The Other Side of the Glass

Part One was officially released June 2013 in digital distribution format. To purchase to to www.theothersideoftheglass.com If you were a donor and want to download your copy send an email to theothersideoftheglassfilm@gmail.com.

The trailer

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Thanks to an old friend, Leilah McCracken and the army of others who have been a part of my healing

I was on Cassandra's new blog, http://www.homebirthissafe.blogspot.com/ and I was interested to see an article, Rape of the Twentieth Century by Leilah McCracken, owner of http://www.birthlove.com/, an extraordinary site. I am reminded of the importance of Leilah's work and communication with me in 2000 in my own healing process and became a little nostalgic about my journey since over the past seven years. I have been writing about the safety of birth and what a baby/soul coming into this world needs and weaving my professional and personal experiences into the tapestry. Of course, it's part of my own healing -- to have a place to have my voice and heart heard is powerful, and to support other women to touch those deep places is a blessing and honor. Because I have received and so valued a few responses about how important my blog has been to women, I thought I'd share a little about my own journey -- with the intent to share more about the field of birth trauma healing and to answer some questions and spark some questions. But mostly, at this time, to give every hurting woman more hope for knowing there is a way to heal whatever has happened to her and her blessed little one.

It is important to me, that you the reader, a pregnant or birthing woman, no matter how old your baby is, that you know that there is amazing technology, understandings, and modalities for healing out there. I firmly believe and I am committed to this -- that we women must touch our deepest woundings we experienced in birthing our babies and in being born IN ORDER to truly address what is happening in birth today. This is absolutely critical for anyone who attends birth and cares for pregnant and birthing women. Doctors, nurses, midwives, and doulas bring their own UNACKNOWLEDGED wounds and traumas to every birth they attend. I have written a lot about Feminine Betrayal by women in maternity care, the misuse of drugs and intervention, and the lack of regard for the SACREDNESS of conceiving and birthing a soul into our lives. Each of us are affected by it and if we attend births OUR STUFF that we are unconscious of - in denial about -- is what we are are, on some level, trying to heal and reorganize. Our stuff will be played out in our actions, decisions, and emotions in the other woman's birthing of her baby.

In the prenatal and birth healing work we call those in the mother's enviornment during pregancy, labor, and birth as the "WOMB SURROUND". We, as energetic beings, now proven so in science (http://www.whatthebleep.com/) are part of the energy field surrounding the mother. Our emotions, thoughts, agendas, and unhealed crap affect her and her baby. Yesterday I posted the welcome by the conference chair of the APPPAH congress -- it shares how important it is for us to care for, support, nuture, protection, and honor a pregnant and birthing woman.

So, with that ... on with my story, part 1. In early 2000 three things happened at the same time -- (and this eventually is related to Leilah)

First, I had left my work in program development and direction and in state systems and grassroots collaborative work (changing the systems to empower women) in utter disgust after yet another experience of system brutality.

Second, after "four months in the (emotional) desert" I was lead back into clinic work and "just help mothers and babies bond to keep them out of the systems in the first place," when I had taken a class to become an infant massage teacher. My trainer, DeAnna Elliott, is an expert in birth imprinting (http://www.foundationofglobalunity.com/). I learned from her about the Association for Pre and Perinatal Psychology and Health (APPPAH) and birth trauma. I had my first awareness of the life long consequences of the cord around my neck 2-1/2 times and being born "under the influence" of saddleblock (like epidural) and crushing forceps. BIRTH TRAUMA!?!? Who knew? After years of hearing my parent's stories (perspectives) of my birth and the GOD-doctor who saved me, a life-time of choosing the most challenging route, spouse, and work, and two degrees in psychology and counseling and post-grad work in conflict resolution, I had never heard of this. The baby's brain is recording birth? WOW.

Not quite two years before I had, in a very despairing moment, asked God or whoever was in control of this crazy world for healing. I had said I was "willing to go to my deepest, darkest places to heal whatever keeps me from being the human being I am meant to be and to do what I am meant to do in this life." I was trying my damnedest over and over to have a good marriage -- with a very violent man, to make my mark in the world of helping women in the system -- empowering them when I wasn't even empowered myself.

I wasn't really thinking of that plea as I plunged into reading the works of William Emerson, PhD, grandfather of the birth trauma healing field, David Chamberlain, PhD and Thomas Verney, MD, co-founders of APPPAH. I see now these people were part of the answer. I was introduced to the cellular biologist, Bruce Lipton, PhD, now author of the Biology of Belief. Buy it on Amazon. His work explained the early consciousness that allows us to understand the effects of our first experience, conception, through gestation, birth and beyond. This eventually lead me in 2002-04 to train with Raymond Castellino,an early student of Emerson.

I had beeing studying Emerson's work about violence, c-section, and cord trauma. I read that babies born with cord around their neck go through labor feeling like they're going to die when they progress and their oxygen supply is cut off so they pull back and then they feel failure (and hear it from caregiver's in the surround of their laboring mother -- "failure to progress." Forever imprinted in the baby's brain unless and until we adults differentiate it for the baby. ). Emerson calls the psychological dynamic from cord truma "Completion ambivalence". For me, the cloudy sky opened and the sunshine of understanding poured in. Birds chirped. Flowers grew. I had a joyful moment of hope. In that moment and over time, who I believed I was and could never change (because of my struggles) made sense and only then through the birth trauma healing I was able to transcend much of what had eluded all sorts of traditional medicine and therapy. Hope and understanding does still leave one with the unwinding of the years and decades of LIVING the trauma over and over. Many times over the last few years I have remembered that earlier plea and been grateful for the answering of it.

