Haunted by Waters – A “Brooke” Mini-Tribute

Brooke signed my blog comment book. Even better, she read one of my blogs. Then, she said her heart was with me. Maybe that's why I've slept so deeply and peacefully the past few nights – because I've had her heart. Her broken/loving/bleeding/healing heart. And she even had enough room left over to even give some of it to me.
Brooke is a blogging goddess. Like me, she was a homebirth transport – her son born by traumatic c-section. You can read all about her experiences, and taste the insight and texture of her words on her blog: http://urbanearthmama.typepad.com/

I read blogs like Brooke's and I still cannot.fathom.why.the.hell it's moviestars that are celebrated and idolized and paid the mad-crazy bucks and not impossibly talented, insightful, tormented, brutally honest women like Brooke. Yes, I'm saying she should be celebrated and idolized and paid the mad-crazy bucks for just being HER, for finding light in all the darkness. Or, nay, freakin' creating the light if she had to. That's pure magic, folks. But I will rest easy because I know the dirty little secret of our culture: it is women like Brooke, and Jeanette, and Marybeth, and Marinah who really hold all the empowerment in this world. The best part? They release it, in little capsules, and it rises like smoke from the ashes of our burning hearts…and finds it's way to people like me.

From Dictionary.Com:
Noun: a natural stream of water smaller than a river (and often a tributary of a river)
Verb : put up with something or somebody unpleasant.

From Me:
A natural stream of wisdom, smaller than the river of energy that surrounds us (and often a tributary to that river of energy) …but larger than life. Meandering, life-giving, quenching, peaceful, babbling (in a good way!), awakening, reflective.
Put up with something or somebody unpleasant. Cried. Survived. Thrived. Lives. Loves. Laughs. Oh, always laughs.

Brooke: "I am haunted by waters…" Your namesake is the connection to my favorite words, the words which are housed on my blog home page even:

"Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters". – Norm MacLean


10 Comments Add yours

  1. Anonymous says:

    Do you know Leigh, that I came to your site over 30 minutes ago and found the beautiful post about Kaia at 8 months old. Then I travelled to your husbands site, only to find your pregnancy and birth journal (for the first time).

    I spent nearly an hour reading your journey, looking at your photos, and crying (uncontrollably) over your birth story…how incredibly powerful you were throughout your surgery and Kaia’s birth.

    I was not so valiant. Not even close. I was shaking and crying and begging. I was not holding my vision of meeting my child the way you were able to do. Not at all.

    Then, after this emotional journey through your experience, I travelled backwards, link by link, and found your post about me – leaving me speechless. I don’t think I have ever had a tribute like that. Thank you for believing in me so much.

    You do me an honor I do not deserve. I’m just struggling through and, like you, stubbornly continuing to believe in a woman’s power, her right to birth with dignity, her body wisdom. Women like you allow my beliefs to hold steadfast.

    Thank you, dear one, for your appreciation and love but I have to say that I am only ahead of you in time beyond birth; not necessarily in healing. You are strong; you are doing well. I am so proud and happy that a woman who went through so much to meet her baby girl could be so wise only moments after birth. I read it in your week old posts, your three week posts and even now in your 8 month posts. Kaia is a very blessed girl and you are a woman of great wisdom and strength.

    I want to say one thing though, that I haven’t talked about on my blog. Our children, Kaia and Satchel, and others like them who were conceived in love and planned to be born that way, still have the seed of dedication and hope planted in their very souls. These children will not suffer the traumas of cesarean even if we, their mothers, do. We created a world for them – a devoted, sacred space – that believed in their birth. We believed in ourselves, in the sacredness of first experiences, and this grew with every cell of their being. These two are still homebirth babies receiving every benefit of our intentions.

    I’m so glad you had a birth team who validated you and validated Kaia’s emergence. But I’m sorry that you were ripped from ecstacy and forced under spotlight and scalpel to get your baby out. When you said in your story that you kept saying ‘they took your baby,’ I want you to know that I said it too. I kept screaming, ‘They’re cutting me. They are taking my baby. Don’t let them take my baby.’ It is as though a primal knowledge warns us that our babies should never be taken or separated from us, that they should be close and only emerge from our bodies with our own mother-force. When they are taken otherwise, we feel robbed.

    I have only heard this from other c-section mamas who planned homebirths – as though our beliefs and desires for natural birth were short-circuited and we were left adrift, babies removed, wondering if anyone would bring our stolen babies home.

