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.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Trust birth? Well mostly..........

A little while ago on Facebook, when I was talking about the search for a home, a midwife, and a doula, a woman asked me why I wasn’t considering freebirthing.  As she pointed out, I’ve got more experience in birthing than a lot of other folks around, and have thought very deeply about it all, so why do I feel the need to have a midwife?  The question really sat with me, and I wondered why myself.  I’ve always had a tremendous respect for women and families that freebirth, and for the last 4 births Currawong and I have tossed around the possibility of freebirthing……..but it never really materialised into a realistic proposition for me.  But I’m really glad the question was asked, as ever since it’s been sitting at the back of my brain pan, tumbling around with all my other thoughts, and it’s been an interesting journey following all the threads that come from it. 

In my toolkit of experiences, I’ve had a few run in’s with homebirthing midwives that were less than empowering, and a few with doctors and hospitals as well.  I’ve read books from the Christian fundamentalist right wing about unassisted birth, and how midwives, doctors and all other birth workers just get in the way of what should naturally be a magical experience shared by the mum and dad alone.  And I really related to what was written.  When the books drew attention to the observation that many women focused their oxytocic love, thanks and bonding on the midwife, rather than their mate, I could really see what they were talking about.  There’s so many birth stories I’ve read, where women talk in loving and glowing terms about their midwives, and all their other family members kinda take a back seat to the show.  And there’s a lot of intervention that some midwives get into that is totally unnecessary and just gets in the way, like giving internals, and cutting cords quickly, and catching the baby and ‘giving’ it to the mamma.  And after having a less than positive experience with homebirthing midwives, I really got into this way of looking at midwife led births for a while…….only to get pregnant again, cleanse a lot of my negative juju about midwives by meeting one who listened to me rant and agreed with me, and then was present at our birth in the most unobtrusive way possible, and gave me the gift of ‘catching’ my own baby.  I then went on to become a bit of a homebirthing and midwife advocate, till Balthazar came a long and introduced me to the blessings of western medicine.  And of course in my most recent and publicised birth of twins, Lisa was an integral, necessary, and much loved part of the process, and I definitely had a lot to say about her in my writings.

And while I know the statistics of caesareans in hospitals is incredibly alarming, and I get the whole interventionist dance that often leads to caesareans, as well as the scare mongering that happens from doctor folks when homebirth or natural birth is suggested…..I’ve had some really empowering, respectful, and peaceful births in hospitals too.  My main beef with hospitals has been their overwhelming attitude that birth is fraught with danger, and that birth belongs in the same corridors as deathly illnesses, physical trauma, great sickness and slow death.  I’ve got a bit of a problem too, with how the trend in hospitals at the moment is to separate mamma’s and babies, and that whole invasive separation they do with cleaning, testing, jabbing needles etc.  Kinda doesn’t really aid in a gentle welcome, compassion for a little being who’s been living in a controlled, peaceful and watery womb, and bonding.  Also, how it’s really hard to feel safe and cave like, and tap into a woman’s mammalian brain, in the sterile and bright environment of a hospital ward.   But then again, if a woman is really afraid of birth and what might happen, maybe for her a hospital is the safe place that she needs to be able to fully relax into the birthing process?  Afterall, even though much ado is made of interventionist practices in hospital, there are still a huge amount of women who birth naturally and without drugs in them.

To be brutally honest, I don’t think either camp has all the answers, or even all the questions, and I think that both homebirthing midwives and their supporters, and hospital birth workers and their supporters are two halves of the same whole.  Very antagonistic and despising of each other halves, but halves nonetheless.  And while they’re stuck in this anti each other and polarising dance for the soul of birth, a lot of women, children, families and individuals on both sides of the track are being overlooked, seriously neglected, and damaged in the process.  On the one side we have the birth trusting, all women have been beautifully designed to birth naturally, and by the way we’ve been doing it for thousands of years, so hospitals and doctors should just get back in their boxes, and take their hands off birth, and leave us all to do it peacefully at home approach, that also makes a fair deal about the scaremongering of doctors and obstetricians, and how a lot of their ‘facts’ are lies.  And then on the other side we have the medical approach that points to the harm that can come to unprepared women and families facing an emergency situation at home, and perhaps a long way from a hospital, as well as some of the dangers that can be faced when there’s an un-regulated body of birth workers attending births at home.  There’s also the body of information they hold about the dangers of birth, and how fraught birth HAS been in our history.  Yes many women pushed out babes on the fields and kept going, but a lot of them experienced babies getting stuck, and dying, and cords around necks stopping them from being born, and a hundred other possibilities that can and do happen even in these days of improved diet and hygiene and birth trusting.  But unfortunately, it’s the mainstream medical model that has the weight of the government and legal practitioners behind them, willing to send the horses of the apocalypse after homebirthers, and resulting in an unfairly balanced war effort on behalf of the hospital birthing scene.    

