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Birth Balance Blog

A series of topics related to preconception, pregnancy, labor, birth, bonding, and post partum issues. Feel free to make suggestions for future topics.

Archive for September, 2009

Requesting A Break – Part II

Monday, September 28th, 2009

I have learned from my visits over the years, pretty much everything in Cedar Rapids, Iowa is fairly close together. Post office, right up the street. Need to go get milk, oh, that’s about 7 minutes away. Visits to my father, not more than 15 minutes.

Lundy Pavilion

The drive to Mercy Care Center takes all but ten minutes, yet in the excruciating pain pulsating through my ankle and leg, I bite my lip and redirect my mind to more pleasant thoughts. It’s funny, what keeps going through my head is, “This is all in divine order. Nothing is out of place.”

“Well,” I blurt out. “At least I look fabulous to go to the emergency center.” I washed and curled my hair; great make up, power-jewelry on and fashionable black and white New York outfit.

Mary turns and squints her mouth as if to say, “Like we really care here!”

When Mary parks the van, I manage to peel my body off the seat and slide out of the van, dangling my bulbous left foot, laden with a ten pound cool pack and 9 inch wide, 4 foot long support wrap. I wonder what’s worse, the break or the concentrated bowling ball at the end of my foot.

Mary runs around the side of the van and produces the metal walking sticks. The crutches, oh yes, crutches. I think I missed that course in the school of life. Mary HAPPENS to have a couple of sets, because not only has she had the privilege to take the course, her twenty something sons have also engaged in class as well. Without missing a beat, Mary chimes in, “These will save you a good $100 off the bill.”

Great! I ponder, now how the hell do I use them? OK, under the armpits, up against the side of the body, hang on at the palm poles and balance. Crutches first, hop on right leg next, all seems easy enough. Man, the lymph nodes under my armpits are really being activated. How in the world am I going to do this for a number of weeks???

Mary sees the terror in my face, reads my mind, she says, “You can’t put the crutches right under your pits. Rest them along side the body and focus your weight bearing on your palms.”

OK then, here we go. Doors are held open for me. People look on with faces of concern and pity. Avoiding the glances, I look down, one step, literally, in front of itself until I reach a cushioned chair in the waiting area.

Mary rushes over to the registration window and I prop my foot up over an adjoining chair just to relieve the pressure. There is a big burly, red headed, bearded, Harley Davidson man right across from me, with his girlfriend or wife. They both look on with empathy.

As I settle into the chair and my body for the first time since the fall, I feel my nose begin to burn, eyes start to water and I blink back crocodile tears while I experience a tightening around a regressed five-year-old mouth. I want to cry out loud but there are too many people. (Actually compared to NYC, there is hardly anybody in this waiting room. But this point anyone beside myself feels like too much!)

I see out of the corner of my eye Mr. Harley Man gets up and saunters over to me. “Wow, man, what happened?” he asks sincerely as the sound of chain jingles in his pocket.

“Oh, I broke it,” I cordially reply, fighting back the tears, avoiding eye contact.

I regressed at that moment, to a comment made by one of my black students at a high school I was teaching at 30 years ago, “You can always tell when a white folks are going to cry or have been crying. Your nose and eyes get all pink and shit.” I was at the ‘pink and shit’ stage. This man’s true act of grace and heart felt kindness, burst my dam and humongous tears poured out of eyes, rushed down my cheeks and onto my sheik New York attire.

“Ah, man! You’re goona be all right! I’ve broken so many bones in my body. It hurts, but you’ll get better real fast, ” Mr. Harley says to me as his huge palm pats my timid shoulder.

I gaze up at him with the tears streaming down my cheeks and splashing onto my chest. “Thanks.” I timidly grin with a sort of embarrassed and genuinely grateful response.

My sister sits down next to me after completing the duties of registration board, credit card exchange and other logistical procedures; I can’t begin to wrap my head around. Now I know what it’s like to a hospital in labor and am asked a million questions in the midst of all that is happening.

The wait is relatively short. I look at my watch and keep saying to myself, “I am already on the plane, already in New York.” The emergency clinic is so clean. Definitely the Midwest!

A woman opens a door and calls my name. I hobble and hop past everyone else in the waiting area then down the hall into the examination room. My sister has been invited to come with me. Hey, I need someone to carry my stuff.

The nurse asks a number of questions about my allergies, how did the accident happen and then proceeds to take my blood pressure. Before she does the reading, I take a deep breath out and calm my nervous system. 113 over 73. Mary comments, “Not bad for someone who just broke their ankle!” I have resolved myself early on there is no room for fear, only trust.

