My Love Story

Three years ago on top of a mountain in New Zealand I met eyes with my gorgeous man Silver. We met on the dance floor in the Coromandel Peninsula. This is my love story. 

In December 2014 I left Australia to pursue my Midwifery career in New Zealand. I knew I could not be a part of the medicalization of women and childbirth in my homeland.

I knew that New Zealand had one of the best maternity systems in the world and had often joked during my midwifery training, saying things like

When I finish studying midwifery, I am moving to New Zealand!”.

As a new graduate midwife I knew the time would come where I would have to leave my home to work away from home. There were very few jobs in Mullumbimby!

I had told my daughter and she was adamant she was not moving. I raised a tiger with voice, teeth and claws intact. No convincing her otherwise; I was heart achingly aware that this would mean leaving my teenage daughter behind with her father. (note – not my abusive ex)

I felt that a year away would do us both good. Her father had always said he would have her when she was a teenager. I didn’t fancy working out in the bush or in any other city in Australia.

A male friend suggested I go to New Zealand for a year.

At first I thought, “I can’t leave my daughter!” But after sitting with it for a while I knew I couldn’t leave myself where I was.

I had to go.

It was time.

Although this was difficult to do, I had to do it for me.

I had to walk on, I had to honour my soul, I had to say yes to me. As a mother it was hard to say yes to me yet the truth was that martyring myself to my child was not working.

I was worn out and I needed to heal and reclaim parts of myself.

I packed up my home and belongings and on the 1st of December 2014 I flew into Auckland airport. As soon as my feet hit New Zealand ground I felt a deep peace in my body and heart.

I felt safe.

I still feel this way.

My old friends Andy and Claire lent me their van so I could explore the Coromandel. A friend had told me about Mana Retreat and I knew there were dance classes there.

I headed alone into the soft green healing mountains. I felt vulnerable navigating this new land alone, yet exhilarated too. Bravely, one breathe at a time I ventured into the unknown. I knew I could not be the sort of midwife I wanted to be in Australia. I had to find another way to work and live.

I let go of everything to start over, little did I know that so much magic awaited me on top of that mountain.

Early one morning in the cold and mist I navigated the van through the windy mountains up to Mana Retreat in the Coromandel.

Hours later, through rain and summer fog I found myself on top of a mountain on the dance floor, my happy place, with around 20 other beautiful light filled souls.

Mana Retreat is a holy and sacred place on my soul pilgrimage.

While I danced freely around the floor a moment came that would change the course of my life, but I didn’t know it at the time. Out of nowhere he suddenly appeared, bright dark blue eyes, a man of courage, beauty and passion, wide awake. He looked straight into me. It was a moment of wonder.

In a single moment I had been penetrated by a man whose energy would soon go on to change my life. I wasn’t looking for another relationship. I wasn’t looking for a man.

I wanted to follow my calling, and it seemed the universe wanted to support me in that in mysterious ways too.

In matters of the heart I was most gravely wounded. For the two years prior I had grieved the loss of my whirlwind first marriage, which although passionate was cruel, destructive, painful and thoroughly unsustainable.

It wasn’t kind and it wasn’t safe.

I had to get out. I got a divorce.

Seeking a new path I threw myself whole heartedly into Midwifery studies. It was a rigorous journey for my spirit but I completed it.

Throughout the sad times I had a picture stuck on my desk that made me feel wonderful. It gave me hope. It was a small hand painted card by Annie Haywood, a brilliant New Zealand artist featuring a man and a woman together in a garden.

The image was one of peace and kindness.

As I studied and wrote essays I decided that I would never be abused again and that one day I would have a kind and loving relationship. As tears poured out of me like rivers I looked at that picture by Annie Haywood.

I affirmed to my heart and soul that I would never again settle for verbal, physical or psychological abuse of any kind.

I drew a line in the sand, and I dreamed of a better life.

Little did I know that I had invoked a King.

Looking back I can see that in the steaming compost of my marriage heartbreak, loss, pain and grief …. I surely planted a seed for myself.

I had no idea or concern for when it would happen. I was thick in a challenging career path with a teenage daughter to support.

I was not looking for love.

I forgot about that picture, packed up my house and got on a plane. Lo and behold my seed of hope sprung up unexpectedly in the Coromandel, a place of peace and extreme beauty. Heaven on Earth.

If we are courageous enough to face what isn’t working, what stinks, what is broken, what has failed, and what hurts like hell, from this place of dissolution and despair we can make wonderful compost and then go on to plant new seeds of hope. It’s fertile dross, grist for the mill.

Our seeds of hope will grow and sprout in divine timing. The process cannot be forced or controlled in any way.

Three years on I am softened, humbled and blessed by the presence of my divine man Silver by my side. It has in no way been easy, with my daughter in Australia and my relationship hurts… er… baggage.

Yet love has prevailed. Silver has sustained my heart, body and spirit through good times and bad.

I even left him for a year to return to my daughter and we did the dance of long distance love, flying back and forth across the Tasman.

Silver is by far the strongest, kindest, deepest and most wonderful man I have ever met.

The journey is still as mysterious and magical as it was when we first met three years ago today.

I am reborn in love.

I am softer, because he is so kind.

I am kinder, because he is so loving.

I am happier, because I am seen and truly accepted as I am.

I am more myself, because he is so patient with me.

He is my Man Angel.

This is my love story and I am truly blessed.

3 Big reasons why women don’t heal from Birth and 5 ways YOU CAN

We can become quite attached to our wounds. Yes, we can even become addicted to our awful birth story. We can increase our energy from emotions such as rage and anger, which does feel better than sadness or depression. But when we are stuck between the two we are still stuck. We are not at peace with our birth, with what happened and how it made us feel.

I was like this.

The story I told myself in my head was that I had FAILED at childbirth. I told myself this story for many years. I was ashamed of my birth. It was painful and I wanted to heal it by ‘getting birth right’, by having another baby. This approach totally didn’t work for me. I didn’t get to have another baby. I actually ended up having a miscarriage that initiated me into Death and Midwifery instead.

This was my medicine, my path, my healing. Looking back, I can see the absolute wisdom in Nature’s plan. She is Wise.

I had to come to peace with my daughters birth exactly how it happened. The healing was in the story I told MYSELF, in my head, in my heart, in my body. I learned so much about myself and about birth that I saw clearly that this was the birth I needed to have to learn what I have needed to learn. I look at Birth now as a treasure chest offering gems of wisdom to anyone who cares to see.

If we cling to a broken story, we don’t tend to see the gems and we certainly don’t heal.

angel-card-tarot-card-reading

So here are 3 Big reasons why women don’t heal from Birth.

1. We are stuck in Blame and Shame

We either blame others (the system, the doctor, the midwife, the doula, our partner) or we blame ourselves. “If only I had declined the induction,” “If only I had said no to the epidural,” or the caesarean section. “If only I’d done classes.”

Mine was, “If only I hadn’t pushed!”

Either way, blame is a ball and chain. We remain victims, we feel damaged by birth and we feel alone with our birth story. We secretly tell our horrible birth story over and over in our head and we may even feel we need to warn pregnant women of the pending danger that lays ahead for them.

