The Case for Home Birth

by Anne Mason

Two hours after our daughter’s birth.

Both my kids were born at home. People have often remarked on the courage I must have had to have made that choice. It wasn’t courage––it was a desire for a comfortable, supportive birth environment I knew was the best bet for my kids and me to avoid unnecessary trauma and intervention. There are times when medical intervention is necessary, but most of the time, the medical system itself and its medicalized birth practices create the issues which lead to intervention in the first place.

Our bodies are designed to give birth. Fit, healthy women in most cases should be able to deliver their babies naturally––if only they are allowed to. I was 37 years old with my first pregnancy and 40 with my second. My husband and I eschewed all the tests and screenings recommended for “a woman my age,” as we were committed to bringing our children into the world, regardless of what abnormalities or issues such screenings might suggest. And we were blessed with two wonderfully healthy children born without complication or intervention.

I remember being questioned about our choice to birth at home when I was pregnant with our eldest. Well-intended friends pointed to historical maternal and infant mortality rates as an argument for hospital birth. A closer look at the history, however, largely implicates hospitals and doctors in the staggeringly high maternal mortality rates from puerperal fever in the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries––in which it was common practice for the medical profession to examine pregnant women and deliver babies after performing autopsies, WITHOUT WASHING THEIR HANDS. As Suzanne Humphries, MD and Roman Bystrianyk emphasize in their landmark book “Dissolving Illusions: Disease, Vaccines, and the Forgotten History,” puerperal fever’s massive maternal death toll profoundly impacted the fabric of society. It is no wonder this tragic and largely avoidable episode in recent human history influences our fears surrounding childbirth.

Poverty, lack of sanitation, lack of nutrition and poor standard of living during that time period also contributed to overall mortality rates, life expectancy and birth outcomes. When determining the risks of childbirth in this day and age in the US and other developed nations, it’s critical to examine our history and whether those risk factors still apply. Further, it is paramount that we look at the actual statistics involving home birth here in the US. Among low-risk women, planned home births result in low rates of interventions without an increase in adverse outcomes for mothers and babies.

It is becoming common knowledge that the US medicalized birth practices are a factor in the United States’ increasing maternal mortality rates. The only developed country with an increase, the US maternal mortality rate has more than doubled from 1991 to 2014. Earlier this year, Harvard Business Review cited these statistics and more in its piece The Rising U.S. Maternal Mortality Rate Demands Action from Employers and advocated for non-hospital birth options for low-risk pregnancies.

Furthermore, the medical system in the US is the cause of so many deaths that researchers from Johns Hopkins wrote an open letter to the CDC to request that CDC change its record collection criteria to accurately inform the public of this alarming statistic. With medical errors being the 3rd leading cause of death in our country, the hospital hardly seems a sensible environment for a healthy expectant mother to deliver her healthy baby into. On the contrary, the mother and baby would seem at less risk of fatal complications in the safety of their own home, attended to by trained midwives.

Beyond the health and safety of the mother and child, there are many more reasons to deliver at home. In the privacy of her own home, the mother is allowed to labor at her own pace. She can labor in the comfort and quiet of her own bedroom, bathtub or birth tub. While her midwives monitor her and the baby’s vitals throughout, they are unobtrusive and respectful, and they accommodate her timing, not theirs. She is not surrounded by or attached to any machines and monitors, and she is able to move her body freely.

Without intervention or epidural, labor proceeds naturally, as baby and mother coordinate their rhythm and contractions to bring the birth. The midwives do not pressure the mother to take Pitocin to induce labor. She is allowed to proceed as her body and her baby’s body dictates.

Family members or chosen friends are the only other people in the home, quietly and respectfully on-hand to support the laboring mother and whatever she may need at the time. A hushed reverence pervades the scene. And when the baby arrives, he or she is welcomed into the quiet, warm room, surrounded only by loving family, friends and trusted midwives the mother has gotten to know well over the course of her pregnancy.

Newborn baby and mother remain together in the comfort of their bed, while over the next couple of hours the midwives gently monitor, record birth stats and care for the mother (one of my midwives even brought me a plate of scrambled eggs after the birth of our daughter, as she felt I needed the protein). Once they determine all is well, they pack up their oxygen and equipment, hug the new mother, kiss the new baby and go home, only to return the next day and beyond to continue post-partum monitoring and care.