And the result of this antagonistic polarising dance in my opinion anyway, is causing many a casualty in the self esteem and bonding of families and birthing women across the board.  Unsuprisingly, with the amount of kids bounding around us every time we’re in public, a lot of my conversations with people we come across revolve around birth and kids.  And I’m really saddened that a lot of women respond to my stories with half ashamed accounts of how they weren’t brave enough to try birthing at home, or they tried and just couldn’t cut it, or they used every drug they possibly could because they were so afraid, or they didn’t have any option because their pelvis was too small, or they had health complications, or they had a natural birth and it traumatised them, or they suffered post natal depression, or a million other reasons why they didn’t give birth in either the wholistic, alternative accepted manner, or the hospital, mainstream accepted manner.  And these women all take it onto themselves, as their own fault, as their own body failing them in birth, as their inability to birth ‘properly’ being all their own doing, as an experience that happened to them that was less than they hoped, the result of which, can put some serious bricks in the wall of their lack of self esteem and body confidence, which then leeches from their parenting confidence, and sense of connection with their families, and becomes part of the general body of stories around birth that go unacknowledged from either side of the polarised fence, as it doesn’t fit appropriately into their accepted picture of what birth is.

I see so many women and families in pain around their birthing experiences, that I’ve taken to saying something like this to them….. 

“Ya know what darlin?  There is no ‘perfect’ birth, birth just is what it is.  Every one is different, and every birth is perfect if you let it be, no matter whether it was at home or in the hospital.  And we haven’t been designed perfectly to give birth, cause we CHANGED OUR DESIGN!!  When we decided to grow our frontal lobes and walk upright we changed our design from the less problematic mammalian birth canals that were straight, and we turned them into this twisty birth canal that can really cause problems.    And babies had to be born a year premature, which meant they couldn’t walk like all the other mammal babies, so mother nature had to create a tricksy system of oxytocic rewards if we held them to us and fed them when they were hungry, so they weren’t eaten by dogs or stolen by other tribes.  You just need to be true to yourself and do what feels good for you, cause that’s all that counts really.  Trying to birth or parent in any kind of way because that’s what you’ve been told is ‘right’ is never gonna work, cause it doesn’t carry the weight of your belief and life experience.  Don’t let anyone tell you what to do, and listen to yourself and your new baby whose instincts haven’t been convinced otherwise yet, and all will be fine…”

Or something like that anyway. 

Cause the biggest casualty in the war over birth is birth itself.  And it is a war, and quite a vicious one at times.  Nastiness and personal attacks are hurled by both sides, personalities especially associated with either camp singled out for horrific attention, and it seems that no-one’s getting the law of attraction proven by quantum physics, that you get more of what you focus on!  And my own personal experience that you become what you hate is also coming into this equation.  No one is winning anything, except for long drawn out battle plans being enacted, and a lot of energy being spent on the fight.  And a whole lot of people are losing, their integrity, their passions, their experiences being validated, and their sense of self worth.  Sometimes it seems to me that the fight just takes up too much space.

