Let me repeat this word: disassociation. It contains lots of syllables so I am woefully unprepared to pronounce it using my half working tongue. Disassociation, as in one thing being no longer associated with the another. And so it is with a mother and her genitals. It seems odd enough that practitioners pull a sheet over your knees in an attempt to emotionally wall you off from a pap, but it is bizarre that the same is done with all the drapes for a vaginal delivery. Are we really creating a sterile environment or are we disassociating your brain from your delivery? "I'll just work down here little momma, you breath up there and it'll all be jes fine." Whatever. If the patient wanted the wall wouldn't it be better to give her the sheet for her head?
and after telling what is sadly a "typical" (but far from normal) American birth in the surgical suite,
Dad went over to take photos and, despite the mom's asking, nursery gave zero response about how her child was doing nor made any attempt to bring her over. I am not always liked but I am infrequently misunderstood. I take up enough space and am annoying enough that I am hard to ignore. So imagine my surprise that my third attempt to get the nursery peoples' attention from about seven feet away was ignored. Raising voice to a level that actually shut everyone up, one nurse actually turned to me and I requested the infant be at least shown to her mother. This was refused as the child did not have her "bands" on yet. I pointed out that it was probably impossible to confuse or lose the child in the OR and I would take full responsibility if this happened in the six floor tile space that separated this three hundred pound nurse from the mother's head. She refused and I left the OR while the surgeon repaired skin and the mother as yet had still not seen her child. Having again earned my title of being "difficult" I left feeling shunned. A tech in the hall asked what was wrong. I muttered "disassociation."
I hate this job sometimes.
This story in the context of a system that is disassociated from the people it serves is so right on. And, it illustrates for me the need for people to further wake up, out of our collective dissociative disorder, or the "collective black out" I call it, that I propose IS a direct and cyclic result of birthing disassociated for generations. It is the result of meddling in, and making birth a masculine, medical event (business) rather than the sacred entrance of a Soul on to the Mother Earth, through the mother, through the physical mother (egg) and the father (whether sperm donor or present father). The typical, modern mother, father, and the caregivers, even midwives and doulas, are disassociated about their own birth experience.
Let me repeat this, from the first paragraph above:
Disassociation, as in one thing being no longer associated with the another. And so it is with a mother and her genitals.
Disassociated from her genitals. Aaaaand, what else? What is missing in this otherwise spot-on connection, or shall I say, ASSOCIATION with how two things, woman and genitals are disassociated at birth? Anyone know?? What is missing here? Here's a clue! It's a WHO. A few years ago I heard about a Family Feud question, "Name who you see in the delivery room." I took my camera out, with my very pregnant radio show co-host, and on the street and in stores, we asked the question: "Name who you see in the delivery room?" Yep, the pregnant mama asked the question. No one got the WHO, even with a very ripe pregnant belly in front of them. Do you know now? A BABY!! YAY!! Ding, ding, ding! Yes, the birth is the BABY's experience of coming into being.
These people and this response, sadly, are the typical. We each been born and programmed by a systematic, socially engrained and accepted disassociation of the mother from her body and the baby, and separation of the father from the process for going on a hundred years. Multiple generations. (By the way, I do not believe that back in the day, fathers were just kept busy "boiling water" and had nothing to do at birth but be the bumbling idiot. I think they played a significant role in providing safety and comfort, and yeah, that might have included critical things like keeping the livestock alive and keeping the place warm, like when my mother and her twin were born at home in the middle of January in rural Iowa, before "global warming" when it could be three feet of accumulated snow and -0 for weeks at a time. A home births I observe the father (post-birth) like the father lion walking the perimeter of the baby and mama, checking in, working - laundry and cooking, feeding the mother - checking in. Circling, circling. He protects the space for the mama-baby to attach and bond.)
Let's get back to that, the BABY, whose birth it is.
Consider here, before you read the story, that there is no time in human development of the fetus, baby, and infant that is not specific and critical for THAT developmental time. We know how - from brain research - the laboring and birthing baby's brain is ONLINE and that the Limbic system, "seat of emotion" is being developed. It's being imprinted. We can see then how birth does DEFINE the human. The part of the brain that IS in critical development is emotional, sensory, and NON-verbal and THE major task is ATTACHMENT. The brain/baby WILL attach to what is happening in the environment from last trimester through infancy. But, at birth the brain/baby WILL attach to whoever it s/he sees and the sensation and emotions s/he experiences. It MUST be the mother who is the lifelong connection. We can see too, in this description this OB provides in his story, how it is that children today, up to half born by cesarean, most likely as in this story, have ADDH, sensory processing, and other issues including asthma (related to lungs not being compressed during vaginal birth).
We must wake up individually, as a natural birth movement, and then as a culture to the truth of whose birth it is and how that baby is programmed for life. The baby (we, all of us) are in a monumental developmental process at birth. There are specific stages in the birth, according to Raymond Castellino, Birth Trauma Therapy founder, from "the baby's perspective." This is known to us birth trauma healers, but unknown to general population and sadly, unknown to doctors, midwives, nurses, and doulas. And, these medically trained people have the power to tell people what we know is untrue. That it doesn't matter to the baby. We know that the baby is aware, sentient, feeling, experiencing baby.
