I have given myself a new job. And it isn't one that's going to pay an awful lot. It doesn't have a job description, or a benefits package, or even a holiday allowance. and it is this. I am a feminist. I didn't even have to apply. Happily I was raised this way. It has come through, in pieces, in my precious books. But they were names 'high heeled' and so the message may be lost at first sight.
Another lesson in never judging a book by it's cover. But then again if I'd have wanted so share my feminist credentials, I wouldn't have named it that. I wasn't ready.
That is how this week has struck me. It has me deeply wondering on worth and purpose and the point. And I came up with this. My point is, hell, my purpose is, to follow my feminist beliefs in all the ways that suit me and that light me up. Because this week has been a hell of a week for women. For me. And I'm not even a subject of the kingdom where this shit went down. I'm a half American brit, with an English passport, and a gob full of awe that my Atlantic sisters, in the land of the free, are set to be ruled by this pussy mongering misogynist.
I started off November feeling a shift coming. But I couldn't put my finger on it. I knew I was tired out doing what I was doing. I was missing something. At the new moon I found myself praying to the goddess. Make doing what I want to do easier. Make it something I do as naturally as the wave hits the shore.
Then Trump was elected and bam, the fact I am a feminist, and always have been, became the most important thing. And I remembered the book I was writing, the one called Woman. The one that feels like some kind of culmination of all that went before in my life. The one that feels a stretch too far for my capabilities, a challenge, a vision fucking quest. The one that is going to push me. And even in spite of this, feels easy. It feels easy because that level of pushing feels right. Like a baby. It aches and it burns, it feels like you might just die, but something in it feels right. And it is in the burn, the fear, the conquest, the inevitable birth where the ease comes.
So that is me. Transformed by November already and it's only the 11th. I will now be pulling back a little on my tarot readings. Channelling all I have into the next book, Woman. And all the other energy I have goes to my children, my partner, and my self, as I live in this life as a Woman, raising two girls, determined to make some difference, whether it be through my writing, my instagram, my books, my babies.
Love to you all. I hope that however this week has hit you, it has hit you in the heart. The resultant trauma being one of grand, great, life changing creativity and purpose.
This time last year I was recovering from birth and getting to know the little pale pink pinch of blossom that is my beautiful daughter Ivy. In the past year my girl has learned to walk and talk, stumble and fall, get back up and start all over. The days of her being a little 'poppyseed' developing behind the closed doors of my belly seem very long ago. Yet the love story that started, perhaps even before her conception, has continued unabated. That's not to say all has been roses. We have had our hormones and sleepless nights like any other parent-to-be and new momma should! Without gushing too much it's been the most wonderful adventure of my life - who needs Everest?
Now the book which charts the ups, downs, soulfulness and human moments of my pregnancy is birthed to the world. It's all there for anyone to see, my spiritual la la, my fits of morning sickness, my fears, my love, my moments of weakness. All tangled up with love letters to my daughter, a changing marital landscape and the ever essential baby related DIY!
Dear Poppyseed is a huge departure from my previous two books. Whilst they were personal, this goes under my skin to the bone, to the soul, to the womb. I hope it acts as support and inspiration for any parent ploughing forth with pregnancy, a little unsure, a little excited, a whole lot in love! Whilst my previous books dealt with my spiritual leanings, this book deals in life, my life, the making of life. It's a whole other animal, and yet so intrinsically the same. For what else are our souls on earth to be, other than human, and to embrace all the icky, sticky, beautiful human-ness which that entails.
I hope you enjoy the book, and if you do, then please share it with friends and mommas to be!
Here is a trailer for Dear Poppyseed, to give you a little taste.
Here is the book page on my publishers website.
I recently gave birth to my first little baby. Prior to this I had written for The Huffington Post UK about the possibilities of a pain free, empowering natural birth. I questioned whether a painful birth was all in the mind. I set my stall out with full positive intention as to how my baby would come into the world. I didn't doubt for a second that it would be as I envisioned it. I foresaw a peaceful, painless, chemical free birth, proceeded by a bouncing happy little girl. I got only one of those things.
How naive of me! I was so focused on the birth of my fantasies I didn't plan or prepare for any other option. This is where me and the power of positive thinking fall apart. I am relentlessly positive, but in my experience this does not always bring about our minds desires. Sometimes the cosmos has its own plans, for it's own reasons and to which we must adjust. No matter how strongly I visualised a drug free water birth of great beauty, I was, it seems, always destined to have a whole other kind of birth. No matter how much I fought with the health services whilst I was In their care for a week, their protocols were always meant to prevail.