    I still have no answer for this feeling, only recognition and honor for the fact that it lives in us. And further, that I believe we will do anything to bring those babies back home…

    Your words resonated so strongly with me. You are a beautiful writer and I am so glad you are here on the internet to share your experience, your wisdom and your beliefs. You are a gift. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    (And thanks to Jeanette for believing in me and sending you – and Marybeth – my way. I think I want to move to Arizona. You women rock…Now I’m really coming to visit!)

    All my love,

  2. Leigh says:

    4:30 am, after nursing session: tears. only tears. each drop with different words: yes. no. please. rememember. forget. hurt. why. why. why. heal. divinity. love. courage. bound. together. journey. hope…

  3. Anonymous says:

    GOD DAMN IT….you women are so amazing.

    I was excited to come here today and realize Brooke found you too – I already know that she and Marybeth recently found each other, and now she’s found my dear little Leigh as well. I never really thought about it before, but it is almost as if this is meant to be.

    Links in a chain, right? That is what it is all about. We are all connected, our children are all connected. Across time and distance and joy and pain.

    Leigh was right and she was wrong, the true power does not necessarily come from any one woman all by herself (although one woman by herself can be a truly awesome thing) but through women united. Foraging relationships and bonds where they was once only space.

    I thank God MB found me, and that Marinah connected me to you Leigh – and that through this crazy internet thing Brooke and I typed our way into each others lives several years ago.

    Now Brooke, that you’ve seen these incredible women I’ve been keeping to myself….when are you coming to visit? I’m envisioning a slumber party to end all slumber parties, complete with some good dancehall music, a few nursing babies, and some really good drinks.

    Anyone up for it?

  4. Leigh says:

    J, MB, B –
    Let’s do it! Just don’t forget the chocolate. Dark, please. 🙂

  5. Anonymous says:

    You all are so hurt by a c-section birth. Have you thought for one minute that GOD above had a reason for you to have a c-section? That he knew it was unsafe for you and your baby to be at home during that time? Here he is watching over both you and your baby making certain that you both stay in this world safe and sound and you speak of their glorious birth that ONLY GOD CAN ALLOW with horrible words like “trauma.” If it weren’t for this so-called “trauma” it is possible that neither you nor your babies would be here today blogging. You are all so upset because the birth didn’t end up the way YOU wanted it to. But IT DID! You have beautiful, healthy, wonderful children!
    And on top of all that, an entry was made using God’s name in vain. Have you all tried to pray to GOD for healing? Healing is not going to come from anywhere but GOD himself. You all need to turn to him and pray for all of your future births as well.
    Keep in mind that you all would not even be PREGNANT and having these wonderful children if it wasn’t for GOD!

  6. Leigh says:

    Anonymous –
    Interesting that your spiritiual beliefs are so “strong” and yet you choose to post anonymously. Hmmm.

    At this time, I am not open to discussing my spiritiual beliefs in this public forum. I will say that they do not mesh with yours (that topic would require a blog of it’s own); however, that is indeed the beauty of our life in this realm…We can choose different paths to healing. I only wish that all humans could accept that reality. We’d be much closer to peace on Earth.
    If you would like to contact me personally to discuss spiritual beliefs, I would be happy to do so. Let me know.
    In the meantime, I urge you to consider the impact your bitter words may have on others who perhaps are not as resilient or steadfast as I.

    Regarding your comment:
    “You are all so upset because the birth didn’t end up the way YOU wanted it to. But IT DID! You have beautiful, healthy, wonderful children!”…

    I feel like this is the last time I should ever have to say this, but alas, I know it won’t be: I would have had a beautiful, healthy, wonderful child REGARDLESS of the method of birth. My daughter being born by C-section DID NOT make HER more healthy, beautiful, or wonderful. Nor would a homebirth. However, a homebirth WOULD HAVE contributed to a more healthy, beautiful, or wonderful BIRTH EXPERIENCE and in my opionion, world. We are not arguing about the physical health of our babies, but about their emotional well-being and health (although, let it be known babies born in a hospital setting are indeed prone to more physical ailments and injuries)…
    Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog and participate in such an important discussion about birth, healing, acceptance, pain, surrender, determination, and motherhood…against all odds.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I thought you should know that ‘anonymous’, who made the hate-filled post earlier in which she took the time to chastise you for your decisions, mock your pain from not having your birth go as you wished, arrogantly act as though her religious beliefs apply to you, and preach to you that you need to pray to God…….is none other than your very best friend from back in Indiana.

    I’ve never met you and have 3 or 4 degrees of separation between this ‘friend’ and myself, but I became aware of the situation by chance and felt you should know.

    It says a lot about a person’s beliefs when despite the fact that they’re supposedly your best friend, they are so filled with intolerance and judgment, that they can’t bear to see you even hint at expressing views not directly in line with theirs……..truly, truly, sad.

