On September 9th at approx. 6:00pm Alice and Justin welcomed a new baby girl into their family! She was a week overdue and had to be coaxed into coming into the world with medication. She weighed 4kgs and has a thick head of tiny, tight black curls that are soft as down. I was surprised at how light her skin was, it matched me and Alice says it will get darker as she gets older. The family is very excited and there is a warm, fuzzy feeling at their home right now. It is a home full of love.
(Alice and Baby, 1 day old!)
A few days before she was born I was over at their home for dinner and Alice was waiting patiently for her arrival, she has known it will be a girl for months. She was very proud to show me how they had set up the room for her, which included a new queen sized bed, a pink mosquito net with flowers around the ring at the top, a new bed spread with hearts embroidered on it and the walls were covered in stickers, banners and little stuffed animals. It was very, very endearing to enter into and I could feel the loving intention behind all the work that went into making it possible. This will be the room that Alice and Baby sleep in for the next little while and Justin stays in their room alone. I asked why this is the case and was told that it is so Alice can wake up and feed baby when she needs to and not disturb Justin, also this room has the only indoor bathroom, the other one is outside near the courtyard area.
That night I gave Alice a foot rub as her feet were swollen and she was very tired, thought maybe it would stimulate something and help baby come! She was surrounded by her family, Justin’s sister Celine and children, his mother, his sister and myself all eagerly awaiting the arrival. Celine had even taken holidays from work for a week or so in preparation for the event. They were all sitting around outside on a piece of foam cuddled together and waiting! I really love the fact the culture is totally ok with just sitting around and being close with each other, I have always been a big fan of cuddling!
On the day she came home from the hospital I arrived a few hours later and met her for the first time in her new room. Baby has no name yet or at least not one that is known to anyone else, they are waiting for the naming ceremony which will take place in about a month. Until then she is baby girl! Justin and Alice choose a name for baby and keep it secret, then at the ceremony family and friends gather to welcome her officially and all try to guess the name that was chosen. They write down names on pieces o paper and If someone guesses correctly or gets on name right they….I don’t remember, maybe they win a prize?? Or maybe its good luck – we’ll find out very soon at the actual ceremony.
Abbey, nearly 3 years, the new big sister was very quite and wide eyed watching everyone coo and fuss over the new addition. I could tell she was adjusting to the shock of having mom lying in bed with another little person that would distract her further from herself! She liked to peak at baby and was carrying around her own baby doll as well.
Kenny, 1 1/2, is angry! He screams and pulls at baby’s clothes and arms trying to get to his mama who up until a few days ago was all his! Justin says he is getting better!! This is very interesting to watch unfold.
Muja, the young woman who lives with the family and works as the Nanny, carries Kenny on her back and gets things ready for Alice, like tea and cares for the all of the children’s needs like feeding, bathing, putting to bed etc. I watch as this family unit functions so well and makes so much sense to me. Although there are down sides to it as well I just truly believe that this is the way of life that I want. A community working together to make life more rich and manageable. I do not feel we are meant to live alone as single unit families in our own homes, cooking, cleaning and fending for ever expanding needs as the family grows. I love the idea of living in a similar style setting and plan to in my near future. Human beings need to live and work together, the way our culture is set up now makes us all feel like we have to be able to handle everything by ourselves and that is impossible. Where did we get this idea that we all need our own everything……cars, homes, income – all separate from each other, not sharing or supporting others which in tern supports us. This is part of what made me so ill so it is has been a wonderful gift to now have experienced community and family in a new way since living at the Ashram and now in Rwanda.
I can feel something shifting inside me around the issue of birth that started even before the arrival of baby and today as I was reading a book called “The Reading Group” by Elizabeth Noble, and a chapter dealing with abortion came up and I suddenly began to cry, big, round, sad tears as I sat pool side at Serena Hotel. I realized it was time for a new level of healing around the idea of babies, sex, relationship and motherhood as well as career.
I know now that I went into a focus in the area of reproductive health with my nursing degree early on because of all the pain and negativity I felt for myself around sex. I was also really angry because of my past experiences with my family, boyfriends, and people in my life (see “Pleasure Principle” posted August 21, 2013). I once again thought that I could save other young girls and woman from the pain that I had experienced if I did this. My intention was to “Save” but my attitude was one of spite, anger, hatred and I had a real bad taste in my mouth altogether around sex, men, reproduction which transfered slowly to babies in general. This is not a great place to be in mentally, all day, everyday and to be focused on the negative aspects only was not condusive to me healing my own pain – it only compounded it.
As a child I remember loving babies, absolutely adoring them and because of the negative energy I felt around the way they come into existence (ie: sexual intercourse) I began to go numb to the miracle of life itself. I always thought that if I ever got pregnant I could never tell my parents because it would be openly admitting to them that I had had sex, which was a bad thing in my mind and something to be ashamed of and angry towards. It also would mean that I was grown up and with the dynamics in the family being that I felt I had to stay a child in order to receive love, this was not something I was willing to do, grow up. This added a new layer of fear towards my own natural feminine power.
