The Howl

When I was a young girl aged nine I received a life changing gift. A beautiful wild Australian dog. A kelpie dingo cross that Mum got from the RSPCA. I still recall the moment I glimpsed her leaping from the back of Dad’s purple valiant. Her swift entrance into my life was unexpected. It was love at first sight. Her quick footedness, bright spirit, slim figure and gorgeous red coat put my Georgie girl in a class of her own. She became an excellent protector and companion.

In the throes of new love I also knew that one day my dog would die. I knew then, at nine, that I would not be able to hold onto these feelings of love that I felt. I knew at the beginning that an ending would come. This thought was too much for my child heart to bear. I quickly buried my realization like a bone in the backyard.

We had many years of adventures together. We were even photographed in the local paper with the headline “Everywhere that Angela goes,” with a picture of Georgie sitting on the back of my bicycle. Dogs had way more freedom in those days; none were chipped and few were ever seen on a leash. My Georgie girl howled at the moon, caught frisbees and swam in the sea. She followed me closely in the day and ran free and wild at night. She’d arrive home before dawn to rest and dream a little. I loved her free spirit and everything about her.

Slowly her back legs grew weak and sometimes she couldn’t walk. She died when I was 21, hit by a car and unable to run away fast enough with her legs so weak. When I heard the news I felt a bruise in my heart. I had distanced myself from Georgie well before her death. This pulling away was a self protective measure. I was uninitiated into the mysteries and blessings of death and had no tools for coping with the loss of my dog as a young woman. I didn’t contact my feelings in those days, in fact I avoided them like the plague.

Life brought me many opportunities to learn about the power and beauty of death, dying, change and letting go. However awful the loss may look and feel like on the surface, still, underneath I always found riches, much unexpected treasure. Uninvited deaths have brought me intense grief, but given me incredible gifts too. With loss I’ve gained empathy, insight, awareness and immense gratitude for all the ways love has danced through me … in and out of my life.

Life is not linear, it doesn’t move in a straight line like I was taught in school. Far from it. Life is circular and cyclic. I’ve had many new beginnings, achievements, experiences, adventures and then also many unwanted letting go’s, deaths and endings. Despite constant movement and change one truth remains. All our power is here now in this very precious moment.

Five years after my dog died a small baby bird fell from its nest during a windy rain storm. I’d been eagerly watching the parent birds feed the little ones for weeks from my loft where I had a good view of the daily activities of the nest. When I found the tiny featherless creature dead on the wet earth beneath the tree something inside me cracked opened. Firstly, I began to cry and soon I was sobbing. Waves of grief flowed through me. When my boyfriend came out from the cabin to see what my howls were about he was bewildered. He couldn’t make sense of the situation and assured me I was seriously over reacting. It was just a dead bird.

There’s a line in A Course in Miracles that says “you’re never upset for the reason you think.” All that parental bird work I had watched for weeks on end seemed pointless. This one dear small little bird life hadn’t made it. The sight of the lifeless creature on the ground had bypassed my thinking mind and reached further into something much more tender and deeper inside me.

Many years before a part of me had died too but I wasn’t in touch with that part. I’d been a dancer, performer and choreographer in my youth for very many years. When I was sent to boarding school at sixteen, I stopped dancing completely. For years I felt cut off at the root.

The well of grief inside me about this disconnection with a part of myself was invisible to me and immense. For years I worked hard to become someone I felt I should be (what others expected of me) rather than become myself.

I created a false self which covered over me. My real feelings underneath felt too big for me face. Throughout all this I discovered that the beauty of our spirit and inner truth cannot be destroyed by anything external. Bad choices, wrong turns, disconnections, failures, famines, breakdowns, heartbreak and even illness does not change who and what we are at our core.

Grief may seem to come ‘out of nowhere’. Yet grief doesn’t come from nowhere. It comes from inside us. In my case it came from not being able to express my artistic spirit. Like stagnant water, grief too, can become lodged within our lungs, stifling our spirit and swamping our joy. After rainfall, rivers are washed clean. So it is too with us.

Grief can open the soul in a way nothing else can.

Grief can expand us and open our capacity to let love in.

Grief can open us up to new ideas and creativity.

Grief can be meaningful, nourishing and life affirming.

Grief can be a beautiful stream that may even lead to peace, completion and reverence for Life itself.

Grief can birth gratitude.

Grief can birth grace.

Like a good wine, grief may still be waiting for us down in the cellar. That’s okay, there’s no rush to get to it. You can’t force it. One day grief may just turn up unexpectedly out of nowhere. If and when this happens, you’re not losing it. Open the bottle with gentleness.

