Monday, January 30, 2012

The Invisible Mother

Today I discovered the photography technique of the hidden mother, used to capture only their children and babies.  So strange.


Look at more photos here, and here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


I'm overwhelmed.  

The blessing that came my way today is my sign, really the culmination of the task I've had at hand- pave way and open space for the gifts of the universe to unwrap themselves for me.  Over the past year I've had two major break ups (three if you count a business partner), I moved out of my first home, quit (and got fired from) a few jobs, stopped taking classes, and opened my heart.  I surrendered my sense of control, of beating my life into submission, and learned to just be.

You know what happened?  Pregnant moms started to call on me.

The Goddess (or who/whatever you will) made it unmistakably clear that serving the rite of birth is what I'm supposed to be doing.

People often wonder how I got into birth in the first place.  Well, my interest in women's health happened on accident- I went to Plan-It X Fest in 2006 where there was a workshop on self cervical exams put on by DC's Down There Health Collective.  I was blown away.  I went home from Bloomington with an arm full of zines, including Alicia non Grata's Take Back Yr Life and Hot Pantz.  That was how I first was introduced to herbs, the idea of inducing your own miscarriage, and not using tampons anymore.  I was 18 and it felt good to be a woman.  

When I moved to Denver, I had no inhibitions about teaching a free school class (if these ladies could do it, so could I!)  So for six months every week I taught a class called Positive Menstruation.  It was wonderful.  It resulted in the safest space I had ever been in, a lovely fluidity of topics from feminist spirituality to anatomy and physiology.   We talked so much about how not to get pregnant using the Fertility Awareness Method that it didn't occur to me (at age 20) that birth was part of this circle I was a part of.  I first learned what a doula was through my tribe of women there but I didn't feel called to that until I was pregnant myself.

All the while, in the back of my head, through births, talking with women about their most intimate details, getting emails asking me questions from what kind of vibrator to get to difficulties with arousal and heavy menstrual flow, receiving phone calls from women in crisis, and seeing a clear need for holistic, understanding, compassionate health care for women and their allies, I've had a dream of what my practice would look like.  How can I best serve people?  I need somewhere that people (women, genderqueers, and men) can come for workshops, to buy supplies, to receive consultations and services such as screenings and pregnancy tests.  I need somewhere to teach natural birth control, childbirth education, and herbal intensives.  And by somewhere I really have thought "something".  I just want this dream to turn into a thing.  To manifest.  I don't know if as my business, as a non-profit, or as a collective.  I just know that this is what I want to pour myself into and that there is a need for it.  

Today I was given a space for it.  

I have access to two beautiful yoga studios, plenty of storage space for educational materials and medical supplies, and the potential (if we grow) to move into an office space of my very own- one that I could see my clients in, do treatments in...  It's in a beautiful house which held a Buddhist temple there for the past several years.  The woman that owns it wants to see this happen (almost) as badly as I do.  I can't believe it.  I have to believe it.

So now the pressure is on.  If I don't make it happen, some karmic apocalypse will have me for dinner.  Lots of decisions to make, lots of energy to give to the design of this project.  

I need help.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Intro to Codependent Polyamory

WHEW! What a week.

It's late at night and what I really wanted to get on here to write about, even though there's much to choose from, is my romantic scenario.  Ugh.  Nobody wants to hear this crap but here I am venting.  Maybe this will help someone.  I never know.

My future looks lovely but right now I'm in a tangle of emotions, trying to be honest with myself about how I feel, guarding my heart, and learning some lessons yet again.  I'm okay, though.  I started talking to a guy, right after I ended a relationship, on OKCupid- we talked every day online for three weeks, tried it out when we met and it's ended up in us not spending any time together and sleeping with other people.  He doesn't seem that interested in me anymore and I'm wondering why I'm even spending that much time and thought on him.  Meanwhile, my husband, who I just had sex with for the first time in a year, starts treating me like a goddess and says he wants to date me.  Hell.  I don't know what I have the energy for.  I don't feel strong enough emotionally to take any of it on, but my emotions are still so strong.  But I'm not putting my eggs in one basket.  I did it for a minute with the guy I've been seeing.  The reality of it is that he doesn't have time for me and I need attention.

I think that what I need is to go to Denver, make out with a bunch of queers and remember who I am, how I love, and what I'm all about.  I'm not about chasing dudes in this drinking town around.  If you want to ditch me to watch sports while I encapsulate placentas and eat dinner with my friends, be my guest.

I really do envision myself in a great open relationship that is completely egalitarian, where I feel safe to express and explore myself, where I know I wont be judged, where I'm not afraid of them leaving because I feel secure, appreciated, and understood.  I see myself being free in my body, experiencing all types of pleasure in my life, creating abundance, and nourishing every part of myself.  And having amazing sex and nothing less.