Emerson developed stages of birth from the baby's perspective and Castellino refined this in his development of his process in collaboration with Wendy McCarty, PhD (http://www.wondrousbeginnings.com/) to create the modality of healing birth trauma healing (You can see the curriculum at http://www.castellinotraining.com/). The Five Stages of birth -- from the baby's experience --- create one sequence from the baby's initiation of labor to the completion of coming to the mother's breast to self-attach. The process of birth is monumentally important and critical as the human baby leaves the safe, warm, watery, spiritual world of the mother's body where s/he is symbiotic with the mother to become within hours and moments, a physiologically independent, but otherwise completely dependent still upon the mother. It seems absurd to me now that this is so denied and disregarded in our society. From this perspective -- that the BABY experiences birth and it is imprinted in that early part of the brain -- the action of beginning labor and completing the task creates the template for every in which the person will do every activity of every day. Hard to believe, I know. Think about it. Tuck it away for now and read on. I hope to get permission to share more of that later.

In my very first process with Castellino I did healing my prenatal experiences that lead to the cord wrap and over two years I did level after level of the cord wrap. One of the sessions is pictured here. I have learned that my cord wraps (2 times)were in relationship to my parent's relationship and their unspoken but held in issues (the 1/2 was done by the physician -- another serious healing session!).

Here, in the photo, my colleagues, Gene and Kitty, in the energy field of MY Central nervous system were able to "work out" my parental relationship. It's done as if I were in the womb -- with some guidance from me and some from following their own guidance, they are telling me that their relationship issues are not about me. We call it "differentiating" --- the adults differentiate what they are experiencing and feeling so the prenate, birthing baby, infant, toddler, child, teen, adult child doesn't have to "take on" and live the parent's stuff.
In this work, we say, "Children live and act out what parents don't deal with." I knew this even as a traditional child and family therapist. I never believed the child was the problem.

In the prenatal and birth work, as they, the parents, deal with their sh**, I, the baby, can relax. Finally, when they had worked out their stuff, I was able to let them (babies' boundaries need to be respected, even and especially by parents) come close to me and as a couple they supported, protected, and cared for me, the baby. I am "unwinding" the cord and releasing my needs, or mistaken beliefs, that I have had to carry from their relationship - for forty-seven years. I no longer have to carry and live their relationship as me, and I could clear drug imprints and forceps dynamics from my brain.

The picture to the right is later --- after me, the baby, is allowed to move through birth and into their arms. I am getting here what every human baby needs in the first moments of life --- safe, trusting, loving touch and eye contact with the mother and father. This is what activates the baby's brain and allows for the hormones that will create the ability to trust, love, and to attach. Just as in birth, in this process, the hormone oxytocin is flowing. There is a look and it is often seen in homebirth babies -- the bright, soft, clear eyes. We call it "Amgydala eyes." The amgydala is online at birth and is the seat of emotion. We can heal our earliest wounds at any age! Amazingly, my relationships with my parents as individuals and as a couple -- as the origin of me, dramatically shifted with no effort. No counseling. No boundary setting. No "I statements". No affirmations. It just shifted.

FORCEPS!!! As Ray held my head and both treated me and explained what he was doing, he said, "People born with forceps look for the hardest places and this little one reeeeeeally looks for the hard places." So true. I have always found the most difficult challenge to overcome and it always came with struggle and fight with the inevitable need and disruption of "outside help" that I resisted. That is what I learned from my birth -- it was how my brain was programmed at birth to function. When a baby is laboring and laboring and is stuck and requires ANY assistance from someone other than the mother, this imprints in the baby's brain as a need for assistance from someone outside themselves. The baby is at a wall, a barrier, and obstacle, and while the "new" brain (thinking, neocortex) knows there are other ways, that primal, "old" brain online at birth is programed to need "outside assistance". Forceps creates a confused way of being in the world.

According to Gerald Vind, PhD, and neurobiologist at http://www.pnri.net/, and other new cellular biology and physics understandings of humans as electrical, magnetic beings, this early experience is our radar throughout life and the part of the brain that draws to us what really happens, what we really get -- even when our neocortex (learned, thinking brain) wants us to have something different. An easy way, prosperity, a gentle love, to do something on our own timing, without people intruding or forcing these are things our neocortex sees and wants. Our Limbic system's first imprints from the birth experience seek often seek something quite different and that which we actually manifest into our lives.

Gene is my partner here --- I had to have a big, strong man to work with, because I had forty-seven years of anger built up, and two decades of attracting the angriest of men who were willing to act out what I couldn't. I was the "victim" and did not get to express my anger openly. We are doing "creative opposition" which allows the person to "be met" with equal force -- no pushing or pulling away like most human relationships are. This allows for the person to FEEL their impulse, to move through the anger (or whatever) in a healthy, met, and felt way. One can learn how to interact with babies and anyone in this manner -- with or without touch.

I was the strong, smart, motivated, driven woman who always fell into collapse at the hands of angry men. Collapsing into "powerlessness" is a FORCEPS DYNAMIC. Creative opposition requires eye contac to follow through in a healthy, met way. In the picture I am not yet able to that but I did. I was still in the expression of the intensity of anger vs going into collapse. No one, no man for certain had ever "met me" and recognized me, and held the boundary for me to feel my anger and powerlessness.

