Hellena Post - Creatrix

I've tried on so many uniforms and badges that now I'm just me - mother of 8 children and all that entails, flowmad, and human animal parent. Writer of this living book of a blog, philosopher, and creatrix of hand dyed and spun crocheted wearable art. I gave up polite conversation years ago, and now I dive into the big one's.....birth, sex, great wellness, life, passion, death and rebirth.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

After Birth - But that's not all.......


Last post I was talking about how I've learnt about the evolutionary adaptations our bodies have gone through to create the baby/adult experience and relationships we have today, and how in my experience, we live out the patterns we learn in our wombs, birth, and infancy, with the survival imperative that all the other animals follow.  A very scientific, instinctual, evolutionary, and behavioural approach.

But that's not all there is to it, is it?

There's also the soul, fate, destiny, spirit, consciousness, collective soul, and all other things spiritual that come into it, isn't there.  Not to mention all the 'scientific' examples of thought creating reality that Quantum Physics has highlighted, that are surprisingly similar to the wisdom of Lao Tsu and Chief Seattle.  Not to mention the discoveries in genetic science, that tell us that we share the same DNA as every other living thing in our world - about 11,000 libraries worth of information contained within every strand of DNA - and the blueprints for creating every single living thing on the planet.

I've always tried to treat my babies as I would want to be treated if I was in a helpless body, with my consciousness intact.   And I've had a lot of reason to be supported in that belief.  When I was pregnant with mine and Currawong's first son, my 9 year old daughter from a previous life was not too impressed about his choice of birthday.  He was due on the same day as her.  She vowed to hate him forever if he was born on her birthday...so he wasn't.  But that wasn't all, she also had 10 days after her birthday of special events that she didn't want to miss due to birthing, and vowed to hate him equally for all of them. So he wasn't born on any of them.  In fact he waited till the morning of the very next day after her last 'special' day, to gently start his journey to the world.  In the evening when the expansions were 5 minutes apart and I started contemplating leaving the bath at home and travelling to the hospital, I rang my mother to come and be part of the birth.  She was an hour away.  From the moment I got off the phone, my expansions went back to 10 minutes apart, and as soon as she walked through the door they went back to 5 minutes......  I spent a gentle, musical, laughing, and peopled birth journey in the spa bath at the hospital, telling everyone how very considerate this little baby was.

Our second child's birth was no less special in teaching us very different lessons about bonding and it's importance, and the whole experience kinda suited Lilly's nature and personality in a way that made the whole thing make sense in retrospect. Spiral-Moon's birth created a mad dash by us up north to buy a house that we basically birthed in and then left, and was perfect in every way for her in particular.  And with Balthazar, we were going to freebirth in another state, and were living in a isolated house that was to be ravaged by the terrible fires in Victoria.  Just before he was born, we changed round completely, came back home to family support, and were living on a community to have our caesarean baby in the best possible way, and with the best possible support, instead of living through a hellish fire.  And with the recent birth of my twins, not only did they choose to be born on different days, but these boys are completely different.  One's eating hand over fist, and the other is still purely breastfed.  They sleep at different times, and in all ways are two separate babies, with separate needs, happening at the same time.  In fact, funnily enough considering my last post, these two babies have completely rolled all over all my smug judgements about how 'continuum' and 'attachment' babies perform.  They don't sleep....EVER....day or night, and they scream their guts out for no particular reason, even while they're being held, fed, and co-slept with day and night.  In many ways they fit completely within the framework of my last post, and in many other ways they don't at all.

There's been a spiritual, conscious, 'fatefull', and destined element in all of our experiences, and birthing, and children.  Which is contradictory to the perspectives of my recent post about the evolutionary and behavioural elements of birthing right??

Well maybe to some folk yes indeed, but to me.....no, not at all.

I've come to the realisation that there really aren't any 'truths' at all, just an infinite universe of possibilities.  And a whole heap of people with differing experiences, 'truths', perspectives and opinions, that they base on their own experience, and argue with others versions of 'truth', with all the born again zeal of a mammal trying to apply the survival skills they got from their parents. And there's also their spirit, or collective consciousness that is leading them down a merry path that may be not at all what they expect, and may even challenge their 'truths' regularly.

And I've developed this concept of 'composite truths'.  Or a truth, that contains more than one perspective, science or whatever, and maybe even many - some of which can be completely diametrically opposed - that are all equally true.

To explain a bit more......when I look at Ethnopaediatrics, evolution, attachment and continuum parenting, and our survival skills that we learn from our parents, it all makes complete sense to me, and I can see the relevance to it in my life.  And when I look at us mob as a collection of souls, here to learn our own particular trips, and all the delightfully magic little episodes that have occured throughout my life, that bring me to the belief that I'm always in the right place at the right time, doing the right thing.......that also makes complete sense and is relevant to my life also.  I tried for ages to decide on ONE approach or the other, and couldn't quite do it.  I swung from one perspective to the other, and there was always something that didn't quite fit completely into the picture.  But put them both together, (and don't sweat the contradictions or paradoxes, cause they're the nature of the universe), and it's PERFECT!!!  Room for both perspectives with a huge potential to expand in any direction.

