Learning To Lean In

My womb was his cocoon until liquid gushed out of me. I instinctively slammed my legs shut, got horizontal, and elevated my hips in attempt to stop the terrifying flow. This can’t be happening… it’s much too soon. Being a student of traditional midwifery and a practicing doula, I knew that we were in big trouble.

A venomous chill penetrated my system when I felt my sopping wet panties. I had lost too much amniotic fluid… The first thought that arose from shock, was the cosmic orgasmn I had the night before. It’s incredible how the mind finds a way to direct a moment of crisis by pointing the finger. It’s my fault…I came too hardtoo much oxytocin compromised my sac…I killed the baby.

In the emergency room, I listened to his heartbeat- still beating strong inside the shrivelled up sac. Is he suffocating? Is he cold? Maybe if I don’t move the sac will repair and I can make more fluid… “I’m sorry, there is nothing we can do” says the doctor. I did not have the capacity to put an end to his heartbeat.

I lived with him for another week, accepting that the best place for him to die was inside me. During that time, my mind found another victim to blame- because I needed a better explanation for the sudden ending of my anticipated reality. I had been spotting due to a polyp that had grown outside my cervix. Two weeks before my sac exploded, at the recommendation of an obstetrician, I had the polyp removed. It was supposed to be a “safe” procedure, but maybe I got an infection which ruptured my membrane…I will never know.

I was in a room on the maternity floor where I’d had the privilege to witness many miracles of birth. I heard the wailing sounds of the rites of passage- women transforming into mothers. I would be initiated into a different kind of ceremony- one of letting go. I prayed that there would not be a heartbeat that morning… but my ears picked up a faint whooshing sound when the ultrasound rolled over my belly. It was to be a conscious choice to terminate my creation.

There was a packet of Cervidil sitting on the bedside table to induce my labour. It occurred to me that there should be doulas available to support women birthing death. Maybe that would be my niche after this…I couldn’t handle Al’s pain so I sent him away. I told him I needed to do it alone but it was my way of protecting him from what was to come. I assured him that the best way to support me was to go… “Babe, I got this”- words that I spoke too often, which would eventually need to be rectified.

“I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.” I clung to the Ho’oponopono prayer with every surge of my womb. I was left alone in my ceremony until my scream alerted the nurse. He dropped out with a splat- into the basin between my thighs.

I could not look at what came out of me. I asked nurse to take it away because I was too close to a place I dared not go. I shoved the whole thing down to survive the moment. We buried him while I was still vacant. Al allowed his heart to break while I stood on firm ground unable to crumble.

Years later, my lump opened doors for do overs. It wasn’t until I received the help of Washuma, that I was able to finally be present with the residue of that loss. It was a significant event in my life that deserved a sincere reckoning.

Washuma- a South American cactus also known as San Pedro, which means the one that has the keys to the heavens. I was no stranger to working with plant medicine. Da took me to the Amazon jungle when I was sixteen for three days of ceremony with Ayahuasca. My initial life altering experience with Aya secured a huge respect for sacred plant medicine. My awakening was so profound- I felt no need to seek more mystical wisdom from mind altering plants. Then, it came back into my life precisely at the right time.

I opened my throat and accepted a potent dose of the slimy concoction. After so many initiations with my lump, swallowing it’s textured bitterness came with great ease. I settled into a beautiful transition of a birds eye view of perspective. It was an auspicious day coming up on the Lunar Eclipse- a glorious day for ceremony. The warmth of the sun broke through the windows and enveloped me in a blissful space. With soft eyes I absorbed the vastness of the snow capped mountains- illuminated under the canopy of bluebird sky. Time dissipated to a merging point of existence in the now. I bathed in gratitude for my place in all that is.

The spirit of my Scottish Granny distracted my euphoria. ” Stop your messin’ aboot and get on with it gal!” she said. I had to laugh because that was when the option for a second dose was made available. My experience to that point was near perfect but I could not deny the “edge”. There was somewhere I needed to go and the next drink would take me there. The second cup was a struggle- I was pushed off the precipice the moment I got it down.

My left ovary ached to be recognized. I felt constricting physical pain- beckoning me to lay down with it. There it was…the undigested day at the hospital. There was blame, pain, guilt and grief- a camaraderie of emotions waiting to be transformed and set free.

Washuma is known as Heart Medicine, because healing springs from love. What I experienced was the most tender kind of love which fueles remarkable forgiveness. I finally forgave what I repressed with sweet, loving, devotion to all that I am. It dissolved the enormity of the experience archived in my left ovary and made space for expansive love-the kind that can fix anything. The grief was not only from the loss of what could have been- it was also the inability for me to process my experience at the time. I had been carrying the guilt of not being able to properly say goodbye- nor able to acknowledge the price I paid to keep going.

I prided myself for being the strong one, never leaning on others for help. Even as I pushed Al away that day, I hung on by a mere thread. I reshaped my anguish into a shield to protect him from what I thought only I could endure. Washuma compassionately revealed to me, that I had in fact committed a disservice to the very person I was trying to protect. It became abundantly clear that I had robbed Al of a pivotal experience to brace me while setting his own grief free. I had bypassed the medicine of being vulnerable by assuming that he could not handle my weight. I ran the very same “I’ve got this” program with cancer when I should have leaned in- when I should have given him an opportunity to discover what was there for him.


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