Sailors on a becalmed sea, we sense the stirring of a breeze. – Carl Sagan The human collective has in the last several years transitioned into a new stage of its birth process. I will draw from Stanislav Grof’s concept of perinatal matrices, a four-stage description of the psychodynamics of birth. Stage 1 is Uterine Bliss. The womb provides the fetus all its needs, and it grows without any apparent limit, struggle, or effort. While various kinds of maternal stress may affect the fetus, nature does its best to cushion it from serious trauma.
I remember so clearly that feeling of “I can’t do this”. I don’t know how to do this! But knowing there was no way out of it- this baby was going to come out and I would have to find a way.
After 23 hours of labor I was exhausted. Weak and spent and losing resolve. My husband was right there with me, and my midwife too and their steady calm support had kept me going for hours. But I could feel their weariness too. The birthing tub, the soft music and all that I had thought would help me through this were laid aside- mere playthings when it came to this realm of soul opening transformation. I really couldn’t do it. I want to go the hospital I said- I can’t do this. I give up. Ok, said the midwife, we can, if that is what you really want but I think you can do it- lets just wait a little longer. It is time to push. Can you push? I can’t, I’m too tired.
All of a sudden the door whooshed open, and in flew my midwife’s assistant. She brought with her an aliveness, a wild and radiant joy that filled the room- “push, push, push, push, push” she beamed at me; and I pushed with her. Her rosy cheeks, shining eyes, her knowing and enthusiasm, her celebration of life, released in me the energy, focus and confidence to push and to birth my baby. The life affirming magnificence that she brought into the room changed everything. What a gift it is to be that for each other when we can.
I have loved your work since I read my first essay, but this goes beyond exceptional. What a bright vision you give us. No false promises of what could be, or should be; rather, you provide us with the most beautiful metaphor possible - conscious birth. This is, in my opinion, one of your best pieces so far. Sharing far and wide!
I vividly remember my midwife commenting near the end of my first labor, "You can let the baby come out." Up to that moment, despite all the fine coaching, my unconscious response to contractions was to "squeeze everything,” which made it harder for Baby to ‘escape.’ Her advice reminded me of the goal— to meet that little person!— and she slid out soon after.
And that advice became a guide for many other times of "pushing" in my life -- "Let the baby out."
Ahem, and now I am obliged to remind you, dear Charles, of something you know but it slipped your mind as you wrote this insightful and provocative essay: Mother Nature didn’t intend babies to feel traumatic compression during birth.
Back when humans lived without supermarkets full of fake food, women's hips were wider, and the placenta could provide the fetus with exceptional nutrition. That allowed the baby to cope well with the stress of ‘eviction,’ and the mother made it easier, compared to modern times, for the infant to slide out quite easily.
This is not to blame any woman for having a long labor, we do the best we can under the circumstances. Human resilience makes it possible for a tiny new person to not only survive a difficult birth, but he or she may even eventually thrive, despite further challenges-- hunger, pollution, inept or even oppressive parenting, war, and so on.
I'm simply pointing out that someday we can take as good care of pregnant women as anthropology shows was the case during hunter-gathering times, which we learn from skeletons of those ancient people: females had wide hips so delivery was easy. Also, all humans had wide faces with room for all their teeth (and, by the way, hardly any cavities in those lovely teeth).
One reason for all our ailments and dental decay, which routinely cause such misery and lost productivity, is decades of the FDA's bass ackwards advice. Eat polyunsaturated veg oils! Cut back on salt! Fluoridate your water! Replace nutritionally useful iodine with its toxic cousin bromine as a 'dough conditioner' in the nation's store-bought bread! Butter, cream, bacon, and eggs are bad! But CAFO meat (confined animal feeding operations) is good. Even a little thing like faking pickles with vinegar, instead of fermenting them, deprives people of daily renewal of their gut flora with every crunchy bite. The unintended outcome has been prevalent poor health and chronic ailments in the USA.
Further, the EPA says RoundUp and nitrate fertilizer are safe. No one even noticed how these products (plus constant tilling) killed off micorrhizal fungi, thereby depriving farmers of higher production, and also losing the sequestration of 5 tons of CO2 per acre per year, which would have made soil more fertile while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
In other words, a baby’s traumatic escape from the womb is connected to zipping past the 350 ppm of CO2, high rates of dental decay, and also relates to children losing 5-15 points of IQ from drinking fluoridated water. And wouldn't that metaphor of the difficulty of birth be different, and probably many aspects of life on earth also, if we had resisted the temptations of processed foods? If we had questioned the health and safety claims of huge corporations and their clever advertising of empty calories?
One of my heroes, right up there with Martin Luther King, is Weston Price, DDS, who wrote Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. I seem to recall, Charles, that you referred to his work in other essays. If people had taken his masterpiece seriously when it was published in 1939, we wouldn't be spending a fifth of our GDP on medical care, and sociopaths wouldn't be in charge at the Pentagon and the CIA. This book documents his respectful in-depth studies of 14 traditional cultures, how they farmed food, raised livestock, caught fish, and how they prepared these foods. His One Good Meal recipes for orphanages that served more conventional (cheaper) fare for the other two meals, were enough to transform the health of children, which, obviously transformed their lives.
Anyone who likes Charles’ blog will appreciate this book, even if all you do is look at the pictures of the healthy people he visited. It’s free online in various formats, such as here: https://booksvooks.com/nonscrolablepdf/nutrition-and-physical-degeneration-a-comparison-of-primitive-and-modern-diets-and-their-effects-pdf.html.
While you're at it, visit the website that strives to awaken people to the power of nutrient-dense— and delicious— foods, WestonAPrice.org. Their banner is “Wise Traditions in Food, Farming, and the Healing Arts.” All just daily, ordinary things, nothing exciting and space age, simply healthy, happy, constructive people.