First, we take the lid off and let it breathe. We each grieve in a way that is meaningful to us. For some it will be with nature, the earth and the sea. For others with a loved one. For some with children. For some with spirit, god or the universe directly.

When it comes to flowing feelings with ease, we can learn much from our youngest people. Babies and kids are awesome at it. I’m getting much better at it. I’m noticing that I’m slowly becoming more tender with myself when tears and other big feelings come. And as for wild dogs and other creatures they go with it and they don’t hold anything back. They know the soul soothing freedom that comes with a good howl.

Taonga

Taonga is a Maori word I love so much. It means treasure.

I once read that the greatest treasure of all are people.

I agree.

Traditionally Taonga were considered valuable objects, possessions such as swords, stones, knives and tools. I’m not referring to that kind of Taonga here.

No.

I’m writing here about love, and love can really only thrive in a space of freedom. People are not possessions to be clutched onto, no, they are sacred beings.

So for me, love is Taonga.

He is not Silver, he is Gold.

My time with him was heavenly.

Before meeting Silver I walked on eggshells in relationships.Before meeting Silver I was naive. I was prey.

I was harmed in relationships.

Harmed physically, emotionally and spiritually.

I had no voice. I couldn’t speak in other relationships.

During my time with Silver, wrapped in the gentle embrace of his wings I found the courage to speak. And he very kindly and very very patiently listened.

Day by day, over five years I found safety and a place inside myself to call Home.

We set up two beautiful homes together in New Zealand (three if I include the van).

I loved every single moment, every morning, every evening meal, every blessed day that we shared.

I loved walking barefoot on the grass alongside him. I delighted in a new found land with no snakes, no bugs, no spiders, just gentle soft steps with his hand in mine.

When I put my feet on the ground in New Zealand I feel that I have come home. Like the traveling migratory birds I enjoy flying across the space of the seas. This has been my path for the last few years, much like a shorebird I have traveled great distances to be close to the people and places I love the most.

Now I feel that wherever I go, I belong.

Wherever I am, I am home.

When I met Silver I felt as though I died and went to heaven.

I died.

We met at Mana.

Heaven.

I went to Heaven with you my darling.

Such a HUGE change from my life before that point.

For the first time no gun pointed at my head. There was finally and for the very first time no anger, no blame, no guilt trips and no shame.

No harmful words ever passed his lips.

Only Love came through this man. Only Love came through this man to me.

Silver held a clear mirror for me. He was a safe space for me to grow into myself. He was a safe space for me to expand into.

Something broken (trust in the Sacred Masculine) was healed in his Presence, in his embrace and living each day with him.

I was loved like I have never been loved before. I was cared for. I was cherished. I was fed soul food and nurtured on so many levels.

Finally after so much hell, I was safe.

Yes, I landed in Mana, in HEAVEN!

During my time with Silver he held the space for my Spiritual side to emerge. He helped me come into contact with my healing gifts and also he supported my writing. He edited my work. I consulted him when I couldn’t hear the message in my healing work too. He backed my work and he backed my evolution fully.

He held the space for me to Birth my Truth.

There are so many gains.

He protected me from harm and I blossomed.

He even spoke the words, he even named my Beauty out loud for me, so I could hear it.

He spoke his heart, he spoke clearly to me, as he saw things. It was profound for me. He saw that I am a Dancer. I am a Dancer. I reclaimed that one fully!

He saw that I am a Writer. I am a Writer. He saw that I am a Healer. I own my capacity to heal myself and hold space for others to do the same.

He was drawn in by my Woman, supported my Warrior and held the little girl, the child in me too.

He loved me completely with every cell of his being. I am deeply and eternally grateful to this man. The opportunity for growth I have now is to let him go even more fully than I ever imagined I would ever have to do.

It’s easy to talk about letting go, but to actually see the man you love walking away from you and towards another woman is a whole other level.

I’m open to multiple points of view, to open my mind to what is happening I choose to celebrate this juncture and say Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I am so grateful for all that I experienced in his Presence and all that I learned and all that we shared together. It was awesome.

As you dive into the unknown, delight fully in the magick of the Yoniverse. You have entered this life through the loving womb of your mother, then as a man you enter the beautiful womb space of your woman and then after that the void, the mysterious space of the great Mother, through the veil, to your Death.

Dive fully in dear Silver. Dive fully into Love.

I wish you great health, hope, happiness and humor. I love you across all time, dimension and space realities. I set you free again today.

Be well Dear dear man.

Remember this always …

You are a Great Man.

An Impeccable Warrior.

Walk in Beauty Beloved.

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind always be at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields. And, until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

You are Taonga.

Natural, sacred and beautiful Treasure.

Love,

Angel 🙂

 

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.