So what was my plan and what was the actuality? I planned to hypnobirth baby calmly and painlessly into the world. It was my intention to wait till baby was ready, even if this meant going over 42 weeks of pregnancy. It was going to be all deep breathing, aromatherapy and blissful background music. But an attendance at the local hospital for a routine check up saw this plan shot to smithereens.
First up they wanted to forcefully induce baby. I refused when I learned I had started to dilate. I went home and sat waiting for labour to commence. I went back to hospital the next day for another routine monitoring. I expected to be there an hour. I didn't get out for four days. There was a concern with baby's heartbeat, I was given a scary talk by a doctor and I started the process of becoming drawn into the medical world of birthing. The rights and wrongs of this are all now just a blur. I know I felt caught between my hippy desires to just let baby be, and the modern mentality of relying on what the graph says. As a diplomatic Libran I spent several days trying to balance these accounts, to no avail. In the end the establishment won out.
My natural birthing was transformed into a litany of chemical induction techniques. None of which worked. The final attempt saw me hooked up to machinery, a drip in my arm with a dial being turned up to create my contractions and force my body into pushing baby out. Nothing natural about it. I couldn't even stand, change position or move around. I was catheterised, injected, poked and prodded often. I took to all this as I do anything, cheerfully. Every event is a new adventure even if the voyage is by tank rather than by foot.
As the chemicals stormed my body I attempted to utilise my natural birthing learnings. I coped nicely for several hours on meditations and mantras, but then the chemical dial was switched up and the pain it brought was astounding. Bye bye any aspects of breathing the baby out, hello vile gas and air followed by epidural, followed much later by episiotomy and forceps delivery.
And so my natural birth was made chemical, forceful, medical and surgical. The most important question here though is... Am I bothered? Well if you'd told me in advance this was how things might go, then I would have thought I'd be devastated. But in reality I'm happy. The birth was not how I planned, but my baby came out perfect. Despite being dragged into the world with great metal spoons she was alert, happy and did not cry all day long, not even following her "traumatic" birth. Maybe she knew some thing I didn't... Maybe she was cool with it. And if she is cool with it, so am I.
Indeed I've now had a birth people can relate to, which as a writer is all I could ask for. Whilst it would have been lovely to sit and squat whilst humming mantras and envisioning my lady bits opening like a flower, it wasn't the way things went. Such a birth, as romantic as it sounds, is out of reach for the vast majority of people, and so to make the most of what we do get, is an equally powerful way of birthing.
My natural birth education had told me to be wary of the medical brigade, and I had been. I started off the week convinced I was being dragged into some kind of medical conspiracy to drug me and remove my baby by force. Now this did happen, but was it a conspiracy? Or was it simply a bunch of professionals acting to their protocols? I had not liked being subjected to procedure, but who is to say that I did not need to be? Given my babies stubbornness to launch into the world, perhaps I did. I've learned since that my mum and grandma's children were all delivered by forceps. Our families women carry well, but apparently we need a little help at the end... No shame in that.
In spite of my reservations about the medical model I learned too that it is staffed by lovely people. They are far from wishing to harm me or anyone. A medical birth challenged my jaded view and the midwives came up smelling of roses. A natural birthing in a darkened room would have missed out on their cheery smiles, helpful advice and heartfelt encouragement.
I have read many women's tales of guilt and woe at not having their picture perfect birth. Even years after birth some gals torture themselves on how it all went wrong and the apparent disservice they did their child. But the thing is, we are a medically altered peoples living in unnatural times. I could mourn the loss of my ideal birth, but then I may as well grieve the fact I am writing this on a computer as opposed to using chalk and blood on my cave wall.
Things did not go to plan but I had an amazing birth. It was gritty, drawn out, painful and emotional. It was hardwork and it tested myself and my husband far beyond what we ever expected. There was a great deal of blood and tears and everything, literally everything I planned went out the window. Yet it was perfect. It was how it should of been. I'm so happy it happened as it did and I know all i can do is respect life's greater plan. Perhaps what my soul and spirit really wanted was not the lightness of a pretty birth but the challenge of something real, something fleshy, messy and hardcore.
A perfect childbirth is all in the mind. Relinquishing control and letting life be as it inevitably will be is an act of powerful contrition. My childbirth has been a life lesson. We may think we know what we want, we can plan and wish and cosmically order it. But if it's not right for us, life intervenes. We can choose to rail against that intervention, or we can accept it, thank it and be at peace. I choose to be at peace. I have a beautiful healthy baby, and any injury to myself was well worth that outcome. A perfect birth, like a perfect anything in life... Is all in the mind.
