Mothership - a short film by Sarah Lawton

MG 36732

After a relatively straightforward pregnancy and birth of her first daughter, Katie in 2013, Sarah became pregnant with quadruplets nine months later. After a short spell on bedrest at St. Mary's, Manchester she was transferred to Sheffield due to a shortage of beds and had the babies at 25+6 weeks.

This film explores Sarah’s journey into motherhood and the complexity of feelings along the way, from the gestation period and the creation of multiple lives in the womb to the loss of control, shock and uncertainty that concurs with having babies extremely prematurely and the significant impact that this has on the whole family.

After experiencing birth and death in the same week following the devastating loss of one of the quads, Sam, after two days, Sarah and her husband Paul found themselves juggling a toddler and a long journey through the Snake Pass from Salford to Sheffield for five weeks until the three survivors, Louis, Charlie and Rosie were transferred back to Manchester where they remained for a further four months in hospital.

Sarah animated ice, paint, balloons and dolls to explore feelings around the pregnancy and birth, following which she used actual photographs and footage from the hospital, leading to visual representations of the day to day encounters with tiny woven hats alongside wires and hazardous materials, all juxtaposed with perpetual sounds of SATS alarms and monitors captured during the neonatal period. Using a microscopic camera, she observed the inside of lead connectors and the dripping of milk to represent the symbiosis of breast milk intermediated by machines and numerous healthcare professionals.

Overall the film serves to investigate a diversity of simultaneous journeys throughout gestation, NICU and beyond and of how becoming a mother in any circumstances inevitably and irrevocably changes the makeup of who you are.