Mother and baby, big brother and father fall asleep in the comfort of their own beds. What a lovely way to welcome this new member of the family. And what a lovely way to come into the world.

Featured post

The Blessings of Home Birth

Anne Mason and Thea Mason

What better entry into the world than the loving sanctuary of one’s family home? The medicalization of birth in the US may account for its alarmingly high infant and maternal mortality rates––so let’s take a closer look when evaluating which environment poses the bigger risk.

Home Birth “veterans” and sisters Anne Mason and Thea Mason examine and discuss.

**NOTE TO VIEWER/LISTENER: Anne read from a few online articles she had printed out right before their chat, but the print outs didn’t display a few things properly, and she guessed at source and date of a couple. The piece she thought was from Harvard Medical Review was actually from Harvard Business Review (link below), and the NPR piece on the Johns Hopkins study was from May 2016 (link below as well.)

We’ve included a few additional links as well, in order to help anyone get started in doing their own research about the risks and benefits of natural home birth vs medicalized hospital births. The transcript to the video can be found below the links:


New Studies Confirm Safety of Home Birth With Midwives in the U.S.

To lower maternal and infant mortality rates, we need more midwives

American Babies Are Less Likely to Survive Their First Year Than Babies in Other Rich Countries

The Rising U.S. Maternal Mortality Rate Demands Action from Employers

Medical Errors Are No. 3 Cause Of U.S Deaths, Researchers Say


TRANSCRIPT BELOW:

Anne:                                         00:01                       Hey Thea.

Thea:                                         00:02                       Hey there, Anne.

Anne:                                         00:05                       So we decided we want to talk about home birth this episode, and it follows on a friend is coming up to having her third child and has decided to do a home birth. And we were talking about it, and given that you had all of your boys at home, your healthy boys at home, and I had both my kids at home, and our mother had our youngest at home, we have some experience with that and thought it related to a lot of the other discussions we’ve had about empowerment, authority, autonomy, self responsibility and more. (That’s A loud, long train horn!)

Thea:                                         01:09                       You know, it all depends on the personality, I think, of the train driver. They vary. Sometimes it’s like “HONNNNNK!”

Anne:                                         01:19                       And what kind of day they’re having! So, just to start out with a couple of thoughts, and we’ll go from there. A lot of times I’ll be in a group of women or be talking to women about birth, and having had a home birth, and those that haven’t had that experience will often say, “Oh, how brave. You’re so brave.” (Wow. That guy is really agro!) So yeah, they’ll say, “Oh, you’re so brave.” And I always say, “No trust me, I think you’re the brave one.” The women who manage to have uncomplicated births without intervention, according to the plan that they had set forth when they came into the hospital––I can’t really even imagine having that experience. How much harder you would be to have had you know, as gentle a birth as birth can be.

Thea:                                         02:30                       Right? Yeah. I mean, as birth is this place of absolutely power and vulnerability at the same time, and to be in a situation that you aren’t even really comfortable or quite relaxed. I can’t even fathom.

Anne:                                         02:52                       I mean, any woman who’s gone through this knows––you’re in a different state of mind.

Thea:                                         03:01                       If you’re allowed to be. And I wonder about that too. I mean, I think, I don’t know, I haven’t done it in the hospital. And I wonder if women who have given birth in hospitals have had varying experiences of being in that altered state. Or not.