Ok then, what’s next? Radiology. A very large woman comes waddling into the exam room and says, “Follow me.” I feel strong, I feel powerful with my metal appendages. I keep the tops of the crutches against my body and not nestled into my armpits. My strides are long and steady. I am going to make the plane on time. Maybe even with time to spare.

She leads me into a huge empty grey room except for a long cold table. Up I go onto the cold slab. The technician takes my crutches and places them as far away from me as possible. She rambles on about the weather, her knees, pain, difficulty walking and slowing down. I keep on breathing and seeing myself on the plane.

She asks me if I could be pregnant and I say, “It would have to be a miracle if I am, because I no longer menstruate and haven’t had sex in awhile.” Her mouth opens, then closes and a little smile arranges around her mouth. “Alrighty then,” the technician lays a heavy apron over my ovaries and exits the area.

A large camera hovers over my leg. She asks me to lay the leg this way, prop it that way, turn a little more this way. Done! Good, on the plane, on the plane. She teeters back and forth as she waddles over in pain to remove the metal covering from my privates.

“OK then, it will take about 2 and a half minutes for the x-rays to process. Hopefully this will work because there were funny sounds coming out of the machine before you got here and I hope we won’t have to do it again,” she says in a gleeful voice while exiting the area.

“Oh great! That’s all I need is to vibrationally mess up the machine! I see myself on the plane, I am in NYC by tonight.” I ponder quietly.

The long, cold table is fairly uncomfortable so I sit myself up on my elbows, listening to Ms. Techie on the phone talking about recipes for the Sunday picnic. I also hear the x-ray machine buzzing and whizzing away. Breathe out, on the plane, tonight, today, easily, effortlessly, focus on what it is I want, only what I want and desire.

The machine clicks off…I wait for the conversation on the phone to end. It continues for another minute, then two, three, four, five, six. I’m losing now. I wonder if I should scream out in a New York fashion, “ Yo! The pie is done. Dinger has dunged! Helloooooo! X-rays are awaiting us.” But I don’t scream it out loud. I scream it in my head.

Breathe out, on the plane, seven, eight minutes, more conversations about food, food, food. OK, this is it, no more Ms. Nice Guy…I sit on the edge of the table, that feels like it should be holding dead people and I scream at the top of my lungs, “GET OFF THE F—-PHONE!!!” (Only in my mind though.)

All of a sudden I hear, “Well then, we’ll see you all on Sunday, bye bye now.”

I blurt out, “I think the x-rays are done. I’m a bit on a time schedule, I do have a plane to catch you know.”

She responds, “Oh, they ARE finished aren’t they?”

“DUHHH,” I think to myself, yet I contain that thought.

“OK, you are in luck, these did turn out, there’s an odd line across them, but looks like all is well.” She cheerfully chimes in. “Are you traveling first class?”

What an odd question, I think. “Ah, no, but if this can get me first class, I’ll work on that.”

She looks at me rather strangely and then proceeds out the door. OK, here I am, trapped in the room that echoes. I can’t reach my crutches, I am not really sure where she’s going and I still don’t know if it is broken or not. I guess I wait for her go and come back. Hopefully, she will stay focused and go and come right back.

I decide to go in my mind and slow down time. I do this sometimes when I am in a cab, stuck in traffic, working on not being late for an appointment. It works, quite readily, in fact. I imagine Ms. Radiology moving, floating to her destination and back with efficiency and grace. Five, six, seven minutes later she comes into the room.

More to come….look for Part III

Requesting A Break – Part I

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Are you aware of how you create your life through the power behind your thoughts, emotions or words? The following is a first hand, rather first foot, experience that ‘woke me up’ to the next step, (no pun intended) in my personal and professional growth.

I just finished a two-week, annual vacation to the midwest to visit my family.  First stop, Minnesota. I embrace the challenges with my mother and her memory, giant crossword puzzles and visits with the grandchildren.  I revel in the joy of holding my 4 month old, great-nephew for the first time. I share in the excitement of my nephew and his wife’s enchanting new home. Myself, my sisters and sister-in-law, engage in a yearly ritual of ‘overnight with the girls.’ We cheat in a hysterical game of crocket, rummage through hundreds of pictures from the past and top it off with an evening of nothing but the best homemade midwest cuisine and conversation. The whirlwind week in Minnesota flies by in a blink.