My left arm was up by my head at birth -- to protect me from progressing and dying because of the cord, I learned. Not because I was a "dumb baby" in the "wrong position" and not "going the wrong way" or "causing trouble" or "failing to progress". I was brilliant -- I knew how to save myself. But, not to get here with my mother flat on her back, drugged. The doctor moved my arm back into a horrible position that broke my clavicle, dug forceps into my left check and mastoid where the most pressure was applied and turned me, adding another 1/2 loop of my cord. He pulled me out, in the opposite direction of MY intention and movement. I tried to die -- and, was not allowed. My wounded left side, throughout my life, is the side I lead with, in SELF-PROTECTIVE anger and opposition, but always being the supportive, compliant, "good girl" (stubborn and defiant). I was blue and roughly resuscitated. Enter those who are happy to express their anger, to force, and to hit and harm, even though I was not abused as a child by my parents. Is it a surprise that I married a man becoming a doctor who had decided to do a second residency in obstetrics andthat this threw me, I mean blew me, into a tail spin? And, that he was a first year resident when I began this journey of healing?

So the third thing that happened was in April, 2000, my husband in his first year of obstetric residency, I began my CranioSacral coursework and I did an fast-track to completing them all that year. The training is as much experiential as it is didactic. We are sometimes on the table and sometimes we are the practitioner. I learned A LOT about when we go into the body for healing. My first child's birth and my own came bubbling, boiling, and bursting out of my body and soul to be healed. Four years of violence and abuse and unable to get out it and going into obstetrics poked the huge boil of unexpressed rage within me. Besides the two books, The Mind of Your Newborn Baby by Chamberlain, and The Secret Life of the Unborn Baby by Verney, two other books came into my life. Two wonderful books by extraordinary women. Two perspectives, two parts to the puzzle for healing what was bursting forth to be healed. For someone in the fields of counseling psychology and systems change for years, it was quite surprising to me.

The first book, Reclaiming the Spirituality of Birth (now titled Songs from the Womb) by Benig Mauger, I read it by the pool that summer of 2000. I had done the level one training in CranioSacral and would be doing level two in July. You can read the final chapter of http://www.itsthebabysbirth.com/artandwritings/benigmauger.htm. I remembering reading it and seeing my son come home from work and putting it down to greet him. Recently, I was rereading it and was AMAZED to read my underlinings and to understand how much of an impact the book had in taking me into my body and soul to heal his birth. The other book was Leilah McCracken's collection of writings.

Ironically, my twenty-five year old son had come home to stay with me for the summer in IL to be within weekend driving distance of the Army base, Ft Leonard Wood, MO where his bride of one year had three months of her Air Force training and she had to be on base. What a treat to have him home. As he was driving straight through from Phoenix in time for the 4th of July, and talking to me by phone when tired or bored, I began to realize the most amazing thing. I was home alone, and when he arrived it was going to be just me and him. I got giddy as I realized in all of his life he and I had not ever been alone. It was never just me and Andy. My now-ex was in an obstetric residency in Chicago several hours away, my older daughter lived in Phoenix, my son, GI Joe -- now in Iraq -- was at basic training in GA, and my six year old daughter was in Chicago for two weeks with her grandparents. It would be just me and Andy for the week. He had not been living at home for seven years and never had we been alone -- there were always siblings, father, or step-father. I made the intention to make it wonderful, healing, and loving and to savor every moment of it. It was glorious, as was the entire three months of having him home. Just like when he was a little boy, I'd just stop and watch him sleep. I'd feeeeel and whisper all of the unspoken joys and regrets that seem to get swept away with the day -- just like I'd do when he was a little, wild man and at the end of the day I'd feel like such a hag and bad mother as I watched him sleep, looking like the angel he really, truly is.

My daughter-in-law received her orders for her first assignment -- Germany. Their leaving coincided in early September with my trip to Phoenix to visit my daughter and to take the Upledger Pediatric CranioSacral course. While I was there he and his wife would be leaving for three years in Germany. We had taken his car to a military site to be shipped to Germany. They would fly out of OHare while I was in Phoenix. He was to drive me to my flight at Midway airport and leave my car later that week at the Amtrak in Bloomington, IL and take the train to their own flight. When he dropped me at Midway -- I can cry even now -- I didn't know when I would see my baby again. Three years prior I had taken a twenty-four hour train trip to Montana to see him before he was deployed to Saudi Arabia for eight months. These were the days when I could not go more than six months without an "Andy fix" and terrible withdrawals. At the airport, telling him good-bye, I lost my composure -- I felt such grief at saying goodbye, as never before. I just had to make eye contact and tell him how much I loved him. Not knowing when I'd see him again gripped me in such a deep place. It was so hard to part. I cried to the ticket gate. I know now that reading Mauger's book had gently spoken to my wounded soul and Leilah's site and book and correspondence had touched that deep boil of anger from the violations of my body and soul in his birth, and in my own.

Thank God for the CranioSacral work and the work of the pioneers in the pre and perinatal psych and trauma healing field. I know now that in twenty-five years -- and three other births -- I could never begin to touch these deep places as there was NO ANSWERS, NO SUPPORT, no way to change what happened. We have to suck it up -- whatever happens to us in birthing our babies -- and live with it. And, while expected to not talk about it. The help I prayed for came to me each step of the way, when I was ready, and when I needed it.

