Thesis Tidbits: The Wise Women Behind, Within, and Around Us

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“The Childbearing Year” sculptures cast in pewter.

When I first described my thesis project about birth as a spiritual experience, I described my use of the word “spiritual” in this way:

When I use the word “spiritual,” I mean a range of experiences from a humanistic sensation of being linked to women around the world from all times and spaces while giving birth, to a “generic” sense of feeling the “might of creation” move through you, to a sense of non-specifically-labeled powers of Life and Universe being spun into being through your body, to feeling like a “birth goddess” as you pushed out your baby, to more traditional religious expressions of praying during labor, or drawing upon scripture as a coping measure, or feeling that giving birth brought you closer to the God of your understanding/religion, or, indeed, meeting God/dess or Divinity during labor and birth).

via Birth as a Spiritual Experience (Thesis Project) | Talk Birth.

Just this week, a mother shared a link to her birth story on my Facebook wall and there, embedded within the body of her narrative, was exactly the kind of thing I’m exploring with my thesis:

The pain was deep and blinding at this point. I was still pacing. I felt out of control, my primal being had been unleashed and it was a spirit I could no longer cage. I yelled that I couldn’t do it, I begged for help. In my mind I was screaming, I wanted to claw at my eyes, rip out my uterus, jump off a cliff and end my pain.

Then something happened… I don’t remember what was said, but the walls around me rung with words of encouragement from my men, and from the wise women.

All of a sudden it didn’t feel like we were just 6 people, but the very ground beneath opened and the walls melted and the ceiling cracked to reveal the sky and what I saw were the souls of billions of women who had come before me, gathered together in support of us. I opened my eyes and suddenly it was as though I was immeshed in a tightly woven tapestry of all the mothers who have ever existed- all my sisters and grandmothers- that had birthed their children before me and they held the space- I found myself surrounded by souls from every time and place. These were women of the cities, of the jungles, the sierras, the ghettos, the caves, the shores… these were mothers from every single culture, every walk of life. Starting deep and low and getting louder and louder was a chanting, and in my mind’s ear I heard some ancient song that these mothers sang to me- and it brought me one message: I can do this. I am doing this. I am safe. I have the power. I am protected by all the mothers who have come before me and I will hold the space for all the mothers who will come after In that moment, I was protected and supported by every mother who had ever existed- they stood around me in a circle and from them, I drew my strength.

No more fear. No more pain. I banished the negative feelings and harnessed all positive energy. I opened my eyes and looked deep into the eyes of my child and I was moved by his wisdom- Joell smiled back at me and a universal truth made itself known to me in that moment: all children are deeply connected to birth. Something in his eyes told me, “You can do it, mommy”. They understand the universe in ways we cannot fathom. They are the wise ones, and from them we have much to learn.

via A Slightly Twisted Fairy Tale » A Perfect Circle: The homebirth story of Carmelo Cypress, pt. 1.

I’ve also been catching up with issues of Midwifery Today and noticed the following quote in the article, “Searching for Ancient Childbirth Secrets” in Midwifery Today Autumn 2013. Tsippy Monat writes:

“Anthropology describes trance as a condition is which the senses are heightened and everyday things take on a different meaning. Communicative competence with other people may increase or may not exist. Facts of time and place are revealed differently than in normal everyday consciousness. This description reminded me of situations encountered at birth because birth is a condition in which the mind is altered. When I accompany births, I experience the flooding of oxytocin and endorphins. In Hebrew, the root of the word birth can also mean ‘next to God'” (p. 49).