2. Stuck in Wrath and Resentment

We are angry at care providers, support people, partners or ourselves for how our birth turned out. We feel sad, envious or resentful when we hear of friends or relatives who have beautiful natural births or home births.

An enormous amount of energy can be wasted in anger and resentment. I wasted years of my life being angry. Looking back I can see that if I truly feel my emotion of anger, sometimes I need to do something like smash a plate or hit a pillow or scream under water. If I allow it to pass through me physically, these days it flows through pretty quickly.

Feel anger, let it move through. Make sure nobody, including yourself, is hurt.

It’s only taken me nearly twenty years to get to this point. I regret taking my anger out on the people I love in my life. Looking back I did not know how to feel and process anger efficiently.

Being stuck on the A note has dire consequences. I started out as a young girl being an imploder (keeping it all tucked away safely inside) and then in my late twenties I became an exploder (spraying it all around, hurting myself and others, mostly the people I loved).

I’ve had a long journey with anger. Now in my late forties I am finding the middle path. It feels wonderful to know I can let the wild fire move through my system and out of me in a matter of minutes.

3. Stuck in Guilt and Failure

When our birth goes pear shaped we can even feel that we have failed as a woman, that we are less of a woman because of our birth experience. We may work hard to ‘suck it up’ (I really dislike that expression) to protect our wounds and cover it over with a ‘socially acceptable face’, rather like a false self, a functional, strong mask of ourselves that ensures the wounds we carry are buried safely in our underbelly where they cannot be seen, even to ourselves.

We soldier on. We go into denial.

We may even feel disgusted by the sight of a pregnant woman, we push the pain away in an attempt to never feel that hurt or vulnerable ever again.

Okay enough of the stuckies…. time to MOVE ON….. here are 5 ways you CAN heal from Birth.

1. Spring Clean your Birth Story

What is the storyNew Life - unfurling fern frond. you are telling yourself? Write it down. Get a piece of A4 paper and draw a line down the middle. On the left write at the top of the page What Happened and on the right of the page write How it made me Feel.

Be willing to feel how you really feel about your birth. Go through each part from early labour, through transition, birth, delivery of placenta, and post partum. Break it all down, moment by moment if needs be. Be gentle, and be open and willing to accept painful emotions. Feel them and when you are ready, let them go.

2. Express yourself

Get those feelings into the light of day. Writing your birth story, painting your birth, drawing and dancing are a few creative ways to start the healing process. Whatever your style, fully acknowledge that this was your experience. Have no judgements about whether your feelings or your expression are good or bad – they are yours, and that’s what matters.

3. Empower yourself

Write your story again, and this time claim the power. Write in the first person “I did…, I chose…, I created…, I felt…, I knew…” This is not to change the past, or to deny any of it – it is to claim the power to choose, so that right now you can choose your experience, choose to heal, choose to empower yourself for the future.

4. Share your truth

Find a safe person to talk to about your birth. Someone you trust, who won’t interrupt you or try and fix you or be triggered by your emotions. As best you can, choose someone who will simply hold space and witness, rather than somebody who will ‘sympathize’ and reinforce any dark story or victim feelings.

You are a valuable part of this world, and you deserve to be witnessed. This is a huge step out of shame, and into self worth.

Fully honouring your story like this is part of the process of completing and letting it go. It can feel so good that sometimes it is tempting to keep doing this step. Don’t let this build into a pattern, where you become dependant on this story – there are so many beautiful stories waiting for you.

If you know you are ruminating over and over about your birth, seek professional support that feels right for you.

5. Honour your process

Carve out the time and space for your healing. I work on the principle that every woman has a Divine Healer within. She is unique and creative and powerful in every woman I work with. Some women are very earthy, some are very spiritual, some are emotional, some are singers, some love to sew, some need to laugh, others sweat, others bake. Every woman has her way.

There is no ‘right’ way, only the way that feels natural in your body and spirit and right for you.

Give yourself some space to tune into your unique way of healing. Trust the Healer within who is guiding you every day.

Whichever way you choose to heal, whichever path you follow, fully acknowledge that this is important, valuable, worth while. Consciously choose to support yourself by committing the time and resources to heal, because you are worth it. Whether that means buying a new box of paints or investing in a three month programme, you are worth it.

How can you heal from your birth?

I think it comes to down to willingness, readiness to let go and openness for the birth story to retell itself within your body and spirit. Women that heal tell me that they have a new found appreciation for the miracle of their wise body and they come to peace with the birth they actually had.

What has changed?

Perhaps it’s a small shift of perception that releases a whole lot of energy, our feelings about our experiences. It can be a number of things, but often it comes down to a few key moments. It boils down to reclaiming power in the moments where we felt we were powerless. It boils down to having a voice now where we didn’t have then. Not what happened, but how we feel about it, where the story we tell ourselves has become a story we can now feel good about.

Blessings on your healing journey. I wish you every success, however you choose to proceed. The most important thing is to begin, because you are worth it.

And if ever you want help, I am here for you. For an hour, for a season, for a therapeutic massage or a heartful Skype session. You can even use my box of paints. Just call me.

Spiritual Midwifery

Spiritual Midwifery is a holy and sacred partnership between women based on trust and respect. This bond between women has been broken yet its power is intact, alive and breathing as I write this. When I became a midwife I believed midwifery was a spiritual profession, however I was soon to discover that the spiritual aspects of midwifery have been seriously caked over with way too many mental concepts, procedures and rules, many of which have become arduous annoying burdens for the midwife.

In clinical midwifery partnership, the woman is the expert of herself the midwife is the expert of normal pregnancy and birth. The midwifery model of care is well documented and research tells us that continuity of midwifery care is highly protective for mothers and babies. Evidence shows continuity protects women and babies from 50-80% of medical interventions in the birthing process.

Spiritual Midwifery works in the same way and is protective of a womans soul. The woman is still the expert of herself and the midwife the guide through the mystery. I witnessed spiritual midwifery first hand when my daughter and a dozen of her friends became adolescents. The girls were prepared through a gentle process held by Moana Pearl when the girls were aged between 9 and 11, just before the tide of hormones kicked in.

Each girl and mother pair met with Moana weekly over a 6 week timeframe. Every week mothers and daughters participated in a living lesson, not through facts and information, no. Through the senses, and the felt experience of sitting in a tee pee with a dozen mothers and daughters, sitting close to the earth, with fire, stars above, sensing the dusk turn to night, tasting the food made by each woman, with carefully chosen storytelling and mask making activities. I witnessed these girls moving into menstruation with dignity, self esteem, confidence, peer support, ease, grace and even, lo and behold celebration!

A major turning of the tide. One huge step for woman kind. (Deep gratitude goes out to Moana Pearl) As a midwife helping women heal from childbirth I know how crucial this phase of a girls life is. Many a womans birth is deeply influenced by her feelings of how her body and blood were received by those close to her at the time of menarche. The imprints at these times are subtle yet profound. If a girl doesn’t feel loved, held, good and right in her body and blood, it can show up in her birthing process, years later.

Reclaiming menstruation as a sign of health, fertility and connection to natural cycles is powerful preparation for childbirth. Bleeding well teaches girls the essential art of self-care. It teaches girls to listen for what and who is nourishing and therefore helpful to her and what is harmful, essential skills to learn before we become mothers.