I reckon there's a lot of areas in our lives that get swamped or avoided or stressed about forever because we try so hard to fit our experience into a pre-packaged box of belief.  Whether that's 'science' or 'religion', or 'evolution' or 'creationism' or 'right' or 'wrong' or 'good' or 'bad'.....  The dualistic arguments go on for ever.  But what if there was no box?  What if you could just mash em all together to get the particular colour of the rainbow that matches the colour of your experience?

The first time I really experienced this was when I was about 17, sitting in the back yard of my sister's friends house, having left home under police escort a year beforehand due to an abusive step-father.  Since I'd left, I couldn't quite settle on what I thought about him.  I hated him for what he'd done to my family, what he'd done to my sister, what he'd done to my life, but I also loved him, for the patience and care he'd shown me, and the protection he gave me from my rough older brothers.  He  noticed my sensitivity and creativity before anyone else.  And I just couldn't decide on how to look at him, how to deal with the situation, and whether I should love or hate him.  And I still remember to this day, and it was like trying to swim through glue, but as I sat out on the lawn in the sun it crystalised in my head.  I could do both.  I could love and hate him all at the same time.  And in finding that middle road I also found peace.

 I've applied this approach of 'composite truths' to many area's and decisions in my life, and it's always resulted in a delicious middle road, peace, and some very interesting theorising and philosophising.

It's an approach I can highly reccomend. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

After Birth.......

In having 7 children, and births, I've learnt stuff from each birth that not that many women experience anymore.... With Jess' birth I learnt about the Goddess and feminism and sexuality, with Griffyn's birth I learnt how easy birth can be - even in a hospital - and how easily I could attempt a homebirth.  Lilly's birth taught me how nicely the journey can be taken at home and how important the post natal period is for bonding and setting up healthy family relationships. Spiral-Moon's birth taught me how incredibly blissful a home, water and lotus birth can be, how incredible it is to catch your own baby, and how a post natal period done well can change the vibration of your entire family. Balthazar's birth taught me about judgement, (mine towards women that had caesareans and western medicine in general), the fully medicalised birth, and also about post natal depression and healing from it. And during the period between Balthazar's birth, and as a result of my twins births, I reckon I've got a real handle on my 'big picture' of birth.

For a start I found out about 'Ethnopaediatrics', which is the marriage of child development research, anthropology, psychology, and pediatrics, and goes a long way towards explaining the science behind a lot of the conclusions reached by Jean Liedloff in 'The Continuum Concept'. I thought I knew a lot about birth, but it only really came together with this new information.

To put it in a nutshell, when we decided as a species to think and walk, we altered the course of our births from the relatively easy journey that we still see today in all the other mammals, to the tricksy process it can be today. Our pelvises could only get so big or we wouldn't be able to keep walking, and our heads grew as we thought more and developed our frontal lobes, and the result was that our babies began being born earlier than was preferable. If we hadn't of made these changes, our babies would be more like other mammal babies, and born when they could walk relatively soon after birth, more like a year old baby than our modern day newborns. And we would have kept the straight birth canal that other mammals enjoy. As it is, our birth canal's have become a twisty journey to the outside world, and we birth babies that are all virtually premature.

Nature had to help us adapt........

And did so beautifully, by setting up an intricate rewards system, that made sure that we'd keep our babies close to us and nurture them, to ensure the survival of our species. And a delicate cocktail of hormones and oxytocins to be released during specific periods of the birthing time, as well as infancy, to keep us following the carrot of baby care that people call now 'attachment parenting'. Sarah J Buckley writes eloquently on these hormonal cocktails, and how they are released and can be interrupted by medical intervention.

It really came home to me about a week after my twins were born. I was experiencing extreme sore nipples and nipple trauma for the first time ever, and finding it all a bit difficult and hard to cope with. Lisa came to visit and found me teary and overwhelmed, and told me I needed to get my clothes off, rest as much as I could, and hold my babies on my skin and close to my chest as much as I could. And as she explained, during the times that followed after we changed our evolutionary path, if I'd left my babies on a bed or ground as far away from me as they were at that moment, they would have been eaten by a predator or stolen by another tribe. If I kept my babies on my bare chest as much as possible, I'd trigger off the happy hormones as the reward for me keeping my babies alive and safe.

I tried it and it worked beautifully. And I realised I still had a lot to learn.