    Your response also speaks to the type of person you are. Your reply to her intolerance and judgment, was kindness and thanking her for expressing her opinion. Your ability to react in that way to something that most certainly was very hurtful to you speaks volumes about you and your belief system.

    The world would be a much better place if the ultra-religious amongst us would quit spending their time worrying about converting others to their beliefs and began focusing on living good lives and maybe even being good friends.

    Good luck Leigh.

  8. Leigh says:

    Dearest Anonymous –
    I am at work, speechless, overwhelmed, saddened, hurt by this realization…
    but my gratitude overflows for your love and support…From one “stranger” to another (tho I believe none of us are strangers): Thank you, thank you, thank you.
    This story continues…
    PS contact me anytime 🙂

  9. Anonymous says:

    To share more, or not when faced with the anger and closed mind of the God fearing poster…?

    If I thought my expression of even deeper soul searching and reflection might help at this point, nothing would stop me from struggling for words of consensus, amelioration, connection. Simple understanding and acceptance of anothers belief. No, I wouldn’t give up my beliefs any more readily than the woman with deep religious conviction would. But I could open my heart to her sentiment.

    As I understand her post, the primary sentiment she expresses translates to: Faith. Faith is not a right to be co-opted by a specific religion or belief in a prescribed God, but is about surrendering to life itself and is free to all who would accept this noble path. Some might take this Faith and choose to give it to their God, but faith is not a right of eminent domain.

    To think we can control life is a total farce. So yes, accepting with Grace the lessons we are handed means that we must have faith. I do.

    I have faith however, that defies rules and does not fit into the Christ as Savior model. Neither do I deny that Christ is a sacred, holy image, an exemplary figure who embodied tolerance, love and understanding…many great mystics of all traditions have honored Christ. And He would not have turned them away.

    But to use God as a threat over my head that I had better be grateful or else…, takes away all faith. This is a punitive model, not one of Grace and Forgiveness and Boundless Love.

    Because of my faith, I never doubted the meaning and the intention of the lessons I would learn by being pushed beyond my limits through the birth experience. But I do lack faith in the status quo; the violent, dysfunctional norm of birth that is held in our culture. And we must strive to change the things we do not agree with. Our conscience demands it. I think that women today are being butchered out of fear and for monetary profit. Since I experienced this first hand, I feel compelled to speak out.

    Speaking out and publicly sharing my healing journey is not a dramatic ploy for attention. Nor is it hystrionic grandstanding. It was an authentic and deeply honest exploration of my process.

    “Believe, when you are most unhappy, that there is something for you to do in the world. So long as you can sweeten another’s pain, life is not in vain.” -Helen Keller-

    I chose to publicize my healing so that another woman in my shoes would not wonder why she was so alone, so troubled, so saddened by the joyous occasion of her child’s birth. Because being violated during one of the greatest moments in a woman’s life brings up horribly conflicting emotions.

    I knew being honest about this meant opening myself up to criticism and misunderstanding. Lucky for me, this is not unfamiliar territory. I must speak out about things that move me. And I do this through my own personal story.

    Someday I think we will look back on birth in the new millenium with the same shock and horror that accompanies our perspectives on shock therapy, insane assylums, slavery, blaming of rape victims; all patriarchal views, imperialistic views that are eventually changed because a few people dared to speak out. And when we know better, we will do better. We hope.

    But a 30-40% cesarean rate is unconscionable. Escessive pitocin, cytotek, epidurals, etc. are also infringing on our own ‘intelligent design’ if you want to use Christian terminology to discuss it.

    And it is not only women traumatized by the experience who are speaking out about the abuses of birth today. The health care profression is at a crisis point over this issue.

    I think that Leigh’s experience, my experience, experiences like ours, will shed light and awareness on a difficult issue. And as more women are put through the birth machine, the dissatisfaction will continue to grow until we don’t sound like freaks anymore. Soon we will sound like pioneers.

    And the god-fearing protestors who carry big sticks with very little love will be forced to reconsider their intolerant position about accepting God’s Will and concede instead that God’s intention (if this is the argument) is to let healthy womens bodies do what they were designed to do.

  10. Leigh says:

    Brilliant. Damn good. I don’t know anyone else who could have said this better. Brooke, I assume it was you?
    Either way, thank you for going to bat for me, for the millions of women who scream in silence only to hear echos of shame and critisism…
    Yes, we will only shed light by revealing it.
    We will only come close to understanding by seeking it.
    Be it by Faith, God, Love, Energy, the Goddess Mother…our healing journey is one in the same.

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