Walking the Edge of Suicide: How to Support Someone in Need

Suicide, brought about by a deep desire to end ones pain and suffering. A belief that the only option left is death; a deeper belief yet, that in death, the tormented cycle of pain will stop.

Suicide is not something that is lightly considered.

I speak about this because I walked this edge. I went to the pit of despair and anguish, and I flailed in the quicksand of pain and suffering.

All I could see and experience was my very own psychological and soul pain. Everything was black and gritty. The emotional pain was overwhelming and far more intense than any physical pain I had endured. The resistance to the emotional despair, in my opinion, increased the intensity of the manic mind-scape. Images over and over again of needing to ‘saw of my head’ (which meant blow my brains) were real and haunting. I was trapped and in this trapped state, it felt impossible to consider anything or anyone else besides myself.

In a state of terror, I truly believed that my mind had gone mad and that there was no real way out of this tormented place. It was here, in this place of darkness, that I came to understand (at least a fraction) of what people face just before suicide. 

It is for this reason that sitting with someone stuck in suicidal darkness does not scare me. I experience an enormous amount of compassion for their inner pain and an unwavering trust and belief that there is a way out. My role is to listen and understand; to hold their state in loving awareness. Although the pain is not mine, I can only imagine the intensity that lives within their soul.

I had an anchor. Thankfully. Although the images were real and often, I spent many nights visualizing how I would end my life (aka suffering). I would flow the visualizations of suicide all the way to beyond my death. I saw the impact it would have had on my children and family. I saw the long term implications.

To my surprise, a part of me came face to face with the possibility that my soul and psyche would not experience the repose it was craving. In other words, it was very possible that ending my life would not end my pain. 

This notion shifted something profound in me.

If it were true that suicide would not end my suffering than what would? If death was not the answer, than what was? 

It is fair to say that from this point forward, suicide was no longer an option. Therefore, I was determined to find hope; to find healing; to find my way through this dungeon I was trapped in. I had to believe that I was programmed, on a cellular level, to heal. I had to believe that I could, and would, make it through the ‘eye of the needle’.

There are so many myths and tales of the ‘dark night of the soul’ and I was committed to not letting my psyche take my life from me. I trusted these tales and furthermore, I found my own anchor of truth: Birth and my Children. 

Because I knew how to give birth, because I trusted without a doubt in the physiology of childbirth, and because I understood the teachings of Spiritual Midwifery, birth became a tangible metaphor to guide my way for healing. Each day my courage and determination grew, and each day, I moved slowly away from the darkness within, towards a life of hope and peace.

Which brings me to today and an experience I have had with a client ….

Recently I was asked to step in and support someone in need. We will call him Daniel. Daniel had been suicidal on numerous occasions, with a few unsuccessful yet painful attempts, and had been released from the hospital after another overdose attempt. Since our introduction Daniel walked the edge of suicide 4 more times.

Daniel has been diagnosed with a few different `mental illnesses`however, my experience of Daniel is that he is very perceptive and reasonable. He is stuck and has been suffering for some time now. No one was hearing him. He has been in and out of the hospital for almost a decade now. He had never been offered individual counseling in all those years. The medical establishment merely prescribed medication. Clearly medication has not provided any healing nor has it reduced the tendency for Daniel to turn to suicide when his pain bubbles to the surface.

Our system has failed and Daniel was slipping through the cracks.

 

During Daniel`s 4th suicide contemplation since we were introduced, he choose to call me and I shared this insight:

 

For what reason are you wanting to end your life? 

The answer: To end my pain and suffering because I can’t bare to feel it anymore

What if there is no 100% guarantee that you will be successful at ending your pain and suffering?

The answer: I would not kill myself, what would be the point. Whoa. This is huge. I never thought of that before. I just believed it would end my pain. But the thought of it not ending my pain terrifies me more than facing my pain.

Since one cannot know with absolute certainty what happens after suicide, it is possible to believe that suicide will not end one’s pain and suffering. Our beliefs about ‘life after death’ are merely that, beliefs. Those beliefs are based on information we have gathered throughout our lives and influenced by our culture, religion, school, friends, media etc.

It is very possible for a person who believes that we are only a physiological body with a brain, and once dead, we are nothing but organic matter that is returned to earth; that suicide most likely would end pain and suffering.

However, for those who believes that humans are far more than just a brain and body, and that humans are energetic conscious spiritual beings that exist in a physical body; then one might argue that soul suffering and pain may be carried with them beyond suicide. This is not intended to sound like a form of ‘punishment’ or ‘fear mongering’ but rather, a simple possibility.

Of course we really can’t know for certain what happens to consciousness after death, and what happens to our souls.

Just pausing to contemplate this possibility was enough for Daniel to take down the rope that was hanging in their home. 

I was told that this was the most profound thing anyone has ever said to him; no psychiatrist, no psychologist, no hospital staff, no police officer, no one has ever made Daniel seriously pause and reflect to this degree about their motivating choice for suicide. Up until this point, ending his life was the only answer to end his pain, and the thought that his pain would not go away was enough for them to change his entire belief system and shift his motivation towards a path of healing.

It is as if the brain rewired a whole new possibility and belief, replacing the old habitual response.

I am not a psychologist or certified social worker of any sorts. I am merely a person who has direct experience with darkness and healing and has navigated my way through using birth and midwifery as a powerful guiding metaphor. 