Spiritual Midwifery is like a navigator is to a yacht at sea. She leads the boat directly through uncharted waters, through danger, storms, rain, hail, snow, blistering heat, steering away from rocks and cliffs, recognizing predators and then eventually steering her home to a safe harbour.

I experienced spiritual midwifery again six years ago when I had a miscarriage. I was 13 weeks pregnant. There was no physical or emotional pain. It happened over a few days at home. I was in a state of peace, trust and surrender throughout. I accepted that this flow of blood and bone was nature’s plan for me. I didn’t fight nature. I didn’t try and hold on. I am fairly sure the experience might have been very emotionally painful if I had fought it or been afraid.

Katherine Cunningham held the space for me to safely let go of my baby over that time. She was my spiritual midwife. A guide, a safe soft ground, a woman, an Angel.

She respected my spirit and my soul throughout this process.

I had felt the baby leave my body as I slept, one night two weeks earlier.

It was like the feeling of a cord releasing from inside me and I noted a distinct freeing sensation. It was like a dove being released from a cage.

My intimate relationship at that time wasn’t a healthy place for me, let alone a baby. Shaking and terrified after a frightening scene with my ex, sensing I was beginning to bleed, I ran for cover. I threw a few clothes and towels in the car and drove to safety to my friend Katherine who happened to be holding space for the Womb Awareness Week art exhibition in Melbourne.

She said, “Yeah, come down and see me honey,” when I phoned her. Katherine was sitting alone in a gallery full to the brim of women’s Womb art. Art made by women inspired by their awareness of their wombs – some had even been painted with menstrual blood. I didn’t get to see any of the art, neither of us knew what was about to unfold.

I sat down. I took off my rings my partner had given me and placed them on the desk between Katherine and myself. My soul had not a minute longer to carry what was within me. Two minutes later I felt a river of warm blood begin to gush through my clothing onto the floor. I looked down to see blood running down my legs and filling my shoes. I made my way to the ladies bathroom where I began bleeding like a running tap. I could hear loud splashing noises.

I was calm. I knew I was okay and realized why I had thrown a few towels and old clothes into the car. We needed them.It was obvious that I was losing the baby. The only time I felt fear was when I went to see a doctor a day later. The GP said I needed to be rushed to the women’s hospital immediately for an emergency D&C, to have an anaesthetic and to have my womb scraped.

I still remember the jolt of terror that ran up my spine as she spoke those words. It seemed strange to me. Nothing in me told me I needed medical assistance. The GP was very convincing and I began to feel afraid. I had been completely okay and calm up until I went to see this doctor. Looking back I guess I felt “I should” talk to a doctor about what was happening.

As I left her office, Angel woman Katherine stepped into the waiting lounge and hugged me. Katherine placed her gentle hand on my lower back as I sat in the waiting room. I told her about the doctor’s suggestion of a D&C.

Katherine asked me… what feels right to you? I got a clear answer from my body that said, go home and rest. Everything flowed well for a couple of days I bled out some big clots and stayed close to home.

I prayed to the Goddess to help me complete the process naturally as I didn’t want to go into hospital. That night in my dream I felt a hand gently enter and cleanse my womb. I will never forget the feeling of kindness that came with that hand. The next day I awoke feeling that everything was complete. A large splosh in the loo and I knew this was the last of the pregnancy. I gathered everything together for blessing and releasing.

II found a sacred place to see and be with the loss. It felt very natural to stay with and see the remains for a while. Fortunately I had no fear, no surgery, no drugs and no antibiotics. My body healed beautifully. I know that I wasn’t meant to have a child in an unhealthy relationship. I so wanted to have another baby but the baby I needed to love and hold was the one inside of me.

I am holding her now.

I’d like to expand on what Katherine did for me over this time and what thankfully, she didn’t do. I am speaking here of the ancient art of woman to woman care, the lost art of spiritual midwifery. We can burn a forest to the ground and she will still sprout forth green shoots. She will always rise up. We cannot be destroyed and neither can our wisdom and our ways. Spiritual Midwifery is an ancient practice of deep listening, nurturing and protecting women and babies during life transitions such as menstruation, birth, menopause and death.

Katherine listened to me with every part of herself.

She listened to what I was saying in words and she listened to my soul. She didn’t judge. She didn’t try and save me from my process. She didn’t rescue me. She didn’t take pity on me or feel sorry for me. She didn’t panic. She didn’t stop me from bleeding. She made sure I was safe. She made sure I was listening to my my heart. She did seek advice from a registered midwife. She did convey her guidance to me. She trusted my process. She trusted my blood.

She didn’t offer me drugs. She didn’t do clinical tests. She didn’t take swabs. She didn’t fill my head with complex ideas. She didn’t take me into my head. She didn’t tie me up to a machine. She didn’t leave me with strangers.

I learned a lot from my miscarriage. I learned that if the space is held strong and safe, I can let go with a fair amount of ease.

At this time my tears flowed, my blood flowed and love flowed too. It all flowed out of me into the river by my house. I am grateful for this blood mystery. I learnt so much from this experience that I feel inspired to hold space for women who may not have had the loving support I had. I am grateful to Katherine for her gentleness towards me at this time. I felt so safe in her arms.

Elephant in the Womb

I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I decided to quit my job and start helping women heal from birth. It seemed the natural next step to go from being a midwife.

What I didn’t realize was how life changing this work would be for women.

My life also has been completely changed, we never heal alone.

When women come to me to heal from their birth what they are really healing from is the underlying patterns that created the birth outcome in the first place.

The truth actually DOES set us free.

How do I know this?

For the last year I have sat and listened to women’s birth stories from all over the world. It’s not only the story women tell me that they have come to heal, it’s the story underneath that often they can’t tell me or anyone that they most deeply want to heal.

A woman’s birth story is a doorway that takes me straight to a woman’s soul.

My gift is that I can hear the story beneath the story. I can hear the soul speaking to me through women’s birth story.

What exactly am I talking about here?

I am talking about the elephant in the womb, the deep wound that can’t be spoken.

I am talking about the weight of these wounds on our life now, on our body and soul now.

I am talking about our relationships with our mothers, our mother wound.

I am talking about fathers, what we learned to expect from the men in our life, and how that shapes birth and us as women now.

I am talking about our experience of Menarche, our first menstruation and how that experience impacts our births and now.

I am talking about our ‘other’ pregnancies, the terminations and miscarriages and how those experiences impact our life and our births, often decades after, they can be elephants in the womb.

I am talking about our losses, our stillbirths and how those experiences impact our life now.

I am talking about our first sexual experiences and how this dances into birth and life now.

I am talking about our sexual energy and how safe we feel to let this flow at birth and now.

Why am I talking about all this?

When women SEE the elephant in the womb, when they feel the weight of this creature inside them, they will lead the elephant to new pastures.

And then what?

Life changes, big time.

~ Women clear their shame and blame and move forward with their dreams

~ Women suddenly meet their soul mate after years of single parenting

~ Women regain their lightness of being

~ Women release guilt and create happy lives

~ Women return to pleasure and sex with renewed delight

~ Women deeply re-connect with their children

~ Women’s businesses take off

~ Women regain their vitality and dive into life again

What am I really doing by helping women heal from childbirth?