My oldest sister, Mary, and I drive down to her home in Iowa.  My father lives in Iowa as well, in a nursing home where hospice visits him regularly.   As my father and I spend the week together, he goes through an ‘awakening’ process.  From our first visit, he transforms from, falling asleep in the middle of sentence, to eyes wide-open and non-stop conversation by the end of the week.  It’s amazing how love, personal touch, reading aloud, clipping fingernails, hair trimming and good ‘ole fashioned sunshine and fresh air, brings dad back into his body.  I spend my days, in the dream world where my father lives.  In the evenings, I share cherished conversations and moments with Mary.

I comment to my sister what a whirlwind 2 weeks it has been and I need a break before I get back to the rat race in NYC.  I just need a break, and any kind of a break. I can’t believe it, but Friday has come so quickly and I must head back to the Big Apple.

Around 11 am I begin to load my suitcases into my sister’s van. My flight takes off at 2:40 pm. There is plenty of time as I leisurely prepare for the all day trek to La Guardia Airport in NYC.  I strategically load my two smaller bags and my heavy computer suitcase around my shoulders.   I open the front door and second screen door with my right hand, bracing the doors with the right leg as I take a step onto the welcome mat leading with my left foot forward.  Out of nowhere, within a split second, I feel as if someone has vigorously pushed me from behind out through the door, as I yell out loud to myself, “What the hell?”

I forcibly land on my left foot. It collapses inward at the ankle and I hear a  dry, loud CRACK!  Searing pain shoots up my leg, everything I am carrying  goes flying onto the steps  and I pound the pavement with the left side of  my body. I spontaneously curl up in a ball, in sheer, primal survival mode,  grasping my left ankle with both hands screaming, “f—!”

Within seconds, my mind goes from, a 10 second ‘pity party’,  tears welling up in my eyes, going out of my body and into the victim role: “Why did this happen to me? I have a birth waiting for me when I get back to NYC!!! OMG what am I going to do????!” I pout.

Suddenly, I am back in my body, level headed and able to see the greater picture, “You know EXACTLY why this happened!  So get over it and move forward.” Ok then, I will have to check back with that later I remind myself.

I wonder if it’s broken or if I have torn ligaments or tendons?  Within seconds, I deduce, based on the sound, feeling and pain, it’s probably fractured.

I scream for my sister to come to my aid, “Mary, I just broke my ankle!!”

She screams from the kitchen, “WHAT???” I hear her running toward the front entryway, “What happened?”

“You are never going to believe me!” I shoot back in pain.

“What?” She impatiently asks.

“I felt like someone pushed me through the doorway and I landed on my left foot and it broke!” I honestly reported.

“Judith, there’s NOBODY else here.” She looks at me suspiciously.

“I know. I told you, you wouldn’t believe me.” I respond.

She rolls her eyes. I get this is not the time or place to discuss the ‘deeper’ more mysterious circumstances surrounding the accident.

The nurse practitioner in my sister, asks me to remove my hands so she can look at my ankle. I scream back at her like a mother protecting her cub, “NO! I have to keep my ankle supported.”

I immediately gather myself, looking at the watch on my right  wrist and say, “OK, it’s 11 am and my flight takes off at 2:40  pm. I need to get someplace to get an x-ray and be seen by a  doctor. I don’t have insurance, so what is this going to cost  me, ball park?”

Mary looks at me in disbelief. (I’m not sure if it’s the ‘I don’t  have insurance’ comment or the fact I have switched gears so  quickly that gave her a startled response.)

“Well, it could be as much as $1000. Can you afford that?”  Mary’s being very logical.

“At this point, I can afford whatever.” I respond in total trust,  because there is no room for fear.

“OK, the two options are, going to the emergency clinic at the hospital which will probably by about a grand, or there is another clinic, but I am not sure if they have an x-ray machine. I will have to call.” Mary kicks into gear.

“OK, go make the call and bring ice.” I yell after her as she runs back toward the kitchen.

Still curled up in a small ball on my left side, I close my eyes and I talk to God,

“OK, I need a sign to let me know if this is broken or I have extensive ligament and tend on damage.” I take a breath out, wait for a feeling, open my eyes and without missing a beat, the first thing I see is one of the 10 bangle bracelets on left wrist.  It’s broken, and there is a wire sticking straight up, with a number of  turquoise beads neatly lined up in a row. “Ah ha! It’s a clean break.”  I am pleased to have received a response.

At that moment, Mary comes back with, “You are in luck. The clinic outside the hospital has an x-ray machine. They can see you right away and it will be MUCH less expensive than the emergency room at the Hospital.”

“Great!” I am relieved. “Mary, I know it’s a clean break.” I confidently diagnose.

“How do you know that?” Mary responds surprised.