The night my 4th baby was born, my midwife Rosey was on the phone to me being gorgeous, and as my mum was there, she asked me to ask mum how she'd given birth to me - in which position.  I asked, and was surprised when I found that she'd birthed in exactly the same position as I always do.  Rosey told me that a huge percentage of the women she'd birthed with, (and that's a lot in over 30 years as a midwife) birthed in the same positions as their mothers.

But it doesn't stop there.

I'd be lying if I didn't tell you that having twins has been one of the most challenging physical, emotional, and spiritual journeys of my life.  In fact, the birth was NOTHING compared to how these past 5 months have been as a reality.  I tried really hard to imagine what it would be like to have two babies before I birthed them......

And I wasn't even close.

And what comes with pushing yourself and your limits to the very edge?  In my experience anyway, it usually produces realisations and self awareness.  And this experience has been no exception.

I've been saying for a long time, that as we're born, we're turning around and looking at our mothers and saying to ourselves, 'Now THAT'S how to give birth, and when we're being raised we're saying, 'THAT'S how to treat children, and THAT'S what to expect from life'.  I always meant it more metaphorically than anything else, but I'm coming to understand that this learning is literal.

For mammals and animals and us to survive, the very process I've just described has to be imprinted totally and completely, along with an imperative to remember and re-enact all we soak up as babies and children.  That's how great herds of buffalo moved across the grasslands following the water, grass and seasons.  Why Emperor Penguins go to that extreme place in the freezer all those miles from the water and perform the rituals they do, rather than just pull up shop and move closer to the sea.  Why birds flock together and go on their global journeys to eat, nest, and raise their young.  How all sorts of animals remember when and where all sorts of prey are going to be, and how to best eat them.  They learnt the patterns from their parents, how to birth, feed, procreate and survive, and repeated those patterns faithfully.

And guess what.  I'm realising that we're exactly the same.  Except we think that the re-enactment of our parents patterns in our lives is because of all the other reasons under the sun, except for, we do it because that's how we were shown how to survive.  And we've faithfully replicated the patterns.  We may do it in different ways, and with different costumes or descriptions, but in my experience anyway, it's a matter of the same poo (or joy) in a different bucket.....

And it's taken the extremeties of birthing and living with twins to bring me to the realisation that even though I've been merrily tripping down the path of thinking that I was doing things differently to my parents and had transcended my childhood......  I was in denial all along.

It's a long and complicated story, and I don't want to make my eldest daughter feel in the spotlight, but suffice to say, many of the mistakes I thought I wasn't making.....I was.  Many of the things I hated about my childhood.......I did to her.  And most profound to me, how I spent my pregnancy, was a way of being that is a big part of her life now.  In a different way of course, but the essence is still the same.  This shocked the crap out of me when I saw it let me tell you now, and then I started looking at all the other elements in my life, and realised there were a lot of patterns I learnt from my childhood that I'd re-created.  Again, in different clothing, and with different props, but the basic pattern was exactly the same.

To give you an example.  My mum raised 6 children virtually on her own with an alcoholic, disaffected husband, who'd walk in the door after work, drop his hat and bag as he went straight to his room, where he'd read a book, drink a bottle of wine, and mum had to keep us all quiet.  She had no help or assistance.  And Currawong's mum was equally on her own and alone, and had to keep him well behaved so as not to get in the way.  They were both disrespected and unsupported in their lives and choices.

And we live on a community, and are surrounded by friends, and not doing it on our own but with a loving partner (man was I bummed when I realised that getting over my parents patterns, by being madly in love with the father of my children, wasn't all there was to transcend!!) - but - my mum and eldest daughter have had other business, the 6 other adults here haven't helped a jot, and friends help when they can, but the logistics of getting out to see them or vice versa is tricky.  We've also got grumpy neighbours who want us to keep our kids quiet till midday.  In fact, in all the places we've lived since we started having kids, we've done it on our own, had to keep our kids quiet a lot and controlled, and not got any outside help to speak of.  And often end up in home situations where we're disrespected and unsupported in our choices.  All of these paradigms go out the window though when we're travelling and on the road.  We didn't get any patterns to recreate around travelling, so we do it with a clean slate.  And it's divine.

Now I'm not saying this to whinge, or to shame my fellow community dwellers, (and none of you are allowed to be disillusioned about communities because of this story!!).  In fact I'm sure that even if they wanted to help, they wouldn't be able to because my love and I have a learnt imperative that we've implemented for our survival!  And those survival skills we learnt are strong! Learnt at our parents knees!  And it's not even their fault, in fact it's not really anyones....it's just us human mammals acting out our learnt skills to survive.

But the good news is, and I'll have to keep you posted, that when you realise such a pattern for what it is - a misguided survival imperative - then you can change it.  You can unschool it.  You can unlearn it. Instead of justifying, rationalising, psycho-therapising and the rest, you can just say..