I am holding the space for women to heal their womb space, so they can live fully, so they can birth themselves.

At some point we know when we have birthed enough babies and it is time to birth our truth.

If you look back on your experience of childbirth, how do you really feel?

Take a moment and allow your body to inform you how she feels about that experience. If you sense there is something that still needs completion I am here ready to listen.

Angela Fitzgerald is a birth healing coach, midwife and mother. She helps women heal from birth and prepare for next births. She supports the birthing of new women through her unique personal coaching programmes.  To read what women are saying click here

Neikah saved my life

It was my friend Neikah who told me the truth. Her words saved my life. With both our feet barefoot on the earth hanging out the washing in my backyard she told me plainly and simply,

“If you don’t take your power back Ange, you’re going to be a victim for the rest of your life.

She was right.

Six years ago I was living in a crazy cycle of abuse, well strapped into my seat on the merry go round of the highly charged sexual honeymoon highs and the sure to follow soul crushing and devastating abusive lows. I lived in the hope things would get better. They didn’t.

I felt completely chemically addicted to the rush of pleasure highs despite the lows of shame that followed.

For years I was unable to break free.

That day at the clothes line Neikah’s words cut through me to the core. I was afraid of my then partner, yes, but what terrified me the most was actually being alone, facing the end of my dream, waking up and being a single mother yet again. It would be many years before I was willing to actually face standing alone.

Those two words, standing alone still disturb me.

For me they are synonymous with death by isolation or death by solitude. I hear Bridget Jones mouthing the aching words “all by myself” sorrowfully on her hairbrush whilst dishevelled in her pj’s eating whole buckets of ice cream and drinking red wine. I’ve felt like that without the ice cream and the red wine. I am slowly learning that being alone doesn’t have to mean being lonely. There are so many to share meals, dances, glances and daily interactions with.

Six years on and I am free of that manic depressive relationship yet I am still learning how to love and how to care for myself. I am slowly learning how to take care of all aspects of my life and care for my teenage daughter.

A lightening bolt of truth jolted through me as Neikah spoke her words to me that day. I remember we had our feet on the softest grass, hanging out the washing in the glorious sunshine in the backyard of my home when she said it out of the blue.

Thankfully, I heard what she had to say. I could have ignored it, but the pain was too much. I had to cut off the relationship to save myself. It was destroying me.

I had two choices, I either took my power or allowed myself to be bullied out of my home. I couldn’t bear the thought of my life coming to that so I did what I was afraid to do.

I took my life back.

My ex had claimed the car and house as his and left my daughter and I homeless after a dispute a few days earlier. I had to call my father in the middle of the night to come over and protect us.

I found refuge in Neikah’s spare room with my daughter for two weeks before I was ready.

When my ex miraculously went away for the weekend I had an opportunity to take power where I had been previously tip toeing around walking on eggshells.

Neikah was right.

It was time to draw a line in the sand. I packed my ex’s belongings in boxes. I phoned the police and took out an AVO. I changed the locks on all the doors. I took my home and life back.

Around 4pm that afternoon a tall, caring, gentle blue eyed police man came to my door with the papers for me to sign for the violence order. I will never forget this day.

It was like the divine masculine entered my life. He was strong, he was calm, he was kind. He was present. He could see me and I could see him. I felt my whole body and the energy in the house around me shift to peace.

A radiant glow of afternoon sun permeated the living room. It was a moment of profound grace in my life.

As I sat with the policeman, whose name I cannot remember, I experienced a deep inner feeling of protection and calm.

I felt so safe in his presence. He gently talked me through the process and showed me where to sign. When we were done he looked at me and said,

“I bet you wish you had done this a long time ago eh?”

I nodded.

He was right.

It was like I saw a man Angel that day. I was a person who for the most part really didn’t feel good about police, but that day this officer melted something that was frozen in my heart.

He made me feel safe.

And then we were done.

I banished the predator and began my journey to wholeness. I am still on that journey, learning how to create safety when the predator within me wants to tease me, tear me down and destroy everything real and soulful I have created.

I have created a meaningful life with my own two hands, work I value and relationships with people who respect me and love me.

Once we banish the external predators from our life we are left to face the inner crazy makers, we are clear to see the inner cycle of abuse and the ravages of the predator who lives inside our mind.

I have had to fight her off too to save my self. It takes some power and some energy to become aligned with yourself.

Neikah is still in my life. She’s a great soul. A fantastic lomi lomi massage therapist too. She was there at my wedding. She was there when my marriage failed and she is still there now two years after my divorce.

Thank god for friends, friends who speak the truth and friends who go the distance.

Before ‘the relationship’ there are friends and after ‘the relationship’ there are friends.

Thank God for Neikah.

Thank God for friends.

Amen.

Mending my Mother Wound

This morning I received a soft package in my letterbox. Inside was a beautiful scarf I had bought while Mum was visiting. I had worn it a few times and pulled several threads that were quickly destroying the fabric.

Mum kindly offered to take the scarf home and mend it for me. She probably sat patiently and hemmed the ends in her yellow chair. After this she folded the soft fabric in a bag and mailed it to me with a hand written note on a bit of paper.

She wrote the following words on the back of a real estate agents notebook.

“I love you darling and I will always believe in you. Enjoy your scarf” Mum

Beside this were two hand drawn love hearts.

Heart murmur.

I have been waiting to hear these words from my Mum. I’ve felt that I haven’t been able to give her the joy that she might have hoped for in me as her daughter. I haven’t been able to fit into any job or system, although I have certainly tried. I’ve had a dark path.

I’ve been a single mother, probably a catholic mothers worst nightmare come true. There’s been drama. I married a verbally abusive man and later divorced him. I’ve been angry and lost and broke and had to ask her for money.

I have often felt that I have failed her, and at the same time I have felt angry that she failed me. I’ve been angry at her too. I became a mother around 5 years of age, when my brother was born. I became a caretaker of others.

I spent most of my adult life looking for love, only to finally realize I could in fact take care of myself.

Today, reading her words and seeing her small neat stitches, something inside me is mending.

I am looking at the scarf and feeling her love. Her kindness. Through it all, my mum loves me. Maybe she always did and I couldn’t let it in because I made certain decisions about her so young and gave up. I simply blocked her out.

Today I let her love in. Today, she mends the very fabric of my heart.

I haven’t had an easy relationship with my mother. For so long I felt I had to protect myself from her.

I am like her in so many ways and have never wanted to admit this, ew no.

Today with the soft scarf in my hands and her words close I feel the ice melting in a long cold war of defence and protection between us. I have needed to take a lot of space to feel safe. All I have ever wanted is to be myself and be accepted as I am. To be seen and heard. To be loved.

As I drop the masks and be myself, she reaches out and extends her love to me.

Inside out mothering. I am open to receive her love as well as my own. I am open to receive the love and support of my female friends and this beautiful big juicy nurturing mother earth too.

I cannot deny that a small drop of her love feels like a healing for my soul today.

I am of her. I am not her, but I am sooooo like her. And I love her. And I grieve for the years I felt so unmothered, rejected, ashamed, disliked, lonely and forgotten. I have long been a swan who thought she was an ugly duckling.

