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)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

How to Meet A Baby

My first born's first born was six months old the first time I met him. I was so excited. Every grandma can tell you how over the moon it is to see your baby's baby.  The holidays will be a time when many babies meet their grandma and grandpa, and aunts and uncles for the first time - and many of them all at once. It can be very overwhelming and tiring time for the baby and mother, and father.

I'm an attachment and birth therapist and I support babies in the womb, newborns, and infants and their mother and father to resolve issues of disconnect.  In time for the holidays, I'd like to share the story of how I met my own grandson and to suggest ways that you might use to meet your grand babies and other children during the holidays or anytime. The newborn baby is communicating in the womb and immediately at birth. Toddlers who say no to kisses and hugs need to be honored and validated. Let me tell you why it going to help you in the long run to honor this.

My grandson happened to be six months old, but if he were six hours old he would need the very same respect from me (and everyone) of his boundaries and protection of his need: Mama. And, I would do it the very same way – except that I, as prenatal and birth psychologist, knowing what I do about the critical time of attachment development for first forty days, I would not expect to hold the newborn, even my grandchild, unless it was needed. A newborn baby will “check out” when in arms of even grandmother if her energy is too much, if she is too needy, and what I share will help you to hold a baby being present with the baby.

I am a craniosacral based therapist and I “work with” babies of any age; and, as a therapist, it is key that I only touch or hold babies who ask or grant me permission. EVEN the newborn baby is capable of responding as I describe here. If you try what I suggest here, with your grandchild, friend's babies, or even offering your baby to be held by other, and if you watch the newborn baby, you will see it: the baby's "no". A newborn baby will communicate clearly with body and facial language to others: “No." "Don't touch me." "Get out of my face” or space.

And, yes, oh yes, there IS a special undeniable connection between grandmothers and grand babies, and grandmothers should engage with their grand babies. It is wired in us and we grandmothers are meant to serve an important role. A critical, vital role. That is why is important to not create disruption for the mama-baby but to build trust. We women just need to learn how to do this honoring of mother-baby-grandmother again. Grandmothers, in relationship with father, and in their absence, were always  - and we still have instinct to be - the protectors and the keepers of the sacred mama-baby bond. In the fifteen year journey of healing the disconnect with my newborn son (he was 25 when I started!) I've learned what he and I needed is what I can give his son and mother. I have chosen to break the cycle of mama-baby disruption.

I would not want to be pregnant and have me as a mother-in-law, I more than half-joked. I suggested, and we agreed, that I would share whatever I wanted with my son and he would pass along what he thought was appropriate.  I was already so aware of the confabulation of emotions and needs of my own (from traumatic birthing of my son) and how it intersected with their rights to their decisions and plans.

When my daughter-in-law and Jackson were in labor 800 miles away there was nothing to but go to bed at midnight. Later I startled awake, sneezing about six times and so loudly that I woke my daughter. I coughed and coughed. I looked at the clock as I was so accustomed to since my other son was deployed. 2:48 am. I knew my son's son was here. At six a.m. my son texted that the baby was born about 2:45 a.m. and everybody was good. I later learned he had been suctioned, a fear of mine since my whole film emerged around my daughter's son rough, unnecessary suctioning. Oh, yeah, we are connected.

Six months later I was finally going to meet my grandson. Whooohoooo!! Everything in me wanted to squeal with delight and grab him ... like Grandmothers often do, because we are madly in love already, and because our babies were grabbed from us.  I was upstairs when my son, his wife and new baby arrived at my daughter’s house. My new grandson met his two aunts, two cousins, age three and 10, and his uncle before I came down.

 I waited a few minutes for them to all settle. I did what I do working with babies, that I've learned is a way of being present with: I managed my own nervous system. (you can see this in the Chapter 10 excerpt in my film - Healing the relationship after traumatic birth), me with working with babies to support the mama-baby attachment.

I came downstairs and into the family room where my son was holding his son. They were about twelve feet away from me.  My son excitedly said, “Jackson!! here’s your Graannny!” I had stopped in the doorway and Jackson turned to me. He had a look of recognition, a little gasp and a smile. Then he did what babies (newborns) will do. He looked at his dad.  Babies seek security with eye contact with their caregiver. I lowered my eyes, looking away so that Jackson could check me out. This is what babies need. Babies are overwhelmed by adult energy and eye contact, and adult's emotional expectations.

Jackson looked back, shyly.  

I said, “Hi, Jackson.” As I looked away. I slowly moved closer looking at him briefly and looking away to allow him to see me.  Babies can not handle too much adult energy and eye contact. (Babies learn early to accommodate adults but that is not right.) At one point about six feet away his comfort level changed. He was no longer excited. His breath changed. He kept his gaze with his dad, and he “hunkered” in against his dad.  This is communication. It is so subtle, yet so obvious when one realizes it.  I stopped and I said, “Oh, I’m too close. I’m sorry.”  I stepped back. Checking in with him first, and then looking away.  This whole thing was only a minute or two in duration.  When Jackson’s body relaxed and he smiled, I moved closer again and he was comfortable with me. When I was a few feet away I did not touch him. I never, ever touch babies without their permission - unless to keep the child from harm - even when mothers ask me to. His dad was so excited to introduce his son and mom. 

My son said, “Don’t you wanna hold him?”

And, I said, “Not yet. I want him to let me know when he wants me to, when he is comfortable.”  

My son laughed, “Oh, geez, you are so weird, Mom.” 

"Well, yeah," I laughed. We had determined that years ago. We sort of grew up together.  He was born when I was still 18.

I'm not the eighteen year-old mother to whom he was born.  I am the evolving mom, woman, and grandmother my son has helped raise and inspired.  I'm known as the Baby Whisperer, the Baby Keeper, and even Baby Lorax now. I just listen to babies. Honoring my son's son and his mama is part of me healing with my son.