And, in an essay based around an article about an old Gemanic/Jewish naming ceremony that I wrote for a different blog, I wrote:

If power does indeed rest in the stories that are told, how would the birth culture in the US change if we did have stories and rituals like the Hollekreisch (with original connection to the Goddess intact, of course)? In their book Milk, Money, and Madness, Michels and Baumslag explain: “In western society, the baby gets attention while the mother is given lectures [emphasis mine]. Pregnancy is considered an illness; once the ‘illness’ is over, interest in her wanes. Mothers in ‘civilized’ countries often have no or very little help with a new baby. Women tend to be home alone to fend for themselves and the children. They are typically isolated socially and expected to complete their usual chores, including keeping the house clean and doing the cooking and shopping, while being the sole person to care for the infant…” (p. 17)

This is in contrast with perhaps the original function of the Hollekreisch ceremony which acknowledged the mother’s vital role:

“The consistent connection of the ritual with the motherʼs rise from childbed, and the home-based nature of the ceremony, seem to indicate that the Hollekreisch ceremony gave the mother an important role. Hayyim Schauss, whose research was based on interviews, eyewitness accounts, and historical writings dating from the seventeenth century, indicates that in some areas of Germany, a synagogue ritual preceded the ceremony. The mother of the child walked to worship with the local rebbetzin and donated a new wrapper (wimple), with the infantʼs name sewn onto it, for the Torah scroll. This allowed the mother and her ability to give birth to be celebrated along with the new child—which may be precisely why the ceremony became associated with, or was originally rooted in, the legend of Frau Holle” (p. 66, emphasis mine).

via Hollekreisch: Honoring Childbirth.

Also in a new family project that actually has deep roots in my personal experiences with birth as a spiritual experience, Mark and I have been working on making pewter versions of some of my birth art sculptures. This one is my pushing-the-baby-out sculpture, the original of which was created to help me prepare for the birth of my last baby:

October 2013 134

I am a wild woman
and the spirit of every wild woman
coalesces in me
for we are each wild women
and we are all the spirit
of the wild woman.
I will follow the voice in my heart.

~ Melissa Clary, quoted by Raising Ecstasy

(via Journey Of Young Women)

Talk Books: One Recumbent Mommy

Some time ago I received a unique memoir to review along with a companion book for children. The topic of One Recumbent Mommy is bedrest and the book is written in a friendly, conversational, and personal style that has potential to bring an air of sisterhood to women experiencing the same challenge and make them feel less alone. The book is based on the author’s blog and a casual, breezy, lighthearted style comes through strongly. The author writes:

I was on hospital bedrest with incompetent cervix for about 16 weeks and while there, I kept a blog chronicling the ups and down of day to day life in the hospital.  That blog was published and is entitled, One Recumbent Mommy: A Humorous Encounter With Bedrest.  I wrote a children’s companion book as well, entitled Wherever I Am, I Will Love You Still: A Book About An Extended Hospital Stay.  This book was written from my 2 year old son’s point of view.  I was trying to get at a way of explaining the situation in terms that a young child could understand.

The companion children’s book: Where I Am, I Will Love You Still, is friendly and sweet and the illustrations are engaging. This book would be a very useful addition to a family whose mother is experiencing a hospital stay. While the book’s conclusion includes the new baby sister coming home, it definitely has the potential to be applied to non-maternity-related hospital stays as well. Do note that bottle feeding is portrayed in the book.

While I was somewhat disappointed by the very conventional medical model of care in One Recumbent Mommy and the seemingly unquestioning acceptance of it by the author (especially considering that bedrest has come under serious scrutiny as to its actual effectiveness at preventing pregnancy loss), as well as the apparently overlooked irony of the baby’s birth then being induced, I appreciated the reminder that for many women pregnancy is anything but a joyful, flower-strewn walk through a miraculous meadow of belly casts and earth-goddesses. My writing and my posts often trend to a Happy Birth Dance! mode of writing about birth and was beneficial to me to remember that this model can feel very isolating, discouraging, and depressing to women whose experiences of pregnancy and birth are different from my own.

Along this same line of thought, I was reminded of recent writings from beautiful blogger Leonie Dawson about her experiences with severe hyperemesis gravidarum (requiring multiple hospitalizations):

And despite everything – despite it all –

Love is calling me forward.

As ancient as the beginning of time, love calls upon us to do what we could not do without.