Today with soft scarf at my fingertips I can open the gates of my defended heart and release the past. Release the games and the holding back that has held soooo much of my energy and love back. There are few women I have been able to trust with my heart. Today I heal the fine gossamer threads of my tender heart.

Words can mend.

I know that I too can make amends with words and acts of kindness. I know I too can do this.

We can tell others we love them in the simplest of ways. We can smile at them, we can give a hug, we can write a love letter, we can mend things, fix things, we can listen, we can stay a while. We can make a meal, pick up some toys. We can make a cake. We can tend to a broken wing. We can make eye contact and mean it. We can find the courage to trust another with our heart, with our truth, with our beauty and even with our wounds. If I can, you can too.

Small acts of kindness are incredibly powerful.

Thanks Mum for this reminder.

I love you too.

The Safety Myth

Natural Birth Stories have blown my head off this week. Women who have birthed breech babies naturally, women who have had second babies with no repeat bleeding whatsoever. Women who have free birthed at home. Women who have followed their instincts and done it their way. Women who have been incredibly brave. Who have held to their truth.

I cannot tell you their names or their stories, but I can tell you my jaw is agog. What I am registering is that mothers, fathers, doulas and even grandmothers all over the world are birthing their truth.

Heroes and Sheroes everywhere. Perhaps you are one of them?

Fathers who have held the space. Fathers, who have protected their newborns. Fathers, present bedside for days. Fathers who are quietely questioning the rush to interfere with the birth of their child. Fathers, who have protected their partners from fear based inductions. Fathers, strong for their women and children. Fathers, true heroes.

Doulas fierce for the mother. Doulas standing stong. I heard the young doctor dropped her scissors when she saw the Doula standing in front of her.

Grandmothers who got herbs and flower remedies. Grandmothers who remembered. Grandmothers who worked through their own birth stories, so as not to pass down the fears. Grandmothers who ensured there would be no harmful medicalization committed on their grandchildren. Grandmothers who held the space. Grandmothers who protected their daughters. Grandmothers who said no. Grandmothers, modern Birth Keepers in action.

Mothers who stayed at home, who couldn’t get in the car and birthed at home happy as. Mothers who felt the incredible fear of care providers and birthed breech (bum first) babies anyway. Mothers who were not believed and birthed full power.

What do all these Birth Keepers have in common?

They said yes to their instincts and no to the protocols.

They said yes to their inner wisdom and no to the artificial birth companions.

They said yes to their body wisdom and no to the forcefield of fear coming at them.

They said yes to their body.

They said yes to life.

They said yes to their baby.

They have spoken.

They have not been moved.

They have not been shaken.

They have not been sent away.

They have not been dismissed.

There is something big happening at this time on the planet. Can you feel it? Women, men and grandmothers are empowering themselves in the birthing rooms. There is a theme emerging. Women are listening to their inner knowing, intuition and body wisdom BIG time.

Fathers are calmly speaking. Grandmothers are gently holding space. Doulas are providing much of the lost art of midwifery.

Women have lost far too much blood in the name of safety.

There have been too many cuts and too many wounds.

Too many violations in the name of safety.

Women have been sold the safety myth but are no longer buying it.

It is safer if we give you a shot of syntocinon to deliver your placenta. It is safer if you birth in the hospital. It is safer if we do a caesarean. It is safer if you get out of the bath. It is safer if you get on the bed. It is safer if we screw a wire into your babies scalp to get a good trace. It is safer if we break your waters.

Bulldust.

We are birthing our truth.

Shedding my Skin

I can’t go back. I am shedding a hard won, yet hardly worn skin.

My career as a Midwife feels short lived. Four months into my job my soul called me to resign.

I wanted to drop out of midwifery school in second year. Not because of Birth. Not because of Women. Not because of the horrors I witnessed. No. Because my soul was tired. I felt midwifery was slowly killing something off inside me, gradually cutting back the branches of an ancient tree. At the end I felt like Bonsai. Trimmed and clipped neatly in a tiny dish with nowhere to stretch out and no way of reaching down to the soft muddy earth beneath me.

For that I would have to leave the building and take my heavy shoes off.

So glad I did.

Thankfully a tree knows how to regenerate, she is designed to be and grow, to flourish and reach out no matter what. Just as grass rises through cracks in the pavement, something in me is rising through a harsh overlay. The same Laws of Nature that govern the tides and the seasons are alive in me leading me to regenerate in softer greener pastures.

For years I had to compress most of myself to fit in so I could get boxes ticked by supervisors. Meanwhile my intuition told me everything. It never failed me. Something else led me in those birthing rooms, something spoke loud and clear, all the way through me. “Don’t touch that cord” only moments before another midwife tugged on the cord and it snapped. “She’s going to birth right now” and sure enough she did.

The simple act of speaking the truth to women protected many from the instruments or worse still, the surgeons knife. “Mary Jane it’s like this….either you birth this baby yourself, which you are perfectly capable of doing in the next few hours, or someone you have never met is going to march in here and pull it out of you”.

Women thanked me afterwards.

It never failed me. I was led, directed and shown at every birth what was going to unfold, often before it happened. I felt this presence guiding me. As well as this I had to follow orders, monitor machines and carry out ridiculous procedures all against this inner wisdom that both guided and protected me and the birthing woman, birth after birth.

I have stepped away from the birthing room to pause and reflect. I am poised for my next steps, not knowing where they will lead. I trust that something inside my body is leading me on.

Ever spent a fortune on a beautiful dress only to realize you can’t wear it? Perhaps the deep blue caught your eye and the soft velvet felt SO right under your fingers at the time. Same goes for the shoes, you know the ones. Remember the dress you spent a summer paying off only to discover it just doesn’t feel right as the leaves turned?

Think how ridiculous a swan would look in a policemans uniform with badges and a gun.

Obviously a poor fit. Far too much navy, way too dark, too many belts, and the gun holder hung heavy and dug into my feathers.

Letting go of a job is scary. My job paid the rent, it fed my family, but it hurt my soul. I had to stop. The thought of having to vaccinate another new born baby makes my tongue go blue and my stomach turn. I’ve held down enough small pink thighs. I’ve heard enough shrill cries.

I can no longer be a part of it.

I’ve seen cruelty towards women in hospitals. Most of the violence I have witnessed (and this pains me the most to write) has been at the hands of other women. Women doctors and even women midwives. Depending on who is present, it can be a peaceful, wondrous, miraculous birth or it can feel more like a murder scene (yep a blood bath) inside those rooms.

I can’t fully talk about it yet. Recently, on a flight across the Tasman I watched a great documentary about the making of GreenPeace called “How to Change the World”. It struck me that over the last twenty years we have actually saved the whales and the seals but we haven’t saved the humans.  As I watched I thought to myself…. what about women and babies? Who is going to save them?

In my nine years attending births as a Doula and Midwife I saw obstetric violence twice at the hands of a man, and far more often at the hands of women. The female acts are far more concerning and chilling to me, in the same way that the movie Fatal Attraction is more harrowing than other scary films. Often these doctors are taught this rough handed approach by their superiors and they just run with it. Many of today’s obstetricians are young women in their late twenties. I want to meet with them in hoardes. I want to speak at medical schools and midwifery schools about what no-one is talking about in these teaching universities.

