Preach It!

No one can tell a woman what is best for her and her baby ... waterbirth, homebirth, hospital birth, doctor, midwife, Unassisted Childbirth (UC) or cesarean surgery ... it is for her and her baby to know. The best we can do is support her to access, trust, and know her own inner wisdom and communicate with the Being within her - the One whose birth it is through her womb and the man. - Janel Mirendah, Attachment/Birth trauma therapist, Filmmaker of The Other Side of the Glass.

Watch It! (The Trailer)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Paternal Instinct -- A movie review

I just re-rented the documentary, "Paternal Instinct: The Road to Fatherhood is not always a straight one."

I watched it a year or so ago and it really touched me deeply. The birth of the two men's baby is one of the most beautiful, loving births I've ever seen. I am looking forward to seeing it again this weekend.

I love this movie for it's multiple messages. While my film has been questioned about, and is not about the different configurations of conceiving and parenting, I offer this film as one to show the beauty of birth in alternative partnerships. It is also a testament to the intentional welcoming of another soul into a couple's lives.

Heterosexual couples, adoption professionals, and everyone could benefit from watching this film to see:

1) The profound impact of ritual and seeing the soul as a being coming into a couple's lives.

Conception of their babies, in part because the surrogate mother is an Episcopalian minister, is done intentionally with ritual, as is the birth and, so importantly, the exchanging of the baby from her womb to their arms is done with ritual. If one can suspend one's beliefs about paganism, New Agism, or other critical beliefs, and observe something very profound for the baby -- the honoring of the baby who was gestated in one body but will be raised by another. The baby is seen as real, whole, aware, sentient being. The world of adoption support could benefit from watching this process and then going directly to the website of such adoption experts as Marcy Axness, PhD at Quantum Parenting. Dr. Axness "educates adoption, education, and childcare professionals on new findings in child development and their implications for practice."

2) How it is that a human being should be welcomed and wanted and conceived in love.
If this is not present that human being will struggle throughout the lifetime to feel wanted. So many heterosexually conceived humans are the result of thoughtless, random sex, manipulative agendas, and just plain apathy. Babies born to gay and lesbian couples are wanted beings.

3) The beauty of a homebirth with a midwife. Up until this point I was in awe and tears of joy watching these two men supporting the birthing woman and their baby, and then throes of it all, after the baby was born, the midwife SUCTIONED the baby. Harshly. "Noooooooo." I was crying out in disbelief, "WHY!?!" EVERY other aspect of this baby's birth was intentional, calm, loving, and peaceful. WHY do medically trained caregivers (midwives are medically trained) feel that they have to suction every baby "in case" and WHY do they do it so harshly, so fast, so deep??

You'll have to wait until my film comes out for that answer.

Here's what one reviewer said about "Paternal Instincts":

This movie takes the viewer on a journey through the initial discussions between Mark and Eric about whether and how to have children, to the long-awaited conclusion. In the process, we are treated to many glimpses of their loving and playful relationship, friendships, and loving, somewhat offbeat, relationships with their own parents. We also meet Wen, the chosen surrogate, and her family and community. This movie is extremely touching and surprisingly funny. The insemination scenes, for example, had the audience howling. It was a real treat to "meet" each person in this movie, including Wen's own (pre-adolescent?) son. If you get the chance to see this movie, it is the chance to witness a small gem.
Paternal Instinct may not change the minds of those who oppose same-sex marriage and parenthood, but you'd have to have a cold, cold heart to remain unmoved by this poignant documentary. Originally broadcast on HBO, the film demonstrates, on deeply personal and emotional terms, that "the road to fatherhood is not always a straight one." It focuses on Erik and Mark, a gay couple for ten years, who decide to become parents through the surrogate motherhood of Wen, a happily married wife, mother, and practicing witch (or Wiccan, if you prefer).

Forming a devoted trio of compassionate cooperation, they struggle through an emotional roller-coaster ride including trial and error, miscarriage, self-doubts and setbacks, all leading to the birth of two daughters (one is biologically Erik's, the other Mark's) and the universal elation of new parenthood. By covering all three years in this heart-wrenching process, filmmaker Murray Nossel creates real-life drama that's more compelling as any fiction movie could ever be, and the circumstances--family support on all sides--make this a deeply effective argument for the validity of same-sex parenthood.

By presenting a "21st century twist" on the American family, Paternal Instinct avoids political rancor and goes straight to the heart of the matter: Once you've seen this film, it's impossible to believe that Erik, Mark, and their children could be anything but a blessing.

Considering the fact that many heterosexual couples are unfit for parenthood, a little Paternal Instinct seems like a very good thing indeed. --Jeff Shannon

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Buy It!

Part One: The Other Side of the Glass: a Birth Film for and About Men officially released in digital download format on June 2, 2013. Go to to purchase a digital download.

Men have been marginalized in birth for a long time. The old joke is that a man was sent off to boil water to keep him busy. I believe they were making the environment safe. Birth moved to hospitals and for forty years women were separated from their partners who was left to wait in smoke filled waiting room. Finally, he would see his baby from "the other side of the glass." Now a man can go in the birthing room and even get to hold his partner's hand during surgery. But they are still marginalized and powerless, according to the fathers I interviewed around the country.

Historically, birth has been defined by the medical establishment. The midwifery and natural birth movement now advocate for need "to educate and prepare men to protect their wife and baby" in medical environment. Seems logical ... if we process with the same illogic that got us here.

Through the voices of men - and doctors and midwives - men share heart-touching stories about how this is not workin' out. A man is also very likely to be disempowered and prevented from connecting with their newborn baby in the first minutes of life.

Now is the time for men to take back birth.

The film is about restoring our families, society, and world through birthing wanted, loved, protected, and nurtured males (and females, of course). It's about empowering males to support the females to birth humanity safely, lovingly, and consciously.

Donors, check your emails or email me at for info to download. Release on DVD is not planned at this date.

FREE online! watch Chapters 1, 2, 3, and 10 at

"Doctor's Voices" - Stuart Fischbein, MD - Part 1

Doctor's Voices - Michael Odent, MD

Human Rights Violations

Resources - Healing Birth Trauma

"The Other Side of the Glass" has the potential to open up feelings that have been denied and ignored for a very long time. How to heal the trauma of birth at any age will be addressed in the film. Meanwhile, these are pioneers in the field.

Raymond Castellino and Mary Jackson -

David Chamberlain, Ph.D. -

Judith Cohen -

Myrna Martin -

Karen Melton -

Wendy McCord, Ph.D. -

Wendy McCarty, Ph.D. -

And, many, many more all over the world at
In both relationships and life trust begets trust.
Generosity begets generosity.
Love begets love.
Be the spark, especially when it's dark.

--Note from the Universe,

"Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater developments and greater riches and so on, so children have very little time with their parents. Parents have very little time for each other, and in the home begins the disruption of the peace of the world." - Mother Theresa