A Place Beyond Gender

There is a place beyond the expression of maleness and femaleness that has no shape or colour, no distinctions at all. It’s the Space of Who we all really are.

There is a Space that is accessible for men and women, its the Space of Awareness. To talk about it as such confuses it, because it mistakes it for a State of being, like an experience, but this space beyond experience is like, the Container for it all, its massive, its hard to talk about.

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The Feelings That Are Driving The Bus

Our feelings seem to exist independent of our thinking.

Often I find myself in a ‘mood’ and I have no idea where the ‘mood’ came from.

It feels like my thinking is being driven by my feelings when in reality it’s the other way round.

The thoughts that I am thinking create the feelings I label ‘bad’, ‘depressed’ or ‘sad’.

The ones that work ‘best’ are habitual; I am no longer aware of having thought them.

They trundle along outside of my awareness.

Like changing gear in the car, I have long since stopped thinking about them consciously.

They work perfectly, directing my rising and falling moods.

Over time, day after day, year after year, I mistakenly think these created feelings represent who I really am.

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Sitcks And Stones…Words And ‘Things’.

No one remembers learning to talk, like walking, this skill was mastered very early in our development, language learning was accomplished at an unconscious level of understanding, long before we had gained the ‘sophistication’ required to block our inherent ability to take on new information.

Speaking is still an unconscious process, after all these years the words and phrases tumble out of our mouth before we are aware that we were going to say what we just said.

The way we make sense of the world is not straight forward. Understanding how we are constantly taking the ‘events’ of our lives and making meaning of them is a door way into having more control over the ways in which we behave and speak to others.

The words we use when talking to others and ourselves offers them and us directions for our meaning making.

Have you ever tripped up meaning in the street?

This is a question I have asked many groups over the years, usually people look at me as if to say , ‘what the fuck are you talking about’?! ‘What do you mean, have I ever tripped up ‘meaning’ in the street, of course I haven’t’?

‘Why haven’t you’?

I’ll tell you why, it’s because there is ‘NO MEANING OUT THERE’! Any meaning you and I are making about what appears to be happening ‘out there’, is being created ‘in here’, inside our own thinking.

Before we have any chance to discriminate, we have created the experience we are ‘living inside’ right now.

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Being A Man And Working As A Midwife…..Some Musings

People always struggle to guess what I do for a living, I’ve won more than one round of drinks playing that game. When I finally tell them, 3 pints later that I’m a midwife they still don’t believe it.

Its not much different when I am at work, I walk into the birth-room and the woman says,’I called the midwife not security’; to which I reply, ‘I am the midwife’; she then shouts SECURITY’!

I do kind of get that response, imagine you are in labour, its getting difficult, you’er on the edge of needing an epidural, and in walks this 20 stone, shaved headed, biker looking bloke doing ‘jazz hands’; to be frank I do my best to not do the hands thing, its become a bit of a habit, ‘all the better to reach your cervix madame’!

Being a male midwife is one thing, looking like an extra from the ‘Gangs of New York’ is another. I did have one women, who after she had calmed down said to me that I looked like that actor, ‘oh she said, you know the on the tip of my tonuge…’, I was thinking, an over weight Vin Diesel, or a plump Bruce Willis maybe; I said ‘whose that then’? She said SHREK! I thought to myself, ‘good luck with getting that epidural you were asking for (joking).

I remember when I first started out as a student midwife, there were only 61 male midwives out of 36,000 in the whole of the UK, I’m standing at the foot of this woman’s bed having been asked by my mentor to do my first vaginal examination; my mind is racing, I’m more than a little panicked, ‘please, please let this not be the first time I stumble on the clitoris’!

I am often asked why I become a midwife given how unusual it is for a man to do the job? I do coming from a large family, 5 sisters and 3 brothers and now I have 5 biological children, 1 adopted child and 5 grand-children, maybe this has created a love of pregnancy and birth in me? It does mean that my contraceptive advice is probably crap.

I remember Abbi, my youngest daughter saying to me ‘if I get pregnant by accident you will support me won’t you dad’? I just said to her, ‘Abbi, you have really misunderstood the word accident, you don’t get a penis there by accident…’oh dam how did that get there’! I went on, ‘if you get pregnant because you chose not use barrier methods of contraception of course I’ll support you’, and I have!

It was Abbi, when she was very little who found a condom in our bedroom, she asked what it was and being a full on ‘new age’ home schooling parent I gave her the fullest explanation that I thought a little girl her age could cope with.

All things considered, I was thinking, ‘job well done’ until I overheard her explaining what it was to Joe, her younger brother; ‘Joe, this is a CONDOM’, she is holding it up between finger and thumb, kind of squinting at it; ‘now Joe’, she continues, with an incredulous face, ‘you are not going to believe this, Dad’s willy is in here’!

It wasn’t long after this episode that Joe came into our bedroom one weekend morning and in the most serious of 6 year old voices asked, ‘Mum, Dad, do you think I could watch while you have sex’? I said ‘no Joe, you’ll have to subscribe to the web page like everybody else”.

Of course I was joking, and another full on explanation of the importance of privacy, love and commitment in the context of sex ensued. Judging by his 18 year old behaviour he has managed totally to forgot or disregarded that chat.

My sons grew up in a household where a man being a midwife was ‘normal’, in fact they wanted to be midwives themselves like their dad, until the penny dropped, when they realised that being a midwife was considered a woman’s job their friends would ask them what their dad did for a living and they would say, ‘oh, nothing, he’s unemployed’.