I want to speak about the Sacred Feminine, the Laws of Nature. She’s been around a lot longer than medicine and things have gotten way out of hand. Are hospitals safe places for birthing women? Between 2000 and 2013 the number of women that died in childbirth nearly doubled in the USA and Canada. (World Health Organization, 2013) It was safer to have a baby in the eighties and nineties. I want all to know that if we respect the body and souls of women, life will flourish and they will definitely still have a job to do.

It’s not what we do as Birthkeepers, but how we do it.

The best health professionals in Maternity are the gentle and kind ones. There is something about the presence of a caring Obstetrician or Midwife that has a very powerful effect on a birthing woman. When women truly feel safe, supported and respected they mostly birth well.

I have witnessed profound beauty and peace at births with these rare and often very experienced midwives and doctors. I bow to them. They are servants of peace.

Birth Keepers of skill and kindness are truly powerful warriors of light for the world. I pray that they multiply by the tens of thousands as I write this.

Perhaps you are one of them?

Generations of humans are thanking you in advance!

Incarnating souls will flock to your side!

I have journeyed long and deep into themes of abuse and anger in this life time. I know my inner killer. I have been a victim and a perpetrator too. I was on my way to becoming a martyr, but when I check in, none of these roles no longer fit.

I think women need their ferocity, especially if they dare step inside a hospital to have a baby. It’s like walking into a minefield. Too often women are prey inside those walls and they don’t actually begin to realize until it is way too late. Until they are captured and cannot escape.

This has to stop.

I have seen too many healthy women enter hospitals glowing and well only to emerge days later with a cut, a wound or a deep scar. And I’m not just talking about physical wounds. We know from the evidence that births stay with women for life. Women can tell me the exact words that midwives and doctors said to them decades ago.

There is too much injury. Enough.

I’ve seen too many lambs to the slaughter. I’ve seen too much iatrogenic harm. Harm caused by health professionals. Often this harm is written off ‘in the name of duty’, to keep women ‘safe’, ‘for their own good’. Sounds similar to what the Catholics came up with when they borrowed a few altar boys.

I have even been told that violence is the right of health professionals.

I disagree.

What happened to Firstly, Do no harm?

It’s cultural practice to conduct vaginal examinations four hourly, to stretch and sweep, to break womens waters, to cannulate them, to forcfully remove clots by massaging a womans fundus (womb/belly) after birth, to pull out a placenta after a shot of synto…. because the midwife wants ‘active management’ now. Then there’s cutting a baby’s cord at birth, even before it’s had a chance to stop pulsating, rubbing the baby with a rough towl and administering newborn vaccinations shortly after.

No more.

I can no longer be part of a system that has normalized violence towards women’s sacred rites of passage, towards womens bodies and towards new born babies.

I can no longer go to work and pretend it is okay.

It isn’t.

It has to stop.

I can no longer remain silent.

I’m flung off the wheel and landed on my paws. I’m seeing it all from another perspective and I am of service for those who are ready to unpack their Births, their miscarriages, and yes their abortions too. Male and Female. Yes dear Mammas and Pappas, we are actually all in this together. I reckon some of you might need to sit down and talk about it, cry about it, dance the bejeezus shock out of you, write, paint and sing out loud about it.

The worst part is how quickly the carnage becomes normalized by women themselves, be they medical staff, midwives or labouring women. What on earth has happened to us women?

When did we decide as a collective that obstetric violence is ‘just the way it is’?

Time to wake up and roar I reckon.

Attending another caesarean section is out of the question for now.

Watching another healthy young woman have a forceps delivery because she can’t stand upright due to her epidural is over.

The thought of checking another placenta before breakfast makes me want to vomit.

I’m over quickly wrapping up all the evidence of Birth and throwing it in the bin so that disinfectant can swiftly be applied to every surface removing every possible mark or trace that birth has ever happened in the room.

No more wiping blood off the floor. No more blood on my hands.

I miss my colleagues, I miss the women, the dads, I miss the babies too, yes.

I won’t miss the bullying.

I won’t miss the cruelty.

I won’t miss the gossip.

I won’t miss the fear based culture.

No.

I will no longer have to do things to women and babies I don’t agree with.

I can restore some personal integrity.

I trust that I will find my way and feed my family.

It’s hard to put down what feeds me and at the same time leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Tears are falling and I feel to acknowledge to myself how hard I have worked.

How high I have jumped.

All the moves I did to gain my ticket, how hard I had to work for my registration.

All the years of study, nights of on call and beautiful astounding women, babies and births.

How many boxes I ticked to please others.

All of this white paper, white walls and white coats began to harden and dry up a sweet soft pasture inside me. Fortunately none of this has broken me or my sense of trust in Nature’s Wise Ways of Birth and Death.

Actually I reckon the laws of Nature inside me have become stronger.

I took it as far as I could. I’ve traded in my uniform for a comfy skirt my friend Jillian made and a singlet. I’m ready for my next step. My body has spoken and I have surrendered to her way. I trust she knows. She wants soft grass and sunlight not operating theatres. She wants a place where women can speak freely and no one is tied to a monitor.

For a few years I had to squash myself into a small shape. I had to sit in my box in my frontal cortex. Clinical reasoning wins too way too many brownie points.

Who cares about women’s body wisdom and intuition?

Me.

I do.

Ever skipped along a new path in wonder only to realize you can’t go back to where you came from?

When I think of working in a hospital my soul feels tired. I remember my friend Keshava when his soul was tired. I met him when he was 46 and he died aged 53 or 54 I can’t remember now. He was so tired of pushing himself to be what his mother wanted him to be. Irena was a powerful Jewish mother, she wanted a successful business man. He was more of a tropical reef fish, not a shark.

In his heart and soul he wanted to be an actor.

He had a deep solid presence and an even deeper voice to go with it.

Irena wouldn’t have a bar of it.

Yet he spent all of his energy trying to please his 90 something year old mother. He had a shop, a business to please her, yet behind the scenes he traded ecstasy and cocaine. He loved the thrill and the chase. In this private world he could be himself. A hero, a villain, a host of characters.

His inability to come clean with his secret and his mother kept him well hidden in the closet, even from me, his lover for many years. His secret killed him in the end.

I have a secret life too. Far from the drug world and far from the land of thermometers and stethoscopes.

Rich and alive.

All of my very own.

My inner life, my creative work doesn’t fit into a box or a uniform or a system. I tried, oh how I tried. I have tried to be what my family and culture wants, to fit myself in a variety of boxes, only to come all oozing out the sides. I chewed a hole through the side of the box and ran for the hills.

I’m a wild thing made of earth and fire. I am tides and breeze, winds and storms.

I have thunderbolt in my dance and mud between my toes. When I cry I am held by an ancient soft mother, a wild mother, a wise mother, an old mother and a very, very, very old grandmother.

I have learned that Nature always get her way. My role is to surrender to her, to trust her. Fighting her only causes pain.

This week there are owls all around me.

One on the middle of the road as I drove joyfully out of town to my new home.

One on the fence as I drive along my new driveway with my daughter.