Remember I was en route to the Pediatrics course?? In doing my own work -- being a good subject for my partner -- I went into re-experiencing his birth. It would be the first of FOUR times I experenced rebirthing him, each time would involve one or more violations of our experience. In this first one, I became aware of the experience of being tied down and drugged -- scopalamine and narcotics had made me wild and thrashing as they are known to do -- and my body wanted to move into sideline position. Structurally, in the CranioSacral body work, I learned that the chronic pain in my left hip was from being tied down while everything in my body wanted to move into sideline position. I later learned at a homebirth that this IS the position a woman's body gets into so the baby's head will resolve a lip on the cervix. My cervix had torn during my son's birth.

I began to feel the memory of the contractions and my partner could actually palpate them. My son was born very softly and gently (far from the birth that was like a rape) and my partner intuitively grabbed her sweater and rolled it into a "baby" and handed him right to me saying, "Here's your baby, Andy." I never knew in my neocortex how much pain there was in my body and soul -- my uterus, heart, and lungs -- and how much I had grieved internally in my body for that moment. My only memory of the first day of his life was hearing, "Here's your baby" as I tried to pull my consciousness up out of the deep fog of many drugs, including gas. I saw him for two seconds as the cart he was in passed by. He was sucking his thumb. Just like for the doctor I was relieved he was "an alive baby". Somehow that's where most of us get stuck in this soceity. In healing the trauma we support the mother and baby to have a FELT SENSE in the body. That day, I had a felt sense, as real as if it actually happened, of having a kind nurse put my baby in my arms. When a mother does the work in her body it changes her and her relationship with her child, and with the world.

So, back to Leilah McCracken's work. Leilah's work was one of the first writings about birth that I encountered in the early months of 2000 and was fuel for my internal, unrecognized ever-burning flame of inner rage. My body knew it. My headaches and visual issue that lead to an angiogram, spinal tapes, scans looking for brain tumors, etc (my forceps trauma exacerbated by the forced pushing during his birth). My gallbladder -- bitterness and my stomach (ulcer) knew it. Our emotions – our true emotions – are “held” in the body, and our neocortex works hard to keep us safe from them.

Leilah put WORDS to the feelings - the violations that my body knew so well. She and I corresponded as I also defended my husband who was LEARNING how to violate women in their labor and birth -- something that was bringing our violent marriage to a huge head. Just as I was healing the roots of my part of the relationship -- and, why it is what I attract into my life (to heal). It still took me two more years to physically get out of that relationship and for five years I have been continuing to heal my inner self and the manifestation of my birth and that violent marriage in my life.

A violent birth at that hands of a male obstetrician, and marriage to a violent obstetrician and many stories in between -- what emotional, spiritual, and psychological relief to learn how this was the manifestation of my earliest experiences of coming into this world. Because of the experience of my son leaving for Iraq in October and some other coinciding events, some with the ex in August, I spoke publicly of the violence I experienced and participated in as a victim. I wrote the Safe Baby Resolution, part of the Hawaii Domestic HARMONY Initiative during September and October. I speak out now, not to harm anyone, but I do so to support the many, many, TOO MANY women who are victims of domestic violence and obstetric violence. I speak out now because I am realizing that life has brought me to another cross-roads and I intend to "turn this corner." Not even in domestic violence counseling is a woman’s own birth and her birthing her babies acknowledged. It’s time to break the cycle of violence in birth. It IS the root of my own history and of violence in this society.

This blog began as a counter blog to a female obstetrician who was verbally and emotionally violating women who shared their heart and guts with her. Her viewers were trying to convince her that their anecdotal story of a beautiful, peaceful, empowered birth was all they needed to know -- during a nasty debate where she claims that homebirth is danger based on a percent of a percent margin in one study.

And, SO IMPORTANTLY, I wish to share that in the midst of our worst is our best. Our shadows and woundings are become our gifts when we shine the Light upon them. God IS the Light of the world. There is hope for healing and living life on one's own terms. Healing doesn't always look so pretty to others, because it is exposing, and it is like cleaning an old stuffed closet. We have to take everything out and deal with it. Sometimes it feels like maybe it was easier to just tuck it away in the back in the dark and to try and keep the closet door closed over the stuffed mess trying to spill out. When one realizes "pain is inevitable, but misery is optional" and that tools exist to do it, one can move through the old pain to new places.

In this post, I found that I am disclosing to the world the truth and I am shining Light on the shame I feel about abuse I experienced. And, as I also wonder, of course, WHAT IF my mother had not been flat on her back and drugged? What if I had been sent home when I arrived at the hospital with non-labor contractions? What if I had not been induced without my knowledge or consent and then not given an arsenol of drugs? What if I had not been tied down so my body couldn't work? How different might my life have been? Yep, I am dragging out something very dark and old and bringing into the light of day on this beautiful spring day. That something is very last piece of ugly history, that fear of threats for my life over taking his money, me not making enough money, my thighs too big, over the fact I had a child at age eighteen, because my visions too unattainable, and because of my passion for caring for my babies above work and money. I do so to shine light on the darkness and wounding for many, many strong, articulate, functional women in every walk of life and socio-economic level who work every day to do their best to raise their babies in violent homes, while they put on their face and try to look happy and good and even help other women, but do not yet seem to be able to empower themselves. Teachers, therapists, doctors, nurses, midwives, accountants, and ministers -- women anywhere who are mobilized in their fear of being harmed by a loved-one or in birthing their babies. Whether it is a fear or has been your reality. There is hope. There is redemption from the "ideal of perfection." I let the shame release. Grateful for my birth and the gifts it gave me, grateful for my birth of my son and our healing, for it can be meaningful in bringing healing to other mothers and babies.