Anne:                                         03:18                       Or if they have to always kind of be on in order to say no or to watch what’s going on––I mean, just alone, so, you know obviously complications can happen in any situation, right? But first off most midwives are incredibly experienced at delivering babies, actually delivering them, not C-sections, but actually delivering them. And delivering them in a number of different circumstances. I mean, my son for example, the cord was wrapped around his head as happens In think in like a quarter of births. Right? My midwife who delivered our daughter, helped me deliver our daughter, she worked in the back countries of Amish land, right? She delivered twins, she delivered breech babies. She could do anything, you know? And it was wonderful to be in the hands of someone so beautifully experienced, no matter what came up. And of course, midwives, they bring the oxygen, they have a lot of things at their disposal right here at the house. And they have relationships with doctors at hospitals so that if you need to transfer, you can go there. But. Provided it goes just the normal course, you’re in your own home, you’re in your own bed or bathtub or whatever you choose. You are able to go at your own pace. You don’t have to speed it up or, or either say no constantly to Pitocin or finally accept taking Pitocin to stimulate your contractions in order to get things moving because the hospital won’t allow you to be there for longer than a couple of days, et cetera. Right? So many things. And on top of it, you don’t have to worry about people coming and checking, taking blood, all the things, who knows. I mean, I have no idea what it’s like ’cause I’ve not done it except for having watched documentaries on the difference between those types of births. But you know, you don’t need to be hooked up to machines. You don’t have the constant intrusion of people coming in and out. And more. So it just facilitates the birth experience happening healthily and smoothly.

Thea:                                         05:53                       It does. As so many pieces of literature about the space of birth liken it to love making in a way, too. Because anything that requires a space of settling in, relaxing, letting down, opening up––t’s a very intimate experience. And picturing love making in the hospital, they don’t go so well together, you know. So I think that’s one picture. And another thing that was sparking in my mind while you were laying out those examples is––being a midwife, which is “with woman”, is “with them, is much like being a parent, knowing when to intervene and when to stay back and allow the process to simply occur. And you’re frankly allowing that space to be there. We’re doing that as parents for our children. Sometimes failing, sometimes being right on point. We’re doing that as teachers. Anything that is a guiding post requires that ability to know when to intervene and when to sit back to let the wisdom of the process have its place. And that’s what gets lost in the hospital, right? Because since we have all these things to check, we do. So that’s one part.

Anne:                                         07:31                       Agreed. I remember even as a child being able to hold my youngest sister in my arms before she was even, you know, washed off and like insisting on that. I remember insisting that I wanted to. And mom was on the bean bag in our family room. It was an extraordinarily different experience than she had had with her previous three births with me and our other sister, she had had them in one hospital and had just pretty bad experiences being forced to inducebeing kept away from her child at length and more. I remember then with you, she tried a different hospital hoping that would be better. Not at all. And finally went to the next obvious choice, which was not even legal in the state at the time.

Thea:                                         08:39                       I don’t know if it is yet. It wasn’t even 20 years ago.

Anne:                                         08:42                       Right, where we grew up. Right. So I guess what I’d like to do, I think you had articulated this, maybe you want to say it again about just inverting…

Thea:                                         08:55                       Well I’ve had those conversations with people too who’ve said how courageous to do it at home and my feeling quite the same as you. That, “No.” And then I was thinking that it’s really about taking that image, that picture of what birth is and it’s become inverted. It’s slipped through the wormhole to the other side, you know, the images of what’s courageous, and what’s comforting and safe, you know? And I think that there’s a lot of movement of that, at least in the communities that we live in, of people recognizing that birth needs to be re looked at to be redone, to be safe. And to be non medicalized to give families the best start. You know, I think one of the big parts of it being so medicalized is that it seems to create distance when there should be connection right off the bat, you know? And it’s hard enough. I mean, that’s the part that boggles my mind. It’s hard enough, just the actual physical laboring of it. And then really the weeks after of the care, I mean, it’s amazing what we do.

Anne:                                         10:24                       Well, it’s, I mean, let’s go further. It’s not just, yes, the actual physical laboring, but I’ve never experienced anything like it. Right? And having done it we all, most women I think would agree you get to a point and I guess that that’s around transition, but you get to a point where you cannot imagine going further. It is unbearable. Right? And it’s hard to describe. It’s not a pain like, like a wound. It’s the most unpleasant discomfort I’ve ever had. That goes beyond pain, but it’s not sharp pain.

Thea:                                         11:21                       I would even call it more, I mean, I know we all have our different colorings of it and I think that that’s such an interesting idea we’ve talked about even in another conversation––about what we identify as pain and how we articulate it and how we hold it in our understanding. But it’s more like “unbelievable.” It’s going to a space that is unbelievable. And there is required a complete surrender into what is unbelievable.

Anne:                                         11:54                       Yes, yes. And a courage, I mean, and I, I remember…

Thea:                                         12:02                       Your first birth? I remember it, too.

