February 26, 2009

Tonight I am feeling scattered, a little upset, and strained. I am going to write what comes to mind, as it comes to mind, so I apologise if it doesn’t make sense. I do trust, however, that some inner wisdom will rise up at some point, because that is the way of all things.

I had an incredibly peaceful twenty four hours leading up to about 4pm this afternoon. Dan was able to take Bodhi to the park for half an hour during his break, so I was able to have a chai in my favourite cafe and read a magazine. I rarely find the opportunity to do these things (which I acknowledge is my own responsibility), and relished in my me time (Oooh! Feelings of calm returning slightly).

Bodhi had an emotional meltdown last night at around 10pm, which I believe was disconnection related, and I was able to remain with and exude peace as I helped lull him back to calm and joy. He cried vehemently for almost an hour in my arms, breastfeeding intermittently, but mainly just being held, as I talked soothingly to him and created an atmosphere of peace (obviously I attended to any possible physical needs first). I was able to connect with my instinct and the collective wisdom of the ages, and we ended up curled up together on the bean bag, cuddling, reconnected, and totally at peace.

The difference in his mood was palpable today. We engaged each other with ease, my mindset was empathic, and we shared a lovely morning together. He and I were both full of joy.

I laid down with him for his nap today, and instead of falling asleep, I allowed myself simply to rest. I spent a long time watching him, stroking and cuddling him (and the cat that accompanied us) and then closed my eyes and visualised some beautiful things in our future. I let my mind wander and, in the quiet, was open to a few insights from the universe.

After our nap, we made a picnic of salad wraps, carrot and cheese sticks and hummus, and met Dan at the park during his break. Again, lovely, sustaining the peaceful mood.

Bodhi and I went home to collect Mum, as we were planning on having a walk around Kooloongbung Creek to feed the ducks and show Bodhi where the flying foxes that fly over our house each evening (he is fascinated with them and faithfully waits for them every night).

My mood started to sour. Bodhi and I started to disconnect again. He wanted to stray off the path, and I didn’t let him (apart from respecting the fragility of the ecosystems off the path, there were a number of visible funnel web holes). When he was in the carrier, he picked at the moles at the back of my neck, which was a source of discomfort to say the least. Mum’s comments started to annoy me. The mosquitoes irritated me.

On the way home, I reversed the car into a pole, and decided to get takeaway for dinner, a decision that I rued later as it wasn’t showing me and Bodhi’s bodies the respect and nurturing they deserve.

I continued to be in an annoyed mood all evening, and whilst trying to put Bodhi to bed, he bit me. I yelped in pain, which scared him and made him cry, and all that stress came back. I attempted to sooth him, but he bit me a second time, and kept his teeth clamped down (on my already grazed nipple, no less!) and I was crying in pain, which of course sent him into absolute meltdown, exacerbated by the fact that mum had to take him as I was doubled over in pain.

I eventually took him for a drive to help calm him- the quiet, dark and smooth movements are a balm to both our souls- and he is now in bed. I feel, however, dissatisfied, as he fell asleep without us reconnecting.

I feel at this point it would be useful to list the insights that have come up for me in the last day.

  • Bodhi’s birth trauma is still unresolved, and manifesting in a strong need to be in my presence (both spatially and psychically), and my instinct tells me the principles of attachment parenting will serve us well here.
  • Whilst the birth trauma and neonatal separation from me is manifesting in him as a need to have me around, the separation between him and Dan (not only from being in special care, but also hospital protocol of Dan not being able to stay with us overnight), is manifesting in avoidant attachment when stressed;
  • The universe is always sending us an abundance of messages, whether we choose to hear them or not. There is much oppunity for me to live a richer, deeper life if I allow myself to be connected with myself, my child, other people and the universe around me
  • Other people can be a divine tool of the universe for growth
  • Despite how a child is born, be it peacefully or violently, with respect for birth or with a need to medicalise it, the spiritual reality is the same: the mother (and father) is bringing a new soul into this plane. Birth is sacred, however it happens.
  • Love wins. Trauma will never conquer love. LOVE WINS.
  • Focusing in on physical pain, allowing it, and experiencing it, can greatly reduce it’s severity, as the energy of fighting it can be redirected into healing. Also, a big drink of water and natural remedies that work with the body and with the cause- rather than mask symptoms- can be miraculous.
  • I do not treat my body with respect. Furthermore, there in great incongruence between my level of soul wisdom, and the way I treat  my body- an extension of divinity.
  • I am redirecting much psychic (and by that, I mean of the psyche and inner self, not of clairvoyance) energy and responsibility into blaming others, and allowing other’s negative thinking (or my perception of it being negative thinking, at least) to dictate my own mood. This, I choose to stop, in this moment. I would rather- and do- see myself surrounded by love and light than whingy cloudiness.
  • The power is in the present moment, and the present moment creates my future. I choose peace, love and depth.