I “moved my attention” from Jackson, telling him that I was doing so - because babies his age are hurt by our attention that just disappears (often when adult has met their own needs and moves on). I turned my attention onto my collective family.  That was all Jackson was ready for and I respected his needs.  We had a family brunch and during that time as I engaged with my other two grandsons, and with my family, I would catch Jackson watching me with interest. I would smile at him. Then I would look away and let him watch me, so he was comfortable.  Yes! It is almost like flirting.

After brunch we went to my older grandson’s football game. By then it has been two or 3 hours. 

At some point during the game, I was standing by my son who was holding Jackson, and we were just chatting.  I felt Jackson’s foot and I looked down and then at his face. He showed me a teasing smile. He reached out with his foot and poked at me again.  Touching us is one of the ways that babies let us know that it's ok for us to touch them. It is very often with their foot. Engaging us with eye contact and vocalization is another. A newborn has the capacity to do this - will look at you and even reach to you. A newborn has the ability to say no. A newborn will look away, or checkout and appear to be sleeping. It is instinctual to seek connection with the mother and to check out when in arms of others. So, there is no reason for anyone who is not a primary or secondary caregiver to hold a newborn except to support and provide love and comfort. The baby can be admired in the mother's arms, and believe me, the baby is feeling and sensing and hearing your presence, so the most respectful way is to open your heart, honor the mama-baby, and speak softly, introducing yourself, and decline holding baby, even if it may hurt the mother.  Send her this article.
I smiled at Jackson and with much joy, but softly, said, “Oooooah, are you ready for me to hold you?"  At that moment Jackson literally leaped from his dad’s arms into mine. I almost lost my balance. As I caught him he came in for a big goobery kiss all over my face.  Then he pulled back and we looked at each other.  Gazed into each other eyes. (actual picture of this). My baby's baby. The eyes are the window to the soul.  This was our moment of deep, respectful connecting; and, it was determined by Jackson’s needs and his pacing rather than my need to recapture something missed between his father/my son and me. (
If we have not processed our baby's birth and the disruption of our own attachment that is a nearly 100% occurrence in hospital birth, this is part of our emotional need.)

It was my intention, above my excitement as a grandma, to be respectful of his boundaries and needs from our first moment, and to honor his need for his mama.  I held him for awhile ... maybe ten minutes.  I continued to follow his lead and not expect him to respond in a way to make me feel okay, or fulfilled. Adults often need babies to smile or respond to feel fulfilled: "The baby likes me if I can get baby to laugh or make eye contact," and most often the adult overwhelms and intimidates the baby, and can even feel - andbe - disliked by the baby. I once witnessed a older man in restaurant make a huge effort to get my friend's 16 month old son to engage and respond. The boy didn't want to. After three or 4 attempts by the man, I saw this boy give the man a fake response. Immediately, the man turned his attention and left. How rude!  It happens all the time. His mother knew how to support him. That is a key take away here. How to protect your child from anyone and how to repair it when people don't know how to be with a baby.

When an adult does this or says to child, "Gimme me a hug", this is a huge signal that the adult is expecting the child to take care of their emotional need. If they demand it or expect the mother or father to force it, they are very wrong.  When the adult says that, or feels hurt that a child doesn't want to be held or near them, the ADULT needs to STOP-DROP-AND-ROLL ... because they are on big emotional fire.  "May I give you a hug?" is about seeing and attending to the baby. "Give Grandma a hug" is about Grandma's needs.
The adult needs to STOP.  Take a pause and a breath. 

DROP into their own emotional state and own it. Ask, "Why do I need this child who needs only his or her mother?" Settle their own nervous system. Breathe, feel their own emotions and claim them. Decide to do what is needed to heal one's own needs.

And, ROLL. Decide to honor the child. Observe. Roll with the child's needs. Put child's needs before your hurt feelings. Follow the child's communication – body cues.

We need to learn to do this because babies DO want to engage with us; however, children are not meant to resolve or take care of adult's needs - to put out their emotional fire and fix what broke them. What we do, so children learn. So children do learn to interact in this boundary violating way. It is "what's wrong with the world" - boundary wounding.  And we must remember that they are learning from their interactions with us.  STOP-DROP-AND-ROLL. It's a quick way to learn to be attuned to the other person, newborn to elder.

Because I intended to be attuned to Jackson and I wanted to support him to feel secure, I felt him become uncomfortable after ten minutes. TEN MINUTES!? In six months!? I am the Grandmother, after all!! SO WHAT!?  I'm the adult. He is the baby.  HE NEEDS his mama. He'd had enough time away from his mama.  Had enough of me. Seriously, folks, when you just have to hold that baby, believe me, it's very unlikely that the baby wants you and it means you are on emotional fire.  Nature programmed us to want mama. I felt/saw my daughter-in-law's unease too and her wanting him. I felt/saw he wanted to nurse and I said to her, “He is becoming uneasy and wants you. I think he wants to eat.” (what his dad calls breast feeding! and I said it only to validate her.) She said she was about to say that he wanted to eat. He might actually just need the breast to reconnect with her. She was so relieved - she didn't want to have to fight her instincts for her child vs her mother-in-law's on-fire emotional needs.

Many people in the generation who are grandparents now were not breastfeed and did not breastfed their children. Women were taught to feed baby every four hours, to let baby cry it out, and that it was better for baby to be in institutionalized care of others so she could focus on financial equality. THIS, my friend, is a source of FIRE for everyone, especially grandmas. It takes so little to ignite that flame into a runaway fire.

So many times grandparents feel this "constant breastfeeding" is an “excuse” by their daughter or daughter-in-law to “not let them hold the baby.”  Sometimes it may be, that a mother does not want even her family member to hold the baby. That's nature. Don't make mama feel guilty for doing what is right. But the truth is that babies need to nurse on demand, frequently. The truth is - eons of doing it and now research confirming it - that mama is "home base" and where babies feel safe. This is especially true in gatherings.  They feel safe because the mother's body - her heart and nervous system - are still assisting baby to self-regulate and to adjust to the world. Breast = safety.