I believe that feeling understood and heard, without any hidden agenda or protocols, opens up the space for true support and healing to occur.

Further reading check out:

A friend of mine wrote this note in response to numerous suicides in our community: https://www.facebook.com/notes/tad-hargrave/the-shattered-stone-of-loss-the-terrible-gift-of-suicide/10152213726459032

A Ted Talk that speaks honestly about the impact of suicide: http://www.ted.com/talks/kevin_briggs_the_bridge_between_suicide_and_life#t-832324

 

Note: I have been given permission to speak of this story by those involved. Names have been changed to protect the identity of those involved. I am grateful to be witnessing this persons journey of healing.

 

 

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What Does it ‘Really’ Mean to Be On a Spiritual Path?

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Mom are you spiritual? I don’t see that you are spiritual because you don’t go to a church, you don’t pray, you don’t have an alter with feathers and crystals, you don’t talk about God very often, you are not like all of your friends who ‘look’ spiritual. So to me, you must not be a very spiritual person. ~ My almost 9 year old daughter

Yikes! There I was driving my daughter to visit our friend (a spiritually minded friend who I guess, according to my daughter, looks the part) and this was the question she posed. I was stunned, actually, silently saddened and surprised. I thought for sure my daughter knew that I was a deeply spiritual person. Clearly, to her, on the outside I was just an ordinary human that did not look the part of a real spiritual person. Maybe I wasn’t, maybe she was correct in her observation?

This got me thinking, a lot, about what does it means to be a spiritual person.

My quick response to her question was:

Me: Yes! I am very spiritual actually. I have a deep relationship with my interior world. I connect to something that feels greater than just me (most of the time). I contemplate often and have had profound experiences that let me know that I am connected, on a cellular level, to everything. But my spirituality is quiet now. It wasn’t always quiet. I am still deciding what is real for me and what is just a hoax or ungrounded notions of spirituality. There is a difference between religious and spiritual though, and it is true, I am not a religious person anymore. To me, the more real I am with myself and people around me, the more peaceful my interior and heart feels. (yes, this is how I talk with my daughter)

Daughter: But mom, how can you be spiritual and not show it? 

Me: That is a good question. Because it is how I show up in the world. How I communicate. How I respond in kindness. How committed I am to speak truth. How much I love you and all around me. How real I am. How connected I feel to those who are close to me. How much I have healed and addressed my pains. These are all acts of a ‘spiritual person’ in my mind. They are invisible acts to many. Most deeply spiritual people are invisible in their spirituality. They don’t flaunt it. They just ARE, meaning they show up in the world as the best person they can be.

Daughter: Is there a God?

Me: I don’t know. Depends on what you mean by the word God? Many people believe that there is a God figure. Many religions argue and create war over who’s God is more real and right. I don’t believe in that kind of God, if that is what you mean. I do believe that there is ‘something’ though and that ‘something’ I experience as energy particles and it pulses through you and the universe. But no, I don’t believe that there is a Being that is a God Figure that is Male and All Knowing in a human sense. I guess I am still seeking to experience a truth around that topic.

Daughter: hmmm, okay mom. One day I am going to figure it all out. One day I am going to be able to speak to science and spiritual people.

Me: Okay, I like that. I can’t wait to hear all about it!

 

I am reminded of a comment Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit, has notoriously expressed which is: spirituality is not about wearing all the feathers, crystals, and jewels; rather it is about getting real with your interior castle, digging up your shit, letting go of all hidden agendas, and doing the hard work. She also speaks to the fact that choosing to be a ‘mystic outside of a monastery’ is not for everyone. Those who think that engaging a spiritual path is an easy vocation are mistaken.

The term ‘spiritual’ or ‘spirituality’ is thrown around tons within counter culture, new age, conscious community groups. For many years I didn’t think much about the energetic weight that this term carries. I always knew I was a seeker. Even as an adolescent girl, similar to the age of my daughter, I asked complicated questions about the nature of reality and ‘God’. I read the Bible at age 11 (which confused the hell out of me) and my first journal entries were addressed Dear God.

By the time I entered University I naturally gravitated towards Theology courses and my mind expanded during my World Religion course of which I received a 4.0 grade point average. Clearly I was curious and engaged when it came to topics about religion, spirituality, and mysticism. However, later in life, I learned that there is a huge difference between ‘living spiritually’ and ‘experiencing the spiritual’. 

My mind was full of spiritual concepts, backed by quantum physics and altered state of consciousness. I thought I was spiritual because I understood spirituality; so I believed. 

Sure I meditated, prayed (even though I never really knew who or what I was praying to), contemplated, practiced yoga, ate holistically, was a vegetarian, had an alter, joined many different spiritual groups, played with soul cards, used a pendulum, took workshop after workshop, participated in sacred lodges, joined medicinal plant ceremonies, studied spiritual midwifery, and have a personal library full of books from the category ‘spiritual’.

I thought and believed that I was a really spiritual person because I was doing all the right things that spiritual people do. 

Lately however, I have noticed a shift in my perspective and perception. When I use certain spiritual words I cringe, maybe because they are overused and under valued. Words such as: soul, soulful, enlightenment, empowerment, awakening, spirit, spiritual, evolution, authenticity, just to name a few.

You might think I just contradicted myself here given that I use the title: Midwifery for the Soul. However, it is for this exact reason that I am deeply contemplating what these terms really mean, so I can articulate them in a tangible realistic manner.

I know that I have contacted my ‘soul’ and have had a personal experience with my ‘inner world’. Yet, I am aware that non of that really matters to the outside world. As I am trying to make sense of what I experienced during my ‘dark night of the soul’ and bring some truths to the surface, I recognize that throwing out the word ‘Soul’ although sounding great, is empty unless I can back it up with something that is understandable.

Otherwise, I am participating in the cycle of spirituality that no longer calls to me: filling the brain with concepts that sound romantic and beautiful, yet are not rooted in earth based reality so you can tangibly notice the differences in your relationship with your life. 

Only recently, within this past year, have I truly questioned whether or not I am authentically a spiritual person and even if that concept makes sense to me. Is it any wonder that my 9 year daughter posed the question she posed? Kind of ironic because it slapped me in the face. It was as if I was being asked:

“So are you? Are you really living a life that is tapped into the world of spirit? Or are you living a life that is firmly grounded in physical reality? What does Spirituality really meaning to you anyways? Can you honestly say that you have had spiritual moments that are beyond reason and have depend your devotion to a path that is not supported by logic?

The truth is, although I have had deeply soulful experiences (and I will describe this in another blog post) I can’t say I have had ‘spiritual’ experiences that transcend time and space reality and are totally outside of the ordinary. Even all the birth work I have done, although I know feels deeply reverent, I can’t say with certainty that they are any more spiritual than they are physiological.

Sure I have had extraordinary experiences while in deep meditation or due to medicinal plants, however, how can I know that those experiences are equivalent to True spiritual encounters? Furthermore, how have those experiences enhanced how I choose to live today?

All I know is this: The more real I have become with my life here and now, with less resistance to my reality, the more peaceful I have become inside my interior (that which I call my soul world). The more accepting I am of the choices I have made, the less I need to seek outside of myself for anything (meaning spiritual support out there). This feels fabulous, which makes me question, why all the spiritual seeking? For what purpose? I am surprised to find myself contemplating whether or not I am truly a spiritual person or rather, just a person having ordinary experiences with utmost presence.

 

 

 

 

Why Overcome Childbirth Fears?

I’ve been noticing this theme of wanting people not to fear childbirth on your feed lately and I’m a bit puzzled by it. I hated pregnancy and childbirth. I had all the information and choices and what not a person could have and it was still a completely, totally miserable experience. I see it as having been a necessary evil I had to get through to achieve the goal of having a baby to love and raise. Why should people not fear it? Having been through it once, if I were ever to do it again (not in my plans at all, never was) I would be freaking TERRIFIED. I wasn’t that afraid going into it, frankly. I thought it would be tough but temporary and as a fit and healthy person, I thought I could handle it. I did, but was scarred, both physically and emotionally, by it. I probably should have been afraid. Why do you say people shouldn’t be?

 

She poses a good question: “Why do you say people shouldn’t be afraid of childbirth?”

I am going to break this down into a few different posts; this being the first one. I also think it is important to understand the lens in which I view childbirth. There are two: 1) instinctive  physiological birth and 2) birth as a peak performance event. As someone who was immersed in sport psychology and peak performance, I have come to view ‘preparing for childbirth’ as that of an athlete preparing for a ‘big game’. So my focus on overcoming, or rather working with, childbirth fears is supported by both birth physiology and, sport psychology.

To put it in plain terms: Fear gets in the way of any human peak performance whether it be a sporting event or birth. 

I want to preface this post by saying that by no means do I think every women ‘should’ get rid of their fears.  I recognize that for some women this idea is not a fit. I encourage and support women to be true to themselves, first and foremost. For example, there is nothing wrong in my opinion with choosing to have an elective c-section because dealing with the layers of fears surrounding birth, just feels like way too much work for some women.  I see compassion in that choice, and a gentle acknowledgment of what is true in that moment, for that woman.

The reality is: a) some women want to engage their psyche and face their fears so they can know that they did everything they could leading up to their births;  they want to fully experience their birth and b) other women want to get through the process as quickly as possible and with as little pain as possible, so they can get on with the life long task of motherhood, without having to do much preparatory work, and pick up where they left off.

The first group values the notion that birth is a ‘rite of passage’ and they want to be as prepared as possible.  The second group values motherhood as the end goal, and not so much the birthing process. Both groups want to offer love to their baby’s in which ever way they know best; furthermore, my guess is that they want to feel a sense of safety.  One is not better than the other. I do however have to draw the line when women in either group, are mistreated, disrespected, violated, or injured by the experience. I have zero tolerance for this kind of ‘care’ and cannot support mismanagement or mistreatment of women in labor. 

However, if a woman wants to have a physiological birth then addressing fear is necessary. Furthermore, if a woman wants to feel empowered throughout pregnancy and birth, wants to be a part of the decision making process along the way, and wants to feel respected and have her dignity left intact; than dealing with childbirth fears is also a necessary preparatory phase regardless of her birth outcome (i.e. medicated, cesarean, or natural).

So the question posed is why should women not fear birth?

I want to rephrase this to say: Why might a women want to address her fears about childbirth?

  • Because she wants to feel like she has some skill to handle her fears as they arise during labor and birth
  • Because she wants to feel empowered throughout the process
  • Because she wants to feel less anxiety
  • Because she wants her hormones to function optimally, decreasing physiological pain and suffering
  • Because she wants to understand her physiology better and not feel dumbfounded by the ‘chaos’ of birth
  • Because she wants to learn tools to be able to voice her needs prenatally and during labor and birth
  • Because she wants to gain knowledge about ‘what she fears mostly’ and what she can do to prevent that fear from happening
  • Because she wants to know that she was in charge of her birthing experience and no one else
  • Because she doesn’t want an unwanted c-section
  • Because she wants to know her strength and feel amazed by her body
  • Because she really wants a better birth outcome than her last birth
  • Because she views birth as a healing rite of passage and wants to experience that
  • Because she is tired of her mind tricker her into believing that ‘something might go wrong’ or ‘that she won’t be able to handle the pain’
  • Because she wants to learn how to best prepare her environment to support instinctive physiological birth with little to no intervention
  • Because she wants to take her birth into her own hands and claim her experience as her own
  • Because she felt violated and victimized by her last birth and she wants to regain her power and confidence

Of course there are physiological reasons why we want to address fear. I will attempt to provide insight into these reasons in a future post, along with other questions: How do you overcome fears? What about the ‘What If’s’? What are the best environments to reduce anxiety and fear? What does a high performance athlete do to prepare for a big game and how does she overcome her fears?

 

A Women’s Worth: A Mother’s Struggle with Shame

Recently, I took a chance.

I submitted an article I wrote about my struggles, as a single mother, trying to re-enter the ‘workforce’ after 11 years tending to the home. To my surprise and excitement Rebelle Society (a feminist blog site) approved the submission.

I poured my heart out and unscrambled my frustrations with the modern work world. I spoke about my shame, my programmed shame, as a mother and woman who couldn’t even land an interview. 

An exert from the article:

Common among women I know is the gut-wrenching challenge of extinguishing internal shame which insidiously accumulates, due to our culturally limited and subsequently self-imposed beliefs about the notion that our work (meaning paid work) is synonymous with our worth and success.

This shame which has been forced upon us, albeit invisible, by a prevailing patriarchal belief system, differs in intensity for each individual depending on the circumstances one is born into. Unplugging from the shame requires varying levels of willpower and support, depending on ethnicity and culture, economic background, religion, sexual character, and gender orientation.

 

CLICK HERE to read more

My mentor use to say to me: “Jennifer, as you live you midwife, and as you midwife, you live” 

What a koan. A deep statement. One that took years to pull apart and truly enliven within.

More recently, it clicked and became a way of living rather than, a way of intellectualizing. My work in the ‘outside world’ is not separate from my work in my ‘inside world’. I learned that as I navigate my everyday life, I am navigating it through the lens of the midwife. I tend to my life in the ways I would tend to a woman labor.

I will unpack this concept in a later post as it speaks about embracing the archetype: ‘Midwife as Healer’. 

I pause, as I think about this statement and the article I am speaking about. I see how sometimes I forget that this archetype lives within and when followed, will guide my way.

 

 

When Something Goes ‘Wrong’: From Passion to Pain (a long one)

ImageThe wound is the place where the Light enters you. ― Rumi

Recently, I received news that an Ashville, NC ‘midwife’ was arrested for attending the birth of a still born. She is being charged for murder and tried for life in prison. This news hit home, and my heart exploded in grief. Once again I am reminded that the path of midwifery is an intensely courageous path; one that is laden with many obstacles to overcome. I am reminded that ‘safety’ is always an illusion and those that choose Midwifery, have to put faith into something beyond ‘safety’.

What I really want address is how close to my heart this story lands. As someone who has walked the unconventional path of birth and midwifery since the birth of my first child thirteen years ago, I have had to face many challenging obstacles, both internally and externally. The most heartbreaking of them all was having attended a birth that ended traumatically. I have held onto this story for almost three years now, yet now is the time to start sharing all that was learned and endured during these past years.

Where do I even begin. As I write my hands tremble and my heart flutters, and my stomach wrenches in pain. I have grieved too much. In the grief I learned much. Some of the most powerful understandings that came through all of this and questions I posed of myself and the world were:

  • What is responsibility and how does a ‘free birthing mama’ take responsibility without abdicating their power and pain onto the ‘caregiver’
  • the need to let go of positions and ideologies.
  • how ideologies are religious, and these religious viewpoints separate you from reality and the need to respond
  • how ‘word’ is powerful. how charisma can influence many and how this can be powerful and dangerous at the same time
  • how humiliation and public silent shunning is as painful as public prosecution and jail
  • how care givers are expected to be perfect and there is little room for mistakes
  • how fear of death motivates every choice in our society – even if this means performing ‘crimes against wisdom’
  • how loss of identity is painful and liberating at the same time
  • how ideology becomes an identity that binds
  • how the path of the ‘healer’ ‘midwife’ or ‘doctor’ is a difficult, challenging, courageous, bold path in which many expect perfection
  • how the unconventional pioneering path is often done in isolation, and isolation is terrifying when you need a true community to hold you during a deeply traumatizing event
  • why protocols exist and how they are used to protect
  • why there are governing bodies to stand in between those suffering from loss and those who are seen as the perpetrators of the loss
  • how healing is an internal experience and is not dependent on anyone outside of the self to make ‘healing’ happen
  • the importance of trusting intuition and red flags and regardless of fears, to speak to them immediatly
  • the need for real apprenticeships
  • the need to challenge everything you have ever been taught, until you come to your own Truths
  • That there never is one way, there are many ways, and there is room for all ways
  • how quick we are as a culture of people to want to place blame on the: medical community, the doctors, the midwives, the doulas, the ‘care givers’
  • how we are need of true restorative justice, conflict resolution and a system that works outside of the punitive so called justice system
  • how dedicating twelve years of my life, heart and soul, to something that I believed was so important and necessary to change the way women experience birth was not actually worth: losing my marriage, losing myself, losing my connection with my children, and risking prosecution and jail for maybe 5000$ total during all those years!
  • How when you work outside of a ‘system’ that has checks and balances and a governing body, you are left without any guarding parameters or protecting services.
  • how the new age spiritual, love and light, mindset is filled with contradiction, wounds, dissociative tendencies and narcissistic expectations which at times, makes for a very distrusting environment to work within; need alone heal within
  • how it is impossible to come to terms with the magnitude of such an experience, without the outside support of: counseling, psychologists, mediators, and legal support
  • how to this day, I am still at a loss, in regards to how to best navigate this treacherous terrain. Is it valid for the ‘caregiver’ to share their story without being defensive or slandering of the choices that were made?

I was naive in my younger years, attending births because women wanted someone to support their radical choices. I trusted in these women, I trusted that they were truly taking responsibility and accountability for their choices. They were educated. They had access to healthy food. They were connecting to their babies within their womb. They believed in the power of the birth and the rite of passage, and they wanted someone to love them and witness them during this process. This is exactly what I offered and did.

I was passionate about birth as a powerful peak experience during a woman’s life. I was angry that much information about birth was withheld from me during my upbringing. That all I knew was the medical paradigm, and that few women had access to something ‘different’. The more I read (almost every book on pregnancy and birth and politics) the more passionate I became. The more I understood physiology and the female birthing body, the more determined I was to inform the public of our lack of true information. And the more I informed, the inspired women became.

These women (and men supporting them) made choices that often challenged their caregiver; whether doctor or midwife. Soon, I was seen as someone who was ‘feeding women dangerous information’. Yet, this dangerous information was backed by current science and was logical. There was nothing dangerous about the information. What was and is ‘dangerous’ is that few women can access care that supports the paradigm of ‘physiological instinctive birth’.

Voila, the ‘FreeBirth’ paradigm was born out of a backlash movement against modern midwifery and obstetrics. Women wanted something different. They wanted to feel powerful, empowered, and in charge of their decisions. They wanted to know that they were going to be respected. They wanted to know that no one would touch them without their consent. They wanted to know that whom ever attended their birth, was attending in trust and love. These women wanted to give birth uninterrupted, with their hormones intact, and receive their newborn without the interruption of outsiders intervening due to protocol.

What these women wanted (and i was one of them) was to ‘seen’, valued, respected, and honored for her courageous and powerful work in giving birth. They wanted the ‘birth room’ to be treated like a sanctuary, something holy. They saw that birth was an extension of love making, and that, they needed the same private intimate space to unleash the powers of giving birth.

I was sought out as someone who supported and trusted in this paradigm of birth. I was regarded as an ‘expert’ in the realms of ‘undisturbed birth’. I knew this paradigm and I was graced with many opportunities to witness the power of ‘leaving birth alone’. I knew and understood natural instinctive labor and birth.

The constant challenge I was faced with was blending the two different paradigms. The mainstream midwifery with this undisturbed ‘radical’ paradigm. I wanted them blended because I saw a need to understand and include everything.

I began my training to embrace modern mainstream midwifery. I wanted to be able to bridge both worlds. Soon I realized that this was going to be a very hard path. My years of study would not be validated nor my apprenticeships; need alone all the births that I had attended as a ‘friend’. I had to make a choice, and that was to either return to university (yet again) to become registered or continue to deepen my path in this other paradigm and believe that I will be ‘protected’ along the way.

No doubt about it, when you choose a more radical path, there is always a looming fear of prosecution. Even if you believe that you are strong enough to handle it or that it would be worth it, because you knew you stood your truth; in the end, it is never worth it because in the end, no one really cares (not in the way you imagined they would). Again I reiterate, this is a hard lonely path. 

Without getting into the details of my story-the story about having been asked to attend the labor and birth of a young woman who wanted to have an ‘undisturbed free-birth’ which ended in a traumatic loss for all those involved-I will say this, I have learned a great deal and faced a great deal. We make choices. Every choice is a powerful choice, regardless of even being aware of the fact that you are making choices.

Choosing to birth unassisted or Free-Birth is a privileged choice. Accessing ‘care’ that supports this choice, is again a privilege and an honor. The amount of responsibility, accountability, intelligence, health, and internal power that a woman must have in order to make such a choice is huge. This is not a choice to be taken lightly, nor is a choice to flaunt or brag about-as if you are somehow better than another woman who is not ready to make such a choice. 

I am still angry about much, indeed. I also trust in birth more than anything, and I know this to be true because in my grief, as everything around me crumbled, I questioned everything. I came through understanding so much more than I could ever imagine, with room for everything and everyone.

The undisturbed birthing paradigm (aka Free-Birth) is NOT to be taken lightly. It is not something you ‘do’ because you are a rebel or afraid of the hospitals. You face those fears head on, and figure out why you are afraid and what you need to do about it. You seek counseling. The undisturbed paradigm is about:

  • Absolute responsibility for all your choices and outcomes
  • Dedication to a path of self knowledge, growth, inquiry, and challenge
  • Commitment to health and well being
  • Commitment to healing by facing your inner turmoil and demons, and seeking outside support when needed
  • Dropping all positions and accessing external care when needed
  • Understanding your body so intimately that you can ‘feel’ and ‘know’ when something doesn’t feel right
  • Authentic communication and collaboration
  • Understanding the magnitude of choosing to ‘take charge of your birth’
  • Preparing for all possible outcomes
  • Recognizing the privilege of hiring someone to support you in your choices
  • That you and your partner are the ones who make the decisions, this is huge power and responsibility. Again, a privilege to find someone who will support you in this way

There absolutely needs to be room for all paradigms of birth. Women need to be able to access the kind of caregiver that supports their needs and choices. Each choice is valid. Whether birthing at the hospital with doctors, at home with registered midwives, or witnessed by ‘friends of free-birth’. It is okay if a woman still fears birth and needs a medically supported birth. It is also okay if a women wants the ‘midwife’ to be in charge so that she can relax into her home birth.

Furthermore, it is okay if a woman wants to take charge of her birth and environment, and be the one who makes the choices. It is just incredibly crucial that both the mother (and family) and the caregiver, understand the differences and the responsibility of each. The caregiver is responsible to make this known and the parents are responsible to be aware of what their needs and comforts are. This is collaboration.

Clearly, there is much more that can and will be said about all that was written here. This is just the beginning, of a very deep message from the heart. I hope to continue to grow more, in courage, to keep on sharing. At this time, I am no longer attending births. My fire for birth work will still be alive within my heart and soul. However, my path is calling me another direction.

Upon closing, I want to bring my attention back to this midwife who is being prosecuted at this time. My deep condolences goes out to her and the family. I don’t need to know her story to decide who is ‘right’ and who is ‘wrong’. It is never this simple. Each will endure much pain and suffering through this process, this is inevitable. For one, the loss of the unborn child. For the other, the public scrutiny (and possible mental turmoil) associated with her choices and path of midwifery. Each will be in grief. In the grief, I pray that each will be given the hearts truth. And the heart, is truly one of compassion and deep understanding.It is here that forgiveness and acceptance happen.  

 

 

 

 

Values of the Quantum Midwifery Paradigm

The paradigm of Quantum Midwifery, encompasses a different set of values (listed below) than those of the current Global Operating System. Therefore, it differs from other midwifery structures that are currently plugging into the modern health care systems; allowing Midwifery to be governed by these ‘systems’. Due to the differentiation of values, Quantum Midwifery cannot fit inside the already prevailing box, but rather must step outside of it. This action demands a massive shift in consciousness that will challenge the interior world (mind, heart, and soul) as much as our exterior realities.
Quantum Midwifery and those aligned with it, can no longer exist in both systems of operation, all the while embody enough energy to be an instrument of change for this planet.  Having said this, it is imperative that we recognize that the Midwifery that has been accepted and validated within our current governing systems, has worked very hard to be heard, seen, and respected as a ‘true’ profession. This has occurred because of pioneering passionate midwives who saw a need, and therefore wanted to bridge the gap of us versus them; the desire to no longer be marginalized, underground, ridiculed, or bullied by the dominating forces of the health industry. A truly important mark in herstory and one that needs to be acknowledged and honored.
Midwives, of all kinds, have always known that midwifery must become more publicly accessible and that in doing so, fear of birth would potentially decrease and power would be restored. We are now questioning whether or not this has indeed happened? Hopes were to reinforce the power of natural birth and thus decrease the need for standardized intervention and care. I believe this was accomplished, perhaps not to the extent that all midwives would like to have seen, but an accomplishment indeed. With this movement towards regulation, Midwives would be free to practice as ‘health professionals’ and no longer fear the scrutiny or prosecution of the ‘institution’ that has shunned them for eons (this was the desired outcome and hope).
Midwives have sought legislation with ambivalence. On one hand, midwifery regulation is viewed as being important for protecting the public through ensuring high standards of preparation and practice. Legislation and its ensuring regulation brings credibility, status, and a rightful place and voice within the healthcare system. Midwives regard legislation as a way of further developing the knowledge and practice base of midwifery, of ensuring greater accessibility for women, and of improving their own working conditions…While the general belief is that regulation protects the public, the structures that support regulations such as professional associations, colleges, and limited-access education programs, may make it difficult for the public to challenge the power of the professional group…[Furthermore] the regulation of midwifery practice must stay in the hands of midwives with a place for a strong consumer voice. Collaborative care with other professionals is essential to good, safe practice, but must maintain the spirit of collaboration and not become a form of control by another profession” (Shroff, Farah. The New Midwifery: Reflections on Renaissance and Regulation, 1997)
Professionalism in medicine is nothing more than the institutionalization of a male, upper class monopoly. We must never confuse professionalism with expertise. Expertise is something to work for and to share; professionalism is elitist and exclusive, sexist, racist and classist. (Witches, Midwives, and Nurses, 1983)

This recognized ‘need’, within birth and midwifery, absolutely made and makes sense; it is an important phase of our evolution as birth care providers and humans on this planet. The advancements that have occurred in many countries, states, and provinces due to this movement has been transformational for many with some incredibly positive outcomes such as: hospital privileges, collaborative care between midwife and Obgyn, government funded income for midwives, insurance companies paying for midwifery care, and an increase in global recognition for midwifery assisted birth as a positive and safe birth option. One might be bold enough to say that midwifery has become mainstream.

Along with this mainstream care, there are challenges that have arisen. The largest challenge that I have experienced and seen, is that of aligning Midwifery with our current medical governing system, institutions, and bodies. Although for many, this is the most logical and safe choice, it comes with a huge price tag-the loss of freedom, self-government, and autonomy as experts. For myself, these are huge consequences, for both my soul and my craft.

Plugging my energy into a system that uses fear and power over tactics (both overtly and invisibly) as tools to maintain control and ‘safety’ is not a system that I want to serve. Although my feminine loving spirit would like to believe, that indeed it is true, that this system really does ‘care’ about ‘midwifery’ and myself as a ‘professional’ in it, I must honestly recognize that this is an illusion. A system that values consumption, greed, patriarchy, repression, abuse, degradation, power over, inequality, intimidation, threats, pressure, and punishment; is not a system I want to be working for, aligned with, or even be supported by.

Our current global state is atrocious; environmental destruction and rape so huge we are losing species on a daily basis, we are destroying our planet so rapidly it is a violation to the soul, war is a common answer to power imbalances, economic flux and cost of living is unnerving, human suffering is disheartening, furthermore food and land control by corrupt corporations is disempowering and frightening. Need alone the amount of abuse, addictions, and violence we are exposed to on a daily basis, has become ‘normal’.

Just spend a couple of days on Netflix and watch the plethora of documentaries available demonstrating the Truth of this above statement. We can no longer be ignorant to the fact that there is something devastatingly and hauntingly wrong with the way we, as humans, have chosen to live. There is something fundamentally wrong with investing our energy circuits (time, mind, heart, and soul) into projects that devalue our earth, people, and our souls.

The other day, my son watched a documentary on the ‘shark industry’ (which I must add, the majority of his class were in tears) and I asked him “why do you think humans choose to do this?” His answer was “to put food on the table” (meaning to earn money to live). Therefore, most humans (including myself) will choose to sacrifice, hurt, destroy, and degrade what ever is in the way of earning ‘money’; a currency humans have created. Again, there is something soulfully wrong with this mindset and yet, so hopelessly invades our psyches and way of existing.

It is for all of these reasons that a new way of co-existing on this planet must be co-created. The path and practice ofQuantum Midwifery is in the infancy stage of unplugging from this standardized accepted way of living and working, and plugging into something different (something whose values are completely different then our current set of values). Values are lived and enacted, they are not just words that are recited to yourself in the silence of your ‘safe’ home. We know what people value based on how they choose to live in the world. When one chooses to plug into a way of life whose values oppose her/his/their inner soul values, then she/he/they unwillingly, align with those ‘other’ values.

And so, Quantum Midwifery is choosing to align with the following values (lets keep expanding this list):

  • The healing of the earth
  • Living in harmony and relationship with the earth
  • Congruency in actions and words
  • Interconnection of Spirit and Soul, Mind, Heart, and Body
  • Collaborative relationship building
  • Self-responsibility and Soul-directed living
  • Non violent and compassionate communication
  • Soul-connections and interconnection
  • Gentle birth
  • Restorative justice and Circle work
  • Alternative paths of learning
  • Non intervention
  • Undisturbed birth
  • Protecting the environment
  • Holistic perspectives
  • Science, Spirituality, and Intuition
  • Healing, health, and wholeness
  • Equality, integration, and inclusiveness
  • Decrease in consumption
  • Increase in community living
  • Nourishment on all levels
  • Accessibility
  • Qualitative research & Quantitative research
  • Experiential knowledge
  • Cycles of life – birth & death
  • The sacred feminine and masculine
  • Integral health and wellness
  • Both energy and matter
  • Quantum mechanics
  • Adaptability and Change as constants
  • The Sacred and the Mystery
  • Altered states of consciousness as real experiences and ways of accessing information
  • All traditions and ancient wisdom
  • Innate wisdom and truth
If our current governing systems aligned with these values, then, perhaps change could occur from within. I am doubtful and skeptical that change can happen from ‘within’ anymore. What I have seen is that when one is ‘within’ the system they change, instead of the system changing. Therefore, what I am suggesting, is that those souls who are brave, courageous, and passionate enough to see change on this planet, will step outside of our current operating system and start to co create a new way. We need one another.

Blessings

Challenging the Present, Defining the Future

We must remember the past, define the future, and challenge the present – wherever and however we can. ~ Jane O’Reilly

It is asked of us to remember the past, the past that involved oppression and violence against women, midwives, home birth, sexuality, power, and freedom of choice. We are called to remember that midwives were burned alive and murdered, for serving women in childbirth, for knowing the mystery of our womanly bodies, for understanding the nature of life and death, for learning the wisdom of the plants and the sacred teachings that birth brought with every child born alive or dead.

These wise and wild Women, killed at the hands of church and country men, knew something so powerful, that I believe, it was woven into their DNA. This knowledge was never lost (as much as ‘they’ may have wanted it to be) it has been passed along in our blood and cells. Those of us who have heard the call, have the ancient wisdom deep within our souls. Those hu/mans, so frightened by the power that those women possessed, perhaps believed they could kill the knowledge; yet Truth (with a capital T) can never be destroyed.

Remember the past, we are told, of the women of the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s who trusted in the doctors to take care of them in labor and birth. The women who died because of ‘childbed fever’; the women who were knocked out cold because they were told it would be better for them and their babies; the women who were strapped down all arms and legs, while in labor and told to birth; the women who were so frightened because they did not understand what was happening to their bodies (the knowledge had been lost and the language of birth untold); and the women who knew not to question the ‘authority figures’ for fear of challenging the status quo.

Remember the past, when a small percentage of women began to hear the call within their souls. Those Women who said ‘no’ to those authority figures of doctors; those women who reclaimed childbirth as theirs; those women who risked jail to attend births; those women who fought for their child to be born at home; those women who challenged the status quo; those women who stood up and let their voices be heard and said ENOUGH… There is another way.

Remember the past, we are asked… What do you remember?

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Define the Future!

We are visionaries, scholars, activists, socialists, humanists, environmentalists, r/evolutionaries, birth keepers, birth workers, midwives, doulas, and birth attendants. We are coming together, joining voices, and re-defining our futures. A future no longer governed by medical authority figures (predominantly a patriarchal male fear based system) who are deciding the rules, regulations, laws, and liability around birth and midwifery.

We believe that birth belongs to the family, period; not a governing state or institution. We believe that true freedom of choice, occurs when a pregnant woman is self-directed, without fear, to choose where she gives birth and with whom. That she and her family claim responsibility for their choices, are fully informed, and work in collaboration with their chosen ‘care giver’ (if any).

A future that holds a vision for healing both birth and midwifery, must include a voice, pathway, and access to all paradigms of care. A vision of a future, in which Midwives appreciate one another (no matter what paradigm they choose to practice in) and learn to listen, support, and nurture one another as care givers of birth.

We are asked to define the future…what would you define as the future?

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Challenge the present!

Oh my god/dess, the work involved with doing such an arduous and often frightening task. You see, it is of no service to challenge the already established birth and midwifery communities, we are wasting vital energy in doing so. We must do more, if we are going to truly challenge the present.

This present includes global and enviornmental devastation, need alone, fear based tactics to maintain power over; liability insurance that has sky rocketed; laws that are restricting Midwives to practice within their communities; regulations that have made it challenging to become lisenced or registered; rules and ‘guidelines’ that tell us how we must give birth or serve as a care giver; authority figures that still only want to have power over; a midwifery that now belongs to the state/country and has taken on tones of patriarchy, fear, and lack of trust; not to mention, a high burnout rate amongst midwives. Of course, we must mention, that midwives are still under paid, under valued, and over demanded with high expectations and very little tolerance for mistake or error. Most of these care givers are women and mother’s themeselves.

Our present situation is that ‘midwifery’ has changed; of course it has and will continue to do so. We have seen some huge forward momentum (thanks to those midwives who have pioneered) such as coverage under health care in some countries. Numerous states and provinces now recognize a midwife as a ‘health care provider’; thus increasing popularity and demand.

However, within this current movement, an expected backlash has surfaced: Women no longer being able to access midwives, unassisted birth movement, women handing their power over to their midwives instead of OBGYN, midwives going underground and fearing prosecution, midwives fighting against one another or prosecuting another,  states threatening midwives to stop practicing, laws governing how to learn midwifery, fights between independent midwives vs registered midwives on a global scale, the medicalization of midwifery, and an increase in hospital transfers and fears amongst midwives. All of this and then some, has presented itself because the ‘governing bodies’, ‘insurance companies’, and ‘regulating institutions’ continue to want to have power and control over midwifery and birth-over humans.

There seems to be a similar theme here; power over during the ‘Inquisition’ or power over during the ‘Institutionalization’; not much as changed. The problem is, the essence of midwifery becomes lost. Let us challenge the present, and become self-directed Midwives, in the same way we want Women to have self-directed births.

This means we say no to the systems that dictate, say no to the institutions that govern how we learn, say no to the insurers who tell us how we are to practice (and how many of ‘them’ know anything about the sacredness of birth)! Let us join together, as  visionaries, scholars, activists, socialists, humanists, environmentalists, r/evolutionaries, birth keepers, birth workers, midwives, doulas, and birth attendants as we start to say NO to the powers that bind us. Let us collectively face the fears (both internally and externally) and stand up for one another, as courageous humans that we are.

Let’s teach one another what we have learned, so that our medicine bags become so filled with collective wisdom that no one could take it away from us; and let’s agree that we will protect this knowledge, the art of midwifery, and share it with only those who will take care of it with heart and soul.

For it is in my humble opinion, that no one deserves the right to own the term midwife, unless they have sat in the fire and transformation of birth and death. And although I cannot know for a fact, whether or not those who create laws and policy know the essence and sacredness of birth, based on the management of midwifery I would take an educated guess that they know NOTHING about it.

It is our right to reclaim midwifery, to own the term, and to choose a learning path that serves our heart and soul. This is how I would challenge the present so that we can define the future of birth and midwifery on this planet.

How would you challenge the present?

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We have decided to challenge the present by gathering information from those who have given birth or have been a witness to birth. We want to know how informed you were, whether or not you might be interested in a different paradigm of care, and if a birthing center that teaches and trains midwives outside of our current system is of interest to you… please answer a brief 10 question survey.

Thank you!