Love asks of us great things…

via The Love That Calls Us Forward | Leonie Dawson – Amazing Biz, Amazing Life.

As I read One Recumbent Mommy and my priestess/ceremonialist self came to fore however, I also found myself wishing this mama had had some kind of beautiful hospital blessing ceremony to honor her commitment to her baby or that someone had offered her a nurturing prayer, poem, or blessing for her as a Bedrest Warrior doing what had to be done to protect her baby. Could there be a place for a Happy Bedrest Birth Dance mode of writing and experiencing as well? I gratefully welcome additions to this post of ideas for rituals, poems, prayers, or resources that can be offered to bedrest mamas who are doing their best to welcome a healthy, full-term baby into their lives! 🙂

Birth Stories by Two Year Olds…

With each of my kids when they are somewhere between two and three years old, I feel inspired to ask them if they remember when they were born. They always say, “yes,” and I say, “tell me about it” and they do. Lann’s story was a succinct and accurate version of what happened. He said:

Toddlers can do birth art too! Love the placenta in a bowl and the baby attached to the mama with cord (yes, I know the two are mutually exclusive, but I love it anyway!)

Toddlers can do birth art too! Lann drew this after Zander was born. Love the placenta in a bowl and the baby attached to the mama with cord (yes, I know the two are mutually exclusive, but I love it anyway!)

Swimming down out of mama.
Happy now.

As I’ve written before, he did start crying loudly with only his head sticking out. Almost immediately after he was born, I put him to my breast offering him what I spontaneously called “nursies” and he was, in fact, then happy.

I asked Zander on his third birthday and his version of his birth was as follows:

First you saw a little head poking out.
Then a little arm.
Then another little arm.
And another and another.
And me was little alien.

He was, in fact, born slowly like this with head emerging and then arms and then upper body and then the rest of him. I asked him what happened to his extra arms and he said:

They actually melted.

He was nursing at the time and paused, popped off and said:

and, my extra eye melted too…

That’s my little Zander for you!

I love how the baby looks like it is "floating" in this one.

I love how the baby looks like it is “floating” in this one.

Yesterday morning, I spontaneously asked Alaina if she remembered being born and like the others she said yes. I asked her what happened and she said:

My baby! My baby!

I asked, “did you hear mama saying that?”

She said yes and then said,

Now, nonnies.  Then she just gazed off into the distance like she was remembering.

I asked her if she remembered anything else and she repeated the above. Shortest of the children’s birth stories, but also distilled to its essence 😉

I’m curious to know if other people ask their children this question and what kind of responses to you get? I love each of my children’s birth stories as told by them!

Both boys made me a birth art sculpture for my birthday this year and each is about a baby being born:

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Zander’s sculpture: The Goddess of Birth

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Lann’s sculpture.


Birth Regrets?

March 2013 034I usually talk in my classes about how ‘this’ is the only chance you’re going to get to birth this baby. Sure you may go on to have other babies, but you only get *THIS* chance to birth *THIS* baby. I also share with moms that because of this fact, the significance of this birth is infinitely greater than the significance of this birth is to your nurse, OB, midwife, etc.” – Louise Delaney

As I was writing my post last week about “bragging rights” in birth, I was also considering the role of birth regret. I’ve come to realize that just as each woman has moments of triumph in birth, almost every woman, even those with the most blissful birth stories to share, have birth regrets of some kind of another. And, we may often look at subsequent births as an opportunity to “fix” whatever it was that went “wrong” with the birth that came before it. While it may seem to some that most mother swap “horror stories” more often than tales of exhilaration, I’ve noticed that those who are particularly passionate about birth, may withhold or hurry past their own birth regret moments, perhaps out of a desire not to tarnish the blissful birth image, a desire not to lose crunchy points, or a desire not to contribute to the climate of doubt already potently swirling around pregnant women. I’ve already acknowledged all of my own moments of birth regret, but never all in the same post…so, here they are…