The truth is that babies need their mothers, and nature has provided for her to provide that.  This new (but old) way of caregiving is not the way most grandparents learned and believe is "normal." So, unfortunately, many times it is true that the mother does not want people who have overridden her boundaries her entire life to do so to her baby.

Forty years of science has confirmed what we know: Babies are programmed by nature to attach to a primary caretaker. They are meant to be exclusively in their mother’s arms through the first nine to 12 months of age. This is now known to be the “last trimester” where important brain development around secure attachment needs to happen - for us to be optimal humans. I am sorry that many of you did not get this as a baby nor knew to do it. THAT is on society. 
Babies really do not want or need to be held by anyone but people who will be primary and secondary caregivers. Grandmothers were meant to be secondary caregivers, so the engagement of the grandmother early on, in a way that promotes and secure mama-baby attachment is vital. But she can not be on emotional fire.

If you are meeting a new grandchild, a new niece or nephew, please try the process I shared here to meet your new family member. ANYTIME you are with another person's baby, child or even teen, STOP-DROP-AND-ROLL. Don't project your stuff. Don't violate their boundary.  This is critically important for the newborn and mother relationship; and, your support now will pay off in big ways later if are you in baby's inner circle.  In the long run, if you use the process and you respect the baby's boundaries, if you regulate your own adult emotions, and if you respect the energy of eye contact, then the relationship you foster with your baby family member will be one of great trust of you. When it is time for the child to expand his or her circle, you will be the secure and trusted ring around him or her.  You will be a  safe person in their world.  Nothing could be more important.

Three years after Jackson was born his sister joined us. Elise was also about six months old when we met. Her mama lead the way in introducing us, in part based on the experience with Jackson and in part because she is so awesome. She said, “I know you want to let her come to you.”

Several hours after we met.
We met over the huge ottoman.

Update, 1-9-2014.

I've lived 1000 miles away until a few months ago, since I wrote this in November. I have seen Jackson and Elise on Thanksgiving and Christmas and a couple of times a month.

Last week when Elise knew I was coming, she did a "Graaaannnny is coooomiiinnng" dance. Upon my arrival, she did an adorable dance around the room. Even though my heart may be popping, I still wait until she comes to me. I don't grab her.  Maybe your grandchild or niece comes running to you. Awesome. The point is for you the adult to moderate yourself, in relationship to the child and respond to the child's communication to you.  Child communication is often behavioral, non-verbal. When they do begin to speak we need to honor them.

While I was there last week I sat by Elise as she was watching a video on a Kindle. She was not eating the blueberries in a bowl between us. I asked, "May I have a blueberry?" She looked at me, then the berries, and then eye to eye again. She said firmly, "NO." I smiled and said, "Ok." She went back to her video. Yes, she IS almost two!!  It thrills me to honor her "no" and her boundaries, and "let her" have "the power."

It saddens me that there was a time, with my own children, and I see it all the time, that adults, in this situation, will feel threatened or upset, and then tease, making a game of seeing the child's responses of being upset. Laugh at their response to be teased and their no overridden:  "Ooooh, I'm gonna take one!" or with pouty face, "Why can't I have one? Don't you wanna share with me?" "Grandma can't have one of your berries? You are so mean. Grandma is gonna cry," while enjoying seeing the children's painful reactions.  You are on fire. You are teaching the child passive-aggressive behavior. It's actually teaching bullying. Or the adult will chastise the child, making child feel guilty, or force the child to share. Or guilt their adult children to make the child comply.

Please, please do not do this. You are on emotional fire when you do. Your own childhood is the fuel source. Stop-Drop-and-Roll. REGULATE YOURSELF, and remember that your goal and purpose as grandmother or friend or stranger is to support, nurture, and protect a young child who is learning from you. Follow the baby or child's cues.  I call this "being present with" and it is a way of being with present with anyone of any age or relationship.

We must, especially as mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, and others, think about how WE wanted and needed to be treated as a baby, toddler, and child or teen. If you can't, then just think about how you want to be treated today. That is what a baby and child wants and needs; not how we were treated.
Click on pic to enlarge
 Recently, a colleague/friend in child abuse/CPS activism posted this blog on her FB with this status:

"My DEAR friend ("The Babykeeper") has such important things to say about meeting the new baby. I have kept this in my heart & mind since she first clued me in. I cannot count the number of times a parent has thrust a baby into my (or others) arms when they clearly weren't ready. This just happened at a park. I asked the baby's permission and waited to receive it - everyone thought I was weird; but when the strangers baby was ready for me, we had the most amazing interaction. I am a HUGE BELIEVER in respecting the baby."

Nicole: Thank you for all you do for our voiceless little beings L Janel! You are changing the world!

L Janel:  With your help! How have you noticed your interactions with child and adults since seeing the sentience of babies and honoring their only need - to be near mama?

Nicole:  I have changed beyond measure because of you! In the past, I'd be the first to scoop that baby (love) right up. Not any more. Having their permission is SOOOO worth the wait. Another day at the park had me feeling so sad and protective. There's a mom (who you have heard me talk about) that takes anyone's baby right out of their arms if they don't know how to say no. She just did it a few days ago, and the little guy clearly didn't want to be with her - his body language was CLEAR! There really wasn't much I could do -- except, get close enough and talk to him, "oh little guy, you want to be with mommy, I hear you. I'm sorry no one is listening to you! I am, and I'm sorry." He always catches my eye and gives me the sweetest little look. He (and several other babies) have the same reactions to me vs the baby-mojo-stealer. She is so clueless AND selfish, I'm hoping she will eventually pick up on the message I'm trying to convey. You know I am outspoken, but sometimes, I know saying something so direct will make things worse so I'm trying to set an example. At least the babies feel my respect for them; I hope it's enough to help.

L Janel: It's ok to speak on behalf of the baby -- and talk to her about it. When we realize it is for the baby and the mother would want to know ....  And you nailed it .. right on about how to talk to baby.