Many well known researchers have put together the very profound and meticulous brain research and understanding of the early brain to show how this is true. But the journey of the medical caregivers who were not taught to know this is extra challenging. Each one must heal one's own birth; and the experience of giving birth as a woman or witnessing the birth as the father. And then, the most challenging; a medical or midwifery or Doula caregiver must come to the understanding and forgiveness of what one did working in a dissassociated environment. One must acknowledge and forgive oneself for all the humans hurt while they thought they were doing the best and safest thing. This may be the largest challenge.
Imagine for a moment, as you finish this post, a well-stated observation by an OB-GYN, how the collective energy and DISSASSOCIATION of people in the room impact the mother and father (big time if there). How does this impact the baby, whose birth it is?
The fourth stage of birth from the baby's perspective is Completion (birth) and the baby moves into the Integration stage (post birth). EVERYTHING that is happening is IMPRINTING the baby's nervous system/brain. Informing the baby THIS is what the world is like. This is what people are like. This what medical people are like. They are in charge of life. They are God..
Consider, for just a minute, what might be this baby's experience ... for his or her lifetime, since we know not that imprinting is scientifically true. Birth creates a template for how the human being will be in relationship with self, mother, father, others, the world. How will this mama-baby and father get OUT of the experience? What makes this so hard is that we have been trained in the model of "normative abuse". When we consider that baby; we immediately are overwhelmed with our early brain emotions that are sensory and non-verbal. We feel powerless, angry, abandoned, and we feel pain and panic. The feelings of our sweet little baby self that we have learned over the decades, via the social messages and our thinking brain, very elaborate ways to override those emotions. And THEN, we have a flood of emotions related to our own babies and giving birth to them, bringing them into the world.
Most of us alive were seriously violated and harmed and sent home by the abusers (very nice, highly trained and professional people) and expected to "get over it". Well, our culture is not getting over it. Separation of the mama-baby at this most vital, profound and defining experience of life, meant to be about love, intimacy, and connection -- attachment -- IS the core experience for life. The disruption of it is the root of all dysfunctions, diseases, and disorders of humanity.
I wonder if the author of this great post has considered this as well; and considered his own birth and his feelings about his own children's births. I wonder what he would do if he got - in his body, in his soul, in his nervous system - how impacted that mother and baby and father were and will be for their lifetime. I wonder if he, as a caregiver, coming out of dissassociation to realize the impact of even the smallest of interventions done even slightly disassociated would understand the absolute vital need of every single birth, where ever and with whom ever, requires support for the mama and baby and father to process it, release the trauma, and create a new energetic relationship. Unless they receive very specific trauma work to support them to integrate ALL the happened -- the good (love and joy), the bad, and the ugly -- people are the walking disassociated.
I absolutely love this guy who is so conscientious of the mother and baby; and, who appears to be worn down by trying to do right in the hospital. Exhaustion is a sign we are in the wrong place and using up too much energy to get through the day. I lived that working in systems purported to "help families". So much abuse and wrong-doing all around me. This is why people leave these professions from social work to teaching to nursing and even doctoring. Unfortunately, doctors have too much financially at stake "to just leave and do something else." I really want to support doctors to "get the baby" and I really want to support MEN to engage with them to create a NEW model of birth that is the blending of the natural and the medical knowing to support that when there is a true problem.
When one gets, truly gets, that this is the baby's birth into this world and every second matters; every every smell, sight, sound, and sensation; and every thought and emotion of others in the room matters. They matter to the baby and loved ones - for the lifetime. When one gets that, one can not do it anymore. One can not even put a hat on a baby, let alone routinely cut the cord prematurely separating mama-baby, and bulbing a baby with a useless tool that only harms.
One cannot participate in it anymore. One cannot watch it anymore. If the OB-GYN got how impacted that mama-baby's attachment and life long relationship will be and how it will ripple out in to the world (to be the root cause of literally everything our culture tries to get rid of) he would FURTHER WAKE UP and truly disassociate. Sadly, one has to be dissociated to continue to work in an environment, a systematized practice, that harms humanity at the core, one baby and one baby-mama, and baby-mama-daddy at a time. If he fully woke up he would be a raging father lion. He would do a Super Hero move on that nurse and take that baby and give baby to the mama, like a physician father describes in my film. He would at least momentarily KNOW within him that he should call 911, the Child Abuse Hotline .. that this IS CHILD ABUSE ... but he would be silenced by the collective disassociation of a culture that fights for peace, ignoring the root cause. But he would know, this is where violence starts.
It's time to wake up and to rise up and for men in particular, outside of this system, to demand the change and lead the change of a new paradigm. More to come on that .... that "what's next" when the film is out. TWO things: We have to stop the harming and and we have to help those who have been harmed to heal. That is ALL of us, but especially doctors and nurses who were trained to believe it was ok, and even best.
Would you agree, after reading this story, that this mama-baby need an option other than to go home and forget about it, be happy you and your baby are live and "fine" ... because birth is so inherently dangerous and life threatening? Don't they, didn't we all, doesn't every single mama-baby need immediate and long term support to process and recover from that experience? Even the best homebirth (perceived by midwives and doctors whose lives and families are on the line for any outcome that in hospital is ignored) need to be processed and integrated.
I will list below colleagues who provide the leading edge care of healing birth trauma, supporting a family to heal and integrate what happened.