Anne:                                         12:04                       Well, the first birth you remember because, and I’ll say to the viewer, this is after Thea’s third birth, third home birth, and she has her youngest in a sling having been born seven weeks before. And she’s there in my little apartment, you know, helping me along. And me in my heady way and crazy trippy way that birth sends you into not realizing that I was as close as I was, just somehow thinking that it was just getting, I was just getting more, more pathetically weak and unable to, to deal with it. And I remember you just marveling that I was still talking about it instead of just going into myself. Right? And then the second time Thea got there 15 minutes after the delivery of my daughter. And I remember at the point where my midwife was saying she’s, because of course the midwives arethey’re checking all the time. They’re monitoring the heart rate of the baby, yours, everything. Right? And intimately, and frequently. They’re right there. And she said, “Okay, you know, if they don’t come out,”––we weren’t sure, boy or girl––”they don’t come out in the next one or doesn’t start coming out, we’re going to have you change your position.” And in that moment, and she told me why, because her heart rate was, not coming up as quickly as it should. And I remember thinking, “Okay,” and all I could think of was that scene from Braveheart where Mel Gibson’s character’s be being disemboweled and he shouts “Freedom!” And I think to myself, because it’s based on a true story, I thought to myself, “If somebody could do that and shout ‘Freedom!”, I can do this and I can get her out.” And I did. Right? So it’s like we all go through all these different processes. (Laughter).

Thea:                                         14:25                       (Laughter) Wow!

Anne:                                         14:25                       But doing that, or as we were talking about earlier knowing very deep down that something has to be.You’re in touch with what’s going on there with your child. And I’ve heard so many stories from so many women who have said, whether it’s the doctor or the midwife or anybody saying no, you know, you’re not far, or you’ve still got a while…And the woman is just like, “No, I know they need to come out, and not only do they need to come out, I need to transfer because they need to come out now.” And the mother gets in touch with an instinct in her that she’s never had before. That that puts her authority over her child above all else. And in home birth in, in my experience and mind, really allows that to happen in a much more conducive way, I guess. Pardon me. Than the hospital, medicalized births.

Thea:                                         15:42                       Yeah. A total different framework. Can we pause for one quick second?

Anne:                                         15:50                       Yeah. As I get a drink of water so I don’t hack all over the place. Hold on. Yeah. Okay. So we just got off on a tangent, but I want to point out a couple of things to folks who are looking at this and are interested in the idea of home birth but are concerned about the risks. So this came out this last year or so (NOTE: IT WAS ACTUALLY MAY 2016) ––a study by researchers at Johns Hopkins medicine says medical errors should rank as the third leading cause of death in the United States. And that’s I have a feeling that’s probably even higher, you know, because that’s really what’s, what’s attributed to medical errors. And our experience you know, extensive experience in the hospitals taking care of our parents suggests to me that there are a lot of things, a lot of dots that are not connected where intervention causes more complications that lead to death as well.

Thea:                                         16:52                       And unnecessary interventions and even mis and ill communicated Interventions. So much of it I think is like the whole system is so big that the communication channels are not connected and cohesive and things get missed, or whatever.

Anne:                                         17:13                       Absolutely. It’s become quite dehumanized, you know, and you don’t want to really bring a child into such an dehumanised system to give them a good start, you know? And it’s not to say that there aren’t some hospitals with some really great teams and great departments that really––and I know there’s a movement to revamp that too, and to give women more options of even like water births in hospitals and try to create an environment that’s a little closer to a birth center. So I know that consciousness is there, but you could also just do it at home, you know? So then here’s another I think this was like Harvard Medical Review. (NOTE: IT WAS ACTUALLY HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW.) I don’t have it printed out where it is, but “Rising US maternal mortality rate demands action from employers,” and it goes in to say “The US maternal mortality rate has more than doubled from 10.3 per 100,000 live births in 1991 to 23.8 in 2014. Over 700 women a year die of complications related to pregnancy each year in the United States. And two thirds of those deaths are preventable. 50,000 women suffer from life threatening complications of pregnancy. A report from the Commonwealth Fund released in December found American women have the greatest risk of dying from pregnancy complications among 11 high income countries.” Wow. And then another one I think this was CBS News. Yeah, and I think this is, let’s see. This was a 2013 story, but “US has highest first day infant mortality out of industrialized world, group reports. About 11,300 newborns die within 24 hours of their birth in the U S each year, 50% more first day deaths than all other industrialized countries combined. I mean…

Anne:                                         19:33                       So, the other thing I want to bring up, and I don’t have all the data in front of me, but if you really, if you look into the history of midwifery and then the involvement ofthe movement toward surgeons getting involved in birth. I mean, because since time immemorial, really women have been…

Thea:                                         20:10                       The carriers of birth. The holders.