Nicole:  Janel, here is an interesting part of one of the baby interactions I wanted to share: we were at a park in Santa Cruz and I was sitting next to and having a lovely chat with the baby girl's mom (as our boys played). The mom did offer to let me hold the baby, and I asked the baby if I could hold her and her body language was clear, "NO!" I didn't push it, and i did not take it personally. I am a stranger, she wanted to stay comfy in mommy's arms. She was only 4 months old. About 30 minutes of sitting and chatting and also acknowledging baby calmly, her mom tried putting her in my arms and I said, "i don't think she wants to, it's ok, let's respect her wishes". Her big brother, Cole's age (5) came over, and took the baby into HIS arms and we both spoke lovingly to her. Her entire demeanor changed, and her "big" brother looked at me and said, "she's ready now, do you want to hold her now?" It was amazingly intuitive of this little boy. I was so impressed with him. He handed me the little baby girl, and she relaxed immediately in my arms. It was a beautiful moment for all. Ok, i will admit, when they handed me the baby bottle to feed her i had an incredible urge to want to nurse her LMAO!!! I haven't fed a bottle to a baby in i-don't-know-when and it was strange. But we figured it out. She cuddled and snuggled more and more INTO me and fell asleep. YOU would have been proud.

Janel: I am so  proud ... you know it ... oh my gosh.. you are so amazing. Such an amazing story all around with big brother. My heart is so full ..

And once you start seeing this a whole new world opens up and you see that these souls are so there.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Digital Release of the Film - Get your copy!

The Other Side of the Glass: A birth film for and about men

Father's Day 2013 digital release 

 buy it here at The Other Side of the 

How to feel powerful and connected again in your relationship -- feelings that may have taken a hit when your baby was born.

"This is so needed. I watch over and over and over as fathers get swallowed in the fear of hospital birth practice. I am torn apart every time I see a father stand back and chew his knuckles while his wife is essentially assaulted or his baby is left to lie there screaming."
--Carrie Hankins, doula

Fathers are traumatized by witnessing what happened to - and not being able to protect - their birthing partner and baby. Our culture does not acknowledge men as being impacted by the disempowering experience of modern birth. Fathers leave the hospital - in shock - with a wounded wife and baby, and so:

- FATHERS struggle to know how to support their partner (and crying baby) processing her pain and disappointment from the baby's birth.

- FATHERS have no place to share their story of their pain and loss and joy, and their guilt and shame at not "being the protector."

- FATHERS go back to work, they help at home and with baby at night, and they are exhausted.

- FATHERS feel hurt by the loss of time and attention from partner while watching the mom's intimacy with the baby.

- FATHERS sadly silently struggle with the conflicting, scary feelings towards their baby and fatherhood.

- FATHERS grieve and are angry, and then feel guilty about their behavior around their need for and the loss of sexual intimacy.

The Other Side of the Glass: A birth film for and about men, available now at

Through voices of men around the country, Janel Mirendah, attachment therapist and "baby whisperer," has created a love story of a film that powerfully and gently opens our hearts and eyes to see how men experience the truly most profound moment in their lives - becoming a father. A virtually unknown need of men at birth emerges as men share their pain and loss: The moment a man sees his baby emerge from his partner should be his moment of awe, and this human need is totally ignored and violated in modern birth. And, it deeply impacts his life as a man, father, and partner.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
In her private practice, Janel facilitates the Father First (c) to safely and gently share his story of becoming father, in order for him to reclaim his rightful place and role in his family. When the father is heard and acknowledged, and when he is ready, Janel supports the father as she brings the mama-baby and dad together - to experience their Moment of Awe that they missed. (Chapter 2 of the film).

This process, grounded in recent scientific understanding of the nervous system and imprinting, follows the needs of their baby. Having their family Moment of Awe brings the family into a new experience of harmony and creates the foundation to create a new peaceful dynamic in their family.

The Other Side of the Glass: A birth film for and about men
Digital release available at this special price now - this limited release is over, Part 1 (Chapters 1-6) and upcoming Part 2 of the film will be available through a membership portal, where fathers (and others, such as grandmothers and doulas who also witnessed violence at birth) can safely and confidentially have access to work with Janel, and begin to process their experience, and lead in healing his family.

"To call it a film or even a documentary does not really represent the scope of your offering. It is more a manifesto on the origins of, and influences on, parenting and family life from the very beginning.

In a way it is a stand alone early parenting course. It is the most inclusive and balanced mother/father/baby film I have seen. This is rare because few actually get the true significance and importance of father's influence on the baby's gestation, birth and breastfeeding experience, as well as on the mother." 

- Patrick Houser, Fathers-to-be (UK)

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Update on the film

Since someone asked, coinciding with recent decisions, I thought I'd just do an update.

Thu Paul asks:  "How and where can I get a copy of this film?"

When distribution happens I will post it here but the actual purchasing will be on my website,

In working through the obstacles (completion details, finances, logistics, technology) of getting this film out there, and extensive researching on online distribution, I've decided to distribute it online prior to DVD production. 

First, I want to honor my commitment to the donors to "be first to get Part One". They will get online access first, before I open it up to the world.  People who donated will always get the best deals and access, and donations are accepted until I am ready to distribute for sell.

$100 donors still get a screening right, a copy, and business name in credits, and online access.
$500 or more are listed Associate Producers.
$1000 or more are listed as Co-Producers.
(listed in credits until it is uploaded, a week or two)

Secondly, I have realized that online download and rental for mobile devices is the way the world is going.

DVD distribution is very intensive and costly, especially the green DVD products I want to do, as plastics in the environment and water quality are a major concerns of mine. 

DVD production requires many steps that is not required to begin online sells, and in the world today, it makes total sense to do online distribution. People can download to their mobile device. I can see that men in particular are more likely to watch when they can, on their mobile device rather than sitting down to watch a DVD.

