After many months of trying to connect with each other, Doula and I have made a weekly appointment to start to move forward with my birth history healing. Good thing too because we are creeping up on 18 months postpartum. Where did the time go!
I've had quite a few downs: weight gain, physical pain, crisis of faith, extreme fatigue, depression... But a voice inside my head told me I HAD to talk to to Doula and get my soul squared away. I was spurred on by Curandera, who has FINALLY gotten me to a point where the physical pain from my second cesarean wasn't constantly in the forefront. (I have a lot of surgical adhesions that were wreaking havoc on my bladder and groin muscles. Months of castor oil packs and Arvigo massage were finally making daily life manageable.
Doula and I sat down last Tuesday to make a manageable plan to work through my birth trauma (only Lollipop's). I felt like I was in a better place to start this journey since I wasn't in physical pain daily. She had said that traditionally, when working through a birth trauma, we repeat the story to ourselves and others in a "start to finish" fashion, and as time goes on these words become sort of like facts to use and become ingrained in our psyche. For example, at first I was making great progress, then the doctor told me that there is something wrong with my pelvis since my babies never descended. What our mind remembers is "Something is wrong with ME, my babies NEVER descend." So we are going to explore another way of retelling the birth story. I'm not exactly sure how it will go, but I am trying to be open-minding because anything is better than feeling broken and defeated about your own body.
My first homework assignment was to read the story of Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth. You can read about it at the link, I am not going to retell it all here. Basically, Inanna story is supposed to parallel the breaking down and rebuilding of a woman in birth. How she must strip herself of worldly things to become reborn again as a mother. Doula asked me to read this and we plan to discuss the parallels. I promise I read the story with an open mind, but I am having a hard time making the leap from a goddess descending essentially into hell and being resurrected as a good metaphor for birth. I just couldn't make the connection. However, the passage did get me thinking about the great feminine, meaning the power of femininity.
Ok maybe not so much the power of femininity, but rather the LACK of power of femininity. In our culture, women are not seen as powerful and are encouraged NOT to be so. Despite trying to be a good feminist, I am still bound by cultural constraints and it is hard to shake them. We are not to cry at work, we must shuck our maternal demands for a career, etc. etc.
It didn't occur to me until I was smack dab in the middle of a Zumba class of all places that it hit me how out of touch I was with my femininity. A friend had dragged me there, and I had told myself I was avoiding it because I hated loud music and people yelling. "Can we just work out and get it over with. There's no need for all this shouting and clapping nonsense." I was surrounded by so many women, of all shapes and sizes, so in touch with their bodies. Shaking their hips and their breasts, manes flying wildly to the beat. I felt so out of touch, I couldn't even make it 20 minutes in the class before I had to leave. I told my friend it was too intense, made a fat joke, and retreated to the gym's track. She came up 5 minutes later to see me crying in embarrassment. I let her believe I was so embarrassed about my lack of coordination, and how I was "just too white" to be shaking my chest and hips like the latin diva instructor. The truth is I am out of touch with my body. I am ashamed of it. I don't feel sexy (I'm curvy and not in the culturally appropriate way), I feel fat and disgusting. I don't want to be seen in anything that accents my figure. Sweat pants and floppy nursing top. And one could argue that it is unrealistic cultural demands that are working against me, but it's really just me hating myself. I have been bumping "feminine social norms" a long time without being bothered, I never wore make-up, I used to be a firefighter, I felt totally in touch and strong and feminine then, I mean come on. But something has happened to me that has turned me away from the great feminine in me. She is lost.
Before I chase that rabbit any further, I am also to start re-reading The Labyrinth of Birth. As you might recall, I started reading it, hit a road block, and it has been gathering dust on my bookshelf ever since.
I'm off to read it now, and to find what, if any, new insights it provides.