I nod to my left wrist, sticking the broken bangle out as far as I can, still grasping onto the left ankle and extending my  body forward.  “See?”

“What? Where?” She looks up and down my body questioningly.

“Right there, on my wrist…the broken bangle!” I shove the wrist even further towards her.

“Ah, Judith, you ARE going to have to have an x-ray to confirm your break,” She starts to laugh and shakes her head.

Mary removes my broken bangle. Very nurse-like, she wraps the ankle in a huge ice pack with a wide adhesive bandage.  Ahhhh, the cold relieves the pain.

Mary loads the rest of the luggage into the van and hunts for  spare crutches in the basement. I duck walk toward the  van; on my butt, hands and right leg weight bearing, as the  left leg extends out.  (Good thing I  spent the last two weeks  of my vacation working out, building muscle, and  healthy tissues to help buffer this accident.)

Mary comes outside to see me performing my cal-esthetics and says, “Judith, what in the world are you doing?”

“I’m getting to the van. You are loading things up, so I thought I’d get myself there.” I respond logically.

“Well, sheez, let me help you up.” Mary leans down to assist me to stand upright and hop to the van.

As I sit in the front seat, leg elevated, patiently waiting for Mary to lock up the house and drive me to the emergency care center I reflect about the experience. It’s as if this incident is designed to help me remember I’m not in control and that a deeper design is trying to emerge into my consciousness by putting my ego-mind (judgment, criticism, victimization, etc.) in the back seat for a time.

Mary joins me in the van, grasps onto the wheel, darts back forth through traffic as she emphatically suggests, “You know Judith, you HAVE to put this in your book!”

Now I roll my eyes.

Stay tuned for Part II …

Awakened Birth – You Are Already There

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

This is it! This is the time to be alive. To REALLY be alive. We are potentials of unlimited powers, capacities to love, serve, share and support ourselves and each other during this new and revolutionary time in our history.

As the world becomes Awakened,  new paradigms in childbirth are emerging: Awakened Birth, Dreambirth Imagery, Calm Birth, Birthing From Within, Birth As We Know It, Gentle Birth Choices, reflect  powerful body/mind paradigms. New words such as, sustained energy, green, recycle have become common phrases in our every day lives and media. There are breakthroughs in medicine, science, ecology and technology. What we think, feel and consume affects the whole, individually and globally.

People ARE becoming more awake and aware. In the past three years, the films; “Orgasmic Birth”, “The Business of Being Born,”  “Pregnant In America,” have flooded the market, waking people up to choices and knowledge. For our sheer enjoyment, “BABIES,” a visually stunning documentary follows four babies around the world from their gestation, first breath to first step.

“The Secret-Law of Attraction,” or “What the Bleep,” have opened the doors encouraging awareness as to how we live our lives today. Dr. Oz, Oprah’s physician, Dr. Phil,  Oprah’s OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network debut 1/2011) has brought television to another level through it’s ‘mastery classes,’ Oz educates and inspires people to become more aware of their bodies as their  best healers. Preventative medicine is the ticket to a healthier you.

In 2008, Echart Tolle and Oprah Winfrey shared the largest internet class to date, covering 10 chapters in Tolle’s book: “A New Earth-Awakening To Your Life’s Purpose.” The enrollment for the first week was so large, the systems crashed. By the end of the 10th week numbers reached as high as 8 million people!

Futurist and evolutionary Mother of the planet, Barbara Marx Hubbard, develops tools for visions of a Universal Humanity.  She is a leader on the growing edge of the women’s movement, supporting the emergence of the Evolutionary Woman the Feminine Co-creator who is calling for the next level of creativity and partnership between women and men to guide our world through our current challenges and opportunities.

“Consciousness” raising websites, inspirational films and you tube presentations are popping up all over. Even reality shows are presenting people processing their lives right in front of millions. It’s not going to stop. It’s just going to become more.

To become a 21st century teacher to yourself, your baby, in and out of your womb and to those around you, Awakened Birth, guides you how to be an inspirational role model, by living a life of purpose, clarity, joy, integrity, trust, fulfillment, aliveness and connection.

What got me started on my ‘awakened’ path was an editorial a few years ago in Mothering Magazine, by Peggy O’Mara. The words at the top of the page screamed out, “WAKE UP! Women in birth WAKE UP!!! I didn’t initially understand what she meant by the words but my body felt a sense of urgency and truth with them.