Thirdly, this film is my deep, deep personal healing story and my family's story.  The plan I am developing allows me to begin distribution, to get it out there, and importantly, to have a sense of control over. This is important to me, as a human being:  while I am still in such a vulnerable place, so impacted by this five year labor and birth;  while I deal with the world's perceptions, expectations, and complaints; and while I process and deal with the personal and financial impact that doing this film continues to have on me and my daughter.   It continues to be the hardest, most amazing, most rewarding thing I've done in my life. It is my life's purpose, and what a blessing to know and do that, and to have so much love and support from around the world.

Lastly, the bottom line is, mostly because of finances, if I don't distribute it online first, the film ain't happening.

The Kickstarter campaign done a year ago was for finishing funds" when I did not yet know that Part One was yet to be birthed in fall and winter, 2012.  Part One, finished in December, will be available online in a membership format. All the donors will have access to it.  I have much to do yet to figure this all out and get it set up online. My learning curve is long. Until and unless an investor or major donor comes along, this is my process.

I am always and forever deeply grateful for and appreciate the people who have made this film possible with their financial gifts. Like pre-viewers say, it's going to change the world, and they say it changes them immediately. That is why I was able to continue, for five years, and why people cared enough to support it.   We will and are making a difference. We will heal earth by healing birth.

I appreciate your patience and support.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Watch Your Language and End Male Violence

In order to change the climate of birth women need to get clear on some things about the baby; and, it needs to be reflected in the language so that women and all people get it. If we truly want to end violence against women we need to end violence against baby boys.

While it is the woman's - the mother's experience of giving birth - and this is a mighty thing, birth is the baby's birth. Being born is a monumental, defining experience for a human being. Baby experiences everything. The mother experienced her own birth; and, her experience will contribute to her experience of birthing her baby. A woman is on some level re-birthing herself when she births her baby. A "mother is also being born."

Men/fathers do not have this opportunity to "heal through birth" of their child, nor to be "birthed as a father" regardless of where birth and who the caregiver is. The role and needs of men are in need of serious consideration. Men don't get "rebirthed" through their experiences. Their "stuff" is just "out there".. unspoken and unseen, and unacknowledged. Aren't men good at "stuffing feelings? Isn't that a main complaint by women in relationship with men? This is the result, I implore you to consider, of never being acknowledged as a feeling, sentient being from the womb forward.

How long has this anger at women been going on? A long time. This inability of men to bring forth life and to be healed by it, and to be discounted for providing the seed of life, well, it must be a source of deep anger. It must be why the men in the Church and in Medicine joined forces to conquer nature, via women's bodies in the 14th and 15th centuries. The war is deeply entrenched now.

Now, in 2013, women's mantra is, "Its MY body!!" While women fight for their body integrity rights daily, and in birth, the average women, even midwives and doulas, do not use proper language to support the autonomy and body integrity of the woman .. as a baby girl, certainly not for the baby boy. The understanding of biology and neuroscience of the primal period is completely lost on the majority of people, especially and ironically, the medical birth caregivers.  WHO the baby is  - at least physiologically - in the womb is a fascination and amazing study in the field of "fetal programming." However, this profound body of recent verification of the early primal human being, and the understanding of the functioning of the nervous system/brain is totally forgotten by the researcher's obstetric colleagues during labor and birth. Or ignored, because they can, because it is lucrative, and importantly, because it creates an unconscious, collective agenda of disempowering human beings.

"If we hope to create a non-violent world where respect and kindness replace fear and hatred, we must begin with how we treat each other at the beginning of life. For that is where our deepest patterns are set. From these roots grow fear and alienation ~ or love and trust." - Suzanne Arms

We know this!! When we reeeeeeally know this, we stop harming because we know WHO the baby really its. We've been quoting it for as long as I've been in this field specifically looking at the roots of violence via birth. Thirteen years. And violence against women, at birth, is ever increasing. This means the violation of the baby, in the most foundational time is increasing and wiring humanity for fear and alienation.  Change starts with our thinking and our language, and then new action based on that.

Our current language that focuses only on mother is symptomatic and the feminine consciousness is where we can begin to change violence - violence against women and violence of boys and girls. Honestly, when I look around and I hear the stories, all I see, is profound wounding of the masculine and desperate, dire acting out, reaching out to the Feminine to heal. From the time I was in a violent relationship, and before that, ironically, where I finally convinced the board of directors at the violence shelter where I was on the board that abusers are abused and I developed a program for men ...  all I see in the angry men is deep pain from profound wounding. 
Violence is a result of boundary violations of the powerless. Baby boys and baby girls are powerless. Birth is where we need to go to address the roots of violence. We can start by honoring who the gestating, laboring, birthing, and newborn baby really is. We can start by adjusting our language to reflect this.  The waters and the membrane are the baby's tissues. The cord and placenta are the baby's tissues. These are the baby's body. The gestating, laboring, and birthing baby's body tissues - BOUNDARIES - need to be respected.

When the WOMAN only sees herself and not her baby, she is violating a sacred, critical boundary that has huge ramifications for humanity. Monsanto is a result of this. It's that big. And, it's that simple and yet so damaging. "My water broke". "They broke my water, cut my cord, and I encapsulated my placenta, I healed me with the VBAC, etc, etc, etc" ... it's all about me, the woman, me, me, me. It all IMPRINTS in very early self a DISCONNECT between mother and baby.  Men are saying, "Heeeelll no, it ain't just about you." And, based on his early wiring of being violated, separated, wounded -- most likely by a lot of women from his labor through circumcision, he is trying to regain is power. And, we call it all Love.

The physical, emotional and spiritual job of all us as humans beings is to differentiate ourselves from the woman who birthed us, while maintaining this most defining and Divine connection in human existence. It's a lifelong job and it is damn hard when we experienced violence and no one acknowledges it. And, it all shifts big time when the women get who the baby really is.

When the woman does not get who SHE was as a baby and who her baby really is, and I mean, deeply get and honor this, she is creating an imprint of boundary violating and she is disregarding her baby's personhood. She is programming her baby to feel as she has felt because our culture has long ignored this in the violation of birth and boundaries of women. Her waters, her bag, her cord, her placenta. We can and do deeply love our babies, I am not saying that, but who reading this does not have the deep, deep desire for his or her mother "to just get me?" "Just see me." "Just acknowledge me?"