"Oh.  That particular survival skill I learnt from infancy doesn't actually help me survive.  In fact it feels really crappy sometimes and I'm only doing it cause my animal brain wants to survive by repeating what it saw my parents do, but now I've been through all these changes and got myself a bigger frontal lobe, I can understand why I was doing it, see where I got that particular dysfunctional survival skill from, and simply change it for one I like better"

Or at least it should........

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A musical trip down memory lane.... Part 1

Currawong got home late from drumming last night, and we sat up till early in the morning as I took him on a trip down memory lane with music clips from Youtube.  I told him a whole heap of depth to my stories about my dyke days in Katoomba that I'd never told him before.  It's wierd.  I had such a blast, and I've always been very  proud of my stories as a scene queen in the Blue Mountains, but I kinda stopped telling them when I became very monogamous and heterosexual with the love of my life, and having copious amounts of children....kinda didn't seem to fit anymore.  And I was always wary of the voyeuristic tendancies of the folk I told stories to, and thought that if they wanted to know the intricacies of lesbian culture, then they should go have a look themselves (if they were the right gender of course), rather than get a peek through me.  And I was also very aware of the privacy and respect that a lot of the women I hung out with would appreciate from me.  So I just kinda tucked all my stories away, and got on with only being so weird as to be a big hippy with lots of kids, and a crocheted bus, living in and around community, into homebirthing and natural learning, and traveling, and the festival, market, and dance scenes.

But strike me pink and call me lemon, I had a huge amount of fun. I'm gonna tell you some of those stories, doing my best to respect everyone's dignity and privacy, just cause they were some of the most brilliant and magical moments of my life.

I moved back to the mountains when I'd got pregnant from a fling while selling life insurance to have my first child.  Her birth transformed my life completely and showed me layers in our culture that I'd never known about before.  Feminism, the Goddess, the divine feminine, spirituality, pagan culture, my world exploded into realms I'd never dreamt of.  I went to a meditation group and kept hearing about this tall, striking woman who was a lesbian, and when we met we almost instantly fell head over heels in kindred, platonic love.  We talked and compared and enlightened and shared and learnt the patterns and trends of whole new worlds together.  And just when we were both on the verge of thinking that women were the most splendid creations on the planet, and we could just launch into a parallel universe where men didn't exist, (more colloquially known as separatism) she brought a blue eyed man to visit me one night, we talked all night, and he instantly became part of our platonic love triangle.

We were all three intensely into LIFE and honesty, and unpeeling layers off our childhoods and popular culture and 'reality' and trying to find out who we all really were.  Exploring music and art and literature and concepts and foods and smells and sensuality and sexuality and gender and textures and natural found objects and everything we could lay our incredibly open minds on.  We got so into intense and brilliant conversations with each other that we forgot all about the people around us, and sometimes we'd all come too and find we had an audience with hanging mouths who'd been listening to our collective journey.

They became like parents to my young daughter, and we fast became inseperable, and they lived in a plush wooden mansion in Blackheath on Shipley road, with an incredible view from massive glass windows of cliffs and valleys reaching into Megalong Valley.  And we whirled and glittered and spun and talked, and freaked out nearly everyone around us.

We gals were bent, he was straight, I had a daughter, he was in a wheelchair, and we talked and laughed and tussled with concepts while dashing through the mountains in bright streams of colour and wafts of pure delight.  We challenged nearly every stereotype we could find, about disability, sexuality, relationships and gender.

"Your inability to see my ability is your own disability..."

And in the middle of these halcyon days, my gal pal and I were asked to make some music for a dyke dance in Katoomba.  We already had a reputation from a few parties we'd been at where we'd hijacked the sound system, so we set to our task with joy, using his music and our music, and sewing ourselves lush velvet capes with hoods, and long fitted frocks for the occasion.  We were cheeky as we made the tapes, putting on songs we knew were very different to the music normally heard at such events, but playing the music that inspired us nonetheless.  And even though he helped us create the soundtrack, our third mate couldn't come to this event, not even we tried to stretch that particular boundary.....

It was one of the most amazing nights and dances I've ever been to, still to this day.  It was like all cliches and stereotypes and distinctions dissolved, as all the gorgeous women of all shapes and ages just got on with the business of having fun. All the songs we thought would be challenging were just plain enjoyed.

We knew when this song was coming, and ran outside to hide while we giggled helplessly about what the reactions to it might be, and to our surprise, no-one said a word.

At one point outside the hall, there was a circle of about 10 women standing together, hugging and holding and talking and sharing, and everyone seemed to step out from their internal worlds and stand together united.

And when this piece played, as it was our threesome's collective favourite at the time, me and my beautiful friend skipped and swirled round the dance floor with capes billowing out behind us, and slowly all the women joined in as we whirled our way through the drum beats.

And we all had a huge amount of fun......