Category Archives: prenatal psychology

My Journey to Birth Psychology

Last month, I was encouraged to share my story with PPNE training classmates in the Classwomb Newsletter. It’s always interesting to find “key moments” in life’s complex, winding journey. And they’re ever-changing as we heal & grow. But, here’s the article I wrote from my vantage point today.

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​Years ago, I lived in a little California town where, as soon as people saw my baby bump poking out from my hippy dress, they started suggesting homebirth midwives. The most common name I heard happened to be a lovely, wise woman who insisted I read certain books and attend several sessions at BEBA.  Her tools gave me insight into my own birth patterns and shifted my paradigm around birth and society.

Another kind woman from my writers’ circle taught me about joy in pregnancy. She traveled many miles – and brought a friend – to meet me for lunch. They listened to me and shared literature about birth psychology. They smiled a lot and I could see they really cared about my child. And me. And the world.

I was invited to spend a day at the APPPAH Congress in Los Angeles. It was filled with people who spoke about my inner world. My quiet sense about our consciousness at every age (and the tenderness we deserve) was common knowledge there. I could tell… no one was afraid of birth or babies.

My daughter’s birth was beautiful. We had challenges too, that brought lessons we still practice today. She is a spirit light in the world. Fierce, compassionate, and wise.

We moved to the city. My son was born there. I was very scared to give birth in the city. Everywhere, people told awful stories. They thought I was crazy for having an un-medicated homebirth. I struggled with my own non-labor c-section history. And felt angry at society for its cruelty toward birth and children.

My son is a force of nature. He throws a fist to the sky at injustice and has done so since he was inside. His power calls me to action for the children.

When he was just a babe, I began praying for direction on how to be part of the movement for change. Remembering the women who came to see me in Ojai, I dug out the old APPPAH papers they’d given me and I signed up for the newsletter. Several months later, I learned the PPNE program would be starting soon and I began my studies at the first financial opportunity.

Weaving PPNE training into my life can be hard. Sometimes all I want is to study. Other times, it’s too much to integrate and raise my children. The patterns of life are all around me. It is my daily reality. But I think that’s why I love it most. I can be in my life and part of the movement for change. I get to visit with other families and hear their stories. I get to share bits of what I learn everywhere I go and learn something new everyday.

It seems many quiet voices have led me toward PPN as part of their own journeys. Or maybe I sought them out unconsciously… unaware that I was already on my path. Either way, birth psychology has proven to be an awesome adventure!

Do You Need More Support?

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Life’s major changes tend to expose our weaknesses and give us a pressure-cooker opportunity for growth and self-reflection. I learned a difficult lesson around this with the birth of my daughter. Although her birth was “easy”, the scorching summer heat, and her mother’s stress and isolation left Kiya not getting enough milk. Because we did not have layers of support in a critical time – through my own lack of awareness of that basic need – we struggled on alone without knowing how to look for a solution.

We’ve moved on from that time with many powerful tools that help heal the traumas of that experience. We grow together as a family and, today, I actively seek the willingness to be supported… for the benefit of my entire lineage. I see people everyday trying to “go it alone” on one level or another. There’s usually some pride in it and always suffering. And mostly, tyranny of the urgent reigns where life’s most vulnerable aspects are concerned.

But, we can be more strategic in Big Times if we practice developing tools in Whatever Times. We need layers of support around us everyday in order to thrive – people we can look to who care for us and can help if needed; loved ones, allies who can sense when we’re not okay and have our permission to do something for our benefit. Even and especially with the littlest things. A knowing phone call. A meal. A walk around the block. A job to do. Whatever it might be.

Our out-dated “rugged individualism” model measures success by one’s ability to live without layers of support. The resulting psychological, emotional and social isolation generates a lonely, irritable, suspicious, heavily medicated culture afraid to seek the connections needed for happiness.

Collectively, we can begin to change this right now – mold a more effective future with every encounter. As we grow our families, met new neighbors and craft new business success strategies, we can make sure our alliances meet a deeper need for connection and support. Not just one of profit or utility. These small, daily steps on an individual level, create a better foundation for every child born, every company built, and every society reshaped from a need that had gone unmet.

For me, the journey always begins with facing my own need to be loved, seen clearly, and not alone. To push against the isolating barriers in my own society. To reach for my inherent right to belong and feel connected. To be present to the life right in front of me. When I do this, I feel human again, unafraid and fully empowered to love. And my children can feel it right away. That’s worth its weight in gold to me.

When She’s Breathing

My sweet friend, Jennie, is resting now, breathing through contractions that come about 8-10 minutes apart. As her time to birth her child draws nearer, my own heart opens and softens to the Great Mystery that new life unfolds. Tears come, sorrow and joy fill my lungs, my nerves release excitement, fear, hope, expectation, all of these in waves of their own. Up and down. In and out. Over and over again in the part of life where there are no beginnings and nothing ever ends. It just keeps going.

We fear this open-endedness, most of us, but nowhere else is there found such abundant resolve, compassion, strength, love, and freedom. Such spaciousness. Because there’s no Where to go, no When to arrive, no How to do it correctly, and no Why to answer or explain. Everything just Is. It just is. We are just Here. Right now. Breathing. Being whatever, whomever, wherever we are. No one can solve or escape anything because nothing is wrong.

Jennie is so blessed to be in this realm, at home in the safe space she and her partner have created. She is so strong and so soft. It is Beauty beyond all that can be written. She is in the Wonder World where the midwives dwell. And I am so lucky to be here. Thank you, Jennie.

Our journeys are different, each woman and their child, and somehow, miraculously the same Universal trip. It brings my heart to gratitude for my own midwife and Midwives all. Below is a poem inspired by my own path with Kiya. I hope it gives a glimpse into the magic I’m blessed to witness now with this family.

“To My Midwife”

It’s just days away;
my baby’s first birthday.

To think, a year ago
we were on our way,
you and me and she and he,
to that magical Birthing Place

where caves of mothers-to-be
sing and laugh and cry and breathe.
And the Little Ones, pushing and turning,
make their brave way into Being.

And you and yours hold the space
for moms and dads and babes alike
as we find the rhythm and claim our place
among the Mothers, Fathers and Children of life.

Midwife, you nurture our wee ones
from belly and womb to the soft lit rooms
where you cradle their bodies with gentle hands,
bringing Ancient Mystery to our Everyday Lands.

But soon again, the Call becomes strong.
Then off you go from New Mother cove
following sounds of the next Birthing Song
and making your way down Midwifery Road.

So, now, as my Little One’s birthday arrives
I take a few moments while she sleeps
to feel again the magic of Birthing Time
still flowing through her and he and me.

I find myself grateful and a bit tearful, too.
For hello to my daughter meant goodbye to you.
But, I hold our journey in my heart – and try in my way –
to bring a little Midwifery Magic into her Everyday.