Anne:                                         20:13                       Yeah. The midwives have always been women. Until really the last couple hundred years. I imagine, I mean, it seemed like an easy gig. Right? And, you know, and they’re also, there’s good intention behind it too, because there were complications and there were complications for lots of reasons that don’t actually apply anymore.

Thea:                                         20:38                       Sanitation, cleanliness, poverty.

Anne:                                         20:39                       Absolutely. Not to mention––okay. Well then, then let’s get into this. So it’s like a little known tidbit that should be discussed a lot more in our history books when we’re looking at childbirth infant mortality infectious disease and more. But there was an epidemic of puerperal fever1700’s and on through the 1800s and the advent and during the real explosion of the industrialized revolution where surgeons were not washing their hands. And there was this, you know, it was like a progressive idea that washing hands is helpful in the medical field. There seemed to be a resistance to washing one’s hands. And so you would have the doctors, the surgeons leaving the corpse and death and going straight over to deliver babies. And that resulted in this huge epidemic of maternal mortality. It was this epidemic of puerperal fever. And that really didn’t start changing on an institutionalized level until the forties, the 1940s, where that became implemented as a rule that you have to wash your hands before helping deliver a baby. So it’s the implications of that are staggering. And it’s its own conversation or book really where you have to consider how that impacted the society, the societal fabric. You had hundreds of thousands of women dying in childbirth. So you had this staggering number of orphans resulting from that right around the time of the industrial revolution, which led to, you know, families without mothers child labor…

Thea:                                         23:07                       The misery of a time. The children. Yeah. That’s amazing.

Anne:                                         23:11                       Oh my God. When the women aren’t around to manage things on a whole, widespread level. So you had that and, and what was the other thing we were talking about? We’re just talking about like even just the birth practices of you know, the earlier part of last century, I mean, Twilight, chloroform, forceps, all those interventions…

Thea:                                         23:42                       Vacuum.

Anne:                                         23:42                       They look at that now and they realize how many deaths and complications that caused. Right? So I think that if anyone is remotely interested in the empowering and healthy experience of delivering your child at home, I would recommend, you know, a cursory examination of the real history of that. And why we have gotten so afraid of childbirth’s dangers and what those dangers really are now and how those factors can be controlled or what of those factors even apply anymore.

Thea:                                         24:31                       Right. And, and what it would mean, really in a vast way, if as large portions of our communities started to really bring it back to the home space, what would that do to our communities in a broad and far seeing line? What ways would that change our initial bonding with our children and therefore our relationship and dynamics of parenting? I mean the relationship aspect goes on and on and on and trickles. If we can minimize those pivotal, intrinsic to who we become and what we work with traumas, as we come into the world. Because we all have our traumas to work through. And if in this basic, deep realm of entering the earth, if there’s love and warmth and safety filling us and feeding us as the parent and as the baby coming in, what would that do to our world? As opposed to the fear and tension and separation we experience.

Anne:                                         25:45                       Absolutely. And traumas. I mean, just the interventions that are practiced as routine in the US birth practicesis traumatic. On first day of life, second day of life, you know. Just iimagine what it could be like for a human being to enter this realm and be laying there in one’s mother’s arms, in the warm and dimly lit room, quiet, surrounded only by loving family and friends.

Thea:                                         26:42                       Reverent.

Anne:                                         26:42                       Loving midwives. Because by the way, for anyone also wondering, the midwife always brings an assist, another midwife, they assist each other. There’s always two of them. What a difference would that make to our world if that’s how we all came into the world, right? So, so think about that. You know, we’re, we’re up on time. Maybe we’ll talk more about this.