I feel a little placated now. Not entirely so, but a little. My plan is to listen to my body, and my current insight. I am going to have a big drink of water, close my eyes, and centre myself. I am going to embrace being for an undefined time, and allow peace to surround me. Or more accurately, I am going to allow myself to see and feel the peace that already surrounds me.

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Hindsight is sometimes a dark place to look back on my healing journey from the traumatic experience I had birthing Bodhi. But it can also be a lovely, lofty place that allows me clarity and perspective.

One thing I can  see in hindsight is a clear journey. Whilst it has not always felt clear, from the present moment, I can see the path that has unfolded for me, like a lotus flower gently opening until it reaches full bloom (the exciting thing being, I don’t believe I have reached “full bloom” yet).

Within this path, I can see stages and milestones that I have passed. I haven’t always realised it at the time, but there have been shifts in my focus, behavior, cognitions and feelings during the journey, that have resulted in a shift in psyche affecting my whole life and self.

The first stage was that of “support”. This was the first six or so weeks after the birth. I was heavily traumatised, moving from numbness and defeatedness to high anxiety. I needed assistance to carry out not only mothering activities that were new to me, but even basic daily tasks. I desperately searched for support  where ever I could get it, and sadly not always found it. It was an incredibly isolating time. So support not only refers to the predominant need I had, but also to the major task I had in this stage.

Finding the support- by convincing my husband just how broken I was, from a child and family health nurse, from some friends, and most importantly, my mother (I had very rarely confided in her on this level and the trust it took me to do this was immense considering the trust in others that had been broken by the birth event). Having surrounded myself with support, I was able to move onto healing in the security that others were with me.

That one was a palpable shift: having told my mother about the PTSD, and having been accepted and nurtured, I felt my self releeeeeeeeeaaaaaase all the anxiety and feel safe and a little understood for the first time in weeks. It was a much lighter feeling, and restful, and peaceful. The pain was still there; but I wasn’t alone.

The healing stage was less defined. This and the next stage- growth- ran separate at times, together at times, and wove together in a strong and vibrant way. However, I wasn’t able to grow until I started to heal.

In some ways, I am still healing. The pain and trauma comes and goes, and mainly I manage it well. It was learning to manage it well that was my task here, to express all the hurt and anger and guilt in an adaptive and productive way, and to seek a wider perspective on my experience. I was no longer immobilised by my trauma, and this was the stage that all the painful, hard, messy work was done.

This was the stage of counselling sessions, of many many debriefing talks with my husband, for a focus on bonding with my precious little child, and for surrounding myself in the stories of others, too. It was working with and through the pain. During this time I founded Birth Healing, and that too was an outlet for my pain. It started with absolutist, black and white feeling, and ended with being able to see shades of grey.

I started to see colours when I reached the growth stage. This was when I was able to take what had happened to me and turn it into something positive. I created Birth Healing, and invited other women to be nurtured and heal and grow, though perhaps I didn’t understand it all at that point. I came to see that Bodhi’s birth gifted me with a ferociousness of spirit, of strength, of a deeper self love and need for self nurture. I no longer needed to separate myself and my trauma. I was able to integrate this experience into my self, and as such, grew into the ‘completeless’ of me in the moment. I continue to ‘grow complete’ with each day, and without the traumatic experience of Bodhi’s birth, I would lack a vital part of my identity. There were many positives to be found, and coming across each of them has been a delight and a special gift from the universe. The pain is still there, but it doesn’t rule me. I rule it, and use it.

The fourth stage- my predominant one at the moment- is action. Despite the gifts my particular experience has given me, I can see that so much of the pain I experienced can be avoided. I see fundamental flaws in the way birthing is seen in our society- not only in the medicalisation of birth, but also the lack of understanding of what women and birth need, and importantly, how to support a birthing woman and baby in birth and babymoon, and I want to be part of the groundswell to bring birth into a more revered and respected place. I can feel so much energy related to birth, humming in the earth, in mamas and families worldwide, and this energy sustains me and all other birth activists (whether they are lobbying for birth reform, or more importantly, choosing peaceful birth options) and will eventually see birth overtake us all and be that revered, natural, wonderful ritual that we have lost.

I thought this stage would be full of anger, but it hasn’t been. Every time I uncover a new bit of information, a new perspective, a wise woman with lessons, or am surrounded by other birth-nurturers, I am filled with peace and inspiration and new determination. Sometimes I am angry, but it is an energetic anger directed at bringing about a powerful and wonderful goal.

These stages are not, as I have already said, mutually exclusive. I have experienced them all, have jumped back and forth between them, been in two or more of them at once. It’s a piece of art in itself. I do, however, belive I had to experience support before healing, healing before growth, and growth before action.

One goal I have, is to investigate whether other women have a similar pattern of recovery after traumatic birth experiences. Or, more accurately, I would like to help others be able to look back on thier journey (on the path, for it is a path we will always walk) and be able to see the beautiful tapestry behind them, to hold their pain, bless it, and walk on.