First birth: This birth was great and very empowering, but I also learned a lot of things I’d like to do differently the next time. Maybe “regret” is too strong a word, but there were things I definitely knew I wanted to change for next time. I regretted feeling pushed into several things I wouldn’t have chosen on my own, such as giving birth in a semi-sitting position rather than on hands and knees. I wished I hadn’t had quite so many people around me at the birth and I wished I would have just stayed home, rather than driving to a birth center. I regretting not asking to squat after the placenta to help the “sequestered clots” come out and possibly avoid the manual extraction I experienced which was pretty awful (I swear my uterus actually twinges when writing/thinking about it). I regretted having a pitocin shot after the birth, because I still don’t think I actually needed it and it bothered me for a long time that I couldn’t figure out whether or not I’d really needed it. I was also pretty physically and emotionally traumatized by the labial/clitoral tearing I experienced and desperately wanted to fix that next time! Interestingly, most of these regrets were clearly connected to other people and to events in the immediate postpartum period, rather than anything to do with the labor or birth process itself.

Second birth: With this birth, I see very clearly how I deliberately made choices to “fix” the things that nagged at me from my first birth. I gave birth at home, I had very few people present, I gave birth on hands and knees. I was extremely distraught to tear again in the same unfortunate and traumatic way. I’d been totally convinced before the birth that it was all related to positioning and I could fix it, next time. I regretted getting up and showering, etc. so soon after the birth and I wished for more postpartum care (noticing a theme here…). I wished I hadn’t almost fainted several times and still recall the feeling of my head snapping back as I almost went under. That said, I felt the proudest and most exhilarated after this birth.

Third birth: Aside from the obvious of wishing my baby had been born alive, I “fixed” some things from prior births in that I stayed down after the birth to keep myself from fainting. I regretted drinking Emergen-C after the birth. I regretted not being better informed about coping physically with a miscarriage. And, I wished I’d been better able to assess blood loss. I also wished I’d had an attendant of some kind, particularly for immediate postpartum care. I still feel traumatized from the memory of what felt like extreme blood loss during this birth. This was the most physically demanding experience of my life. Not just my birth life, my whole life.

Fourth birth: My biggest regret from this birth was having tried to use a hypnosis for birth program while in labor. I feel as if there were some pre-birth benefits from using the program, but it was not a match for the way I labor and birth and I actually feel as if using it had a negative impact both on my ability to clearly remember and to focus my energy. I did still tear in the same place and in what seems like some new ways as well. I never want to tear like that again. I hate it. I’ve reached my physical and emotional limit with experiencing that type of tearing and I feel like I still have some negative lasting effects. I also think I had some nerve damage that continued until about six months ago. What I “fixed” this time was having a living baby and rediscovering that I could in fact do this and there was nothing wrong with me. I loved that I caught my own baby. (Best. Moment. Ever.) I also had the immediate postpartum care I’ve finally learned I really, really need. I consumed a small piece of placenta postpartum, I drank chlorophyll (and not vitamin C), when I went to the bathroom and did not look down, so I didn’t get all fainty and woozy from seeing the blood, and my doula encapsulated the placenta and I loved it.

It is interesting to me to look at these feelings and situations in the same place. With my last birth, I finally “fixed” the postpartum and blood loss issues that haunted me, but I created new things to fix by experimenting with hypnosis rather than the active birth, birth warrior, Birthing from Within type of experience that truly suits me. I guess I will never fix the tearing situation (I still want to write about that someday!). I also notice how impacted I was and still am by the two births that involved major blood loss. This came up for me very viscerally in reading the current Midwifery Today issue about hemorrhage. While the topic is important and the issue is really informative and useful, I actually had to put it down by page nine because my uterus was hurting/twinging so much (low back too). I really don’t think it was only my imagination either. (This is one reason my work with birth is never going to actually include becoming a midwife!)

I’m curious to know…do you have birth regrets? Or, things that you used subsequent births to fix, overcome, or cope with? Do you see any patterns to your birth experiences like I see in mine?