I remember a workshop called “Life Seals” during my Yoga Development Course (YDC) at Yasodhara Ashram in 2010 where I had drawn an image of a sleeping baby to represent my sense of smell. As we were working with the “Life Seal” I was asked by one of the Swami’s (teachers), “Well, what do babies smell like to you?”. I burst into tears on the spot in front of 15 of my fellow students. I said. “They smell like death, plastic and blood.” In my world, I dealt with dying babies, dead babies or people who could not have babies (ie:deatht of the possibility of babies). Everyday for over a year at the Abortion Clinic I witnessed and participated in the process of removing live fetus’ from the mothers womb. I estimate that I saw over 5,000 fetus’ during my time there. It was an emotionally taxing job and I had no outlet for the emotions I was feeling and taking on everyday I worked there. Full time at the clinic was supposed to be 3-4 days a week but because of the limited amount of people willing to do the work, the demand and the amount of patients needing immediate care we often worked more , sometimes up to 6 days, 10-12 hours each and full speed all day.
(“LifeSeal” is a workshop at Yasodhara Asrham in which you draw pictures very quickly to represent your senses, your essence, likes, dislikes, etc. in order for your unconscious mind to reveal itself to you. Then you learn to read the Life Seal and watch as it seems to magically reveal areas of healing in your life – amazing! http://www.yasodhara.org for more info.)
I am the type of Nurse who will make you laugh, help you forget your worries and do whatever I can to make you trust me and feel safe in my hands. I have listened to many sad stories, taken the brunt of other people’s anger and have hid my own emotions very well for the sake of the patients and this wore me down. Not only did I have to pretend to be strong all day at work but I also had to keep it all confidential, not just this job but also my work at the Fertility, Early Pregnancy Loss and all of the nursing work I was doing. At one time, for a few months I worked at both the Fertility and the Abortion Clinic simulanteously, what a mind trip that was and all the more reason I became numb to how I actually felt about babies.
It was painful to walk into a Dairy Queen and have the young girl behind the counter look up at you with horror in her eyes because she recognizes you as her nurse from the most horrible day in her young life. To see a patient in the mall whom I have counseled after loosing a pregnancy and helped provide her with the best care I knew how, sometimes spending hours or weeks on the phone or in a room talking with them and to be totally ignored because of what I represent hurt my heart. To walk down the street and see a baby that I literally helped create, actually inserted the sperm into the uterus and got a woman pregnant and to be ignored because the mother is ashamed that she needed help to have a baby and doesn’t want anyone to know that she knows me was really painful. It was like I was putting my heart and soul into my work everyday, I was holding other peoples pain in order to help them through the most difficult times in their lives and then outside of that setting my work, my heart, my caring, my kindness didn’t count. It was a very challenging time and it built up in my body causing me a lot of pain in all areas of my life. My boyfriend at the time had to listen to me talk about horrible things I had seen or felt that day, it was not fair to put that on him and there is no way that anyone not doing the work could understand or comprehend the magnitude of what I was dealing with, but he listened and without him I would have probably had a melt down much earlier in my life. He did a very good job of being a silent support for me and I am forever grateful for his kind, gently, loving spirit.
I have been called a “Murderer”. I have been looked right in the eyes and told I am going to Hell by my co-worker in other settings. I have been called a “Fucking Bitch” and told that I am hated for what I do. I heard someone say “Let’s kil it!” upon looking at the ultrasound of her unborn fetus. I have held woman and men in my arms as they cried. I have seen deformed fetus’ and held containers full of dead fetus parts. I have seen the face of a 5 month old fetus pulled off its skull by steel tongs, followed by fully formed hands, legs and toes. I have opened up my mail box to find some one had placed a dead squirrel inside, can’t be sure if it is connected to my work but it sure felt like it at the time. All of these things are permanently engrained in my mind and made their way into my body as well, which bruised my heart and Soul. I am saying this as way to reveal the reality of Abortion, there are many sides to every story and every choice. This is my side of the story.
On time I was dancing with my friends and I suddenly froze on the dance floor as the weight of what I had seen and done that day hit me with full force. I looked around the room knowing that I was alone in this feeling and this experience as everyone else expressed joy and danced carelessly around the room. The work I was doing and the pressure I felt to ensure that these woman didn’t feel pain like I did lead me to a very dark and lonely place inside myself.
Yes, I chose this line of work and yes I could have chosen something else but it was my Karma that lead me to learn these lessons in this very difficult way. I have always thought and still think, maybe even more now, that if I was in that situation I would want a nurse like me to be by my side. I knew that I had a unique gift for the work because of my personal experiences and the patients benefitted from having me as their care provider, I do not regret doing this work because of this reason. I was a very good nurse because I genuinely gave my all to everyone of my patients. But the problem at that time was that I was doing the work out of my own need to healing and it was pushing me to a place where I was about to hit rock bottom.
