This is part two of a story from a friend/client, Blue, who is healing from a home-birth Cesarean transfer, and the subsequent postpartum depression happenin’ right here in Houston, Texas. And my girl Blue is super creative, so I totally wasn’t surprised when she designed two healing rituals to help her access and then process the emotions that felt trapped in her body. And I wanna say right here, We had people facilitate the second ritual who knew what they were doing, it’s not like we just grabbed some clothesline and went at it. Blue’s Story: Not sure where exactly to begin. I apologize if my words are a wee bit jumbled or repetitive because I’m still feeling the high from yesterday. For those of you that are just now, or recently joined me on my path toward healing, I can shed some background. In a nutshell. I’ve been on a journey the past eight months, trying to find some healing and closure from Rocco’s birth. I was a birth worker for years before I got pregnant. A birth photographer. I’ve watched women time and time again squat in their living rooms, or roar in a birth pool, and bring their babies earth side with their own hands. I was around birth frequently. I adored it. The energy around birth was intoxicating. Each one was a gift to be a part of. I have watched many women scared of pain and full of fear, birth gracefully and naturally. I thought someone like myself, who doesn’t really fear pain, actually has a very high tolerance for it, and someone so familiar with the natural process, would have a more manageable labor and birth than the average Joe. Whenever people would say, “OHHHH a homebirth!?” my response was always “god willing.” I knew birth was out of my hands. Birth has a spirit and power of its own. There’s so many factors involved and I knew it would be selfish or stupid to think yes, I just know for a fact my baby will be born in the safety of my bedroom at home. So, long story short, I was a homebirth transfer and ended in a c-section. I labored for 19 hours at home. My body started showing signs of infection. I got up to 9cm at home, but my body began fighting itself. By the time I was admitted to the hospital, I was back down to a 6/7cm I think. I just remember, laboring in my drive way, getting in the car for the hospital, thinking that my whole pregnancy I knew this could have ended up happening. But still, it was a slap in the face. A punch in the gut. A bucket of ice water on you. Nothing could have prepared me to flush my dream birth down the drains. The birth I fantasized and prepared for for years before I even got pregnant. I cant put into words, that feeling. I was THAT fluke birth that everything just went wrong. I was THAT statistic. I was a WRECK after Rocco’s birth. Having the loss of my home birth, recovering from surgery, having breastfeeding and latch issues. I was a mess. I’m infinitely grateful for my tribe who stepped in and raised me up in one of the darkest times of my life. In the blur of having a newborn, we decided to sell the house. I knew I wanted to have a Rebirth ceremony in the house before we moved. My rebirth ceremony was beautiful. We set up the birth pool in my room where I wanted Rocco to be born. My birth flags were around me. Surrounded by people I loved. We “baptized” him and I read some things that were from my heart. I’m so thankful to have that experience. I also ordered a “Homebirth Cesarean” book and workbook to help “speed up” emotional and spiritual recovery. I just felt an urgency almost in finding some closure. I kept reading about women who decades later didn’t find closure and the thought of that scared me. I couldn’t keep living with this open spiritual wound. During the few weeks that followed the birth, someone suggested perhaps doing a suspension ceremony to find some healing (I think my doula Rowan suggested it). The more I began to think about that, the more right it felt. My fears around suspension were similar to my fears around birth. Fear of the pain. Fear of the unknown. Fear of failure. Transcending this realm. I felt like if I could go through with it, I would be proving to myself that if my birth had gone as “planned,” that I could’ve handled it. Conquered it.***The day before the suspension, I was a wreck. Thinking about the birth all day. Looking at photos and focusing on my feelings. I set up everything to interview myself to make a video for everyone explaining all this but the words just never came. The morning of, I was very tranquil. At peace. I realized that if I in fact failed at this, that I cant imagine anything else bringing me closure except time. And I needed to accept that. I enjoyed braiding my hair that morning. I felt like it connected me with the woman birthing on The Farm in the 60s and 70s or the women warriors braiding their hair before battle. The little Indian girls I’ve held hands with on the other side of the world. Or the native American woman I’ve learned about in anthropology class. I just felt connected to all women across the globe and through time just like I had felt while in labor. My suspension didn’t go exactly like how I envisioned it with a giant circle of flower garland beneath me. Wearing a floral crown. Having the earth, fire, and water