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.
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.
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.
**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:
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
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,
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
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
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.
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,
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.