The other thing this exercise brought up for me is the important of preparing for the birth you want during this birth. This baby is only born once. This birth only happens once. I have clients tell me sometimes while still pregnant with their first baby, “well, next time, I’ll try XYZ…” Don’t wait for next time, do it this time!

The first birth is the pivotal birth. Every birth experience that follows builds on that one. Our choices now are choices for the NEXT birth. The first birth doesn’t have to be either perfect or awful and earth shattering to make us think. We don’t have to choose differently than the first birth; but it’s the first one that gives us a place to begin experiencing not just birth but ourselves as mothers, women, people. We may not all have ground shaking, earth thundering thoughts but we have them. The experience belongs to us. We choose what to do with it. Choosing to do nothing different is still an influenced choice ~ made on that experience…

…What will YOU do to have a first birth that leaves you with few regrets or changes for your NEXT birth? Why not have the birth of your choosing, rooted in truth and your ability to know yourself and your baby now?…

via The Home Birth Experience: The First Birth is HERstory | Real women. Real options. Real birth..

These types of triumphs and regrets produce both birth professionals dedicated to helping others and also mothers who become so hurt and disillusioned with birth that they may actively reject the “natural birth” movement.

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Tuesday Tidbits: Bragging Rights

“Before I had children I always wondered whether their births would be, for me, like the ultimate in gym class failures. And I discovered instead…that I’d finally found my sport.” –Joyce Maynard

“Our body-wisdom knows how to birth a baby. What is required of the woman who births naturally is for her to surrender to this body-wisdom. You can’t think your way through a birth, and you can’t fake it.” –Leslie McIntyre

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This week I particularly enjoyed a saucy post by my friend, colleague, and doula, Summer. Titled Bragging Rights, she talks about her own experience birthing a very large baby (nearly 12 pounds! I enjoy bragging about her baby too!) and whether or not she really “deserves” bragging rights on birthing a big baby. I absolutely love her concluding thoughts on the topic:

“…Frankly, I think all mothers get bragging rights on their babies births. Birth is awesome and amazing and power-full. Every mother must face it. Sure, she may face it differently than me, but it IS a labyrinth we all go through. This is the way of life. So, mothers, brag away. Brag about whatever part of your labor and baby’s birth made you feel empowered….find that piece, even if it’s just a tiny moment, and cling to it. Shout it from the rooftops!…”

What a great idea that all mothers deserve “bragging rights.” What are your bragging rights moments from your births, however they unfolded?

I immediately thought of one for each of mine, reflecting that each birth does hold a key moment for me, the first thing that comes to mind when I think about that birth, a moment of being power-full.

First birth: my moment was arriving at the birth center fully dilated after having worried I was “only two centimeters.”

Second birth: having a two-hour labor—it was a train ride and I DID IT. Wow!

Third birth (miscarriage): coaching myself through labor and being brave enough and strong enough to open and let go of my little non-living baby.

Fourth birthFebruary 2013 102: catching my own baby! By myself! With my own two hands! And, she was ALIVE!

…the stories I see of birth in the media don’t reflect the intense emotions, the physical power, or the immense impact of the experience itself. Women screaming, fathers fumbling about, doctors doing most of the heroic work–these images don’t do justice to my experience. I felt empowered, strong, heroic in my efforts to bring my daughter into the world yet, I am painfully aware how little others see the heroism in my birth experience.“ –Amy Hudock (essay in Literary Mama)

“...if you want to know where a woman’s true power lies, look to those primal experiences we’ve been taught to fear…the very same experiences the culture has taught us to distance ourselves from as much as possible, often by medicalizing them so that we are barely conscious of them anymore. Labor and birth rank right up there as experiences that put women in touch with their feminine power…” –Christiane Northrup

I am a Story Woman

“The greatest gift we can give one another is rapt attention to one another’s existence.” –Sue Ellen quoted in Sacred Circles

“Human connections are deeply nurtured in the field of shared story.” –Jean Houston

I am a strong woman, I am a story woman…

I’m busy preparing for a New Year’s Eve ritual on Monday, the first ritual like this for which we will include all family members instead of just women. As I was getting our “family fireside circle” song sheet ready, my husband asked a question about one of the lines in one of the chants…I am a strong woman, I am a story woman…

“I’m not sure about this,” he said, “what is a story woman anyway?” I wasn’t able to give him a solid answer at that moment, but guess what, I am one.