aspects in my space like in my rebirth ceremony. I fluidly went with what felt right as it happened. I made a circle of rose quartz in my space. I read my birth affirmation cards. I listened to music I had playing at my birth that I haven’t listened to since because it was triggering. I wore the oils I had diffusing while I was in labor. I felt hyper-aware. Almost like I had ingested psilocybin. I could see and feel every detail but it was all like a warm slow breath or a soft blanket wrapped around me too. Everything just felt right. Getting the piercings wasn’t bad. It was uncomfortable but not near as bad as I expected. Not a fraction even. After the first hook was placed, I began to feel warm and fuzzy all over. After the second hook was placed I became light headed and a little loopy. A glucose tab worked wonders and I was totally fine after that. The sting never went away after the piercings. Once I was rigged up, the burn in my hooks became more intense. No one had warned me about this part. The BURN. I HATE the burning sensation. I hadn’t even gotten off the ground yet. Just little tugs and pulls as I tried walking around in my space. I immediately felt cheated. Why didn’t anyone warn me about this part? It reminded me of the unexpected things that happened in pregnancy, birth, and post partum that were shitty and no one warned me about. I began making groans. Moans. Squeals. Yells. Grunts. Laughter. Getting in a primal headspace and fighting the insatiable burn in my back. Intense pressure and burn. Wait a minute, “burn.” “The ring of fire.” When women birth naturally, some talk about the ring of fire. The ring of fire I never got to feel. The opportunity that I was never granted. This is what I wanted! From that point on, the burn was a gift. I welcomed the pain. I was grateful. I swirled around and around, my feet slowly leaving the ground. As my feet lifted up, my eyes closed. All I could hear were the cries of joy, laughter, and love around me as I felt myself rise up. The sun shining on my face. The wind blowing in my hair. Still, with my eyes closed. Swaying. I transcended. I had conquered my fears. I had overcome the pain. I had won. I’m not sure how long my eyes were closed. Seconds or minutes. I have no clue. I was swirling in a vortex of pleasure and pain and peace. I finally opened my eyes and was welcomed by five smiling faces below me and the most beautiful trees shedding their leaves in the wind. I was hoisted really high to enjoy the view. It was beautiful. And empowering. After a few moments I came back down so I could gather the red rose petals I had brought to release.I wanted to release them from my c-section scar. I saw the red petals as blood. I saw the blood leaving me as the pain and turmoil I’ve battled since the day Rocco arrived earthside. The self-hate I’ve harbored for failing myself with his birth. All the darkness, leaving my body. The rose petals, were my favorite part. Watching them fall below me. The velvety circles gleaming in the streams of sunlight beneath my feet in fluttery wisps. It was just magical. I felt my heart and spirit just open wide up. I felt the earth and life just welcome me back down to ground. I’m so glad I snagged a few photos on my phone while I was still up in the air. My favorite is the one with my tribe below me. All looking up. The red petals at their feet. You can see how proud they are of me. You can see that they knew how much this meant to me. And that they love me. Deeply. Reflecting on all the events today, I’m still riding the high. I feel so much happiness. I feel SO MUCH closure. SO MUCH PEACE. THIS IS WHAT HEALING LOOKS LIKE. Thanks for being part of this crazy journey.
I had the honor to be at a birth last spring and it was one of those painful as fuck types to watch, because mama was working so hard and it was an epically painful back labor, and also because I knew a transfer (and possibly a surgical birth) was going to really throw her for a loop. LOOP. Like a Loop of doom. Ugh.
So afterwards, this creative and innovative lady created healing rituals to let the pressure out of all these bottled emotions. The first was a Rebirth Ceremony, and if you think stuff like this doesn’t help, I’d invite you to pop over and give this talk about how the brain works a listen. Or a read.
Anyway, this is what it looks like in pictures, and letters to herself. Thank you Blue for sharing this journey with me. And you, gentle reader.
Letter to herself:
Dear Body, I pray that some day I will learn to trust you again. I still don’t understand why things happened the way they did. Why I was in so much pain from the beginning. Why I felt to push when I wasn’t ready. Why my baby was in distress in the only thing that felt right in my labor. Why I felt that you failed me. But then I remember that for nine months, you grew the most perfect baby. That we were both healthy. That you’ve healed beautifully after a major surgery. And although it may be little, you are providing nourishment to my son. I understand I may never have answers to my questions, but I hope that some day I may find not only closure, but peace. And I hope that peace brings trust. Enough trust to some day let you lead me through a natural birth.