Thank you, Leilah! For speaking your truth and confronting me.

An excerpt from Leilah's Rape of the 21st Century. This is about forceps, epidural, and cesection birth. Go to http://www.homebirthissafe.blogspot.com/ to read the entire piece.

Forceps, created through the unbelievable reasoning that babies' heads will be protected from birth by clamping metal tongs, are often used in conjunction with episiotomy. Forceps (and to a lesser degree vacuum extractors) cause rectal injuries, and anal difficulties- such as chronic, painful hemorrhoids: the veins inside pregnant women's rectums are naturally very thin. And when artificial extraction equipment is used- especially in association with coerced, forced "purple pushing" births- these delicate veins become engorged, distended, weakened and bruised. Any existing hemorrhoids become fiercely painful, and often manifest themselves into lifetimes of drugstore analgesics and sitting on rubber rings at movie theaters.

Use of forceps can permanently disfigure women's genitals, and cause bladder injuries- sometimes women's bladders are so badly bruised that lifelong urinary stress incontinence problems result. For babies, forceps use can cause cerebral and Bell's palsies, cephalhematomas (pools of blood forming under the scalp), skull fractures, and great pain- and painful birth brings an increased risk of violent suicide later in life.

In 1920, the article "The Prophylactic Forceps Operation" by Joseph B. DeLee became the touchstone for physician-managed vaginal deliveries. It detailed DeLee's ideal birth: first cutting a large episiotomy on an etherized, unconscious, bound woman, then pulling her baby out with forceps. Then manually removing the placenta, and giving large doses of ergot to curtail postpartum hemorrhage. Then pulling the cervix down with forceps to examine it, and stitch up any tears. Then carefully reconstructing the vagina to restore "virginal conditions".

Scopolamine and morphine are given in the birth, and then for the lengthy post-delivery work to "prolong narcosis for many hours postpartum and to abolish the memory of labor." This one man's torturous birth ideal became the standard for women's births for the bulk of the twentieth century. Incredibly, there is a prestigious award given in his name… the "DeLee Humanitarian Award". It is awarded to doctors who have made outstanding contributions to the health of women and infants.

Epidural anesthetic has replaced scopolamine as the birth drug of "choice"- in some centers over 90% of birthing women will have an epidural- and it can lead to terrible consequences (none of which women are routinely told about when they ask- "is it safe?"). 70% of women will experience side effects- such as low blood pressure, fecal and urinary incontinence, paralysis of the lower extremities, allergic reactions, respiratory depression, headache, vomiting, and seizures. 20% will develop fever for which the baby will need to be treated too. 15-35% will have to be catheterized because they can't pee. 30-40% will have severe backache for hours or days after birth, and 20% will have severe backache one year later.

Epidurals cause one in ten babies to be born "blue" (severe fetal hypoxia- lack of oxygen; induction drugs cause it too). The Caine-derivative anesthetics used in epidurals rapidly cross the placenta and can harm both a baby's central nervous system and cardiac function. Epidural drugs- especially when given with a cocktail of other drugs- cause jaundice, as newborns try to metabolize the powerful drugs with their immature livers. Epidurals lead to a decrease in muscle tone and strength in the newborn, affecting the baby's ability to breastfeed properly. And since dose is calibrated to maternal weight, babies can easily get an overdose (a baby is about one-twentieth the size of the mother). Babies receiving epidural drugs, as well as any other kind of painkilling drug in their births, are more likely to be addicted to drugs later in life- and have learning disabilities and violent behavior. Epidurals make women four times more likely to have forceps or vacuum extractor deliveries, and twice as likely to get cesarean sections.

Cesarean sections are done for many reasons, mostly relating to impatience in the hospital staff. "Failure to progress" being the most common and infuriating reason: this is when a woman's cervix is not dilating according to the hospital's preset idea of how a labor should unfold, and she is literally stood over and told to dilate. She is threatened with surgery if she doesn't. Of course her body won't open for birth in such a dangerous and stressful scenario; and if the baby can't be blasted out by artificial oxytocin or dragged out by forceps, it will be cut out by an obstetrician.

A c-section may also performed due to the observance of normal fluctuations of a baby's heart rate (as noted on a fetal monitor, often the first intervention in the classic cascade of interventions); these fluctuations may sometimes lead medical personnel to erroneously believe that the baby is in "distress", and needs to be removed immediately. Activities like thumb-sucking, sleeping and even maternal thirst will cause dramatic differences in fetal heart rates. (Though sometimes the baby will be put in genuine distress through drugs or hormones given to the mother.)Cephalopelvic disproportion is another common excuse for a cesarean section: it is often claimed that many women's pelvic outlets are too small for babies to pass through. This is nonsense! If so many women had such useless pelvises for birthing, their ancestors would not have survived- and the only women alive today would have enormously wide pelvises! Modern women's bodies aren't broken- they know how to give birth, if only left alone; women who are said to be incapable of birthing without modern obstetrics are very likely to be supremely able to give birth without intervention- as long as they are nowhere near the institution that is so quick to intervene.