In an ideal world, both halves of birth would come together and hold hands instead.  Doctors and obstetricians would study their own sciences, especially that of Ethnopaediatrics and the beautiful works of Dr Sarah Buckley, Leboyer, Michel Odent, and all the others who’ve championed gentle and welcoming births, and provide birthing centres all over the world that allowed lesser and greater influences of homebirth and hospital birth depending on the blend required by the families that use them.  And homebirthing midwives who feel drawn to the trade, will work co-operatively with them in partnership and backup, so that all the potentialities of birth can be dealt with effectively and cohesively.  And the women and families entering the mysterious world of birth will have equal access to all the different perspectives and possibilities available, and have free access to whatever option works for them, based on their life experience and deeply held beliefs.  And imagine what we could do with all the energy focused on this war if the war dissolved!!  If the polarity that exists melted into a whole, there would be no ‘taboo’ subjects left anymore, so women walking into birth for the first time could explore the possibilities of natural caesareans for example, and alternative forms of pain relief, and maybe, just maybe, we could also focus our attention on what happens AFTER birth, a largely ignored realm in many birthing circles.  We focus on the conception, the pregnancy, the hormones, the birth and all it’s possibilities, but what happens after?  What about the importance of bonding?  The exhaustion many women feel after entertaining family hours after birthing? How to fold cloth nappies?  How to deal with sibling rivalry?  How to deal with the issues of step parenting?  How to address problems that occurred during the birth and set up patterns that aren’t life enhancing?  How to ‘unlearn’ survival skills that we’ve been taught by our parents that don’t help us survive, and in fact may be really stuffing us up?  I can think of worlds that we could be spending our collective energy on that would be far more rewarding than the argy bargy between hospital and home birthing.

So to get back to the original question, I guess that on deep contemplation, I’d have to say that I trust birth implicitly metaphysically, but not completely physically.  I’m aware of the things that can go wrong, and that HAVE gone sideways for me in my experiences, and when I’m in that intensely vulnerable and ‘elsewhere’ state of engaging in the age old dance of birth, I really like someone around to hold my hand, and who I know will cover my back.  Someone who isn’t Currawong and my family, who are caught up with their own experience, but who is there to just focus on me and the baby inside me coming out safely.  Someone who knows enough about the intricacies of birth to be able to fix any solvable problems at home, and also to get us the hell out of there and to a hospital on time if that’s what is needed.  And I’m so greatful for the folk that spend years in university learning how to help me and others when we really need them in hospitals, as well as the midwives who dig into the past to find old ways of birthing, as well as making alternative information available as well.  I’m greatful for all birthworkers really, and see the value in all their work and ideas.  I just wish it was something that they and others could see mutually and in themselves as well.

But that’s just my perception of birth, and the best way to do it, and when it comes down to it, I’d argue for anyone else’s perceptions till I’m blue in the face, cause that’s what it’s all about to me.  The combination of all our experiences and perceptions are equally valid and enhancing if taken that way, to the whole.  And if we put em all together and respect them all, we have a really healthy blueprint for the evolution of us all and our consciousness so we can USE those frontal lobes we traded easier births for, to help our planet and ourselves move beyond this warring and fighting over who’s right and wrong that happens in every sector, and move into an evolution of love, respect, peace and freedom for every single thing in the universe.  I’ll keep dreaming it up………

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The power of birth, and sub-tropical storms.......

Life’s been a bit like trying to do a tango on a highwire razor edge just lately.  Our time of house sitting the wonderful Ariad’s home is drawing to a close, and we’ve checked out houses and had lots of offers and possibilities coming up, but no conclusive home was solidifying.  We were all putting a lot of weight on the importance of finding a home.  For me, I feel like finding a comfortable home up here is the difference between being a complete hippy nutter who’s dragged her family across the country to be homeless and have a baby in a caravan park, and one of the arseiest acts of magical manifestation and creating a better paradigm for having another baby I can think of.  On a razor’s edge. We  had a serendipitous meeting with a couple in town who wanted to rent out their house  on a community, and it all seemed good.  They asked us out to see it and chat, carefully watching us the whole time we were talking, and the house was lovely, and they were going to leave some furniture, and all was good…..till they told us how much rent they wanted.  Right out of our price range.  Far too expensive for us mob.

