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.

 

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Savoring my existential knots.

Fever-stricken girl

And dreaming cat beside me

As I ache and type

 

The blog I wrote on this day last year popped up as a facebook memory this morning.  Curious to recall my reality exactly one year ago, I read it. Ingeniously, it began with a “portrait of the moment” haiku.  It was fun to read, so I thought I’d give it another go.

 

Yeah, a shadow has swept across my inner scapes today.  Not unusual. I’ve been in a particularly bipolar experience these days.  One day, deep, dark despair, the next, a respite of inexplicable ecstasy, back to darkness, and then a few consecutive days of muted, lackluster peace.  I’m not bipolar, for the record. Just deeply sensitive. And in some sort of baffling growth period.

 

Serena is sleeping on the couch beside me.  She has a juicy fever. Her first in a long time.  The bug is rampant right now. My immune system is putting up a noble fight.  But I feel wiped out.

 

I didn’t come to the page with a burning agenda…. Other than to get naked and express myself.  Because it has been too long. It is a daily challenge to jam all my priorities and passions into a grain of rice and then thread it through the eye of a needle.  Lately, most mornings I give to toaist energy cultivation practices I am learning in an online course. Given the difficulty of my inner landscapes these days, I need to be reSourced.  Great medicine for me. I have also been meditating more.

 

I gave up meditation after a steady practice for about ten years… because I felt like I was approaching the practice from my spiritual ego, and not getting much out of it anymore.  I just felt hella cool to be a “meditator”. It was a relief to let go of that. Soon after, I got pregnant with Serena, and then I lost the luxury of lavish, lengthy sadhanas in the morning.  Meditation lurked in the shadows of exile. But lately, I can’t deny my need for frequent doses of stillness. Mini vacations from the riveting identification with the endless stream of personalities and circumstances and struggles otherwise known as Life.  Ahhhhh. Nutrient dense shit.

 

Speaking of personalities and circumstances and struggles (OH MY!), here is the current existential knot I am attempting to tease apart:  I have been living in an increasingly constricted state of closure, married to Giordano. I don’t feel emotionally safe to be open. He occurs for me as very inconsistent.  Emotionally unstable. He is living under an insurmountable pile of responsibilities and burdens, and struggles to manage his stress. (God bless him. Seriously.) I rarely feel heard or received by him when I share.  Being heard is a massive need for me and it feels terrible when, all too often, my thoughts and words, desires and feelings are sucked into a black hole. In order to not feel said terrible feeling over and over and over again, I just close up.  Blah.

 

Living in this state of closure sucks rotten ass.  It feels so foreign to me. I value openness and expansive, fluid self expression.  It’s so easy to justify my closure. It seems natural in the face of having a husband who struggles with Presence, listening and inner stability.  One who does not know how to interact such that another feels “gotten”, “received”, “heard”. (Poor guy… he was never given the grace of feeling gotten, received, heard as a child.  His parents were too busy fighting with one another. So it’s just not in his wiring. He’s trying. I admire that.)

 

I’m typing all this, and it sounds utterly ridiculous.  Like how in Fuck’s Holy Name did I wind up MARRIED to this dude???  Folks, now we are peering into the belly of the beast. The sheer and utter Mystery of Existence.  Giordano and I are strong magnets that have no choice but to smush together. I’ve never felt anything quite like it; so simultaneously essential and despicable. I can only imagine that this is the freshly sharpened knife of karma.  And I’m learning to stop trying to make “sense” of it… and just be humble and gracious as I live it out.

 

But I want to live OPEN.  I want to be unconditionally free in my heart.  And filled to overflowing with Heaven’s sumptuous love-light, so that I am a benevolent outpouring of it under any and all circumstances.  

 

I’m guessing that my wise and fearless soul set out to cultivate my own inner stability to such a degree, that NOTHING and no ONE on the outside could EVER threaten it.  So I found “Mister Right”- someone who cannot save me (though to his credit, he really WANTS to!), cannot hold me the way I yearn to be held. Someone perfectly flawed. And profusely devoted.  Someone who holds on so fucking tight, that it is impossible for me to pull my all-too-familiar knee-jerk bolt at the first sign of discomfort.

 

Anyway, part of this knot, it seems, is a fear in me of being so fully committed to.  Am I afraid of being deeply loved by a man? Because it’s foreign to my wiring?… Do I obsess over the small stuff as a protection mechanism?  A strategy to hold on to my small self?

 

Probably yes.

 

But it’s a knot, because the “small stuff” gets all smeared in with the “big stuff”, and the relationship becomes this imperceptible soupy blob.  I don’t know what is real, or when to give it the fuck up, and when to hold on as an act of self preservation. Probably better to err on the side of giving it the fuck up.  Like one of my life-long idols, the Landmark Wisdom Course leader, Joan Bordow once said, (when giving advice to a woman friend on the eve of her wedding) “The person who lets go of being right first, wins.”  Sounds so simple.

 

But it doesn’t feel like it from the inside.  Well… in certain, select moments it does… but overall… I feel to be in an unruly tangle.  I guess this is why people have therapists. We are all knotted up in our survival strategies, expectations, fears, projections, blah, blah, blah.  

 

I’m glad to be living inside this question.  And not in a rush to figure it out. Just looking deep within, making myself available to growth and revelation, and acknowledging my deep desire to live as Openness.

