10 Centimeters

Exploring the Sacred Art of Giving Birth

Written by Julie Norris | Photos by Cristy Nielsen

Exploring the Sacred Art of Giving Birth

Photo By Cristy Nielsen

Ten centimeters — the golden labor measurement. Being informed and believing in your body’s natural ability are the first steps toward exploring the many approaches that offer a kind and gentle experience into motherhood. Documentaries such as Ricki Lake’s The Business of Being Born and the almost unbelievable Orgasmic Birth have left many women questioning the status quo and pressing for more information on the nature of giving birth. We’re lucky to live in an area with a full spectrum of well-established care options and an advocacy community for some of the lesser-known alternatives. Here’s a local guide to empower you to choose the best path to get you to your 10 centimeters.

[Read the full article in the Spring 2010  Edition of PLAYGROUND Magazine. Found around town as well.]

Mamamorphosis

The article below appears in the March/April edition of Velocity Magazine which was dedicated to the topic of the Divine Feminine. I had a dickens of a time writing it, as alluded to here and this post helped validate and clear-up my thoughts on the whole domestic issue. Anywho, here’s the article in full. I recommend you grab a copy around Central Florida as there is lots of good insight on this topic! (Or read it online, should be up soonish).

Photo by Cristy Nielsen

I flicker between realities, between times, between belief systems. I am immersed, surrounded, confounded by the Divine Feminine. The elusive lady finally allowed me to slip into her divinity in the timeless moment my daughter slipped into the birthing waters beneath my gaze this past summer. The metamorphosis of me has gone unexplored by my thinking brain as I’ve simply just allowed myself “to be.” Observing my daughter’s awakening into being has been fascinating enough without taking a moment to observe my own self emerge anew. As I watch her come into her body, I integrate the resonance with which all parts of myself came together in order to bring her into this world. I finally understand through this experience what it means to be the embodiment of the divine feminine and it is really turning my perspective of what it means to be female on end.

My thoughts on being female are so tied up with myths of feminism in my learning, I’m really having to reshuffle and review all that I have assumed to be true. Lets start with the first thing I learned about being a woman, direct from the Bible: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children” (Genesis 3:16) In the past, I certainly questioned almost every aspect of this statement, but I never questioned if childbirth hurt. Everyone knows it does. Except… it didn’t, not really (read this for the full story). And a small minority of women in the United States have a similar experiences. Along with a lot of women who belong to cultures which do not fear birth. And every animal I’ve ever seen has quietly, calmly, matter-of-factly done the same. Interesting.

My mind sorts through feminist theory rejecting parts of it I never questioned, dives into indigenous cultures and their stories about the goddesses, stomps around American workplaces and mass media, peeks into natural childbirth culture and finds myself agreeing that a woman’s place is with her child, should she choose to have one. I’ve always been a radical conservative, and now I’ve got the sewing machine to bear witness to the revolutionary epiphany that being “domestic” is not a bad word, as I’ve always gotten the sense. It’s so closely associated with the phrase “domestic violence” and is synonymous with being a servant, and everyone knows servitude is THE WORST. Except for those who understand true service, of course. Very few present domesticity through the lens of nurturing and tending to the home for the health and well being of the self, families and into the community. I am shocked this is so revolutionary and wonder how the heck I bought this most basic myth of all. The result of being a child of the 80’s, I wonder?

But none of that stuff has anything to do with the divine feminine, I suspect. It just keeps interfering with the practice of being divine. I’ve been writing this article for six weeks as all that and more wanders through my head. And yet, I have no words to define or discuss what this new reality of mine is like. My old reality finds it egotistical to claim direct knowledge and experience with the divine feminine. The new me knows better. In fact, the new me just knows. I am more: sensual, graceful, present, playful, appreciative, purposeful, cunning, nurturing, loving, intuitive, grounded, neutral, sure. I am less: fearful, doubtful, confused, hesitant, victimized, self-deceptive, self-depreciating, manipulative, controlling, overly-apologetic. I am less concerned with what other people think and more concerned with what my own counsel tells me. I know when to speak my truth & when to hold my tongue. I’m even beginning to practice discipline.

Yes, I’ve met Lady Divinity. She’s empowering & inspiring & authentic. And she’s rising up all around these parts, big time. Chances are, she’s the lady in the mirror, looking back at you.

I’m not engaged. Or married, thank goddess!


I’ve long admired the work of Brian Feldman & was glad I got to participate in a portion of this latest work of his. It’s probably his most important statement to date. As I was standing there, baby strapped to my chest, contemplating getting married for some reason other than love, joking about whether or not Brian had money or health insurance, watching pregnant women filing for a license, I was strangely unconcerned with the fact that I’m a single mom. I’m actually quiet happy this way. I thank myself every day for having the strength and wisdom to not get caught up in a false relationship or marriage just because I had an unplanned pregnancy. I imagine I could feel ashamed or abandoned or sorry for myself. Instead, I feel empowered, wise and totally fulfilled.

At the event, I also saw an ex-friend (the only ex-friend I have, read on for why) for the first time in about a year. In the course of casual conversation at a public space last year, this person chastised me for deciding to go through with the pregnancy since her biological father was not in the picture very much. He felt I was irresponsible and a bad mother. He was quite loud and angry about this point, much to the terror of onlookers, some of whom tried to intervene. It was quiet disturbing. Interesting how he turned the man’s irresponsibility and lack of interest and blamed me for it, the only person actually taking responsibility for the child growing inside. As he laid eyes on Maya for the first time, an angry bubble surfaced and I wanted to ask him if he still thought she was better off as medical waste. (Sorry, that’s horrible, but that is the point).

I know this man-child’s history though, and I feel compassion for him that his relationship with his father was so messed up he would be so deranged as to yell at a pregnant women and call her selfish for not having an abortion. Hopefully he’s had time to reflect on his actions in the past year. Maybe he’s realized his mother isn’t to blame for his father’s emotional unavailability. Dark episode’s like this replicate the shadow side of his father. And, perhaps, he should stop drinking.

Maya (& Mom’s) first modeling gig

www.playground-magazine.com

Painted Lady!

Playground magazine recently hit the stands, flinging myself back to the preggo days. I had almost forgotten I did this photo shoot at 36 weeks for my newest must-have parenting magazine. This edition is green-themed and features articles on Flexitarianism (Part Time Veg, pg 58), the “Green Block” covering Dandelion (my cafe) (You Are So Here, pg 60) and the cover article (Girls Gone Green, pg 33) features my painted belly (and some pregnancy tips) & my au naturale grrrrrls Veronica, Nevah, Michelle & Luna. Pick one up at Dandelion or read it online.

I was talking to Michelle & she mentioned that having this article published really legitimized her natural parenting lifestyle to the older generation that sometimes wondered about her choices. I have to say that it’s certainly nice for my mom to be able to show this around the office. I’ve long been the “liberal hippy” of the family who (gasp) eats organic, healthy & (omg) vegetarian! I’ve never quiet understood why it’s so bad to eat so good, and perhaps this will help convince Ma & Pa I’m really just a good girl who eats all her veggies at dinner.