The synchronicity of the editorial and my life took on a new meaning. I noticed the women I was working with at the time seemed to have ‘fallen asleep.’ The emails on my yahoo groups supported my similar  observations. Women give their power over to medical caregivers, birth caregivers, machines and drugs. I wondered where their sense of connection and communication with their bodies and babies went? When I would talk about the ‘biology of birth,’ eyes would glass over in classes. Women WANTED to drop down into biology and attempt a natural childbirth and/or breastfeed, but when push came to shove, literally, something happened. They went ‘asleep’. They shut down. Exhaustion and fear became the dominant emotions, mindset and body breakdown. I realize we are at a critical mass,  a tipping point in childbirth.

When I first started in 1987, vaginal breech births were being done routinely in hospitals. Labor doulas were not a common addition in the room, yet there was an interest and welcome by the medical staff for the ‘extra help’ for the mother and her partner. A woman was given an IV only if she medically needed one. Women were allowed to walk around much more during labor. Group b strep tests and early admissions were not routinely administered. Cesareans and episiotomies were used only when medically necessary. Women were not induced regularly for low amniotic fluids and or big babies. I attended the first ‘walking epidural’ at Roosevelt Hospital. The Doctor who invented the procedure administered it and the woman actually walked through most of her laborIt was amazing. Yet, times have changed.

It’s 2011, the scales have tipped and we are in a state of critical mass. Generations are being drugged, cut, strapped to machines and gurneys and losing all sense and connection with their hormonal potentials, their babies and bodies. Fear has become the dominant driving force in childbirth. I am not only experiencing this in hospital births but also in birth center births and home births. While I advocate a woman to choose the place she feels safe and supported, it is important whatever the choice, ask questions up front, make sure your needs are being met and nothing is done to you without your knowledge and or permission.

So why ‘Awakened’? Why not Awake, or Awaken or Awakening Birth? The choice of ‘awake’ is a state of doing on the physical plane. ‘Awaken’ is a state of unfolding to a potential. ‘Awakening’ is a process of trying and trying to get there and not necessarily succeeding.

AWAKENED is state of already ‘being there.’ Awakened Birth is remembering what we have forgotten; our bodies know how, our babies know how, without even thinking about it. All the necessary tools, insights, possibilities, potentials and hormonal pharmaceuticals are inside each woman, man, child, waiting patiently to be accessed, remembered and given permission to be released.

What happens when you’re ‘awake’ in life? Actions, words, thoughts, feelings, colors, sounds, smells and experiences are brighter, stronger, clearer and flow more readily. There is no ego involved. There is a sense of connection with Source, guiding, assisting and participating in the miracles of life. ‘Awake’ can happen when you are awake during your day and also when you are sleeping at night. Remember the last time you awoke from a dream with a desire, passion or message to do something, call someone or create something? When you are sleeping, your dreams can potentially become ‘lucid’; you are aware of what you are dreaming and able to SHIFT the actions in your sleep state or receive important information.This is also an example of being awake.

When you’re ‘asleep’ in your day and night time, you may be restless, confused, hyper, worried, doubtful and fearful. You are disconnected with Source and your ego is the driving force behind all your words, thoughts, feelings and actions. The intention behind your action could be judgement, criticizism, to defend, which is really attacking self, or having an attachment to a person, idea or thing. Eckhart Tolle, author of, “The Power of Now,” calls this behavior our “pain body.” Debbie Ford, author and seminar leader, calls this “The Shadow Process.” Nightmares keep one stuck in this experience of resistance. Carolyn Myss, medical intuitive, calls it the ‘wounded soul.’

When women ovulate or are pregnant, their senses become more acute. Everything is exaggerated. (Sometimes pleasantly and some times not so pleasantly.) The intuitive senses are triggered like a fine tuned antennae waiting to receive, and transmit information. Day dreams, intuitive sensations, night dreams are vital. They are pathways of reception and avenues of clarity. Abraham Hicks says everything is vibrational energy and all we need to do is, “tune in, tap in and turn on.”

How do you know if you are ‘awake’ or ‘asleep’? Most people are not able to access what they are feeling.  Many are more in touch with their thoughts and your body never lies. Your physical body will let you know. It is the grossest, densest of the bodies and the last to receive information.

The first step is to breathe out. What are you feeling emotionally? Good or bad?  Check what you body feels like: comfortable, light, easy flowing or painful, uncomfortable, heavy and blocked. Check your mind. What are you thinking? Are you judging or  surrendering? Feelings are indicators and thoughts are the power behind those feelings. Thoughts are triggered by heart felt feelings and emotions. Are you angry or trusting? Moment to moment, staying present and aware of what is happening in your emotions, physical body and mind is the FIRST step toward being Awakened. Small baby steps will bring rise to giant, consistent reminders of your Awakenedness.

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