We made these cute little hand written signs asking for sanctuary, nicely finished off with drawings of home by Lilly and Spiral, and put em up in all the places that we want to live, and we found this house that was heaven on earth, and we all did the silly thing of falling madly in love with it and not holding any cynicism in reserve to protect our hearts in case of rejection.  It was snuggled into the rainforest, with a composting toilet and solar power, lots of rainwater and a fenced natural pool using reeds for filtering, a chook house and a big fenced veggie patch, and a beautiful beautiful home with big verandahs and an underground room that stays cool in summer and warm in winter.  There was also a big bindi free lawn, and a sandpit for the littleuns, an outdoor bath as well as an indoor one….in short….everything we had on our list for the home we wanted to manifest.  And it was affordable too.  And when the landlady heard we had six kids, she said that was too many people, and we couldn’t move in.  Razor edge snapped to the ‘oh my god what idiots we are to be on this mad journey in late pregnancy with no haven to land in!!’, and we both got instantly sore, tired and grumpy.  We’ve been hearing all these stories about folk who got here and stayed in the caravan park for 18 months till they found a house, and other folk who took longer than that even, and have been living in substandard accommodations for years before they found a place on one of the multitudinous Multiple Occupancies or Communities around here.    Everyone we’ve been talking to has told us how hard it is to find somewhere to live, and how you’ve gotta pay a fortune to rent a chook shed and the rest.  And we were getting more and more worried, and our optimism was flagging……. 

Till the power of birth stepped in that is.

One thing I know from all my babies and pregnancies, is that there’s a magic that is the combined alchemy of our family and the new baby to be, that attracts in what’s needed at the perfect time, and we’ve experienced it every time.  Griff’s birth was an amazing and perfect hospital birth in Mt Barker, that was a gentle entry for Currawong and I into what we didn’t realise yet as our birthing career.  He was born in his sack, with no-one around but my support people and Currawong and I in the spa bath (which they wouldn’t have allowed if they’d known he was going to be born so quick).  In a bit of a tizz when they realised they’d missed it, a whole stack of nurses and our doctor made it just as he was born, and they clapped and cried and welcomed him to the world, and were blown away by witnessing an ‘angel birth’.  The first thing I said was “That was so easy”, as I picked him up and strode to our hospital room, pushing the bed to the side,  and laying out our futon, so we could all sleep together.  We went home later that day, and had a gentle and welcoming baby moon in our campground house that was just perfect. 

Lilly’s birth was at my mother’s house, and the birth itself was absolutely divine, and the photo’s were great, but afterwards a series of separating and anti-bonding events happened, that taught us all valuable lessons about the importance of bonding, and in a funny way, everything that happened kinda suited Lilly, and the person she’s become.  Her birth experience also taught us how phenomenal the healing abilities of young one’s are, as we healed the disrupted bonding, and watched her relationships with us all change overnight. 

Spiral’s birth was incredible……and worthy of a post all to it’s own, which I’ll get to one day.  We bought a house to have her in, and even though we were 250kms away from our midwife, she was on perfect time for the birth, I didn’t scare the kids with yelling and instead toned and chanted her out, and we had an amazing lotus experience and baby moon, far away from another disintegrating community experience that happened at the same time, and learnt the true value, beauty and magic of bonding done well.  It literally changed our lives and our vibrations and increased our collective love. 

I’ve already written on this blog about Balthazar’s birth, but what I didn’t make too much of a fuss about, was that we had actually moved to Victoria when I was pregnant with him, and were living in a house on land that was about to be ravaged by horrific fires, during the time that we would have been freshly out of hospital after having an emergency caesarean, with no family or friends around, having had major surgery, and all the rest.  We would have been evacuated about 7 times from that house.  Instead we were back in Adelaide, with friends, family and community nearby, had two wonderful midwives to help us through the process, and the perfect healers for afterwards and to help deal with post natal depression. 

And with the twins, we were in the perfect place again, with the perfect midwife for the job, the perfect healer to help Merlin come not too long after Max, and the perfect situation afterwards to highlight some deep held patterns that kept leading us to rejection by our communities and never having a home.  All the people we really needed were magically attracted to us, and I’m still realising lessons that I learnt about myself and our family dynamics and patterns from the experience, that are absolutely essential to our growth and the ongoing process of enlightenment that’s unfolding from our lives and births together. 

And now we find ourselves in a place where we feel like we’ve finally found our tribe, where people look at us deeply and listen to our words to judge us, rather than asking us for references and resume’s, and a serendipitous little thread has picked us up at the last minute, and is working it’s magic in our lives. 

To rejoin the story again, we were losing hope, and getting grumpy, till we woke up last Sunday, and Currawong declared that we were going to find a house that day, that someone was going to walk up and say “I’ve got a house I want you to live in” and all our worries would be over……..I was cynical to put it mildly.