 

Ahhh, it feels so good to get this shit out on the page.  Blessed BE the sacred alchemy of the written word.

 

May you savor your tangles and twists like the finest wine….

 

Love,

Athena

On Romantic Love and Partnership

Who needs earthquakes, when the tectonic plates in my very BEing are making their own dramatic shifts?!

Back in January, I remember the feeling of self-satisfaction as I unabashedly spoke my birthday wish aloud to my circle of luminous-hearted women– to “create my own wealth and success and never need a man to save me again”…

Or something like that.

And now, six more moons of sand in the hour glass, and I don’t even recognize the woman who sang such a wish.  The world inside me has been destroyed and reborn… a few times over.

As I mentioned before, when I got to the Bay Area, I was *lovingly* pummeled by the reality that this is NOT a place for a single mom of a two year old.  At least if she actually wants to BE with her two year old.

A couple of weeks ago, I stood still at an OVERT fork in the road.  One Path was sensual massage– this was the way of the woman who “does not need a man”.  A woman who is fiercely committed to doing it alone. An activism against the engulfing swampish mess of fairytale fantasies she was indoctrinated with, since forever.  

The other Path was a winged leap of faith to the romantic land of Italy, where lives a man who deeply loves said woman and her daughter and wishes to help and support Her as she builds her dreams and lives her LOVE for the wellbeing of ALL.  

The best choice seems obvious from here.

But from the perspective of the woman who made a birthday wish for sovereignty and independence… turning to a man for support appeared weak.  

I chose that “weak” Path.

In a flash came a call from the goddess Dianne- diehard Athena Grace fan from Australia- to tell me that my choice was POWERFUL.  That opening my heart to the love and devotion of a Partner is something I deeply deserve.

All the ingredients that Life has tossed in my pot, has incited some serious soul searching and reconfiguring.  Pure Alchemy.

From my vantage point in THIS now, I see that my fierce stand for independence was a reaction to my early wounding.  Abandonment by my father. And especially the ensuing *crippling* experience of codependency in Relationship. Anybody who is working to untangle from codependency KNOWS how fuckin sucky the shit is.  

And yet… the longing for Partnership still sings from the depths of my soul.  

I want you to hear and feel the powerful experience that it was for me to sit with these choices in the silence and stillness of my very own soul.  And the healing of feeling my deepest desires and knowing emerge from my guts… beyond the concepts that I had cocooned myself in to protect me from the pain of not being chosen.  Not being fully met. Being seared in the fires of sacred disappointment.

No.  I do not want to sell my sexual energy for hella pretty pennies and call it “empowerment”.  I want to plug it into a contained space of boundless intimacy and devotion. I want to die and be born in the fire of sacred surrender and intimate communion with ONE entirely committed, delicious Man.  

AND I don’t want to get pulled out by a riptide of unconscious, habitual behavior, into the violent waters of codependence.  

Enough drowning.  This bitch can SWIM.

So I sit in the question of “How do I do this differently?”

Life has shown me that the nuclear family model is a booby trap unto itself.  At least for a Visionary Trailblazing System Buster such as Yours Truly.

And yet, I long for the intimate containment of One Beloved.

My dear friend Quynh has helped me to realize the possibility of abiding in a more porous container.  Where Partnership is able to breathe and swirl with a “village of Lovers”. (and when I say “lovers”, I do not mean “people that I have sex with”… I mean people with whom I share love and intimacy.  And when I say “intimacy”, I mean SEEING and BEING SEEN in and as The Depths.)

I WANT TO DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY THAN I HAVE IN THE PAST.

In the past, in my Relationships with a capital R, I have been lay-zay.  I have opiated myself with the insulated comfort of having a built-in source of connection… at the expense of my other friendships.  I have used our little nesting box as a place to hide. In time, I become so stifled by the confines of my self-imposed cage, that the *seeming* only solution is to smash it and walk away.  

What will it take to generate the deep fulfillment that I long for in Relationship?

Two things light up inside me when I ask this essential question:

#1~ Keeping the relationship porous to community.  ONE PERSON CAN NOT BE EVERYTHING FOR ANOTHER. It takes a village to nourish an individual.  This eliminates the crippling, mountainous load of half-blind expectations that we tend to pile on our Partner.  (Should I speak for myself??? Nah. I am speaking to the Collective. This is some deep programming, and although it is deeply personal to my Path, it is NOT “MINE”.  I am only experiencing it in order to help bust the system.)

#2~ Higher Purpose/Co-creation.  Devoting a Relationship to a higher purpose gives the immensity of love cultivated somewhere to plug in and FLOW.  Otherwise it gets pent up and stagnant. And BORING. I am here to invoke and awaken Heaven on Earth. A world infused and informed by/with Unity Consciousness.  This separation, scarcity, survival, fear, isolation shit is overrated.

There is definitely more to it than this… like cultivating trust, consistent deep sex as a spiritual practice, daily truth telling and deeep listening…

God I want to to succeed and master the art of Intimate Partnership.  It is a lifelong endeavor. I am alight with dancing passion as I embark on this next chapter of learning, sharing and sacred exploration.  

Stay tuned.

And please share~ What are your secrets of success in the realm of Relationship?  Where do you get stuck? What are your deepest Desires? Don’t be stingy with your Wisdom and your Longing.  That’s so nineteen eighty nine.