It was during a staff meeting at the abortion clinic that I went unconscious, but was still mentally aware, and was taken to the ER by my co-workers. This marked the first time my body said “No” to me by literally shutting down so I could not do anymore. Of course there was nothing clinically wrong, as with most Fibromyalgia patients they thought I was “faking” and treated me accordingly, so once I was back to “normal” I was discharged and never followed up on again. This was my first experience with Fibromyalgia and I was 27 years old. I had also just broken up with my boyfriend, Chance, and so it was a stressful time at home as well.
It I have done A LOT of healing around this area in my life but it took a lot more than one ER visit to push me to a place where I was finally ready to listen to my body’s message. I was 30 years old when I really decided I had to change and so I did! The health care system as it is set up now would not ever be able to help me resolve the underlying issues that caused my vast array of symptoms ranging from a persistently plugged left ear, dizziness, incontinence, anorexia, depression, pain, sleep apnea, muscles so sore that even a feather light touch sent me screaming and many, many more. I now see the body so differently and I can never go back to work as a Nurse in the same way because of this fundamental difference. I believe we hold the answers to all illness within our selves because the choices we make lead us to the illness to begin with and if we listen we can find out what this amazing tool , our body, is trying to teach us so that we can live in line with our Soul. Try telling that to a medical Doctor and see what happens – HA! I have never been convinced of the way we attempt to heal our bodies in our current mainstream system of health.
Nursing has this appearance from the outside to be a wonderful, loving caring environment in which you get to help people become well and at it roots I believe that was the intention. What most people don’t know or see is all the emotional and physical abuse, the lack of self care engrained into the culture and the duties them self that come with this line of work. I really don’t think that any of the patients I saw at the Abortion clinic were capable to seeing me as a real person with feelings, emotions and a life outside the procedure room and it is not their responsibility to do so but Nurses are not robots, we are human and we do have all of these things. For our jobs to require us to act like Robots for 8-12 hours a day is what causes us to burn out, it teaches us (mostly woman) that we don’t matter, on top of the already strong messages in the same tone already engrained in our society. It makes us as a society think that this is normal and we begin to expect people to act in this way, further removing the culture from its own humanity. The levels of how this impacts us is huge and this is yet another way that I felt I couldn’t cope with life the way I knew it, so I changed what I surrounded myself with and went to a place that brought me back to the heart of humanity and helped me to see that I can care for others but first I MUST care for myself – thank you Yasodhara Ashram and Swami Radha for sharing the teachings and wisdom with me. It is an honor to now be able to share it with the world in my own unique way.
These are my opinions based on my experiences, my healing and I am not saying that everyone needs to think or feel this way about the human body or life but what I am attempting to demonstrate by putting my story our there is that it worked for me. I am the living proof of my own healing through this process. I believe we need to take back our power and responsibility for our own health and lives. Pills may help control symptoms or pain but they do not help us find the root cause, that is up to us! When we get a cold, we need to rest not take a pill so we can carry on with our busy lives. When we have pain it is trying to tell us something, usually something we don’t want to hear, don’t ignore it, push through it, or mask it – listen to it, even if you don’t like what it is saying. By having my health deteriorate the way it did I was able to see that nothing else in the world is more important, without health I have nothing, I have no life. It is a practice and I do still make choices that are not perfect because I am human but at least now I really know what the consequences are and I make a conscious decision. I believe that if more people took responsibility for their own health and if it were more acceptable within our society to listen to our bodies, express ourselves fully and do what it really needed VS what is being demanded of us we would be a much happier, and healthier society.
I continue healing myself through exploring all the layers as they arise naturally, not pushing things that need to be seen away, instead intentionally going as deeply as I can into them to find the root and find healing. I am now able to do things that I am drawn to in a more authentic way and I use every experience as a tool for learning about myself and taking a next step forward into creating a new life for myself that allow me to Thrive. I don’t want to feel this way about babies, life, sex and men so I am doing what ever I can to continue to heal. I want to be able to embrace my feminine power to create life and to do it in the way I hold inside as my ideal and I feel my journey will lead me naturally to that place and time if it is meant to be. Through this process I realized that I am actually drawn to being a Midwife, the complete opposite of the work I was doing previously and that I was too afraid to do what I was really drawn to but again I cannot go into it until I am ready for another layer of healing and it too will happen naturally. When I listen and follow through with what my heart, my body and my spirit tell me I trust that I am on the right path.
If I do go back into the field of Nursing it will be in a very different way with a very different intention. It is obvious to me that I love to be around people and to care for them, now that I am learning to care for myself first I have more to offer those in need. I have ideas for a project involving Nurses and Yoga in the workplace that sprouted during a group discussion at the Ashram in 2011. The ways in which I can be involved in the profession are much more broad the I had previously seen and I feel that I have something to offer the field of nursing by offering my experience and my story of healing. My heart drew me to Nursing for a reason and it may be to help the Nurse rather than help the patients – although those two are always connected, everyone benefits from having a happy Nurse at their bedside! I cannot say which direction my heart will lead me next but I continue to explore and keep my mind open to possibilities that haven’t even discovered yet! My life is a Thrilling ride full of love, sharing, dance, joy, laughter, friends and it is this way because I am willing to do the work to make it this way – it is worth because I am worth it. I am Amanda (worthy of Love)!