Two on my clothes line under the crescent moon.

I am blessed.

I bleed.

I rage.

I rain.

I cry.

I melt.

I dissolve.

I transform and recycle from the inside out every month, just like the earth, just like the moon. Nature dances all through me. Nothing can stop it. No matter what the white paper guidelines say the Laws of Nature are running the show inside every single one of us, man or woman. Try messing with a king tide, an earthquake or a summer thunderstorm. Not a chance.

I am letting go of clinical, hospital midwifery and I am scared.

The uniforms and the badge have been washed and returned.

There is no security in the mystery except this.

I know and trust the long dark night.

Without a flicker of a doubt I know in every cell of my body that there will be head on view at dawn and a new life is being born through me.

Woman, heal thyself.

For years I dreamed of having another baby. I wanted to do it again.

I wanted to get birth right.

I had a dream of the perfect family, with my loving man and two children. I even got the dog, but sadly, had to give him away.

It didn’t happen. I didn’t meet the perfect man and I didn’t have my 2 kids.

I met the man I needed to meet to do the healing I needed to do. There’s no perfect man. There’s just me and who I am being and what I am creating.

You see there were things I needed to learn. I was living in fear, but not at all aware of it until the shit hit the fan. My default when things get scary is to panic, push and force. I learned this from looking at my birth story.

Our birth stories, if we dare to look, can teach us a lot.

How we birth is how we live.

Birth taught me that pushing and forcing doesn’t work. It only busts and tears. Big time.

Also I needed to learn how to channel my fire. I needed a creative outlet for my fierce energy. A lot of this was wasted on drama.

Note to former self: Darling heart… you could have been writing and dancing. You could have been swimming. You could have been playing. You could have been learning, but you weren’t ready. It’s okay beautiful angel, I forgive you. I know you’re healing now. I know you’re ready now.

Years went by and I still dreamed of having another baby and getting birth ‘right’.

Over ten years I lost 3 pregnancies. It was sad for me.

Life wanted me to grow in other ways. Actually, life wanted me to grow up. Life wanted me to get real, ground and wake up.

In the past I created unhappy drama filled relationships, not a safe place for anyone, let alone a baby.

Life was not going to support new growth, or a baby, in my toxic environment.

Toxicity goes against the laws of nature and the laws of love.

I needed to cool down. I needed to relax. I needed to find me inside all the brokeness. I needed to deal with my desperation. (note….I am still dealing with fear and desperation. I haven’t graduated. I’m getting closer to seeing how loved and supported I am. For years I isolated, living in fear and shame. I see how much life wants to support me to grow and become more myself, more real, more me.)

After so much trying and searching and looking and crashing I actually needed to break into pieces so that all that was left was the light and love in my soul. When the fat lady sings, that’s all that is left, our essence.

Today I know that my presence and my essence is enough.

I am enough.

There is nothing to find.

There is nothing to seek.

And now I want to tell you something. Something I have kept hidden. Something I have held inside me with secrecy and shame. It’s going to come flying out of me like a flying fur ball. It’s not pretty, okay, here goes. Feeling courageous. In 2005, I had two abortions I didn’t want to have. My partner at the time told me he wasn’t ready for children. (After telling me months earlier he was). We weren’t using any contraception.

I wasn’t able to do what my body and soul longed to do, bring forth new life. I knew I was not capable of being a single mother to three children. I knew I was not strong enough to do it on my own. I already had a child on my own and that was enough.

At the time I felt I had no other choice. I told my Dad, he sat and listened while I cried. He didn’t judge. He just sat there and held the space as big heavy tears dropped on my cedar coffee table where we sat. Love my Dad.

Regardless of how I felt, this decision made me crazy.

I wasn’t aware how angry I was until after it all. I was furious. Eventually it came pouring out. I lost it. One day, out of nowhere, I lashed out at my little girl, she was only 5 or 6.

The uncontrolled rage I felt inside had to come out sometime and it was an innocent child who triggered it off for me. I couldn’t believe that I had lost it at her. But I did.

I spent the next decade of my life punishing myself, blaming myself and unable to forgive myself for that moment.

I simply had to learn to manage my fire and meet the river of grief that lay underneath. I knew I needed help. And she came. Enter wonderful therapist. Ever grateful for my years in therapy. Thank you dear Dr. Felicity Grace.

I am still learning, every single day.

As the river of my life flowed onwards I became a doula and later a midwife. I learnt how to support women and men during birth. I witnessed many miracles. Here I learnt much about how birth works in the hospital system and I made peace with men and even the medical system.

Now, nearly 15 years after the birth of my daughter I have found what I was looking for all along. Fire for life. Fire with my writing. Fire for what I believe in. Fire for my work. Fire for my gifts. Fire for my calling.

And peace too. Peace with my choices. Peace with my actions. Peace with my mistakes. Peace with my past. Peace with man. (This one took me another 5 years I reckon)

Peace with my birth and peace with myself.

No more trying. No more hiding. No more shame.

All the time I was trying to get birth right, life was asking me to look inside and heal myself but I didn’t want to stop and listen.

I wasn’t ready. I created more pain for myself and more drama before I was ready. I had to fall apart and let it all be broken for a while. The milk was spilt and I needed to cry over it.

Slowly I heard what life had been asking of me all along.

Woman… Heal thyself.

My soul was darn persistent. 

I gave up the fight.

I cried.

I cried more.

I painted.

I wrote.

I talked.

I was held and held and slowly I healed and healed.

And finally, finally I forgave myself.

I let go.

I let it all go.

I stopped pushing.

I stopped forcing.

I stopped blaming myself.

I let go of blaming others too. (Those arseholes, I forgave them all. Each and every one.)

For this to happen I had to let go of my marriage and parenting for a while too. I had to go away. It was good.

It was very very good.

Once I decided to stop and finally take a look within and heal everything began to shift.

I let go of the struggle to have another baby and get birth right once and for all.

Healing from my first birth has helped me see how I relate to god, life energy, sexual energy, creativity, life force, whatever you want to call it.

Healing my birth has helped me heal my whole life.

I have learned from birth. I have learned from miscarriage and I have learned from abortion too. I have been turned inside out by death. I have dissolved in watery loss and grief. I am no longer ashamed. I am no longer silenced by guilt. I am sorry and I am here to shine my light, to light the way for those who need it. I have made peace with birth. I am making peace with me and with life. She waits patiently, yet she says the same thing to me, again and again, Woman, heal thyself.

Free As A Bird

Free as a bird, I love that expression. Those four small words make me happy. Funny how we rarely try and control birds, yet society has had a very good go at trying to control people.

Even before our birth we are monitored and measured. When we are born, too often we are welcomed by rough towels, bright lights and a jab in the thigh.

I left clinical midwifery knowing that I could no longer treat human life this way.

I could no longer treat women or babies as if they did not feel every single thing done and said to them on maternity wards. Although a senior midwife told me “we hurt women, that’s what we have to do.” I disagree.

I have seen too much and it is time for me to speak.

I have stepped out of clinical midwifery for personal healing. I could not witness any more caesareans before breakfast or inductions at morning tea. I miss my colleagues and I miss the women and babies and fathers too.

