A sonogram of the developing fetus has become a modern emblem of pregnancy. It signifies the moment when the news of an impending birth becomes real to the rest of the world -- the world beyond the sacred fusion of mother and child.
Though impossible for most us to read, this cryptic black-and-white image tells us the sex of the child and in most cases suggest healthy, normal development. Stark and ugly as they may be, sonograms promise future life, future hopes, future happiness.
But in Dianne Yudelson's
photo series "Lost," these sonograms take on a much more somber tone.
Yudelson has lost 11 babies over a time period a little more than 11 years. With each miscarriage, she kept mementos: baby clothes, toys, stuffed animals.
Now it is 11 years since her last loss, and Yudelson has lovingly arranged these mementos against a black background and photographed each.
In "Tommy," a stuffed animal and two knitted booties are arranged beside the sonogram. Twin hats and twin jeweled crosses rest beside a single sonogram in "Mary and Vivian." "Violet," a child who had been expected during a season with cold winds, is represented by a bulky sweater, one comb-and-mirror set and the inevitable sonogram.
"I have two living children, two boys," said Yudelson, who said she endured so many miscarriages because she "was dedicated to starting a family with my wonderful husband. People are often surprised to know that having a healthy child does not change the emotional connections to those you have lost."
Despite the specific nature of this "completely personal project" as Yudelson describes it, many people have told her they relate to the photographs.
"Recently, I had a woman contact me to say that although she has never miscarried, she knows many who have and my photos helped her realize the loss they must have felt," said Yudelson, who agreed that the photographs contain not only grief but the joy of pregnancy.
She said, "The images illuminate what was."