This will all pass, all of this conflict of emotions, the push and pull of want, desire and rejection.  Affection then neglect.  He said he was overwhelmed by me.  Blah blah blah.

Maybe it would just be easier to be with somebody who knows me.  Seriously, where are the other stand-up men unafraid of commitment?

To say that this is not about me being alone would be a lie.  Of course it is.  I need a lover.  But one that will love me.

Is that so much to ask?

The point is not to analyze it for what it was, but to see it for the small thing that it all is and figure out where I am.  What I am vs. where I was.  I want all of these things because I have finally, for the first time, felt like I deserve all of this, truly.  It rings true for me now.  A very poignant story about personal truth and self esteem:  Angela Barber was living in my house last summer and she was telling me of a healer that came to her in the hospital when she was there for a major accident for some time.  He asked her above all else, what she believed to be true.  She said, "I know I am loved."  As Angela told me this, I was stunned by the deadening silence of untruth in me that statement brought.  It made no sense that I was unloved, but I felt an utter emptiness in me that has since filled with a deep sense of gratefulness for every part of me.  Sometimes people ask me what it is that changed in me, and the simplest way to put it is that I realized that nothing would change until I started loving myself.

How do you start loving yourself?  You just accept the fact (the truth) that anything anybody has ever said to you to bring you down, cast doubt on you, or cause you pain was a fucking LIE.  The minute you start loving yourself is the one when everything changes.

My conclusion, for now, is that I want to treat myself the way I want to be treated.  Like a goddess?  Fine, it's on.  I'm going to treat myself like a goddess.   I'm not waiting on anybody else to make the first step.  Because I deserve it.  Why should I depend on anybody to get what I deserve?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sexual assault, the mind-body connection and birth.

I'm picking this up again because I find myself posting much to Facebook, it not being quite as gratifying as I wish it were, and I have lots more to say these days than that space allows.

Back to back births this week and I have yet to debrief with another doula- I will resist the urge to do it here.  I will say, however, that for the first time I saw the powerful grip that sexual trauma can hold on a woman's body and learned how essential it is to address that deep shit in pregnancy.  I'm finding that my work in the future is in creating deeper safe spaces with women, addressing our relationships with our pelvises, genitalia, getting to know our cervixes, and letting go when we are surrounded by love.  Creating spaces of safety and love for women.  Healing universal and personal trauma.  Opening our hips.  Letting go.  

I need to get a copy of Penny Simkin's "When Survivors Give Birth: Understanding and Healing the Effects of Early Sexual Abuse on Childbearing Women"  I'll review it once I do.  There have been hints lately that this is where my work will take me- I want to bridge gaps between disaster relief, emergency medicine, midwifery, sexuality education and sexual assault awareness.  I've been asked by a few women this week if I have been sexually assaulted and I've admitted that I have not.  (I should count the time I woke up with a man's hands down my pants.. and all the times my step dad hit on me or told me about how much sex he wasn't having with my mom..)  I do however feel highly tuned in to institutional baggage and the rape of the Earth.  I believe in a past life I was persecuted and murdered for being a healer (were my breasts cut off of me?  dragged through the streets and killed in front of my family?)  I feel these things, but I know I am safe now and that nobody can do that to me here.  Perhaps it's my job to let all of these other women know that it's safe here for them, too.  And that nobody can hurt them here, right now, in this space.  That their labor is not the enemy.  That their bodies are not the enemy.  

The pain of birth, of change, is safe.

So what does it look like?  This woman was crawling out of her contractions.  She looked like she was in transition so we checked her and she was dilated to 3 centimeters.  And I think it was at that point when her confidence melted away.  After that, she was completely frustrated with her body, angry actually.  Later she described feeling her body pull up every time she tried moving her energy down, as I suggested she do.  I kept saying, "Don't crawl out of it, sink into it."  She would move the energy down, feel baby move down, but her pelvic floor (and her cervix) tightened up in complete resistance.  Truly, this woman suffered.  At one point, we had her running the hospital halls during her contractions to try and open her cervix.  I pulled her aside to tell her, "I don't know what you've been through, but moving through this will make you a stronger mother."  She just looked back at me and said, "I don't know what I'm doing wrong."  At one point, only I could be near her.  She paced a part of the hall, gripping the hand rail- literally crawling it, battling her contractions.  She said at one point, "I wasn't prepared for this."

And it was partly my fault.  This woman did everything right- worked out 4-5 times a week, did acupuncture and massage, yoga, and ate great.  I took for granted that her lifestyle meant she would have a peaceful, lovely natural birth.  Before labor starts, I tell all of my clients that it's impossible for their contractions to be bigger than them because they are them.  Something bigger than her got in her way, took her strength and sent her on a ride.  

It's amazing what comes up during birth.  You find out what you think you've let go in your mind but your body has held onto.  Isn't it incredible the power our bodies have despite our minds, and our minds over our bodies?
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