and birth, and, of course, that all women birth a healthy baby safely."
Candace P.: "I have assisted with the delivery of 100 babies. I love being a doula because I can be with women and couples during such a transformative time. I am continually amazed by women's strength in those moments. Midwifery care is a safe and loving alternative to traditional obstetric care. I hope that we can learn to "be with" women emotionally through this process, in addition to medically. I want all mothers to feel embraced and supported through the process of pregnancy, birth and post-partum care in a holistic and non-judgemental way."
Jamie C.: "Motherhood has changed everything. It is amazing and exhilerating and I wouldn't trade It for the world."
Tracey F.: "Being a mother has made me a more loving, patient, and empathetic person. I would like to be seen as a strong, competent, and capable role model to my daughter and her friends. As a mother, I worry that no matter how I vote, my child will grow up to be more in debt, have to work longer and harder, and have fewer career options. I worry that she will live in a country that honors callousness over empathy."
Aidan K.: "I gave birth at home with a midwife. It was amazing, profound and empowering. I wish all mothers could experience birth in an empowering way."
Nicole V.: "Motherhood means patience."
Christine P.: "I gave birth in a hospital without midwives or doulas. It was a profound experience. Becoming a mother has enriched my life beyond measure. It is the most rewarding experience of my life. I would like to be seen as supportive and nurturing. As a mother, I worry about the safety and security of my children."
Michelle J.: "I gave birth when I was 23 years old, in a hospital without a midwife or doula. It was quick and painful. Motherhood is joy. It has taught me patience and unconditional love. I am concerned about teaching my daughters how to live authentically. I wish all mothers could be appreciated by their families."
View of the outside of the San Francisco Public Library on Installation day, Mothers' Day May 12
Liz F. with her baby, in front of her image at the installation of Making Mothers Visible, San Francisco. Mothers Day, May 12, 2012.
Installing images from Making Mothers Visible, San Francisco. Mothers' Day, May 12, 2012.
Installation of Making Mothers Visible, San Francisco. Mothers' Day, May 12, 2012.
Installation of Making Mothers Visible, San Francisco. Mothers' Day, May 12, 2012.
Installation of Making Mothers Visible, San Francisco. Mothers' Day, May 12, 2012.
Installation of Making Mothers Visible, San Francisco. Mothers Day, May 12, 2012.
Installation of Making Mothers Visible, San Francisco. Mothers Day, May 12, 2012.
Installation of Making Mothers Visible, San Francisco. Mothers Day, May 12, 2012.
Installation of Making Mothers Visible, San Francisco. Mothers Day, May 12, 2012.
Installation of Making Mothers Visible, San Francisco. Mothers Day, May 12, 2012.
Installation of Making Mothers Visible, San Francisco. Mothers Day, May 12, 2012.
Installation of Making Mothers Visible, San Francisco. Mothers Day, May 12, 2012.
Installation of Making Mothers Visible, San Francisco. Mothers Day, May 12, 2012.
Installation of Making Mothers Visible, San Francisco. Mothers Day, May 12, 2012.
IMOW's Executive Director, Clare Winterton speaks at the at the installation of Making Mothers Visible, San Francisco. Mothers Day, May 12, 2012.
Installation of Making Mothers Visible, San Francisco. Mothers Day, May 12, 2012.
A mother holds up her completed Traveling Postcard. Traveling Postcards is a humanitarian organization founded on the premise that art has the ability to heal, feed and transform our lives. Hundreds of unique, hand -made art postcards, containing personal wisdom, compassion and solidarity are created and hand delivered to individuals and communities, bringing voice, visibility and hope to women and girls who have suffered from isolation, violence or repression.
Star Smith's "Self-Renewal Through Motherhood" Traveling Postcard.
Sandra and Andrea hold up their Traveling Postcards.
A daughter's Traveling Postcard written to her mother.
A family poses with their Traveling Postcard.
Elizabeth's "Mother Love" Traveling Postcard. Traveling Postcards is collecting and sharing our most intimate and powerful experiences. Everyone has a story to tell and our birth stories contain some of our most precious wisdom.
Liz balances motherhood and artistry.
Samira's "She is Family" Traveling Postcard.
RD smiling with her Traveling Postcard. Art engages our hearts and bodies and if we can take action with an open heart, we can all make a difference!
Emerald O'Leary's heartfelt Traveling Postcard. Traveling Postcards is about personally connecting to the issues you care about, despite economic, cultural and geographical distance.
Traveling Postcards are hung to dry in downtown San Francisco.
Making Mothers Visible San Francisco

The International Museum of Women held the global pop-up photography project Making Mothers Visible San Francisco on May 12, 2012.

Mothers, midwives, children, and the San Francisco community viewed the public art installation in process as IMOW and community volunteers installed more than 50 large-scale photographs of mothers and midwives on the exterior of the San Francisco Main Library across from San Francisco City Hall. The images that will were installed are visible in the above slideshow, along with quotes from each woman about her experience of motherhood and photos of the installation in process. 

This family-friendly day also featured free art activities including face painting for kids and a hands-on art making workshop for adults in partnership with Traveling Postcards. Traveling Postcards are unique, handmade art postcards that share women's voices and connect hearts from around the world despite economic, cultural and geographical distance. www.travelingpostcards.org. The completion of the installation was marked with a community celebration and official remarks by Clare Winterton (Executive Director, International Museum of Women), Theresa Shaver (President/ Executive Director, The White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood) and Luis Herrera (City Librarian, San Francisco Public Library). Jane DeCuir, traditional signer, performed Navajo and Cherokee songs dedicated to mothers. 

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