In most hospitals, one in five women will have a cesarean section; in some centers the number is as high as one in three. This statistic should not be any higher than three in one hundred! And the cruelty of cesarean section must not be diminished because of its frequency: women should be focusing on babies, love and breastfeeding in the first weeks after birth; not staples, catheters and weeping incisions!After my section (as in cross-section; vivisection) I understood misery: trying to care for my new baby while recovering from major abdominal surgery on a hard hospital bed was the most heartbreaking thing in my life. Every move was agony; gas pains ripped sickly through my savaged abdomen; my catheter hurt me when it was inside my urethra, and left sharp pains when it was out. I could barely move to change my baby's diaper, and the hospital staff were too busy to help me care for my baby. The tape that held the IV tube in my arm constantly had to be repositioned, and each time it ripped at my skin and hair.

I wasn't allowed to eat: first the liquids on Day One after surgery, then the gruel on Day Two, then the mash on Day Three was not the sustenance I needed to fuel my breasts for milk-making, nor to feed my healing, ravaged body. I was a patient, a sickly invalid, a twenty-one year-old woman who had to pee in a bag, and hold her belly together before rolling over in bed. I was helpless to care for my new baby, and I will always remember his first days of life as grotesquely uncomfortable, and full of sorrow. I couldn't even get up to brush my teeth.

And why are the significant risks of cesarean section not discussed? I didn't even know of the danger I was in. Women are up to sixteen times more likely to die after a cesarean delivery than a vaginal birth. Cesareans cause hemorrhage; women during cesareans are ten times more likely to lose their uteruses because of unstoppable bleeding, and hemorrhage is actually the leading cause of all maternal deaths. Cesarean sections cause ileus (intestinal paralysis associated with abdominal injury), intestinal obstructions and adhesions, pulmonary embolism, and Mendelson's syndrome (acid pulmonary aspiration). There is a 20% chance of a dangerous infection developing after the birth- a big problem with the proliferation of antibiotic-resistant hospital microbes.

After a cesarean, women suffer more from postpartum depression. And birth trauma, a much misunderstood condition that most doctors haven't even heard of, which stems directly from feelings of powerlessness and worthlessness that come from violent hospital births.Women can develop lifelong urinary stress incontinence when the bladder is peeled away from the uterus, and bladder and uterus injuries happen, as well accidental injuries to other organs, tissues and vessels. Cesareans cause respiratory distress syndrome in newborns- a leading killer of babies, and between 2-6% of babies will be accidentally cut by the scalpel.After cesareans, women are more likely to develop ectopic pregnancies (if they even manage to get pregnant at all); and future babies are at risk of poor outcomes. Women are also more likely to grow placentas that either block their vaginal outlets (placenta previa), or detach themselves while a woman is still in her pregnancy (abruptio placentae)- and both conditions can kill the mother and baby.

Future births will be considered high risk because of the slight chance of the cesarean scar rupturing, and a ruptured uterus can cause death for the baby and a lost uterus for the mother. VBAC women being administered induction drugs are at particular risk of uterine rupture, especially with the drugs Prostin (I was blissfully unaware of the danger I was in during the birth of my fifth), and Cytotec- an ulcer drug not even approved for obstetrical use by the FDA or its manufacturer: it makes women up to 28 times more likely to have their uteruses rupture in childbirth (despite this, its use has spread like wildfire in the medical and nurse-midwifery communities). The pain of cesareans just goes on and on.In a cesarean section, a private, secret, and sensual event becomes a sterile crucifixion in a room full of slicing, staring strangers. And the ultimate rape is that we are told we need to be cut. The sanctity and power of birth becomes a meek "yes, doctor" and we become spectators to our own violation; we even thank the doctors as they scurry on their way out of the operating room.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing all of this history of your journey to healing!

What I am curious to explore but absolutley cannot on my own blog for privacy issues, is the subject of violations and abuses, mental abuse, brought to a homebirthing woman by an angry midwife who had MAJOR MASSIVE unresolved issues.

I feel strongly that this abusive homebirth (rare! but still true!) led me to seek an unassisted birth without doing the inner work that I would have needed to do to stick the whole UC out. I transported at 5cm for vague fear and got a 2nd csection.

I am bringing this up because of the idea of bringing unresolved unhealed issues to a birth.

Dont know what else to say but you might be able to address this very hushed subject out someday?!

Baby Keeper said...

Feel free to send it to me to post here.

Yes, I alluded to the fact that midwives also have issues as well as the OB I outed. The extreme case is rare, but what is all too common is midwives acting out their needs for a great birth and supporting the mother, but not seeing the baby's needs. Three day labor and "baby is fine." Yes, this is confrontive for the midwives, but I am here to speak the truth as I know it. I see midwives as our greatest hope for making change. And, I encounter too often an additude of ... of ... hmm... an attitude I'd rather not label. It's one of the reasons I gave up trying to work with midwives and homebirth doctors. I suspect I just might also have an "attitude" about what I know about babies. :-0 I also know that my awareness of the consciousness of babies can often draw people to me or really piss people off.

As for violence, why do women -- whether the abuser is a spouse, an OB (or both), a nurse, or a midwife -- have to be silent suffers? To protect the other? Or, is it to also protect herself from further abuse from the person. Violence SILENCES us and keep us in the same place.