There is no evidence to support practices such as electronic fetal monitoring, epidurals, syntocinon (drug used for inductions) and episiotomies (cutting the skin between the vagina and anus) on healthy low-risk women [Albers, 2005]. Yet these behaviours have become cult rituals, daily routines which are carried out in many hospitals. They are an obstetric convenience rather than a necessity, or for clinical indications [Pairman, Tracy, Thorogood, Pincombe, 2010].

I have sat down to write to you today to free a bird from her cage.

Working with women, listening to their birth stories, I am aware that it is mostly not the specific events of women’s births that haunt them afterwards. What concerns the women I work with is how they are left feeling about themselves.

I hear things like….

“I missed the moment of my daughters birth, they took her away. I am so sad I didn’t get to hold her. I will never get the moment of her birth back.”

“I thought I was going to die.”

“I am so jealous when other women speak about their natural births.”

“My midwife didn’t believe I was in labour, no-body believed me.”

“I thought the hospital was a safe place.”

“I knew what they were doing was wrong. I felt so alone.”

“My birth was really medicalized and I am ashamed I gave into the medical system.”

“I felt so vulnerable with my legs in the air. Nobody asked permission to watch my suturing, I felt sickened.”

“I gave all my love to the wrong man and I can’t forgive myself. Now my son is angry.”

“I had to fight to take my baby home, they reported me to Docs.”

These are the wounds we carry around inside us until one day we release them, until the day we tell someone we can trust. We can heal these wounds, these soul birds can be freed.

Too many women are left with sadness, anger, shame and guilt from childbirth.

I offer birth spirituality and healing support to women from my home and via Skype. I also refer women to counsellors and trauma therapists when required.

My hope is that my work, my listening and my writing can help many birds fly free again.

How we Birth is how we live. Birth is as deep as it gets when you think about women’s health. How women feel about their conceptions, pregnancies and births matters. How women feel post partum matters too. Greatly. If our women are not well cared for we grow a society that is sick and unwell. We have to get birth right and the only way to do that is treat women and families with the respect they truly deserve.

To treat women right, we have to understand and respect the Feminine. She is the organizing power in Nature, the intelligence that regulates seasons, moon phases, tides, menstruation, pregnancy, labour and childbirth, breastfeeding and menopause. The Feminine principle is alive in all of life, in men and women, in nature and in children.Women feel her in their body, most intensely via their menstrual, sexual, creative and reproductive cycles such as pregnancy, birth, breast feeding and menopause.

For too long birthing women have been oppressed in hospitals, which by nature are held intact by medical and military systems, policies and guidelines. These are set up to ‘protect’ women and babies for their ‘safety’, the truth is, they often do more harm than good. The carnage is palpable, visible and silent and invisible. The silence haunts me, and I am inspired to hold space for the sounds to be freed. The damage is physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological and the counterforce will span generations.

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. My hope is that the force that women have tolerated will one day turn into a tide, a wild uprising, a big long wave coming in after a long time lost at sea. The FreeBirth movement is one example of this. How we birth is how we live. If we birth with fear, control and powerful drugs, how are we actually enjoying this human experience?

I will do no more harm.

It has gotten way out of hand, way out of balance in labour wards.

Birth belongs to you, dear woman, to you.

Birth belongs to you, not to your hospital, doctor and not to your midwife.

Our rites of passage are not supposed to be mechanistic cult rituals.

Our bodies are not for cutting and suturing up again.

Our babies are not for others before we bond with them.

Our births are not meant to be drive through.

Our births are private, sacred and holy.

Birth is a mighty powerful doorway.

How we open this door has much to do with how safe we feel to allow the primal, sexual and instinctual energy that lives within us to flow. For us to dance our true dance, we need to feel private and safe. We need to feel okay with being who we are, making the noise we need to make, doing the kinds of moves only we can do, in the true spirit we need to do it. Women, like any birthing animal, needs privacy and mostly to be undisturbed to tune into her birth dance, her primal knowing of birth.

Everything we have taken in or on as young girls and later as women impacts if and how we open the door to let our children be born. Our vital energy, our health, our flow, our deepest fears, our sexual experiences, our feelings, our traumas, our relationships, as well as our matrilineal birthstories are all mixed with the primal forces of Nature during Birth.

We have all this heat and sparks and hormonal chemistry going on inside us. Then we go inside a hospital and it has a whole lot going on inside it too.

It’s here that two powerful forces meet.

Too often date night becomes fright night.

It is not meant to be this way.

It is crucial that birthing females be supported and undisturbed during labour. This is nature’s way. There is often a helper in nature, dolphins have a midwife, elephants have a team of support. Predators introduce risk to the species. The birthing mother must be protected and respected, less she become extinct. Nothing must be said or done to bring fear to a birthing mother. Cortisol is released when a mother feels fear and this chemical blocks her Oxytocin, the hormone of love that helps strong contractions to get the baby out.

When a woman travels from her home to hospital in labour the intoxicating hormones and chemicals of labour, body, sex and soul are introduced to the sanitized, bright and sterile environment of the hospital. Sometimes labour slows and then a drug is given to women to ‘get things moving faster’. This then leads to electronic fetal monitoring.

It is standard for many labouring women to be hooked up to syntocinon (the drug that mimics what the body makes in undisturbed healthy birthing women) and a monitor on many labour wards. Yet there are no long term studies on the effect of this drug on labouring women and babies.

So our birthing woman is now strapped to a monitor with two belts around her belly, listening to a beeping machine which alarms every time she moves on the bed. She is intwined in cords from the monitor and the IV pole.

She now even begins to look like a patient in a hospital.

Being hooked up to a drug and a monitor means being stuck on the bed and this creates problems with delivery, which often leads to an instrumental birth, which may need an episiotomy. Perineal trauma is associated with incontinence, sexual and relationship problems. Marriages end because of this.

There is not an animal in nature that would birth given the conditions we subject pregnant women to in most hospitals.

We are led to believe that the hospital is a place of safety for birthing women.

Is being tied up during birth ‘safety’?

Nothing could be further from the truth.

There is no true ‘safety’ in treating birthing women this way. This is not the way to create an empowered culture of mothers. Yet there is a sure and simple way to put an end to this madness. When women take birth back as their own sacred land, their territory, their rite of passage, the predator will no longer be a threat. There will be no more lambs to the slaughter.

For this, women must rise. Women need a strong clear voice before, during and after Birth at crucial moments. For women to rise, midwives and doulas must rise too. This stops all the madness in its tracks. I have seen it work a treat when all the chips were down. I remember one birth, the woman was labouring for over 17 hours and the  doctor came in and said “I think it’s time to call it a day” and the woman gently turned to him and said in a calm clear voice. “No, I can do this”. He put his tools away, and she birthed beautifully. We can’t give up on women and we cannot allow women to give up on themselves. Birth matters too much. When women have a voice, nothing can stand in their way. We can reclaim Birth and the power to give life and death once more. Nature will always have her way in the end.

References

Albers,L.L. (2005). Over treatment of Normal Childbirth in U.S. Hospitals.Birth,32(1), 67-68. doi:10.1111/j.0730-7659.2005.00343.x

Pairman,S. (2006).Midwifery: Preparation for practice. Sydney: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.