In fact, didn’t I just write earlier this week that story holds the key to the reclamation of power for women? How and why does this work?

Because of these two things:

“The one who tells the stories rules the world.” –Hopi Indian Proverb

“We feel nameless and empty when we forget our stories, leave our heroes unsung, and ignore the rites of our passage from one stage of life to another.” –Sam Keen and Anne Valley-Fox

We need to hear women’s stories. We need to hear each other into speech. We need to witness and be witnessed. We need to be heard. We need to shift the dialogue of birth and, indeed, most aspects of women’s lives into powerfully positive “what if’s” and courageous explorations of our “negative” stories. When we hear the experiences of other women, of other people, sometimes it lights something in us and we are able to go forward in a way in which we would not have done without that story…

“Once the imagination has been kindled, we begin to see choices that we had never even seen before…but just seeing that we have different options and choices rarely gives us the strength we need to exercise these options. For this we need more than imagination. We need the courage to reach beyond ourselves, extending our hands to one another…” –Robin Deen Carnes and Sally Craig

And, then, this afternoon we had an ugly, sad, overtired, family-wide meltdown about homeschooling. I don’t really want to bother reliving the agony by typing up everything that happened, because we’re all back to normal now, but it was really the same old story. Parent suddenly gets bee in bonnet that kids (who are perfectly happy at the time pursuing their own interests and living robust lives) “should” be doing something different. Kid doesn’t live up to expectations and is, in fact, so unable to perform a very simple, basic task, that questions arise in parents’ minds about kid’s mental capacities. Parents feel personally responsible and like homeschooling parent failures as well as annoyed with kid who should know this already. Brief ranting and raving ensues along with hurt feelings. Sweeping pronouncements are made about what needs to happen to transform all of our lives into properly performing homeschooling bliss.

During this time, I abruptly decided this was IT, I HAVE TO STOP BLOGGING. I cried and cried. I don’t want to quit, but, if I can’t do homeschooling properly I certainly don’t deserve to be a blogger. And, then I remembered these quotes about stories and I especially remembered this one:

“As long as women are isolated one from the other, not allowed to offer other women the most personal accounts of their lives, they will not be part of any narratives of their own…women will be staving off destiny and not inviting or inventing or controlling it.” –Carolyn Heilbrun quoted in Sacred Circles

mollyatparkAnd, also this one:

Telling our stories is one way we become more aware of just what ‘the river’ of our lives is. Listening to ourselves speak, without interruption, correction, or even flattering comments, we may truly hear, perhaps for the first time, some new meaning in a once painful, confusing situation. We may, quite suddenly, see how this even or relationship we are in relates to many others in our past. We may receive a flash of insight, a lesson long unlearned, a glimpse of understanding. And, as the quiet, focused compassion for us pervades the room, perhaps our own hearts open, even slightly, towards ourselves.

–Robin Deen Carnes & Sally Craig in Sacred Circles

And, just last night, I got a beautiful thank you note for the Mindful Mama essay that I wrote in 2008 and that was updated/published in 2011. My stories, my words, were serving as “medicine” for another woman while I was cooking dinner last night, even though I actually wrote them several years before. That is story power. I am a story woman.

Last month, I had an email chat with a friend about why we write in the first place. She’d written a blog post about her family and as I read it I was reminded of how glad I am I blog and why I don’t want to give it up. Her post was a post like that—one that will bring back a whole collection of memories that have slipped from conscious memory. At the time of our exchange, I’d been looking back at some of my own old posts and found the ones I wrote about Pinterest day and it was so much fun to re-read them, because I’d already forgotten some of the recipes we’d tried. And…that was only after like six months have passed. It will be even more fun in a couple of years 🙂 I can remember having this fear (or whatever) of forgetting even since I was a girl. I write to remember. In fact, I’d actually left a comment on a Literary Mama blog post on the subject:

I write to remember. I write to share. I write to preserve. I write to collect. I write to store. I write for myself. I write for my children. I write for others. I write for perspective. I write to play my life’s music. I write because I just can’t help it. I write to pay attention and to tell about it.