Thea:                                         27:10                       Yeah, there are so many angles and, and colorings of this dialogue that really play out into all of the things we think about. Really.

Anne:                                         27:20                       It reverberates, right? So, hey, so if you want to give your child the right start? Let’s start at birth. Let’s start at birth.

Thea:                                         27:33                       Yeah, let’s start at birth. Thanks. Great. Talk to you later.

Anne:                                         27:38                       See you later. Okay. Let me end this again.

Featured post

Embrace the Face You’re Living

Anne Mason and Thea Mason

For all this talk of female empowerment, injecting Botox into one’s face seems anything but. Let’s embrace the face we’ve lived, and let’s free ourselves from this prison of artifice and illusion.

Join my sister Thea Mason and me as we discuss and examine the impulse behind the Botox trend, and a different way of conceiving our wrinkles, gray hair and…gap teeth:) And how these badges of experience serve to empower us.

And if you haven’t read it yet, please check out my related article: Gray Hair & Wrinkles Mean We’ve Arrived!

Transcript below:

Anne:                                         00:01                       Okay. Hi Thea.

Thea:                                         00:03                       Hi.

Anne:                                         00:05                       So we are recording this evening for the first time in the evening, and you are also recording from the road, so we’ll see how the signal works. So this conversation we want to follow on last week’s. Last week’s, we called “Claiming Our Authority.” We were discussing the fact that it seems we’re living in a culture in which people seem to trust outside authority over their own. And we think that’s a problem. We think that people need to get more in touch with their own inner compass, inner guide, inner voice than they are right now. And that’s not to say we don’t value the advice of trusted friends, family, therapists or whatever, when we need perspective and help, but there seems to be a pattern a trend toward looking to experts for almost everything these days.

Thea:                                         01:27                       Handing over one’s own authority, one’s own responsibility, self responsibility to another figure.

Anne:                                         01:37                       Yes. Yes. And as we discussed this, we, we linked it to this, to the fact that image is such a predominant theme in our world, image over essence. You have used this, you’ve articulated this a lot. And the artifice and pretense at work in our world. And we determined that the direction we need to go in to help people reclaim or claim their authority is too recognize image and the value of image––the value of image as a model sometimes for something to aspire to, and to imitate, perhaps ? You had discussed, you had used as an example, like your teacher, you know, who do you sound like at first when you’re trying things out? You sound like your teacher until you make it your own. But it seems as if we’ve gotten stuck in the image and imitation and not moved it to the essence.

Anne:                                         03:00                       And it then led us to an off-camera discussion about, you know, maybe just little steps like you know, we’re makeup free gray hair, not a lot of pretense here, I think. And you hilariously made the joke back to me saying “And I’ll raise you one gap tooth.” And we realized that’s the starting point of this next one. We need to talk about this. We need to talk about your gap tooth and how you came to terms with your gap tooth and the process you went through when you suddenly had a gap tooth as a grown woman.

Thea:                                         03:45                       Yeah. Okay. So I’ll make this real quick. So this gap tooth is made by orthodontia, essentially, a misdirected well-intentioned parents following directions of an orthodontist. And so I had a fake tooth for many years that never felt comfortable. And because of the way the orthodontia experience went, had created a crooked tooth in my mouth, they had like made my front tooth crooked, which had actually given me headaches for years, which led me towards different healing modalities to heal myself when I was young. So, you know, I learned a lot. And then at one point, I guess I must have been in my thirties and my fake tooth that was glued into my mouth had fallen out for a weekend when I was traveling in Indiana, where we’re from. And I was like, darn darn darn it. Here I am! And and it was out for a few days and I felt extremely vulnerable and insecure at first. Very exposed. But in those couple of days, because this tooth had been yanked to the side and was crooked and had been creating pressure in my skull, I started to feel this deep release through my whole being, not having the fake tooth in there.

Thea:                                         05:18                       And so I knew that I needed to take it out. I knew I wasn’t quite ready. I was going to take a little bit of the pain for my vanity or something for a little bit, but I had sort of given myself a timeframe. And so from that point, I think it was about a year later, I took it out. Because I had been sort of just working with envisioning myself with a gap tooth so that my tooth could relax. And you know, I happen to work with children, and I play games as has come up many times. So I took it out and my first day back at school, you know I was a pirate playing a pirate game. So just “Arrgh!” And I really kind of stepped into it and took it on and became really open. And it literally has changed my life.