This discussion is very significant to our extreme issues with boundary violations in relationships, with passive-aggressive communication and behavior the norm. It is critical in the discussion on the never-ending, but worsening violence against women and girls. The old psychological theory of the man acting out his relationship with his mother is well known, even if discarded by the theorists and psychologists (99.9% who do not "count" their conception through early infancy as important). This understanding of the needs of gestating, laboring, birthing and newborn baby to be seen, felt, heard, acknowledged and boundaries respected is critical, big stuff.

So, the woman is able to reclaim something for herself in birth, but in doing so without regard for the baby, the mother is doing some "bad" programming when she disregards her baby's physiological body boundaries. Both the girl and boy child are effected when the mother does not acknowledge the baby's body, but the boy who grows up to be a man has no way as a man to reclaim himself through birth, "to heal himself" as is the common mantra today. Multiply this wounding if the mother chooses to circumcise her son's penis with no regard for how his body is HIS, and the foreskin is HIS.

As a society we need to STOP THE HARMING. One of the things women and caregivers must do is GET WHO THE BABY IS and stop violating the boundaries of women and babies in most of their medicalized care. WE, non-medical caregivers and adults can begin to use language that honors the physiological boundaries of the baby. This is the precursor to great skills as caregivers and as parents, and to healing after being violated in the medical system. If the mother and father are speaking to the baby, "We know it is your cord and placenta and we are fighting for your right to have your blood" or if the mother communicates WITH the baby about what is happening when the choice is made for her, or she feels it's necessary, they mediate the impact. This is a very valuable mindset, understanding, and skill for mothers and fathers to help their child throughout life -- to deal with the boundary violations done to them "by the system" as they came into the world. It requires that they know their own baby woundings.

As a society we need to HELP THOSE WHO'VE BEEN HARMED TO HEAL. When an adult gets clear on what happened to me, my membranes, my waters, my cord, and my placenta, they can "be with" their baby's emotional states.

The claiming of one's body as a baby, as an adult, gives one the ability to differentiate one's own baby emotions from their new baby's. This allows the mother and father to understand their newborn's emotional state separate from their own issues. Otherwise, the adult, the mother and father, often struggle with baby's, cries, for example, and unresolved it effects them throughout life. This is particularly true for the man, the father. He has not had the direct connection with baby and his early self is so wounded. It pokes big time at that big festering boil of stuffed emotions. It is very critical for men to heal their early wounds and learn these skills.

This is where the discussion of violence against women and girls and children by men needs to go ... People need to embrace their own sweet little baby's experience and claim, process, and own their own baby's story. From here, one can rewire those early imprints. So, the title is simplistic, but the job is huge. The wherewithal to heal one's own self requires a deep desire to not be in the pain, and to see that pain is inevitable but misery is optional.  It requires the deep desire to find that inner connection -- to the Mother and it is doable. 

We have to heal ourselves and to stop the harming.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Wake up! It's the baby's birth!

This story by an OB-GYN shows how even DOCTORS who want to do differently don't have "control over" what happens to mama-baby in the hospital birthing event.

Let me repeat this word: disassociation.  It contains lots of syllables so I am woefully unprepared to pronounce it using my half working tongue.  Disassociation, as in one thing being no longer associated with the another.  And so it is with a mother and her genitals.  It seems odd enough that practitioners pull a sheet over your knees in an attempt to emotionally wall you off from a pap, but it is bizarre that the same is done with all the drapes for a vaginal delivery.  Are we really creating a sterile environment or are we disassociating your brain from your delivery?  "I'll just work down here little momma, you breath up there and it'll all be jes fine."   Whatever.  If the patient wanted the wall wouldn't it be better to give her the sheet for her head?

and after telling what is sadly a "typical" (but far from normal) American birth in the surgical suite,

Dad went over to take photos and, despite the mom's asking, nursery gave zero response about how her child was doing nor made any attempt to bring her over.  I am not always liked but I am infrequently misunderstood.  I take up enough space and am annoying enough that I am hard to ignore.  So imagine my surprise that my third attempt to get the nursery peoples' attention from about seven feet away was ignored.  Raising voice to a level that actually shut everyone up, one nurse actually turned to me and I requested the infant be at least shown to her mother.  This was refused as the child did not have her "bands" on yet.  I pointed out that it was probably impossible to confuse or lose the child in the OR and I would take full responsibility if this happened in the six floor tile space that separated this three hundred pound nurse from the mother's head.  She refused and I left the OR while the surgeon repaired skin and the mother as yet had still not seen her child.   Having again earned my title of being "difficult" I left feeling shunned. A tech in the hall asked what was wrong.   I muttered "disassociation."

I hate this job sometimes.

Bless this amazing man and OB. This story - in the context of a system that is disassociated from AND disassociates the people it serves - is so right on. And, it illustrates for me the need for people to further wake up, out of our collective dissociative disorder, or the "collective black out" I call it, that I propose IS a direct and cyclic result of birthing disassociated for generations.  Disassociation is the act of and cause of mama-baby separation.  It is the result of and cause of meddling in, and making birth a masculine, medical event (business) rather than the sacred entrance of a Soul on to the Mother Earth, through the mother, through the physical mother (egg) and the father (whether sperm donor or present father).  The typical, modern mother, father, and the caregivers, even midwives and doulas, are disassociated about their own birth experience that was separation and disassociation from the mama.

Let me repeat this, from the first paragraph above: 

Disassociation, as in one thing being no longer associated with the another.  And so it is with a mother and her genitals. 