I do feel like I have to have a balance between personal memory stuff and other information/education/advocacy on this blog because I don’t want to overdose readers on the picture of my kids and make people bored. I also have probably 100 ideas for posts before I actually get to write one. If I was only blogging for myself (and my future memory) I’d make more of the shorter, personal, picture-type posts, but I start to worry “who cares” and so I put up something educational! (BUT, as it turns out, the pictures/personal/kids stuff is NOT boring to me in other people’s blogs or in going back to my own.)

As another example, a couple of weeks ago, I came across the post I’d written based on a journal entry about Alaina when she was a one month old (Memories of a One Month Old…). This is exactly why I do it and why I’m not going to stop. Because reading what I wrote that day in my journal brought that one month old treasure of a baby girl back into my arms for a few moments in vivid clarity, rather than just as a hazy, distant recollection. It isn’t that you truly forget without having written it down, but that in the reading of your old story, a powerful, stored, storied memory that you had forgotten how to access fully is reactivated.

Also a couple of weeks ago, I got a little tear in my eye when Alaina came to get me in the bedroom showing me her handful of monkeys from the “monkey jump game.” When Lann was about her age if you asked him if he was a big boy, he would answer: “I not bigger yet, I can’t reach the monkey jump game!” Well, guess what, he reached it for them that day and they were all in the living room playing while I was getting dressed…

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I am a story woman.

And, I’m not quitting.

Other posts about Story:

Story Power

A Blessing…and more…

The Value of Sharing Story

The Of COURSE response…

Musings on Story, Experience, & Choice…

Taking it to the Body, Part 4: Women’s Bodies and Self-Authority

Call for your experiences – the impact of birth trauma and beyond | Rebecca A. Wright

An online friend and sister birth professional, Rebecca Wright, emailed me recently to share some information about an important new project that she is launching:

I’m planning to write a book on birth trauma that will centre on women’s voices and experiences. It’s not going to be so much dwelling on birth trauma (though there will be an element of that as I want people to understand that whether an experience was ‘objectively’ traumatic or not, it can have an enormous impact – and I think a lot of women say to themselves, ‘my experience wasn’t as bad as some others I hear about’ and so don’t feel able to validate their own feelings and experience). What I really want to focus on is a) the impact of birth trauma (or of ‘difficult’ birth experiences) on mothers, babies, partners, families; b) the many individual paths to healing from birth trauma that people have walked; c) rediscovering your power in birth and motherhood following a difficult or traumatic experience.

She’d like to reach out to mothers, but also their partners, and doulas (midwives, nurses, doctors, etc.) and she’s also interested in hearing from practitioners of whatever sort who work with women and families around these issues.

Full details are available on her blog:

I want this book to be made of women’s voices (and men’s as well). I want it to be a place where the unspoken is spoken clearly and openly. I want it to be a book that honours the sacredness of each birth journey, and each path to healing. I want it to be a book that opens doorways for those who are feeling lost or alone so that they can find hope and a way forward that is suitable for them personally. Most of all, I want it to be a book that shows that it is possible to reclaim your personal power in birth and mothering following a difficult or traumatic experience in birth.

via Call for your experiences – the impact of birth trauma and beyond | Rebecca A. Wright.

Make sure to check out her project and see if you can lend your voice to what sounds like a beautifully healing book!

And, speaking of birth trauma, a while ago, I also received a question via Facebook asking for recommended resources for healing from traumatic birth. Check out the series on Giving Birth with Confidence about traumatic birth prevention and recovery. Or, look into Solace for Mothers.