Thea:                                         06:14                       I was in a relationship that was not super positive or healthy, and the person I had been in this relationship with had even remarked, “You have not been the same since you took out your tooth.” And so that has given me this journey to myself.

Anne:                                         06:35                       All right, we’ll see. We’ll see how this signal goes. The signal’s coming in and out. So you were, you were saying, so this relationship that you were in at the time…

Thea:                                         06:45                       This relationship that I had been in for many years with the fake tooth in my mouth this person had remarked that once I took it out and, and life, you know, I was changing and claiming more of myself and my right to be and to yeah…

Anne:                                         07:08                       Your authority.

Thea:                                         07:10                       My authority. And you know, this person had remarked that I had never been the same since I took my fake tooth out, which, you know, had freed me from some idea of how I was to be. And I do remember, I mean, I was definitely feeling vulnerable and exposed with it for a period of time in the beginning. And I remember probably remarking to you, or at least to myself, that this is kind of like, this lets me know who someone is right away. This is something that stops someone’s way of relating to me, I’m not interested. You know?

Anne:                                         07:56                       Right. It kind of culls the herd right off the bat, right? Yeah. I mean that, that to me, I mean, so many people would have gotten work done to mask a gap in your tooth right there, right? And to go through that process and be uncomfortable over and over meeting the world, you know? That is, that’s growing, right? That’s growing. And that’s, that’s so freeing to get through that and come out the other side. Right? And well that leads me to, so talk about what we were, we had been talking about a little bit and I just wrote a little article about it too––but the topic of cosmetic work and or Botox injections or whatever has been, has come up in my circle of folks of women too. And then you and I talked a little bit about that where I’m trying to get my head around that. That idea of taking measures, which is essentially injecting poison into your face to paralyze the facial muscles so that they don’t move. So it doesn’t form wrinkles, so that we look younger than we normally would look, right?

Thea:                                         09:40                       Young? I mean, can I say younger? I mean, that’s not…

Anne:                                         09:47                       That we look, we look less wrinkly than we otherwise would, right? And I, you know, I touched on the fact that I think there’s, I think there’s a problem with that. And I, again, I acknowledge that, you know, I’ve always been content with the way I look. So yeah, I’m grateful for that, you know, so I understand. I haven’t walked in everyone’s shoes. But you know, I, I like my gray hair. I like these crow’s feet. I like these lines. These lines represent my experience! My, like I put it, my legitimacy. It is who I am. And, and I bring that to the table, right? So this obsession with looking other than we are is something that I think is getting people stuck. You know, it’s not just, I mean, that follows that we get stuck otherwise as well. Right? If we’re perpetually seeking to look different, be different, look different.

Thea:                                         11:16                       Well, actually making this body stuck. I mean, actually, that’s what it’s doing—is making it stop. And that is the opposite of growth and flow. That’s not what we are here to do or to be.

Anne:                                         11:37                       Well, and you know, honestly the way I look at it is kind of like, I mean, we’ve got a life and then we’ve got death, right? So I’ve always looked at it as if our lives and the way we live our lives prepare us for that next very beyond unknown adventure, whatever that is. If we get stuck holding on to something and not moving past it, whether it’s image or other, then I would imagine it’s going to make that stepping through that next doorway a lot more challenging. Right? So you know, and I say, well, we’ve gotten a bit off track here.

Thea:                                         12:27                       We have a little bit, but, so maybe we’ll just find where we’re going and if it’s not, it’s not, but what that makes me think of a little bit is I mean really in this aging, I mean, you’re saying “This is who I am.” This isn’t who you are. I know that’s not what you mean. Like you aren’t your lines, but this is the story of your life that you’ve carried. Right? And really it seems like as we age, the idea is to be able to drop this more easily. This whole thing. Yes. And instead, people are going to the gesture of grabbing it and holding onto it while they decompose, you know?