Disassociated from her genitals. Aaaaand, what else? What is missing in this otherwise spot-on connection, or shall I say, ASSOCIATION with how two things, woman and genitals are disassociated at birth?  Anyone know?? What is missing here? Here's a clue! It's a WHO.  A few years ago I heard about a Family Feud question, "Name who you see in the delivery room."  I took my camera out, with my very pregnant radio show co-host, and on the street and in stores, we asked the question: "Name who you see in the delivery room?" Yep, the pregnant mama asked the question. No one got the WHO, even with a very ripe pregnant belly in front of them.  Do you know now? A BABY!! YAY!! Ding, ding, ding! Yes, the birth is the BABY's experience of coming into being and in 99% of us alive today, our mothers were DISASSOCIATED - from herself and from us during OUR labor and birth as a baby. The responses to our question, sadly, were doctor and nurse and then mother. This is the "typical" perception of birth; but, "typical" is not normal. 

When did it become "normal" to exclude the baby and do whatever one wishes promoting the belief that babies don't feel or think or remember?  We each have been born and programmed by a systematic, socially engrained and accepted disassociation of the mother from herself, her body and her baby. We are programmed by the separation of the father from the process, all of it for going on now for a hundred years. Multiple generations. 

(By the way, I do not believe that back in the day, fathers were just kept busy "boiling water" and had nothing to do at birth but be the bumbling idiot. I think they played a significant role in providing safety and comfort, and yeah, that might have included critical things like keeping the livestock alive and keeping the place warm, like when my mother and her twin were born at home in the middle of January in rural Iowa, before "global warming" when it could be three feet of accumulated snow and -0 for weeks at a time. A home births I observe the father (post-birth) like the father lion walking the perimeter of the baby and mama, checking in, working - laundry and cooking, feeding the mother - checking in. Circling, circling. He protects the space for the mama-baby to attach and bond.)

Ah, I digress to the fathers! Let's get back to the BABY, whose birth it is.

Consider here, before you read the OB's story, that there is no time in human development of the fetus, baby, and infant that is not specific and critical for THAT developmental time. We know how - from brain research - the laboring and birthing baby's brain is ONLINE and that the Limbic system, "seat of emotion" is being developed. It's being imprinted. We can see then how birth does DEFINE the human. 

The part of the brain that IS in critical development is emotional, sensory, and NON-verbal and THE major task is ATTACHMENT. The brain/baby WILL attach to what is happening in the environment from last trimester through infancy. But, at birth the brain/baby WILL attach to whoever it s/he sees and the sensation and emotions s/he experiences.  For a healthy, happy, harmonious human and healthy attachment that creates peaceful, compassionate, and connected humans IT MUST be that the baby sees, feels, smells, hears, and tastes THE MOTHER, for our mother relationship - good, bad or ugly - is a lifelong connection.  We can then see too, in the description this OB provides in his story, how it is that children today, up to half born by cesarean, most likely as in this story, have emotional attachment issues, ADDH, sensory processing, and other issues including asthma (related to lungs not being compressed during vaginal birth). (And the work I do is supporting mother - and father - to see the gifts of the birth and to honor the cesarean born baby. ALL of us have amazing, I mean, AMAZING gifts in the shadows of our trauma.)

We must wake up individually, as a natural birth movement, and then as a culture to the truth of whose birth it is and how that baby is programmed for life.  We must wake up to how the mama-baby connection must be protected and preserved, and how the family members present are having their moment as well.   We must each get that the baby (we, all of us) are in a monumental developmental process at birth.  There is a whole body of work integrating multi-disciplinary practices to create models of healing for those of us who experienced separation from the mother.  

Many well known researchers have put together the very profound and meticulous brain research and understanding of the early brain to show how this is true.  Raymond Castellino, DC, has used this research to create a method of healing at the Limbic system level. Over decades of working with hundreds and hundreds of people Dr. Castellino observed a sequence of five specific stages in the birth -  from "the baby's perspective" - that every person goes through.  The fourth stage of birth from the baby's perspective (nothing to do with medical model's stages of birth) is Completion (birth) and the baby moves into the Integration stage (post birth).
EVERYTHING that is happening during the birth, such as in picture above and in the story by the OB, is IMPRINTING the baby's nervous system/brain. Informing the baby THIS is what the world is like. This is what your mother and father are like. Disassociated. Fearful. This is what people are like. This what medical people are like. Disassociated. Unkind. Disregardful. Pain inflicting.  Does it really matter at that point, to the baby, if they are "really nice people just doing their job?"  The baby's is learning that his or her mother (and father) has no power and that others - "the system"  -  are in charge. They are God - in the moment we transition from Spiritual world to physical world.  We are programmed to know at the deepest level that others, not our mother and father, but the system, has power over us. 
We can not ignore this imprinting of disassociation in this most profound emotional, physical, and spiritual experience - of coming into Being, of coming into being a Mother, and of coming into being a Father. 

This is known to us birth trauma healers, but unknown to general population and sadly, unknown to doctors, midwives, nurses, and doulas.  But, the medically trained people have the "power" and the "authority" to tell people what we know is untrue:  That the birth experience doesn't matter to the baby and is not even remembered by the baby. How can this be? The delicate and mind-boggling plan of nature has evolved to selectively go into "black out" mode whenever a medical or midwifery person is tending them? It is so illogical. There is NO SUCH time that the baby is not who we know every baby to be: an aware, sentient, feeling, experiencing being.
Look at this baby, born Unassisted - no caregivers. How could we ever think that a baby is not fully functioning and aware?

The journey of the medical caregivers who were not taught to know this is extra challenging. Each one must heal one's own birth; and the experience of giving birth as a woman or witnessing the birth as the father. And then, the most challenging; a medical or midwifery or Doula caregiver must come to the understanding and forgiveness of what one did working in a disassociated environment. One must acknowledge and forgive oneself for all the humans hurt while they thought they were doing the best and safest thing. This may be the largest challenge.

Imagine for a moment, as you finish here and read the other blog post, a well-stated observation by an OB-GYN, how the collective energy and DISASSOCIATION of people in the room impact the mother and father (big time if there). 

