Friday, November 1, 2013

A New Path Down an Old Road

Like many mothers, the road I started down after the birth of my son has taken me places I never expected. I have reinvented myself many times in the process or perhaps the road has reinvented me. Threads from my past lives weave together and my tapestry gets richer and deeper, mellowing with age.

Many years ago my body lay broken upon the jagged shores of my deepest passion, riding horses. Just as with the birth of my son I was once again confronted with the limits of the medical model. In this case if they couldn't visualize it with their many tests, quantify it, and label it, it didn't exist therefore they had nothing to offer me as a path back to health. They would happily prescribe pain medication for the rest of my life or refer me to a psychologist because the pain was obviously in my head not in my back. My search for a way out of pain led me to a deeper understanding of many modalities; acupuncture, chiropractic, watsu, myofascial release, spinal decompression, Feldenkrais body work, hormone balancing, and craniosacral therapy. All have been instrumental in my journey toward a pain free life.

Our lives lead us many places. Mine lead me to Cayucos to the door of CranioSacral Therapist, Celeste Varas de Valdes. The combination of her amazing ability to "read" my body, the gentleness of her touch, and the profound response of my body as I floated out of pain were incomprehensible to me. How could this be? I told my husband she was a wizard. How could she hardly touch me and have such an amazing healing effect?

Celeste encouraged me to read John Upledger's book "Your Inner Physician and You." Upledger is the founder of CranioSacral work. Actually I believe he may be a re-discoverer of a wisdom known through the centuries and across many cultures. I bought the book but consciously chose to never open it. I wanted to learn on an experiential level. It is easy for me to get in my head, to get caught up in intellectual learning. I wanted this to be clean unfettered learning through my own body's experience.

As my body began to heal I became more drawn to the how and whys of cranio work. Celeste patiently answered my questions. Next my path brought a chance to learn more at a California Midwifery Conference. I attended an all day workshop by Carol Gray introducing cranio work for pregnant moms and infants. After that I was convinced I wanted to learn more about how to incorporate this modality into my doula work. Time, expense and timing, i.e. life, kept this from happening.

A few years later I was offered an opportunity to watch at the hands-on part of an Obstetric 1 CranioSacral Training at Sukha Wellness Center in Avila. I was graciously allowed to try putting my hands on one of my pregnant clients who was there for demonstration purposes. I was astonished at all that I could "feel" going on inside her; the blockages and tensions. I put my hands on clients all the time, hugs, massages, counter pressure, or just holding a hand. This was completely different. It was tuning into a vibration and letting her body gently move me in a dance. The crazy part is she was lying completely still upon a massage table. No one else looking could see the swirling movement under my hands as her body gently unwound.

Interesting, but now what? I was busy going down a new path, working on earning my La Leche League
Leadership and learning as much as I could about breastfeeding. The more I immersed myself in the world of breastfeeding the more concerned I became. Listening to so many postpartum mothers who were struggling to breastfeed; to do what should have been a simple natural act. Something that every mare I helped foal never had a problem doing. Rarely, a mare will reject her foal completely, but no mare who allows her foal to latch has problems. Foals don't have latching or sucking issues. If you feed the mare right she has plenty of milk and the foal has no problems transferring that milk from the teat to his tummy. So why were so many of our mothers caught up in the pumping, bottling, exhaustion merry-go-round?

I am a question asker. If something doesn't add up for me I ask people I trust, who have more knowledge than I, why this doesn't add up. Lactation Consultant, Julie Merrill, kindly loaned me the book "The Impact of Birthing Practices on Breastfeeding" by Kroeger and Smith. I read that book cover to cover and in its pages I discovered all the research explaining why. I immediately incorporated what I learned into educating my class and doula clients. I was inspired to try harder than ever to support pregnant mamas in ways that would keep them off the self defeating merry-go-round. That didn't feel like enough to me. More moms needed to know. So I helped create and present the community event, Beating the Booby Traps.

Wait! This is supposed to be about cranio right? Took you right down the path with me didn't I? With an out of work husband there was no time or money to think about cranio. Then last May, with the financial help of LLL and labor and delivery nurse, Janell Todd, I attended La Leche League Conference. One lecture I chose to attend was given by Alison Hazelbaker assessing Tongue-tie, a condition which wrecks havoc on breastfeeding. It was presented over 2 days. The first day all the SLO Leaders went. The second day I think I was the only one who continued. I don't know why I went. She said she was going to present how to tell the difference between a real tie and a "faux" one. I thought it would just be more assessment tools. Well her assessment tool was to do CRANIO work on the infants and after several sessions re-assess for tongue function. Turns out she was a CranioSacral Therapist as well as a Lactation Consultant. An incredibly high percentage of tongue-ties were fixed with this gentle non-surgical technique. The pieces all slid into place for me. Now I knew what I wanted to do. It isn't enough to try to help moms say no to procedures which can impact their births and their breastfeeding. It isn't enough to give technical and emotional support to moms struggling unsuccessfully to feed their little ones. I want to actually help the babies and now I know how. I need to become trained in CranioSacral Therapy for infants. These babies are literally crying out for this kind of work.

Again money and time were blocking my path. Thank you to David and Mary Sage Sennewald of Sukha who gifted me a partial scholarship so I could attend CranioSacral I last month. Thank you to Alyssa Nixon and baby Finley for birthing before October 17th!

So now what? Well this path looks fairly long and I'm already finding roadblocks but I am determined. I've attended 2 study groups since the 4 day training. I ordered my books on-line yesterday. I think I have found a used massage table so I can practice on my family and friends. I can't even begin the Obstetric or Pediatric training until I have passed Cranio II and Somato Emotional Release. I'm trying to find a way to get my anatomy studies done without having massage therapists "in training" practice on me. This is something I know my body can not handle. Then there is the legal stuff about setting up a business which involves touching people. Yesterday I was so depressed. All I could see were the roadblocks. Today I'm cracking open the pages of "Your Inner Physician and You".

Celeste's Keep In Touch:

David and Mary Sage's Sukha Wellness Center: