The Nearly Free Birth of Forest: EPILOGUE

The river of life flows on… and the more time that rushes past, the more surreal my lived stories become.  Sorta like grapes to wine. And now is the moment when I decant some of July’s finest vintage for you…

 

You have yet to discover why Forest’s birth was “nearly” free.  The birth itself was free… but over here in Italy, I was enraged to discover that aside from the air I breathe and the spring water that flows like wine from Bacchus’s blessed font, NOTHING is truly free.  

 

After Forest emerged, Giordano became preoccupied (to an obsessive degree) with getting him “registered” as a viable human… you know, the whole birth certificate business.  I appreciate that Hubba-Hubby was so on top of it… But he has a rancid tendency to expect the worst and bring fear and anxiety to affairs that could just as easily unfold with peace, harmony and grace.  

 

Giordano went to the “Commune” of our enchanting city, Gualdo Tadino, to discover what we needed to do to register our boy.  They told him a “witness” of the birth was required in order to verify that Forest was truly our baby. The witness is usually either a midwife at home births, or a doctor at the hospital.  Neither of us qualified as a valid witness. Vafanculo! (Me and Serena’s new favorite Italian exclamation. It literally means go fuck your self (in the ass). It’s fun to say with an over dramatized Italian intonation!)  Who invents this smelly bullshit? Yeah, I stole my baby… but I’m lactating, I have an empty, saggy belly and my yoni is streaming bloody lochia. I’m getting pissed just writing about it. The memories are definitely coming into focus again…

 

Giordano got quite worked up by this news.  The peeps at the Commune had never dealt with a scenario like ours before (Italians are too tribal-minded to choose anything as radical as Freebirth), so their information was awash with nebulosity.  They had no solid source of reference for the information they provided. But they told us we had TEN DAYS to submit our documents (including said witness verification).  

 

Navigating this situation was like grasping at mist.  Giordano’s anxiety mounted as breaths, hours and days passed.  I chose to trust. Giving birth had ripped me wide open. I was raw.  Feeling and digesting my husband’s anxiety and fear felt like a fucking curse.  I just wanted to rest and heal (and take necessary steps… but sans the element of toxic, emotionally charged, fear-based drama).  Not to mention that I had very little help postpartum. (Giordano’s mama brought over a few lunches for the first couple days, when I could barely walk without feeling like my yoni was on fire and about to fall on the floor when I stood up.  Which I did waaaay to often.)

 

So on day three of Forest’s glorious earthside journey, our family of four set out on a quest for the Holy Grail- a witness who would verify that Forest was ours.  Giordano is a creature of instinct. Mostly I find this sexy, but also sometimes a bit alienating, because he doesn’t make decisions or take action until the last moment… and then he does what he feels.  (It’s hard to make plans with him or feel included. But his instincts are keen like a wild animal.) So we were driving down the road out of town as he grappled inside for the “sense” of where to go first.  Talk about a thrillride.  

 

And remember, I am ripped open to the heavens, I can barely walk and am pouring with bloody afterbirth fluid called “lochia”.  Oh, and I was wearing my last pad!…

 

In a timely lightning flash, he resolved to head to a pediatrician in the next town over, who was recommended to us by friends with small children.  Supposedly she was relaxed about “normal” (not so normal if you ask me) protocols such as vaccinations. We were tense as we drove. He got lost. We were late.  We fought. I reminded myself to breathe deep and relax the relentless tension in my belly, chest, neck and shoulders. Ugh.  

 

We finally made it.  We stepped out into the thick July heat, clothes clinging to our sweaty bodies.  I walked ahead of my superbly anxious husband and fumbled in broken Italian to discover where to go.  

 

The pediatrician was a decent woman.  She asked us basic questions (in Italian), such as his full name, the date and time of his birth and his weight.  Then she told me to take his diaper off so she could weigh him. It was all pretty benign and doable. Until she took him and put him on her table to “examine” him.  To her credit, she was gentle. But to me her protocols were superfluous and stressful for one so new. She tested his reflexes, tossing him around to see if he reacted when he fell backwards.  Poor little guy. Of course he reacted. He cried. Hard. My raw heart bled and I filled with fire. She told us that Forest was slightly jaundiced. Duh. He was a bit yellow. She wrote out a prescription for him for vitamin D, which I tossed in the recycling at home.  Didn’t anyone tell her that my body custom blends his breast milk according to what his body tells me it needs based on the information passed in his saliva?

 

She wrote us a paper verifying that little Mister Grace had received “care”.  This was to make us look like “sane, respectable parents” through the eyes of The System”.  

 

Next stop was the “Consultorio”, which is where I was receiving “prenatal care” (Not really “care” at all… more like a group of well-intentioned ignoramuses who pretended to know more about my body and my baby than I did, were way too trigger happy to ultrasound me without asking my consent, took my blood monthly, told me I was at risk for toxoplasmosis, didn’t listen to me when I told them exactly when I ovulated and instead spent way too much time at EVERY visit calculating and recalculating my due date based on the first day of my last period with a little cardboard wheel.), until about half way through my pregnancy when I got bold, listened inside and permitted myself to stop going and instead TRUST and truly CARE for myself and Forest.

 

Since I don’t speak Italian, Girdano did all the talking.  Even though it “crushed him the ball” (another of my favorite Italian expressions!) to have all the responsibility for communicating, he was very poised.  I could not understand all that was being said, but there was a lot of fear energy coming from the characters at the consultorio. Meanwhile, I had bled through my last pad back at the pediatrician’s office, and replaced it with paper towels, which had slipped out of my stained panties at some point.  I felt a warm rush of liquid. Cradling my newborn, I headed for the large roll of paper towels in our exam room, went behind a white shoji screen and put a fresh wad in my undies. I felt like a renegade cowgirl.

 

The peeps at the consultorio sent us to the nearest hospital, twenty minutes away.  It was lunch time. The heat was opressive. Giordano told me that I would probably need to be “examined”.  This ENRAGED me. I spent the whole ride spitting fire. Giordano handled this really well and did his best to allow me space to express my feelings, while keeping us on track.  He was not happy about the way things were going either, but apparently this is what needed to be done.

 

At the hospital, we were sent to the maternity ward, where we were greeted by two warm and helpful women.  Serena and I sat on a loveseat in their office while Giordano spoke extensively with them. They knew his father and commented that they were not surprised that HE would choose such a radical course.  Apparently it runs in the family…. 

 

After about twenty minutes of talking and waiting and talking and waiting, he explained the situation to me.  They were hesitant to “take responsibility” for our out-of-the-box birth. They deliberated amongst themselves how to handle our delicate situation.  They wanted to help us… and cover their own asses. They sent us to a small, chilly, fluorescent-lit waiting room down the hall. Serena was wiggly but well behaved.  Forest slept in his carseat. I breathed. My hunger swelled. It must have been two or three o’clock. Giordano and Serena went foraging at the cafe downstairs. He ate a hamburger and brought me back some organic coconut chips and raw cashews.  Perfect.  

 

Around the time we were done munching, they came in and said they would sign for us… but first I would need to be examined.  Holy hell. We were led down the hall to the exam room. The nurse said I had to go in alone. There were FOUR italian speaking women inside who gazed scrutinously upon me.  I felt cornered. They asked me a few questions in Italian, which I mostly understood and was able to answer. Then they told me to take my pants and undies off and get on the table.  Fuck. They told me to scoot forward. My body screamed NOOOO. But I felt like I had no choice, if I wanted to get the damn piece of paper and the ensuing birth certificate.  

 

The sourest woman of the bunch stuck her fingers in my vagina.  Without consent. Without even a warning. Without a damn shred of sensitivity.  She concurrently palpated my lower belly. I felt violated. I yelped and pulled away.  I didn’t know whether to cry or kill. Then they lathered my belly in blue goop and gave me a fucking ultrasound.  I don’t trust ultrasounds. I did NOT want that. As far as I’m concerned, they are only appropriate in extreme circumstances.  When they were finished, they didn’t even offer me a damn paper towel to clean myself off.  

 

But they gave us the fucking paper.  

 

They told me to come back in forty days for another fucking check-up.  Yeah fucking right.

 

By the time we got home, it was early evening.  I was exhausted.  

 

I was not able to speak with anybody throughout this process, so I don’t know for sure that all of this REALLY had to happen.  Maybe there was a way to avoid this violating experience… but if there was, it was not revealed.  

 

I chose to freebirth, because I wanted to bring Forest into the world on MY terms.  I wanted to stay at home, in peace. I wanted sovereignty of my body, my baby, my choices.  I did not realize that this was not an option in this archaic, medieval, Palpally-persuaded, boot-shaped paradise otherwise known as Italy.  

The almost free birth of Forest (part 3)

How in Fuck’s holy name would I survive a twenty minute car ride???

 

Giordano may not have “lost it”… but nor did he have it together…. He asked me if Forest was moving anymore… I reflected on this, and then realized, no, he hasn’t moved for a while.  Still riding the swelling wave of fear that “going to the hospital had catalyzed, now I was paranoid that my baby was in distress.

 

I waddled into the hallway.  I braced myself on the small white desk that abides there (for lack of a better home).  Another vicious contraction and furious push.  Another.  And another.  OMFG.  Rapid fire.  “Good position or NOT, this baby was on his way out.  I took my police pants off again and somehow made it to the living room.

 

I climbed into the ugliest brown armchair you’ve ever seen (I’d been wanting to excommunicate it from our house since the moment it found its way in), braced myself with hands on the wall.  Gave a few more colossal pushes.   COLOSSAL.  I had no other choice.

 

THE RING OF FIRE.

 

The women on video chat had instructed me to “hang out here” for a bit… rather than pushing straight through it… so as not to tear.  Stretch open slowwwwly.

 

I had not met the ring of fire while birthing Serena.  Up until this moment, it was but a dramatic and terrible title.  Well… for those of you who, like me, haven’t a lucid intimacy with this fearsome BEAST…  It truly lives up to its name.  Irreconcilable BURN.  Like a dragon breathing fire on your genitals, burning them to oblivion.

 

I “hung out there” (haha, there was nothing casual or relaxed, as “hanging out” implies…) for maybe two contractions.  Three at most.  And then BAM!  Out popped…. SOMEthing.

 

Giordano was standing behind me, pouring with intensity and panic.

 

He announced it was Forest’s head.  He said Forest looked dead.  Like a damn fool (or maybe just a vulnerable, birthing woman in an altered state), I believed my doom and gloom husband!  Desperate to get his whole body out ASAFP, I pushed again.  And again.  The second time, part of his body slid out.  Third push, VOILA!!  Giordano and I clumsily caught him together.  Blood guuuussssshed out of me, drenching the ugliest chair in the world.  (A dried up, crimson splash still remains on the wall next to the radiator!  I want it to remain forever.)

 

The umbilical cord was wrapped around Forest’s neck one loose time.  I untwisted it.  (I want to “normalize” this occurrence.  Hospital culture would have you believe this is an “emergency situation”.  Rarely.  Many babies get benignly tangled in their cords.  I discovered this on the freebirth podcast, so I was not alarmed in the least.)

 

I held my jumbo, blood-bathed son!  He gasped for breath.  He sputtered, still full of amniotic fluid.  I sucked his nose and mouth.  This didn’t seem to help.  He cried.  (Giordano says he cried immediately… but as I had just pushed a nine pound human through my vagina, my chronology is not quite as crisp.)  Little Forest looked like a “fish out of water”… Alienated by this lickety-split miracle of moving from  spirit to form.  Breath, body, blood, otherness…  Ugh.  (We all must be NUTS to come here and subject our Selves to all this hoopla!)

 

I asked Giordano to hand me a towel.  Of course it was white! Speaking of white, my white tank top was now mostly RED.  The towel too.  I cradled my slimy baby in the rough, line-dried towel.   He was alive!  After he cried for a minute, he quieted and looked around.

 

Watching my newborn son register his arrival on planet earth was perhaps the most incredible moment of my entire life.  (With Serena, the nurse wiped her off with objectionable wet wipes from a package, which caused her to scream her head off for a few solid minutes before passing out on my chest.)  Forest was calm and wide awake.  His open gaze slowed time and silenced mind.  He abided in this sober, wakeful presence for at least an hour.

 

Meanwhile, I cradled him and waddled around the house in a wide-eyed stupor, his umbilical cord still plugged into the depths of my womb.  Blood gratuitously spilled from between my legs, leaving an artistically rendered trail of my haphazard course.

 

Giordano had called his Mama back in the “we are going to the hospital” chapter, asking her to accompany us.  (Apparently the Italian stereotype about men being super attached to their mamas is no joke.  I tease him that she is his first wife.)  Within minutes of Forest’s arrival, in came “Nona”.  This was a plot twist, but it felt right.  Forest called in Family.

 

Hubby-Dearest and his Mama tag-teamed with the mop, cleaning up endless puddles, streams, rivers, dribbles of blood.  (One “pro” of birthing in the hospital, is that the family can just chill and swoon while the “hired help” does the dirty work.  And trust me, it was a lot of dirty work…)  I remember standing at the bathroom sink, cradling Forest, and marveling at my two smeared, bloody footprints.

 

Blood continued to flow like wine rivers after I found my way to bed.  We had been so good about covering the bed with a shower curtain and a janky old duvet cover… I forgot to account for the messy aftermath.  Our *one* pair of summer sheets now shall sing the story of Forest’s birth forever more.

 

Oh.  And Forest’s HEAD.  Whoa, people.  When he first came out, he looked like an asymetrical UNICORN.  His head went on a magical mystery tour to pass through my vag.  Good gracious.  I think I texted or called Karen back and asked her if this was “normal”.  To my profound relief, she affirmed normalcy, and reassured me that it would quickly reshape.  It did.  But Lordy, I wish I had snapped a photo.  It was remarkable.  (I wish I had photos and video of the whole birth…. But there was no one I wanted to invite into my sacred space to play the roll of photographer.  This is a minor tragedy.)  I took a selfie when I got into bed.  Then I asked G to snap a couple more.  The rest must live in the mythic distortion of my and Giordano’s memory.

 

When got back in bed, my body shook violently.  This continued for at least half an hour.  Completely involuntary.

 

I offered Forest my breast and waited for the urge to birth the placenta.  Nearly two hours later, I was still waiting.  I consulted Karen, and she told me to get the thing OUT… so I lightly tugged on the cord, as I pushed.  My placenta was not so jazzed to part ways with my womb, but finally blubbered out into  the plastic, orange bowl.  What a fucking relief.  Now Forest was not attached to the inside of my body any longer, but to a bowl hosting a blob of bloody meat.

 

Next on the thrilling itinerary, Giordano and I burned the umbilical cord.  (This coterizes it, so a clamp is unnecessary.  I also preferred this means of release, for its ceremonial and elemental aspects).  I wanted  to give Forest plenty of time to reabsorb all the goodness the placenta had to offer… and yet, after two and a half hours, I was done with the large-scale production of cords and bowls and bloody organs.

 

The cord burning was the quintessential scene for a movie… though living through it was traumatizing.  Giordano, who by this time was crabby and way less than generous, was holding the candle.  I held the baby and the cord?  G kept scolding me for holding the cord too close to the flame.  He had the patience of a piranha.  Thanks dude.  I guess he forgot that I had just pushed a human out of my vagina, and was still in the process of losing gallons of blood.  I kept asking him to be nice.  But apparently he didn’t have access to this particular virtue at this particular moment.  It probably took eleven minutes.  The longest eleven minutes of my life….

 

Our bedroom now smelled like a barbecue.  The three inches of remaining cord protruded from Forest’s little belly like a white worm. I ate a ripe banana and went to sleep.  It was a little after 4am.

 

The nearly free birth of Forest (part 2)

The facet of freebirthing that was most compelling to me was not being “checked” to see how dilated I was, or being told when to push, or any other externalized reference points along the Journey of Laboring.  Instead, the birthing woman is totally undisturbed and able to experience from the INside-out.  (I’m imagining that some readers will find this perspective audacious.  Like “WHAT??? YOU CAN’T POSSIBLY KNOW HOW TO GIVE BIRTH WITHOUT A TRAINED PROFESSIONAL TELLING YOU WHAT TO DO AND WHEN.”)

Well guess what?  You CAN.

Except here’s where I lost connection with my inner authority:

Expectations…. I imagined that the second baby would be easier.  It was taking waaaay too long.  I was in waaaaaaay too much pain.  When would I feel the fucking urge to PUSH???

Night had swallowed day, candles danced wiggly, golden light about the dim ambiance of my pink bedroom.  I finally felt a mild urge to push.  I guess I texted my doula friend Karen in California… and asked her…. something.  She video called me on fb messenger.  As Grace would have it, she was about to give a chiropractic adjustment to three mamas (two of which I had known for over a decade).  Suddenly I was being supported by FOUR women from across the world.

Mostly this was soothing and helpful.  But in retrospect, the call lingered beyond its expiration date.  I lost touch with the inner authority that had been the coveted treasure of my freebirthing quest.  I was lost in the wilderness of pain… Vulnerable and reaching outside for salvation.

The call sprawled on for over an hour.  Contractions.  Pushing.  Lioness roars.

I asked Karen if breaking my own bag of waters (which was still intact) would accelarate the process (I had heard this in other birth stories…) She said go for it. When I reached inside, I could feel the bulging bag… At first I was tentative about breaking it with my nails. But after three or four tries, it burst. Gusssssssh….

Nothing changed, save the manky bedspread, which was now cold and wet.

I felt inside to see if Forest’s head was at the door yet. I felt SOMEthing…. But it was not very “head-ish”… It felt like two squishy peaks, with a valley in between. WHAAAAAT??? Not a foot. Not a head. Too small for a butt…. Was there REALLY a normal baby-shaped person inside me??? Or just some random, alien scraps, all smashed together….

When my waters broke, Karen said “He’ll be out in two pushes.”

My inner authority flew out the window and I placed the weight of my salvation in this statement. Time bled on…. My concern mounted as my endurance dwindled.

Now, please allow me to pause and comment.

My writing style is especially feminine. Rooted in and informed by feeeeeling. Decorated with poetic metaphors. Striking, abstract imagery. Frivolous, philosophical meanderings. Bursts of unapologetic raw-ness…

And then there is Athena Grace writing about BIRTH.  Exponentially feminine. I notice a voice inside who is critical of my “failure” to walk a straight line of “chronology”. Well, I am going to grab my ovaries and overtly affirm– FUCK THAT SHIT. I am a WOMAN.  I have a woman’s (heartful) mind, and I am sharing my Woman’s Voice. I never really identified as a “feminist”… because I’m not into raging against the machine. But it turns out that at heart, I AM. The world held hostage by our severely crippled systems NEEDS women’s’ voices to resound boldly through the Collective, heal the heart of ALL, and purify the waters.

This story is a wild, bucking spiral montage of images, mOMents, feelings… and of course a juicy climax (or three). By the Power Vested in Me, I declare that this is RIGHT and BEAUTIFUL and perfectly natural. Not to negate straight lines. I reserve the right to ride those tamed beasts as I please.

At the start of this account I forgot to mention that as during my labor with Serena, it was increasingly impossible to pee. I was hoping this condition would not recur with Forest. Frown.  I had to squat or sit on the toilet for a million years of discomfort before a pathetic trickle would dribble out. Not being able to release deterred me from drinking too much. I was hot and sweaty. I needed fluid. I drank sips and tangoed with the terror of bursting my bladder.

I also forgot to mention an essential, terrible (and retrospectively comical) thing about Giordano’s role during my labor. If I had a nickel for every time the man asked me “WHY”…. I’d be one rich bitch.  MEN— Listen. When a laboring woman makes a request, DO NOT ask her WHY.  Fucking never. Each time he did, I told him this. But obviously, it didn’t go IN. Because his WHYs fired off like a machine gun, driving holes in my peace and sanity.  WOMEN— if your man asks you WHY while you are laboring, send him to me and I will personally rip his over-active head off. And for anyone who finds themself asking “WHY not ask WHY?…”

I’ll tell you.

BECAUSE. It engages a part of the brain that should NOT be active while a woman is in such an intense, intuitive, altered state.

And NOW, back to our riveting story.

I didn’t feel that I was progressing. (I WAS… but not in an outwardly measurable way, like I WANTED to be…)  Karen said if Forest wasn’t out in another half an hour, I “should” go to the hospital.  Eeeeeeeeeek. This would be a major MESS. It was after eleven pm. Would they cut me open? Give me a hodge-podge of horrific interventions? Give my baby antibiotics and injections? Burn me at the stake for birthing outside The System? There was nothing bright about this proposed path.

Except the survival of my child and myself.

Giordano became anxious. Ugh. Just what I needed. He did NOT want to go to the hospital…. Which was actually a surprise to me. I thought he would be the first to subscribe to conventional protocols.  But at this point, he was scared of all the same shit as me. Only more so… because dude tends to expect the worst. But actually, I was impressed by his ability to stay grounded and “calm-ish”… given where the current was carrying us.  In the end, he didn’t lose it.

Through brutal contractions and involuntary baring down, I made a phone call to Manuela, who was holding energetic space for us… and told her that I thought we should go to the hospital. She said “Be wise.”

I forgot this part, but apparently I had also texted Benedetta– “HELP”, at some point.  (She reminded me of this a few days ago, and I had a good laugh about it.) She said she awoke to my text and freaked out. She had become a contact point for a slew of people who were eager to be updated about our progress and wellbeing. She said she called me. I vaguely recall trying to speak to her through excruciating contractions and pushing. Haha. It sure is funny now!

Then I pulled on my beloved, well-worn Berkeley Police sweatpants and a WHITE TANK TOP (what was I thinking???) and attempted to walk. I had to stop every couple steps and breathe and puuuuush.

I HAD TO.

How in Fuck’s holy name would I survive a twenty minute car ride???

 

The nearly free birth of Forest (Part 1)

Forest

The second one is sposta pop out like a ping pong ball… right?

 

That’s what I thought….

 

I was wrong.

 

It took about the same amount of time laboring to get Forest out, as Serena.  Twelve hours.  But this time, I did it at home.  Alone.

 

Well… alone with Giordano.  Was this intentional?  Yes and no.  I wanted to have a woman/women with me… who would just sit quietly in the corner and hold a streaming vigil of prayer and presence.  But apparently God did NOT want this… since both of the women I asked to be with me were cosmically thwarted from attending.

 

“Free Birth” is the term for birthing without a slew of “trained professionals” getting all up in a birthing mama’s grill.  I was intrigued by this idea while pregnant with Serena… but not nearly courageous enough to trust my deepest inner knowing in the boundlessly deep waters of the feminine mystery that is birth.  So I deferred my inner authority, and opted for the hospital route with her.  Which was perfect.  (Marin General is the creme de la creme of hospitals that truly support natural birth.)

 

But this time, I was familiar with the territory. (As familiar as one can be with the cryptic wilderness of the Divine Feminine! Ha!)  Well, lofty philosophy aside, it’s what I FELT TO DO.  So I spent the months of my maternity gathering information and validation, mostly via birth stories told on the “Free Birth Podcast”, and by the time my tiny man was ready to emerge, I felt ready, and even enthusiastic, to do The Thing!

 

Everyone knows that expectations are the devil.  Of course I tried not to have any.  But this was impossible.  I imagined that as with Serena, I would go into labor on my due date, July 14th.   Or at LEAST by the full moon (lunar eclipse), July 16th.  Nope.  Besides the painful fights with Giordano, those days passed without much fanfare. Only a few egoic efforts to get my labor juices “aflow”… long walks, sex, orgasm… the basics.  But as it turns out, all “magic feathers” and lore aside, birth has its own cosmically informed intelligence, which I boldly hypothesize has NOTHING to do with the overlay of “wizardry” many of us get off on professing.

 

For about five nights straight, I went to bed fondling the precious hope that I would awaken in the night to contractions, as I had with Serena.  At two am on July 18th, my hope materialized.  Elated, I opened my eyes to the juicy, round, beam-dripping moon, dancing beyond my bedroom window.  I savored every twinge of deep, delicious ache in my womb.  God those moments live legendary inside me now… I felt totally alone and yet sweetly intimate with ALL.  My heart steeped in transcendent joy.

 

As with Serena, the contractions stopped when I got out of bed.  My labor had a very keen intelligence, and when I was focused on caring for Serena, it would ebb… After I dropped her off at camp, the waves resumed.  When she returned from camp, another pause.  It wasn’t until my saintly friend Benedetta came and picked Serena up (with her own nearly-newborn and four year old sun in tow) at around 4pm, that labor REALLY went full throttle.

 

I had imagined laboring in the little wooden house, nestled in my garden (which I have adopted as a temple…) but by mid afternoon, it was way too hot in there, and the mattress felt like a granite boulder.  After turning a few too many dizzying circles of indecision, I realized there’s no place like bed.

 

Oh dear… This event occurred exactly two weeks ago, and by now, the whole epic event is a goopy smear in my mind’s eye.  I guess I had a butt-ton of contractions in said bed… It didn’t take long for them to start firing off fast… which made me certain that Forest would soon emerge.

 

I was inspired by the birth story of a woman named Jinti Fell… She had an idyllic, peaceful freebirth in water, with only her husband, three year old daughter and sister present.  She said she concentrated on affirmations of opening and surrender.  So with each contraction, I relaxed my yoni and imagined my cervix blossoming open… melting INto the pain, rather than contracting in reaction to it.  I felt powerful and courageous doing this.

 

Until I hit a point where the contractions were coming so strong and rapid, that I lost access to this enlightened response.  It became a matter of survival.  No holds barred.  I felt that if I gave myself over in melt, I would be eaten alive.  This continued for hours.  I focused on my breath… and alternated between chanting gutterally based AUMs and “blowing through an imaginary straw” with each exhale (Benedetta taught me that technique, touting that when the jaw is relaxed, so is the yoni.  She said her first baby slid right out of her as a result… ummm… I can’t say that was MY experience…)

 

What of my wild card husband?  As I imagined, he was not the Masculine Rock that I wished he could be.  When I looked to him in the heat of intensity, his eyes were perpetually a-wander in far-off lands.  This was no surprise.  A restless, wild mind is his M.O.  Still, I wouldn’t help wishing for his solid, unwavering presence.  But given his nature… he did well.

 

As I had requested, he didn’t impose himself in my space.  He made himself available… but hung back until I made a direct request for support.  I felt the wounded place inside me, where I was tentative to ask for help from him… fearing rejection or disconnect.  (By now, our “track record” is brimming with disappointments and blood-bathed conflict…)  But when one is in enough pain, one must transcend the fear of rejection.  I asked him to rub my sacrum, which by now was screaming with ache.

 

At this task, he succeeded beyond measure.  I felt… profoundly felt.  He touched me as if he were inside me.  And at this point, I didn’t care if he was thinking about all the money we owe, or his perpetual craving for pizza, or whatever runs through that man’s mind… I was journeying through a realm of unceasing pain, and he was minimizing my suffering.

 

Until he got hungry.  And then the salvation of his touch withdrew and wandered to the kitchen.  A while later, he returned to the bedroom with a plastic tupperware full of tuna salad.  The smell ruined my life.  He innocently offered me a bite.  DISGUSTING.  I shunned him from the bedroom.  But the smell saturated the warm, thick atmosphere of late July.

 

When he returned (I had no sense of time by now), I asked him to light an incense to mitigate the terrible stench.

 

Then what happened?  Contractions raced through my body like a freight train with never-ending cars.  The sun crept toward the horizon, and eventually sunk into darkness.

 

The Ecstasy of Crucifixion!

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You know what’s funny about Italians?  They say “prego” (you’re welcome) before one has a chance to say “grazie” (thank you).  You know what else is funny about them? They park however the fuck they want. Hella diagonal, taking up two spaces, sticking their asses out into traffic.  When it comes to parking, it’s no holds barred. And here’s little American Athena, ever striving to be even and tidy and respectful (at least behind the wheel…).  Now that I think of it, what’s NOT funny about Italians? It always kills me how they sound like they’re fighting, just having “normal”, everyday conversations about pizza and football and the weather and stuff.  Realizing this helps me reconcile Giordano’s default intensity… but I still don’t handle it very well.

 

Ahhhh…. It feels great to be light for once.  I really must be being given birth to…. Yesterday, I felt utterly squeezed to death.  As only a deep, dark birth canal can possibly squeeze. Then this morning, I awoke before dawn, and felt newborn.  By the Grace of God. I was able to see my husband through compassionate, tender eyes. By the Grace of God. I’m not kidding.  After the crucifixion I endured yesterday, I am sure that today is a blessed resurrection.

 

Yeah, I’ve got crucifixion and resurrection on the brain these days, because I am reading one of those miraculous books that literally reconfigures one’s cells and consciousness.  It’s called “Anna Grandmother of Jesus”. It is channeled by Anna, herself. She tells the relevant stories of her six hundred plus year life on earth, dedicated to paving the way for Jesus’s hella sublime mission.  And every step of the way, she clarifies that her telling is in service of the spiritual empowerment of the reader… Because now we are in a planetary ascension, and life is offering us our own rigorous spiritual initiations so that we may choose to fully awaken and play our roles in the ascension of Humanity.  

 

Reading this book is helping me “get right with” the otherwise inexplicable, confounding and unrelentingly uncomfortable circumstances of my current life.  Boy did I need a context vast and mystical enough to hold the mess of my existence. I often muse that context is everything. Without context, there ain’t no pot to hold the soup.  It’s just brothy, chunky chaos, plummeting through infinite space.

 

Anyway, what I want YOU to understand, or at least consider, regarding Jesus and crucifixion, is that ONCE AND FOR ALL, Jesus did NOT “die for our sins”.  For God’s sake. Crucifixion was his living example of completely surrendering the small self, and then rising AS the light of our glorious, eternal Self. The One who lives in timeless, wakeful communion with infinite, miraculous love that pours from the Heart of All.

 

I sure want to live that love, unimpeded.  I guess I want it more than I am even willing to admit.  Because I sure have created ingenious, masterful life circumstances, in which said Love is the ONLY way to endure the sublimely imperfect and often crushing circumstances of my life.  

 

You might think I’m being dramatic.  And selfish. Maybe you think I should spend more time being grateful and creating what I WANT.  Yes. And yes. I am doing my best to stay lifted in gratitude, and keep moving forward. I am. AND…. it is my passion and perhaps even my obsession to illuminate the otherwise dark anonymity of my existence through the art of words.  I tingle and shimmer with vibrance when I do this. I become buoyant, when I would otherwise drown.

 

When alchemized through intentional language, Life Itself ascends from the status of struggle and tragedy, to the elevated, radiant and comical undulations of Grace and Awe.  And boy do I need that right now.

 

Are YOU getting your guts squeezed out in the birth canal these days?  If you say no, either you’re lying or dissociated. OhmyGod, do you hate me for making such a brash statement?!  But I KNOW that what I am going through is waaay the fuck beyond me. I just happen to be profoundly sensitive. Cuz I don’t numb out like I used to.  (Although, I must confess that since becoming pregnant, I DO eat more sugar than I would in my ideal world. But God, first trimester is so brutal…. feeling repulsed by mostly EVERYTHING… eating ANYTHING is a miracle.  Both pregnancies, I have given myself over to the wild beast of my explicit fancies in the way of food. Which is so not my style in “real life”.)

 

Ahem.  Sensitivity.  Birth pains. Collective consciousness.  Crucifixion. Resurrection. Ascension. The shit is REAL, people!

 

I am meditating more, and luxuriating in the occasional, intentional lapses into holy sanity, between the ferocious rogue waves that are emotionally bitch slapping me about these days.  

The exquisite Gift of suffering is always an undeniable and urgent thirst for Truth.  Honestly, what could be better? (Besides sun-drenched, naked, MDMA pool parties with utterly gorgeous, deep souls, overlooking panoramic ocean cliffs, delighting in the presence of spouting whales and leaping dolphins frolicing below….)  OhmyGODDESS, I still have a sense of humor!!! I totally thought it was MIA forever.

 

My heart.  I wish you could feel the consuming longing inside me, to live fully surrendered to God’s Will.  And fuck, if the word “God” still frightens you, and triggers your gnarly, religious scars, let me put it another way…  I ache to be fully given, entirely consumed, and gloriously LIVED by the Oceanic Love that lives as ALL and Lights the World.  

 

Our Lady of God-Drunk Grace.

 

I always put that as my “company name”, when I order shit online.  My packages are delivered to:

 

Luminous Athena Grace

Our Lady of God-Drunk Grace

 

A few more gruesome and necessary crucifixions and I will mutha fucking ARRIVE!!!!

 

Hahahaha.  

 

May Liberated Infinite Love blaze within you today and always, my Beloved.  (Yes, YOU!)

Feeling for a new alignment

I lust to be a famous writer.  I do!!! But in reality, my drive to write is deeper than outcome.  I show up here because the fire Inside gives me no other option.  Without putting my heart, mind and BEing into words, life feels like racing tigers, melting into butter, sliding through my stupefied fingers.  And I can’t live with that.

I’m pregnant.  Sorry if I haven’t told you personally.  It’s really friggin early to go around singing it from the mountain tops.  I only conceived twenty three days ago. If I had any “sense”, I’d be quiet about it for a while, and just let my poppy seed-sized fetus gestate in blissful anonymity.  But gosh… then what would I write about? I have a burning need to cut to the heart of It All… And right now, this is the heart.

Was this a conscious choice?

Yes!  And… I was still broadsided by “The Call”.  (The soul whispered loud in me.)  My ego had other plans. Like always… Back in September, during our trip to the seaside, I was overtaken by deep and sudden urge to bring this strangely familiar, yet concealed by the veil, BEing into the world.  This strong feeling left me blinking and seeing neon, dancing stars. I was just getting “my life back”. Serena would start school in a matter of weeks. I would start a solid exercise routine.  And write my utterly fabulous memoir. Getting knocked up would be the Setback of the Century!

But my soul’s drive to create family body-slammed my career ambitions.  I guess that’s how the human race has made it this far… Imagining Serena as a big sister, I felt this to be essential for her.  Strange, because not too long ago, I couldn’t even fathom loving another human being as much as I love her. It didn’t compute. But by the Grace of God… now it does.  I was just minding my business… and suddenly my heart expanded. Neat!

Giordano and I both had “trauma” (Haha that word is so popular these days….) around bringing in our first child.  He separated with baby mama during her pregnancy, and she didn’t even tell him when she gave birth. He found out three days later.  This aches his heart… not to have been able to love his sun into the world. And now, the boy is mostly raised by the mama and her boyfriend.  Who have completely different lifestyle and values than Giordano does. Which is often painful for him….

For me, I can’t even believe I survived the heartache I went through during my pregnancy with Serena.  Her dad consciously impregnated me…. But then when she took root in my womb, he freaked and asked me if I was sure I wanted to keep her.  (Like, “Duh, Stupid!”) Then he had one foot out the door for the whole pregnancy. I barely saw him. I loved being pregnant. It was the most magical and beautiful nine months of my entire life perhaps.  Still, my heart bled profusely on a daily basis. Ed showed up for the birth. He held and exquisite masculine space for me. But then at 6am, he left us alone in the hospital, like a party that was over. It was just me and her.  For nearly three years.

I consider this a great blessing… mostly.  What fortune to have such an INTIMATE experience with a soul who is so cosmically dear to me.  Talk about some deeep karma. And it was hard as fuck. To be the breadwinner, the one always holding.  Rarely held. I still remember the epic-sized teardrops that spilled from my eyes in the first weeks after she was born.  Seriously. They were straight from a monsoon.

I’m digesting this painful life material at a deeper level as I enter this new pregnancy.  It sucks to carry it in my heart. I just want it all to burn off like sweet rose petals falling into the sun.  

When I shared with Giordano my sudden desire to conceive our child, he was an unwavering yes.  Like me, he had surface concerns and questions… but those paled in the light of raw desire and soul-knowing inside him.  And when we conceived, his joy was pure and naked as a child’s. This in itself was deeply healing for me.

So now, here I am, in my hella greeeeen pasture…. And still I ache!  Oh, blessed hormones. They are profound. And gorgeous in some way.  My bodhichitta heart is throbbing, full tilt. Anything and everything moves me to the core.  

I feel lonely a lot.  Except now… I’m never lonely when I write, because I love hanging out with myself in such a deep, intimate space. Communicating is orgasmic!  But just existing day to day… Gosh, it gets old not to have people around me physically, who feel like hOMe (Thank GOD for my smart-assed phone… My connection to some of the most exquisite people on the planet!).  But this has been the story of my life since I gave birth… I guess my soul is practicing some sort of potent, rigorous austerity. Like Saint Francis. I think about him, when I’m out walking sometimes… The mountains and bright, fluffy hillsides of Umbria have such a majestic Presence.  Which teases my majestic Presence to the surface. They speak. I feel awed to silence and riveted stillness.

Mamas out there?  I have a question for you… How do you integrate motherhood with all your other Selves, Dreams, Desires?   I see so many women “doing it all”… with such grace and mastery. Over here it looks like such a daunting journey.  To be and hold ALL OF IT. I don’t know what elements of my Self and Life to hold onto, fight for… and what to release into the honeyed sky of pure BEing.  Not that this inquiry is anything new for me. Haha. It just gets louder as I stand at the precipice of early motherhood once more.