I had to ask two different nurses to use their INSIDE VOICES PLEASE.  More important when you are talking about another patient, huh?   I asked the two nursery nurses, nurse practitioner, and respiratory tech to please hold down their personal conversation which was met with stares.  And finally I was glared down by anesthesia when I ask him to hit END.  I tried to keep mom informed of our progress but gave up over the din.  Once the infant was delivered, a suctioning was needed so despite her asking the infant was not shown but rather whisked to the warmer for assessment, the usual blow by O2 despite being pink (gotta charge for that resuscitation), and requisite trach suctioning. 

How does this impact the baby, whose birth it is? Us! Me, you, our babies, every baby?

Consider, for just a minute, what might be this baby's experience ... for his or her lifetime, since we know not that imprinting is scientifically true. Birth creates a template for how the human being will be in relationship with self, mother, father, others, the world. How will this mama-baby and father get OUT of the experience? What makes this so hard is that we have been trained in the model of "normative abuse".  When we are confronted with the notion that baby is real and experiencing birth and disassociation from disconnect, we adults are immediately are overwhelmed with our early brain emotions that are sensory and non-verbal. Our fine tuned Denial mechanisms kick in. We feel powerless, angry, abandoned, and we feel pain and panic. The feelings of our sweet little baby self that we have learned over the decades, via no one listening to our baby cries, via the social messages and our thus well developed thinking brain, very elaborate ways to override those emotions, are now up for us. We've learned skills of projection and blame to cover our pain.  And THEN, we have a flood of emotions related to our own babies and giving birth to them, bringing them into the world. "Oh, no, that can not be" (that my child experienced their birth -- that is easily seen as traumatic to the mother even).

Most of us alive were seriously violated and harmed and sent home by the abusers (very nice, highly trained and professional DISASSOCIATED people) and we are expected to "get over it." Suck it up and get back to work, Dad. Well, our culture is not getting over it.  Separation of the mama-baby at this most vital, profound and defining experience of life, meant to be about love, intimacy, and connection -- attachment -- IS the core experience for life.  The disruption of it is the root of all dysfunctions, diseases, and disorders of humanity.  It IS the main reason that MEN can not protect their partner and baby in the medical, and sometimes, even home births.

I wonder if the OB author of this great post has considered this as well; and considered his own birth and his feelings about his own children's births.  I wonder what he would do if he got - in his body, in his soul, in his nervous system - how impacted that he was, his children were? If so, he would see that the mother and baby and father in his story were, and will be for their lifetime. I wonder if he, as a caregiver, clearly far ahead of his contemporaries in coming out of disassociation, realizes the impact of even the smallest of interventions, done even slightly disassociated. 
I envision and pray that  caregivers could understand that unless the families they serve receive very specific trauma work to support them to integrate ALL the happened -- the good (love and joy), the bad, and the ugly -- people ARE going to be the walking disassociated.  People are going to be trauma-bonded, energetically and physically to them, the caregivers.  

I live to help caregivers understand the absolute vital need of every single birth, where ever and with whom ever, to receive support for the mama and baby and father to process it, to release the trauma, and to create a new energetic relationship.
I absolutely love this guy who is so conscientious of the mother and baby; and, who appears to be worn down by trying to do right in the hospital. Exhaustion is a sign we are in the wrong place and using up too much energy to get through the day. I lived that working in systems purported to "help families".  So much abuse and wrong-doing all around me. This is why people leave these professions from social work to teaching to nursing and even doctoring. Unfortunately, doctors have too much financially at stake "to just leave and do something else." 

The OB blogger (another Dr. Angel I add to my short, but growing list) says:

I am not always liked but I am infrequently misunderstood.  I take up enough space and am annoying enough that I am hard to ignore.  

How sad is that? For doing the RIGHT thing. For being awake and trying to honor the woman and her baby?  I really want to support doctors to "get the baby" and to also heal.  I really want to support MEN to engage with them to create a NEW model of birth that is the blending of the natural and the medical knowing to support that when there is a true problem.

When one gets, truly gets, that this is the baby's birth into this world and every second matters;  every every smell, sight, sound, and sensation;
and every thought and emotion of others in the room matters. They matter to the baby and loved ones - for the lifetime. When one gets that, one can not do it anymore.  One can not even put a hat on a baby, let alone routinely cut the cord prematurely separating mama-baby, and bulbing a baby with a useless tool that only harms.

When one "gets it", one cannot participate in it anymore. One cannot watch it anymore. If the OB-GYN got how impacted that mama-baby's attachment and life long relationship will be and how it will ripple out in to the world (to be the root cause of literally everything our culture tries to get rid of) he would FURTHER WAKE UP and truly disassociate. Sadly, one has to be dissociated to continue to work in an environment, a systematized practice, that harms humanity at the core, one baby and one baby-mama, and baby-mama-daddy at a time. If he fully woke up he would be a raging father lion. He would do a Super Hero move on that nurse and take that baby and give baby to the mama, like a physician father describes in my film. He would at least momentarily KNOW within him that he should call 911, the Child Abuse Hotline .. that this IS CHILD ABUSE ... but he would be silenced by the collective disassociation of a culture that fights for peace, ignoring the root cause. But he would know, this is where violence starts. 

It's up to us to support the doctors and nurses and midwives who are trying to work Undisassociated in a violent, disassociated system. It's time to wake up and to rise up; and for men in particular, outside of this system, to demand the change and lead the change of a new paradigm. More to come on that .... that "what's next" when the film is out. TWO things: We have to stop the harming and and we have to help those who have been harmed to heal. That is ALL of us, but especially doctors and nurses who were trained to believe it was ok, and even best.

Let's build it!! Men rise up!! Create the structures and systems to truly protect women and babies!

Would you agree, after reading this story, that this mama-baby need an option other than to go home and forget about it, be happy you and your baby are live and "fine" ... because birth is so inherently dangerous and life threatening? Don't they, didn't we all, doesn't every single mama-baby need  immediate and long term support to process and recover from that experience? Even the best homebirth (perceived by midwives and doctors whose lives and families are on the line for any outcome that in hospital is ignored) need to be processed and integrated.

I will list below colleagues who provide the leading edge care of healing birth trauma, supporting a family to heal and integrate what happened.

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