Yes, the time has come. And it does hurt. I'm a CA wildfire survivor, a fairly common thing in my area, every home in my neighborhood burned last August. The county is against new development which means it's against rebuilding. Our trees, even the ones sell living, we're slaughtered by the electric company while we were evacuated. An entire forested mountain top, now bald, not because of the fire, but humans. It is shocking when it happens to you. But... It is also hopeful. Anything is possible when everything is lost. Who knows what is coming? But I know we can survive it, and maybe even thrive in spite of it. Still ... Seeing eco-disaters and the human slaughter of the trees up close is terrifying.
What a poetic, beautiful, and painfully appropriate metaphor for what we are experiencing and what is to come. As the birth pangs of reality pierce the collective hypnosis that has befallen the globe, people will gradually awaken to the horrors they have permitted to envelop the world while they were asleep. My only hope is the mass awakening will occur in time to arrest the looming technocratic totalitarian enslavement. Your essay makes me see the positive blossoming of consciousness and reconnection to one another and nature that awaits us at the end of the birth canal.
Beautiful analogy. AND, it's a myth that women must PUSH the baby out. The uterus does the work and all we need to do is be in the correct position and breathe, bringing oxygen to the baby as the exquiste female body does its work. As a female, it's tiring to hear the masculine push, push, push in this world, and as much as I have respected your opinion for years and years, I do think you need to take a step back... please, less encouraging readers/followers to PUSH us through this time of liminal space, of transition, but to come into full understanding of how to let go and trust the process that is unfolding before us.
Thanks, Charles. Like many others in these comments, I remember the moment when I felt I couldn't go on, especially as my first daughter was being born. What saved me at that moment was the solid, loving presence of my then-husband, who suggested that I simply look into his eyes and breathe. This was all I needed, and this is what we can give now to ourselves and all around us: unwavering, calm presence, the still point that exists in each of our souls, that cannot be extinguished. It's always here and is the only anchor point I know.
Charles, I have long believed that what we are experiencing is going to bring us to a point of freedom and wealth that we can only imagine now. Unfortunately, we have to get past the pain and suffering to know that we do not want to go back there ever again.
Regardless of the struggle and the amount of time it takes to be "born", there will be those who will be able to live in the full understanding of liberty. We are born free. Everyone is born a free person. We were never meant to be enslaved by anyone, in any fashion. Someday, society and humanity will realize this and the world will never be the same.
I expect to die in the birthing process. It does not matter. I will push and push and push...
Ah, the birth process... I appreciate the analogy.
And, honestly, I cringe at some of the assumptions about life in utero and what it is to be born.
(I assure myself that it's ok to not love absolutely everything you write, Charles! - And that you'll also want to hear this, written with mad respect - no troll here.)
I'm a midwife and have experienced many hours in the birth room - and I don't believe babies inherently, inevitably experience "hell" - nor do mothers. I believe the rhythmic uterine squeezing might even feel ecstatic for the baby - who knows? The *right of passage* for a birthing woman certainly holds tremendous potential for pleasure, power and healing.
What we do know is that the birth is an intricatly orchestrated process that is an expression of the brilliance of our true nature. It's a physiological wonder that we are entirely designed to experience and express.
Viewing birth as something torturous to endure is one of the results of the colonization of midwifery by obstetrics. It's designed to distance ourselves from the messy and miraculous animal bodies we inhabit.
If you haven't already read The Holistic Stages Of Birth written by Whapio, here you go. It's a woman-baby centered telling of the birth process. It's a treat, enjoy!:
I love this.. only as a Mother who let birth run through me, as i like to say. There is no pushing involved.. pushing to me feels like forcing, like doing. There is a great force, a sort of centrifuge as I can only compare iT with that ‘ sqeezes you out...buts its life, the body, the instinct following this movement. As a Mother i have never been ‘ deeper into’ my body, turned inside out, feeling cells that i did not know existed. And in that moment also nothing excisted. Most holistic midwifes Will probably tell you. There is no pushing. There is a distinctive change in the proces. A calm, before you are entering this ‘ last’ birthing stage’. I wasnt the doer. I was let the way. My body decided. Life shows the way. How deep are we prepared to follow...
I bet you were a TERRIFIC labor coach, Charles!
This is a great start to shaping a whole new planetary story for the upcoming century. Gaia theory brought Her alive and now She has been pregnant all along (of course). I am seeking collaborators in building the earth birthing narrative. Time to push, indeed.
That is so beautiful, I am speechless! Thank you, I have been that particular birthing dream all my life - that is the moment OF my birth. The pain, the letting go, the speed and pressure, I remember it all. We are so in that place as a people right now. Let’s hold hands and let go together. Sunshine awaits . 🐝🍀🌸♥️
Beautiful piece of writing, Charles. I wish I could share in your faith.
I, however, observe that the Titanic has struck the iceberg, but in this scenario, we are destroying our biosphere. There are no life boats, and no scientific wizardry will fix this. Even the masters of tyranny cannot escape. The Savior(s) are not coming. We are left to face what we have co-created: the death of a planet.
My resolve: love with all my heart every precious moment that we have left.
Charles, another masterpiece ... And, yes, you are a Master Of Peace, and I am so grateful for your articulation of what my Soul Knows To Be True. A World Of Loving Kindness IS Being Born and We ARE IT. Thank you beauty-filled Angel/Angle Of Light.
Seems like one should at least include the possibility of it being a still-birth. Nothing is guaranteed, however much we’d like to believe in some cosmic celestial mission. Extinction might be where we’re heading unless we really pull our shit together. A lot of work still to be done.