I want to be so much more than just a Mom.  I want to be a Source of inspiration and endless faith in Love, for all the world.  I want to be a role model of courageous, unbridled authenticity. I want to dream new dreams and build new systems, informed by Unity Consciousness to evolve and transform this World.  I guess a huge part of my Desire can live through how I raise and educate my children (and how I hold and care for myself, as their mother). I feel fierce to hold space for them to develop and blossom in alignment with their essence and purpose, rather than sleeping at the wheel while society mashes and grinds them in confining boxes, just because I’m too lazy to take initiative.  This calling lives as a daunting responsibility in me. What I need to feel empowered in this domain is to be in conversation and co-creation with other parents who share this mission. The Lone Wolf archetype is a total ball krusher!

Anyway, I’m here inside myself, feeling for a new alignment.  And longing for masculine holding. And wondering if it’s just my lot in life to learn how to hold my own damn self.  Couldn’t hurt I guess.

But I’m happy.

Wedding Day part I: What We Wore

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On the eve of our Big Day, Giordano ravaged his closet for the most groomish combination he could muster.  In the way of pants, all he had (that was clean) was a profoundly casual pair of blue “trousers”. (Haha… Europeans!)  He sulked as he announced that they were “ruined”. I never figured out what he meant by that… but my hypothesis is that he was having some pre-game jitters, and eager to indulge in a steaming plate of saucy, Italian-style drama.  He put on a white button-down shirt that was suave enough (though he did toss in a token whimper about not having a flower to pin to his breast). It was the JACKET portion of the outfit that really krushed the ball.

 

All his sport coats looked laughable with his “ruined blue trousers”.  Two disparate worlds colliding. He was miserable as he tore through his entire, dusty wardrobe in search of the winning combination.  A tickled spectator, I sat on the couch marveling at this previously hidden facet of my darling Ball and Chain (wink). I had zero emotional investment in this scene of the Play.  Which infuriated him! He SO wanted me to care. He began to lash out. At one point he told me he hated me.

 

Some might argue for the undeniable wrongness of such an extreme, poisonous statement…

 

But I totally got it.  This unsightly voice of the wounded feminine has struck out in pain through me too many times to mention.  Awash with empathy, I made a concerted effort to shift gears from “being entertained” to “giving a shit”. When he discovered his navy blue wool sailor jacket* in the closet, peace fell upon us like a blanket of snow from the Heavens.  He ended up looking pretty damn sexy.

 

*A quintessential note on the jacket- Giordano bought it with me in Nevada City last year, from a super hip used clothing store called “Solstice”.  He fussed for a solid three minutes because the arms were too short, before finally committing to it. He donned it the foggy, early November morning, as he traipsed with a grave face and broken heart across my gravel driveway, laden with suitcases… toward the airport, and then home to Italy, doubting that we’d ever see each other again.  

 

I didn’t show Giordano my wedding outfit until we dressed that morning.  He called me “Rockstar”. Guilty as charged;) But the deeper cut, is that I was adorned in bittersweet memories of a life of love lost.  Not that love can ever be lost. But I sure have lost some lovers along this messy, fuckin impermanent Journey.

 

From my ears, hung gigantic, glittering black lightning bolts that my Ma bought me on one of our last outings “to Town”, before her death.  I wear them when I want to remember my true identity as an Unstoppable Cosmically Sourced Superheroine.

 

My dress, a teensy, white and black, form-fitting number that I found in a bag of used clothing passed along to me by the chic teachers at Serena’s school, days before.  I guess nothing too bitter about this… but certainly the sweentess of always being given what I need, in the mOMent that I need it. Oh and the sweetness of feeling fabulous in such a miniscule dress!

 

My slender, strong legs were adorned with my remaining pair of “Dead Dan Tights”.  Maybe you’ve been with me since 2012, and peered through the shattered window of Athena Graceland as I navigated the death of my Beloved Dan.  My first initiation in the realm of loss. Dan was my lover, best friend and number one fan. In april of 2012, he was kayaking alone near his home in Costa Rica.  Navigating especially wild waters, he was thrown from his kayak, smashed his head on rocks, clambered to shore, and inscribed a message to me in the dirt with his final breaths:

 

“LIVE A”.

 

Yes, Dan!…  Living I AM!

 

To soothe my thrashed heart, my friend Marty took me to a hip sock shop on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley and treated me to two exciting pairs of tights and two rad pairs of knee-high socks.  My leopard tights deteriorated… but the vibrant, blue lace pair are still going strong, and they made my wedding day cut!

 

What really made the outfit POP, was my Wonder Woman cowgirl boots.  I found them in a Western shop in Livermore, of all places. Ed (Serena’s Dad), took me there in the glorious spring of our romance, to buy me a pink cowgirl hat.   I swear, these boots pounced on me, and did not let me alone until they were MINE. All three hundred dollars of them. (Ed bought one, and I bought the other.) Like the earrings, they transport me to an elevated state of consciousness.  I become a version of myself that towers above the stratosphere and clearly rules the Yoniverse.

 

Recounting the sacred origins of my wedding day regalia, the tenderest rooms of my heart are flung wide open and I could easily crumple in an emotional heap and grieve the loss of Ones who mattered THE MOST and now seem so far.  The hella friendly ghosts of my crushingly blessed past. Ed is not dead yet. But I have not fully digested the agonies and the ecstasies he sparked in my soul. In fact, you should know that I just afforded myself the luxury of resting my face in my hands and letting loose deep, tearful cries.  I’m in a busy cafe. There’s a good chance nobody even noticed. People, myself included, are too busy being the center of their own damn universes. It’s incredible to be here… on this hella crowded dance floor, otherwise known as Earth.

 

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