Reminds me of a story, of course. I learned only about four years ago that when I was born my mother was looking at me through the nursery window. The nurse was "manhandling" (what a word!) a baby. My mother told me that she wanted to get me and she wanted to report the nurse to the doctor. She DID NOT do either one. She did not have the "right" to go get me -- a very injured baby who wanted nothing else to be in her arms. And, she "did not tell on the nurse, because I was afraid she'd get in trouble from the doctor and take it out on you." I was 46 when I heard this new story -- something I have noticed happens a lot doing my healing gave my mother voice and the acknowledgment she never got in her year of telling her story to other women. How is that anyway? Women tell their stories of abuse and herd women straight to where they experienced it. !?!?

What I know from my work as a therapist is that the adult can go back to the time such as in the nursery and KNOW what is going on. Repeat the conversations, name the mother's emotions, their own emotions. HOW can this be the "SCIENTISTS" will exclaim and spout off something opposing.

Well, it is well known that at death SOMETHING leaves and goes somewhere. A soul? Is it "consciousness"? Or, as some articulate, is it an energy of some sort that is connected to a greater whole or SOURCE?? It is documented that people who are declared dead and return have reported conversations in the hallway or room, or as my paramedic sister has experienced, the dead person at the hospital was reported to have had a conversation with her husband who was watching a television show so as to document the time. Happens all the time. My friend's husband died and in another state his grandson came running in to tell his parents he'd seen his grandpa. DO-do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do. Or is it? Why is that so weird in our culture? It's so.. so... NORMAL. NATURAL. SPIRITUAL.

Medical people experience these all of the time. Why is held as weird and taboo and unimportant is a mystery to me. It is the foundation both the demand for a sacred, respectful birth with people the mother and father want and for them to choose in THEIR BABY's energy field as the baby comes into this world. Or, where and with whom grandma leaves this world.

And, so strange nurses and student doctors. Heard another hard story today attended by "nice young student doctors." Why would we not want to keep our laboring and birthing baby from a person who is a stranger whose beliefs and "issues" we don't know, or from someone with whom we get a weird vibe, or they aren't respecting us, or whatever, if we do that for ourselves everyday, for our child, and even when pregnant.

SO, if we leave this body as some sort of energy or awareness, we surely must come from somewhere into our bodies as well. Is this not logical? So, knowing what we do about the soul at death, is it THAT weird that in our adult body and mind we have the ability to recall what was happening in the WOMB SURROUND? I am aware that my doctor was tired and angry when we clamped the forceps on my head. I worked on a woman who was enjoying her big sister in the nursery window and suddenly went into panic. It was her father who had stepped up behind her sister -- the father who would later be brutally, brutally violent. The woman got very still and quiet and I felt some concern at one point -- she finally reported she had made a decision to stay and not die. Anyone who has been with an elder whose death is a longer process knows that the person is in and out of their body as if somewhere else. Some begin to talk in the language of their parents, or they see and converse with those who are already dead.

It is like this with the soul coming in at birth as well. The woman I just spoke of, and many others, have had experiences of going to the preconception world and processing with someone or something. So, of course, the soul of the baby is likely coming in and out through gestation, labor, and birth and beyond. Where do you go when you "zone out". Any idea? If I say, "take your mind to the moon, you can." You can go to your favorite "happy place" -- a mountain, or beach, or time, in order to learn how to be in a relaxed mindfulness.

So, it is my belief that the ultimate birth will be with only people who have the highest regard for the soul coming in. They will see birth as Sacred and intimate. They will know and be aware and trained in HOW to be with a mother and baby with the intentions and skills to NOT PROJECT, ACT OUT their wounding while in the presence of a laboring and birthing BABY.

EVEN if there is a medical necessity for interventions and drugs, when we acknowledge the baby as sacred and maintain a safe, sacred space for the baby, AND MANAGE OUR OWN SHIT, we can honor the mother and baby as sacred beings.

Dylan said...

Hi,
And what a wonderfully detailed story you wrote about your healing!

I am a graduate of the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute, and a student of , William and Wendy as well. And have done much of my own healing (induction, epidural, broken arm at birth, twin loss...)

Thanks for sharing your story here. I will refer my clients to it, for another perspective of what their baby, or they themselves might have experienced. It opens some doors.

Dark Daughta said...

Hi,
I've been at the process of healing with copious blocks occuring in between since my late teens. I've read what you have here and it's got me thinking. I'm excited and stimulated by your words. Thank you. I'll be back.

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Alaska Bean said...

This is not regarding this particular post but I'm not sure where else to write to you! I see the "birth artwork" picture on the right side of this page with a picture of a pendant of a nursing baby... Is this available for purchase? If so I would like to get information for that, or a website where it is available? Thanks!

"Soft is the heart of a child. Do not harden it."

A public awareness reminder that things that happen behind the scenes, out of our sight, aren't always as rosy as we might think them to be. Perhaps its a restaurant cook who accidentally drops your burger on the floor before placing it on the bun and serving it to you. Here it's an overworked apathetic (pathetic) nurse giving my newborn daughter her first bath. Please comment and rate this video, so as to insure that it is viewed as widely as possible, perhaps to prevent other such abuse. -- The mother who posted this YouTube. How NOT to wash a baby on YouTube Are you going to try to tell me that "babies don't remember?" There is no difference to this baby's experience and the imprinting of her nervous system/brain and one that is held and cleaned by the mother or father either at the hospital or at home? By the way, this is probably NOT the baby's first bath. The nurse is ungloved. Medical staff protocol is that they can't handle a baby ungloved until is has been bathed (scrubbed if you've seen it) because the baby is a BIO-HAZARD -- for them. Never mind that the bio-hazard IS the baby's first line of defense against hospital germs.