Anne:                                         13:13                       Yeah. It’s holding onto the artifice. Isn’t it? Holding on to artifice. So I’ll share a little story too. And I wrote about this as well, but I look at womanhood in basically the three archetypal stages of maiden, mother, crone. And I, I feel I’m in the mother stage right now. I mean, I am, I’m, I’m mothering my kids are halfway there, I’d say. And I remember, yeah, right before I embarked on this journey of starting a family and having these children, I was sitting with a filmmaker who liked to just randomly just take pictures as you’re sitting there. And I knew how to take pictures quite well and I knew how to pose, and in that moment, I made this conscious decision as, as he pulled the camera up, to not pose. To just look straight at it, because I realized I was walking through a doorway as I was embarking on this new life and I was no longer the, the maiden. I was no longer the, I wasn’t the ingenue, right? I was owning my, my entrance into the next stage of motherhood, womanhood. And that was very significant to me. But it was a conscious decision, conscious choice. Right? So as I also had mentioned in this article, you know, there’s a place for each stage. We need the maidens and their fertile, supple bodies. But what, what comes with that is also a naivete. And, a hopeful naivete, which serves us very well and serves the world very well, but that also needs to be tempered by the mother, that next stage of woman who has experienced and who has honed her purpose and brings her experience to the table as well. We need her as well. And we also need the crone in her wisdom, in her deep wisdom of life’s experience having gone through maidenhood through motherhood and grandparenthood and even beyond because our perspective changes greatly as we move through life.

Anne:                                         16:16                       But if we’ve got a bunch of we’ve got the maidens sitting at the table, the, the women trying to look like maidens sitting at the table and the crones also looking like maidens something’s off whack and we’re not going to move forward. Right? So I guess let’s wrap it up by, by just, you know, concluding that there is such a liberation in shedding that one stage. And that identity, right? I’m not the pretty young thing anymore. Right?

Thea:                                         16:58                       Right. Well, yeah, I mean sure, yes. Pretty young, I dunno. I just, you’re very pretty. And I think getting prettier, you know, is, is the other thing. There’s, there’s something to a person, inhabiting themselves more fully and completely that is breathtaking. So, so that’s the thing. I mean, I, I think what I would want to take us to a discussion next time is what is it we really find appealing and attractive in people, in our friends, in our lovers? What is it? Because it’s not the lack of wrinkles, right? Wrinkles and gray hair can be just the sexiest, most delightful thing ever, right? So, why? What is it we’re holding onto there? What is it that we are, in a culture, still trying to hold in our hands and we name it as smooth skin. Like what is that? Is it, is it hopefulness? Is it that that’s actually what’s being lost? And so holding onto the image of what we were when we were hopeful? You know, there’s a whole lot in there.

Anne:                                         18:25                       Yeah. and also to kind of, to explore who is driving this, too, in a way. Like, we talk a lot about female empowerment, but this is anything but, right? So are we mistakenly seeking something that is not even that, which is something to aspire to even even on a superficial level? Right? Are women doing this for men? Are men doing this for women? I know some women will talk about the fact that it will up their confidence to look better, to look more youthful and that aids them in all areas of life. But that still comes from some, some original impulse that that youthful look is something that is so highly valued even when you are almost 49 years old or whatever it is. Right? Or 70 years old.

Thea:                                         19:45                       Right. It’s so hard for me to really grasp that, that I just keep thinking that it’s actually we’re grasping after a feeling rather than a looking. Right? And that’s where the image part is––what we can look at in a picture and see ourselves when we were young and didn’t have wrinkles and remember the state of mind, maybe? Or the state of feeling that we were in, and that’s what we’re reaching for rather than actually this skin. I, you know, I don’t know.

Anne:                                         20:19                       No, you got it. You got it. It’s the tangible, it’s something that we can, we can grab basically. So perhaps it goes much deeper than that, but, but the only way we can quantify it, materialize it, is with Botox or facelifts or something.

Thea:                                         20:38                       Or the only way we think we can, yeah. Right?

Anne:                                         20:41                       Right. So next time we’ll talk about that. We’ll see how this one turns out with all your frame stuttering.

Thea:                                         20:49                       Yeah, sorry.

Anne:                                         20:50                       No, hey, it is what it is. We roll with it. Right? It’s all about the substance and not the image. All right. Let me end the recording. Thank you for doing this. Hold on.

Thea:                                         21:02                       Thank you. Thanks for all of it.

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