It’s come full circle now and as ‘young’, if a little crude ‘men’ all I get now in front of their mates is, ‘they don’t call my dad ‘fish finger’ for nothing”.

I have over the years been concerned about the impact I am having on my children, and often I find they are following in the foot steps I thought I had covered up. My mother has left an indelible mark on me, having bore 8 children and adopted 1, I have some what followed in her steps and gained a deep faith in a woman’s inner power to birth well with little need for medical help.

She did tease me often about my weight, as long as I can remember I have ‘struggled’ to loose weight and been self conscious about my size, she used to say that my first school photograph was an arial shoot, and that she took me to school in a wheel barrow, a little harsh me thinks.

This mental ‘battle’ with size was brought into sharp focus, when not long after joining a new midwifery team I was invited on one of those ‘out ward bound team building days’; all the others had done their absail down the side of this bridge, it was a long way down, and I was more than nervous.

‘Has that rope got a weight limit’, I asked, ‘you’d get a mini bus on this rope’, the weathered instructor encouraged. By now I am full-on scared, desperate to get out of doing it with out losing face, ‘have you ever had a mini bus on it’ I questioned, wanting to keep the conversation going as long as I could; ‘nope’, he said, ‘you are the closest we have come’!

My weight has never stopped me from playing sports, cricket, football, rugby, tennis anything with a ball really. These skills have come in use at least once in my midwifery career.
I was looking after a women having her 7 baby, she was choosing to birth standing up, a position that make so much sense from an anatomical and gravitational perspective.

Having said all that, being her 7 baby (all born vaginally) she probably would have managed birth standing on her head, she stood and rocked, then birthed her baby, he ‘shot out’ and I had to dive to my left like a fielder in the slips to catch him. I resisted the urge to throw him in the air while shouting Howzatt!

The Thinking Mind And The Birthing Woman

The thinking mind stimulates adrenalin production and that stops oxytocin working effectively. A woman’s body, while birthing thrives on oxytocin flooded tissues.

Pointing to a woman’s inner power for birthing, is not about asking her to ‘believe she has power’, thinking and believing go hand in hand.

There is something about wordless pointing that enables a woman to access her unique resources for birth, power that lies beneath the neocortex, the younger part of the brain responsible for language production and critical thinking.

The effects of interrupted physiological birth in humans is less profound than animals, probably due to our ability to think and reason.

Our presuppositions,conscious and otherwise, define the boundaries around what we consider possible in our behaviours. The Story Lives Us, and our births.

What we think will ‘probably happen’ in a situation, sets a ‘filter’ for all the information coming into us, like a self fulfilling prophecy, ‘what we fear often comes upon us’.

Pointing to ‘that’ place inside of a birthing woman, ‘that’ place before words, feelings and experiences, allows the Innate Wisdom for birth to flow.

The only Truth I Know is that which is Self Authenticating, there is no need for belief. Like balance, I know it as a Truth.

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Birth Professionals Who Use The Words ‘My Ladies’

Why do I dislike the use of the phrase ‘My Ladies’ so much?

I think it’s the suggestion of possession, that some how the midwife has ownership of the pregnant women they care for. It under cuts a woman’s autonomy; they already have all the power they need inside to birth well.

‘Ladies’ is a deferential term that historically men have used towards the ‘weaker sex’, we should drop it, along with every other term of endearment like , love, dear and babe.

Every pregnant woman we meet is an expert on her own body and experience. She may not know anything about the structures that we’ve imposed on birth; She might not know anything about the imaginary measurements we have invented for this mysteriously unfolding birthing story, but she is an expert when it comes to responding to her body.

She wants some support, she may need some gentle pointing and directing to her inner capacity for birthing.

What she doesn’t need is an ‘expert’ suggesting that the power to birth is out-side in .

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17 Words and Phrases I’ve Heard Midwives Say That Need SCRAPPING…if your a midwife and you use any of them…STOP!

Number 1: ‘MY ‘ladies’.

Number 2: ‘you might ‘be ALLOWED’ to have a home birth’…insert anything in for home birth. The language of permission is missing the point.

Number 3: ‘I just catch babies’! Aghhh at most midwives offer support based on reflected upon experience.

Number 4: ‘if you don’t push better than this I’m going to get the doctors’.

Number 5: Stop any references to ‘stages’ of ‘labour’ that suggests that they actually exist! Remember, we MADE them UP! Useful guide? Maybe? Maybe not.

Number 6: ‘They’ are not all the SAME, your experience is useful BUT not absolute, always ‘bow the knee’ to a woman’s sublime uniqueness.

Number 7: Any use of the words ‘they’ or ‘them’ when speaking about pregnant women.

Number 8: ‘pethidine will work well for you.

Number 9: ‘you must get on the bed for me to examine you’.

Number 10: ‘it’s too late for an epidural’.

Number 11: ‘we are going to let the epidural wear of so you can feel when to push’. NO NO NO!

Number 12: ‘if we put your legs into lithotomy you will be able to push better’.

Number 13: ‘If you think this is painful (a comment on so called latent phase of labour), just wait until ‘labour’ starts.

Number 14: ‘it’s too early for gas an air’.

Number 15: with fingers in the woman’s Vagina: ‘RELAX’!

Number 16: ‘just pop on the bed, I’m going to examine you ‘down there’.

Number 17: ‘chin on your chest, hold your breath and with the next contraction…PUUUUUUSH’! This should STOP now.

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