Missouri Senator Louden Speaks

Finally, A Birth Film for Fathers

Part One of the "The Other Side of the Glass: Finally, A Birth Film for and about Men" was released June, 2013.

Through presentation of the current research and stories of fathers, the routine use of interventions are questioned. How we protect and support the physiological need of the human newborn attachment sequence is the foundation for creating safe birth wherever birth happens.

Based on knowing that babies are sentient beings and the experience of birth is remembered in the body, mind, and soul, fathers are asked to research for themselves what is best for their partner and baby and to prepare to protect their baby.

The film is designed for midwives, doulas, and couples, particularly fathers to work with their caregivers. Doctors and nurses in the medical environment are asked to "be kind" to the laboring, birthing baby, and newborn. They are called to be accountable for doing what science has been so clear about for decades. The mother-baby relationship is core for life. Doctors and nurses and hospital caregivers and administrators are asked to create protocols that protect the mother-baby relationship.

Men are asked to join together to address the vagaries of the medical system that harm their partner, baby and self in the process of the most defining moments of their lives. Men are asked to begin to challenge the system BEFORE they even conceive babies as there is no way to be assured of being able to protect his loved ones once they are in the medical machine, the war zone, on the conveyor belt -- some of the ways that men describe their journey into fatherhood in the medicine culture.

Donors can email theothersideoftheglassfilm@gmail.com to get a digital copy.
Buy the film at www.theothersideoftheglass.com.

The film focuses on the male baby, his journey from the womb to the world and reveals healing and integrating the mother, father, and baby's wounded birth experience. The film is about the restoring of our families, society, and world through birthing loved, protected, and nurtured males (and females, of course). It's about empowering males to support the females to birth humanity safely, lovingly, and consciously.

Finally, a birth film for fathers.

What People Are Saying About the FIlm

Well, I finally had a chance to check out the trailer and .. wow! It's nice that they're acknowledging the father has more than just cursory rights (of course mom's rights are rarely acknowledged either) and it's great that they're bringing out the impact of the experience on the newborn, but I'm really impressed that they're not shying away from the political side.

They are rightly calling what happens in every American maternity unit, every day, by its rightful name - abuse. Abuse of the newborn, abuse of the parents and their rights, abuse of the supposedly sacrosanct ethical principal of patient autonomy and the medico-legal doctrine of informed consent, which has been long ago discarded in all but name. I love it!

In the immortal words of the "shrub", "bring it on!" This film needs to be shown and if I can help facilitate or promote it, let me know.

Father in Asheville, NC


OMG'ess, I just saw the trailer and am in tears. This is so needed. I watch over and over and over as fathers get swallowed in the fear of hospitals birth practice. I need a tool like this to help fathers see how very vital it is for them to protect their partner and baby. I am torn apart every time I see a father stand back and chew his knuckle while his wife is essentially assaulted or his baby is left to lie there screaming.
Please send me more info!!!!
Carrie Hankins
CD(DONA), CCCE, Aspiring Midwife
720-936-3609


Thanks for sharing this. It was very touching to me. I thought of my brother-in-law standing on the other side of the glass when my sister had to have a C-section with her first child because the doctor was missing his golf date. I'll never forget his pacing back and forth and my realizing that he was already a father, even though he hadn't been allowed to be with his son yet.

Margaret, Columbia, MO

In case you don't find me here

Soon, I'll be back to heavy-duty editing and it will be quiet here again. I keep thinking this blog is winding down, and then it revives. It is so important to me.

I wish I'd kept a blog of my journey with this film this past 10 months. It's been amazing.

I have a new blog address for the film, and will keep a journal of simple reporting of the journey for the rest of the film.


www.theothersideoftheglassthefilm.blogspot.com


I'll be heading east this week to meet with a group of men. I plan to post pictures and clips on the film blog.

I'll keep up here when I can -- when I learn something juicy, outrageous, or inspiring related to making birth safer for the birthing baby.

Review of the film

Most of us were born surrounded by people who had no clue about how aware and feeling we were. This trailer triggers a lot of emotions for people if they have not considered the baby's needs and were not considered as a baby. Most of us born in the US were not. The final film will include detailed and profound information about the science-based, cutting-edge therapies for healing birth trauma.

The full film will have the interviews of a wider spectrum of professionals and fathers, and will include a third birth, at home, where the caregivers do a necessary intervention, suctioning, while being conscious of the baby.

The final version will feature OBs, RNs, CNMs, LM, CPM, Doulas, childbirth educators, pre and perinatal psychologists and trauma healing therapists, physiologists, neurologists, speech therapists and lots and lots of fathers -- will hopefully be done in early 2009.

The final version will include the science needed to advocated for delayed cord clamping, and the science that shows when a baby needs to be suctioned and addresses other interventions. Experts in conscious parenting will teach how to be present with a sentient newborn in a conscious, gentle way -- especially when administering life-saving techniques.

The goal is to keep the baby in the mother's arms so that the baby gets all of his or her placental blood and to avoid unnecessary, violating, and abusive touch and interactions. When we do that, whether at home or hospital, with doctor or midwife, the birth is safe for the father. The "trick" for birthing men and women is how to make it happen in the hospital.

Birth Trauma Healing

Ani DeFranco Speaks About Her Homebirth

"Self-Evident" by Ani DeFranco

Patrick Houser at www.Fatherstobe.org

Colin speaks out about interventions at birth

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