Before you have a baby everyone has a story to share or a warning to give. You take it all in, some of it you disregard convinced it will be different for you. Other stuff, no one tells you, and perhaps it's best that way. Alot of the stuff about early momma-hood has a negative slant to it, focusing on how tiring and stressful it all is. However, I am currently feeling empowered on the momma train and so I want to share the stuff that has made me feel good. Feel free to log it in your brain or let it sieve through to nothingness. But for what it's worth, here are my momma empowerment notes.....
1) The love. You know that love everyone tells you about when you meet your child... Imagine how it might feel then times it by, like a billion. I remember being earth shatteringly exhausted, up at 3am having just brought home my little girl. I didn't have a clue what I was doing and did I mention I was tired? In spite of all this I sat there singing her a lullaby and as I did so, I was sobbing with pure unmitigated joy. I held an angel in my arms and I'd never, ever been happier or more in love. It comes in waves, it gets stronger, it's world altering. It makes you think differently about life, about people. The love is quite simply cosmic.
2) The physical stuff after birth is a shock to the system. I had no idea quite what I would have to deal with. It's painful, uncomfortable and embarrassing occasionally. It ain't sexy and most of it is unavoidable. But guess what... it doesn't really matter. It goes away, I got better and I can hold my head high knowing that at this physical low, I continued to be the best mom I possibly could. I visited a whole new level of exhaustion and got through it, maybe even kicked its ass. Stitches and sore bits are nothing in the big scheme of my whole new life.
3) I did spend some time stressing beyond belief about what I am doing right or wrong. I read all the books and gave myself a complex about routines, plans, baby discipline or otherwise. I made a chart and some notes too, this didn't help. Inevitably I was in a muddle. I freed myself from this when I decided to do what I wanted to do, what felt right for me. Since I decided to follow my intuition everything is easier. Baby and I are happier and we got some good stuff going on that we figured out on our own.
4) I realised that I know baby best. I am the momma. I am the sun and moon to my little one. What Ethel up the street thinks is irrelevant. And so what if someone has raised more kiddies than me, who says they got it right? Plus they never raised my kid and they never were me. I will make my own mistakes and own them, thank you very much. Since I empowered myself to this I am Wondermum... Well in my head I am and that confidence counts for everything.
5) I have entered the Mommy club, a previously closed circle that I neither knew or cared about particularly. It is however a fabulous little clique. People I don't know well go out of their way to talk to me and it's lovely, I'm making new friends. So far in my experience the club is kind, understanding and helpful. We don't just talk dirty bums either, some grown up chatter ekes in too. A whole new side to women has opened up. It's peculiar and unexpected but as a card carrying member I conclude that it is wonderful.
There is a Daddy club too, and as a Mummy I get a glimpse into that. I see how affected the fellas are by their little ones. Men ain't 'all the same'... some of them are wonderful Daddy's!
6) When you have a child in your arms you see the softer side of everyone. I just spent the weekend at a festival and everyone was utterly gorgeous to me and my little one. Much like a cute puppy, babies bring out everyone's mushy side. Again the world has shifted and I have a little glimpse of the best of humanity.
7) I have realised that everyone was once a baby like mine and therefore everyone is deserving of the love I feel for my kiddy. With mommy tinted glasses I understand why Mothers support their murderous children to the hilt and blindly defend the guilty. I see the purity of my child's soul. It's a beautiful thing.
8) There is no time to worry. All of my silly concerns have dropped aside. Baby is more important. If it ain't already happened then no thought energy is given to it. As a result I'm far more relaxed and calm. Patience has become my new ally too. I've always struggled with this. But being patient is necessary for sanity when waiting for baby to fall asleep when there are a million other things I need to be doing.
9) Knowing that it won't last forever helps me to live truly in the moment. On the days when it gets tough it's empowering to remember that my child will change so quickly. So the vomit, the shit on clothes and drool in hair becomes so much more bearable, it's all just a tiny part of a much bigger picture. I have learned to chill and reassess. This will all pass too quickly. Living in the moment is generally a hard thing to do, but now it's easy, it's essential. My child had brought me to a standstill where the minutiae is all that matters. I've never felt more here and now.
10) Every day is an adventure. I may wake up feeling exhausted, perhaps reluctant to throw myself into the now overly familiar melee of nappies and feeding etc. But then my baby does something amazing, like smiling, and my heart soars. Those first smiles are killer. They keep me going. They are my food, my air, my existence.
Alice's powerful everyday spiritual thinkings! See topics below or browse through for life changing inspiration!