A few weeks ago I attended my last birth as a doula. As I explained in a previous post, this was a long drawn-out decision that took me a couple of years to reach.
When I wrote the previous blog whilst on-call for the birth, after attending my last birth, I expected to feel relieved, free, elated even. Instead, the month after the birth I felt unsettled, irritable, anxious, and I have even been physically unwell (I had a nasty fall which left me in pain and unable to move comfortably for a couple of weeks despite 2 osteopathic treatments).
Transitions aren’t comfortable and the body has a way of forcing us to slow down when we do not heed its wisdom.
I experienced a similar time in 2020 after I published my book. Finishing to write the book on time and the whirlwind of promotion, press article and interviews surrounding the book launch were an exciting and high energy time. Then, I had a period of fallowness that lasted months and I beat myself up endlessly about it, as if I ought to be staying in a high energy state all the time.
I have been reflecting on the cycle of birth and death around us, and in particular, on the importance and wisdom of fallow times. If you look in nature, trees don’t bear fruits all year round. The cycle of birth and death is very visible. Right now the spring energies are rising and it is very clear in the growth of plants everywhere around us.
A few days ago it finally occurred to me: I’m in the same transitional process as a pregnant woman waiting to give birth. The Zwischen, the in-between time where you’re not what you were and not yet what you are about to become. And it’s wholly uncomfortable. And the wait is met some days with patience and acceptance, and some days with irritation and impatience.
Now that I’ve given up birth doula, my sense of professional identity is shifting.
I’m not doing nothing, I’m in the process of giving birth to my new self. I need to give myself the same gentle nurturing care as I tell new mothers to give themselves. I remind myself of the words I often speak when a new mum is telling me that she is doing ‘nothing’ when caring for a new baby, and I remind her that she is doing the most important task that there is.
The process is heightened by the fact that I’m transitioning towards the menopause, having been in the perimenopause process for over ten years, which is a transition in itself.
I had several healing treatments over the last few weeks, including osteopathy and womb massage. Whilst these things help and play a role in recovery, they aren’t enough. I have to make a true commitment to accept the slower, less productive nature of this time, and to stop fighting against it.
I reached out to the lovely herbalist who is supporting me through the hormonal challenges of the menopause, and asked what may be causing the resurgence of hot flashes and night sweats despite the support of the herbs, and she said “it’s a sign that your yin is out of balance and that you need to rest more”.
I have written about embracing rest several times in the past (For example in a post called resting after birthing a project, in which you will find links to my other posts on the topic), and I have come a long way from the place where I was before, where I wasn’t even conscious of this pattern of wanting to keep all the time. But it’s still difficult. The pattern is deep, and it is strong, and we are bathing in a culture that worships productivity, and which is completely blind to this pattern.
It’s a process of continuous self development and growth, to become aware of one’s patterns, of the negative self-talk that come from deep cultural programming that says that your productivity is your worth.
I like the idea of being more like an egg than a sperm. The egg does not ‘go and get it’, it simply sits there, sending signals that it is ready. In her book, The Anatomy Of A Calling, which tells her process from being a mainstream thinking Obstetrician to becoming a holistic doctor and energy healer, Dr Lissa Rankin tells how Dr Christiane Northrup told her to be more ‘eggy’:
“Lissa is brilliant at doing, but she needs to learn how to receive. Lissa needs to be less sperm, more egg. To be ‘eggy’ is to set goals but release attachment to outcomes, to surrender to what wants to happen rather than pushing for what you’re trying to make happen, to put your desires out there without doing anything to bring them into being, to simply trust that when you move in the direction of joy, ease, peace, harmony, love, and the highest good for all beings, the Universe, like an army of sperm, falls over itself trying to bring your desires into form.”
I posted this meme on Facebook, to remind myself and others of this truth.
I still have some work to do before I am freed from beating myself up when I’m in a fallow time, but I am a lot more able to recognise it, and to at least try to embrace it and to trust its wisdom. I have noticed time and time again that the minute I surrender to the wisdom of fallow times, and embrace the need to slow down instead of fighting it, things seem to shift almost instantly, because I finally allow the energy of what wants to move through me instead of trying to direct it.