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Natalie Lennard

Ejection Reflex

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Edition of 15
Medium Collector Edition on Hahnemuhle Pearl Paper
Image size 60 cm x 80 cm


“Attending births is like growing roses. You have to marvel at the ones that just open up and bloom at the first kiss of the sun… you wouldn’t dream of pulling open the petals of the tightly closed buds and forcing them to blossom to your time line.” — Gloria Lemay

One summer evening, a man is packing bags for his labouring wife to go into hospital. But he turns to see her in a fallen dress, sitting in an archway of red roses that frame her in nature. Rose petals as confetti, dark wet newborn hair lit by the porch light, a vision of pre-Raphaelite classical beauty. She has given birth spontaneously.

‘Ejection Reflex’ is a reference to both the milk ejection and the ‘fetal ejection reflex’, a term introduced by Niles Newton in the 1960s, where a baby comes in an involuntary expulsion without forcible pushing. A normal part of most homebirths, it is rarely seen in hospital due to the routine interference in the process. Mainstream culture tends to hear of it only when a woman gives birth accidentally, in transit. The fetal ejection reflex occurs when a mother feels completely safe and supported, undisturbed by noise or bright lights. Or, it can be triggered by a sense of danger late in labour.

Although this scene is one that happens every day, the woman’s primal self instinctually clings to the cusp of her private boundary in an image as symbolic as it is realist. The ultimate sacredly private sight: a birthing woman, positioned on the precipice between nature; and the car, telephone wires and surveillance camera, emblematic of the outer manmade world into which a well-meaning spouse was ready to transport her.

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