Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Change #11 Row Row Row Your Boat in the River of Life

Dear Birth Peeps,

From childhood, millions of young women and men, including most of our fellow birth peeps (and myself), WE as a culture, are thoroughly, completely pacified, numb, and hypnotized by the medical model's rituals and beliefs--even in our resistance to it, we are hypnotized by its power. From time to time, a little voice in the back of our minds, or in the media, screams out to wake us from this trance, but is the power of ritual and hypnotic language, another message, study, story (after all, repetition is the food for ritual and trance) is sent and the culture--that has been entrained to believe birth is safer with monitors and medical magic, or powerless to change the rituals of birth, falls back asleep again.

It's time for all us to really wake up. There is power in numbers, and there is power in repetition, repetition, repetition, and love. If we keep repeating new rituals of preparation, change will come.

Resisting and resenting the medical model is not the way--because resistance affirms the very trance we resist.

We must put our attention and intention into a new dream, one that arises in us, from us. WE must create-and repeat frequently--our own new rituals that reinforce our emerging dream and self-worth. As a culture of mothers and fathers and birth peeps, we are indeed numb and shaky, dependent, hypnotized like children who want to be safe and contained, want to get approval, and avoid conflict, disapproval, and above all: death. In every revolution, there is risk. There is a price to pay for real change. Like children, a few rebel--and are used as examples to keep the other children in line.

Real change comes from the bottom up. There is power in numbers. We cannot wait for the medical model, hospital administrators, or insurance companies to come to its senses. We cannot wait for another study to prove ...whatever it is we want to prove; evidenced-based practice is kind of convenient myth.

If we are paralyzed and believe ourselves to be dependent and powerless, we need to restore our spirit, muscles, and faith. We need to find our own way on the river of life, un-learn old beliefs, and learn new stories. A solitary river trip for six-weeks would be a great re-education for every pregnant couple and birth peep.

I'd like to tell you a story about a man who took such a trip in a canoe down the Mississippi. He was born in 1901 and contracted polio when he was 17. He was very sick for a while (the doctors thought he would die), then very weak, unable to walk. To renew his spirit and self worth, he arranged to take a solitary, six-week canoe ride down the Mississippi River--with $5 in his pocket. He had to be carried and placed in the boat when the trip began.

On the river, on his own, he discovered as do many people who live on the river, that the River provided everything he needed. He met people who lived on the river, enjoyed campfires and storytelling. Day by day he was learning. Rowing strengthened his muscles. At the end of the canoe trip, he had developed upper body strength, and was able to walk on his own with a cane. Equally important, he gained a new world view. What the river taught him he was to use the rest of his life.

This man is Milton Erickson, truly a wounded healer, the founder of his own unique style of hypnotherapy. Erickson is a legend, he died in 1980.

What are you thinking about right now?
What does the living metaphor of Milton Erikson's canoe trip say to you?

It speaks volumes to me. We need to initiate mothers, fathers, and birth peeps in a life-validating way. Not from books, research, resistance--but in the body, in nature, from stories on the river of life. Wouldn't it be crazy if childbirth classes became a life-adventure, learning survival skills, facing our fears and surviving. Learning metaphors about life, opening, change...from Nature.

Another crazy thought from Pam, in Albuquerque, on the Rio Grande.
Radical change is what is needed. Not smoldering, petty resistance. Let's keep thinking, talking, daring to really feel again... and all the while, remember to embrace it all, including the medical model.

Remember that how you dream the medical model arises in your mind, not "out there." When we can embrace it without being in a trance, then we have real power to "choose."

Row Row Row Your Boat.
Life is but a Dream.



  1. Thank you for these precious words! Yes, yes, yes!

  2. Hi Pam, Oh love this one... another story. Medicine. Just what was needed right now. Thank you. Happy Weekend, In Gratitude, Kim

  3. LOVED THIS CHANGE!!!! less words and more action, YES!!

  4. Pam, yesterday I briefly watched a PBS show on ADD, there was a man from Canada speaking about the importance of stories, from the patient, from their family, spouse etc, in order to properly diagnose. He spoke of how stories help us remember parts about ourselves that we forget... it gave me goosebumps and reminded me of you. :)