We got to Nimbin, and I was all sad with pregnancy worries and skeletons in my head closet that need clearing for this new baby, and I told him I wanted to avoid the market, and go to the bush theatre instead.  He was happy to oblige me, but also really really wanted to go to the market, so we agreed that we’d go where the parking was easy, which ended up being the market.  And within moments of getting there, I sat with a midwife we’d met the week before, and I really fell in love with her approach and herself and her attitudes.  We had so many common thoughts about birth it was silly, and so many ideas poured out of us both about birth and family groups and big birthing concepts that my head spun.  She’s a real midwife.  There’s a special kind of energy that only a real midwife emanates, a glowing vitality that comes from witnessing birth regularly, an openness to just about any concept or attitude from the dance they do with birth and thereby sex and death as their trade, and a deep loyalty and caretaking attitude towards birthing women and their families.  Not to mention she’s just drop dead gorgeous.  When I was first told about her, and how she was a grandmother, I had a picture in my head of a silver haired crone, and when a tall, lithe, tanned and stunning woman in a mini skirt came walking towards me, I wondered briefly if that was the midwife I’d been told about, but dismissed the idea, cause she didn’t have silver hair.  But it was.  She’s also got a lot of experience, and was trained in Germany, and is firm in her beliefs that sex plays a huge role in birth, and all it’s attendants.  And she also straight away set about trying to find us a home, and hooking us up with people who might help us, and using all her knowledge and contacts to try and ease our birth into this community.  It seems we’ve found a ‘birth worker’, and I’m absolutely thrilled and delighted at who she is. 

She said if the worst got to the worst, she’d just create a meeting of the locals, so we could be looked after and found somewhere to live, because the community wanted us to stay, so they had a responsibility to help us!  Another woman who we’d met 6 years ago when we first met Nimbin was also around, and between the two of them they swapped names and possibilities, and cooked up a scheme where Annetta, our birth worker, was going to ring all the people she knew, and let us know later what she turned up.  Currawong went off to get the bus so we could head for the pool and wait for her, and bumped into the woman who owned the first house we’d looked at that was too expensive. 

And guess what.

She said that they’d had other people come to look at their house, but after talking to us and observing us carefully, they wanted us to be the ones to move into their house, and they were willing to take what we could afford, plus a day a week’s work in exchange.  Currawong was right.  And very intuitive.  And I’m glad that he got us to the market instead of the theatre!  So within 4 weeks of starting our earnest search for a home, we’ve done it.  And it’s on a community with an old friend of Currawong’s he hasn’t seen for over 12 years, who we bumped into a few weeks ago, and who I instantly loved and felt like we’d known each other for years, and another amazing woman that we met when we were here last.  A safe and comfortable home has been found, and my faith in the power of birth has been confirmed. 

But that’s not all, because there was a gap between the house sit ending and our new house being available, and thanks to Annetta’s networking, we drove off from the pool and met the most awesome family we’ve met since the last time!  Another homeschooling mob of 4 kids, living in an amazing home on a community, all totally gorgeous both inside and out, and we all liked each other so much we ended up staying for dinner.  There’s a community house on their community that they can give to people for short term stints, and they’re doing their best to organise it for us to live in it until our new house is ready to inhabit, and we’ve made some awesome new friends to boot.
And on the way home we experienced our first real tropical downpour.  It was awesome, and scary, and huge and intense.  Sheets of water so dense we could barely see through them, and hailstones bashing the roof of our van, and lightning and thunder so close you could almost touch it.  Tree’s were falling by the sides of the road and we had to stop four times while Currawong and another fella cleared them.  We had to pull over and stop in a service station while the storm was at it’s zenith and hailstones were pelting all around, and all the kids were a bit scared.  I just thought the raw power and energy of mother nature was absolutely awesome, and was thrilled at the intensity of it.  And Currawong was worried about his van, and got us as carefully and safely home as he could. 
But the biggest thing we realised was that we were really really glad that we wont be sleeping in a tent in Nimbin Caravan Park afterall, especially when it comes to storms like that.  Cheers birth energy.  I’ll never underestimate your powers……..