Bipolar Diary: Zero Gravity Hallucinations

I’d thought I’d come to a place of balance. I was still having hallucinations, mostly visual, some auditory and tactile, but those not so often. Even though the hallucinations have continued, I told the Psychiatrist I did not want to take more Risperdal to try and make them go away. The short time I was on the increased amount (double what I am on now), I gained 30 (fucking) pounds in 6 weeks. As soon as we halved it, I stopped eating like an insatiable animal, and have now lost 10 of those 30 pounds. I told him I’d just suck up dealing with the hallucinations.

However, there does come a tipping point between what I can live with and seeing much of my room floating around as if I was in space.

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Balance – dance troupe, Pilobolus

What’s Going On?

I cannot pinpoint why they are getting bigger, more bizarre and more aggressive. My sleep is weird, but I am sleeping. I’m in an inordinate amount of pain, but that isn’t too new… I had my gallbladder removed on February 2 and have had a series of infection complications since. I’ve got other pain, but can usually meditate to work through it. (I have Trazadone if I need help sleeping, but have only taken that a couple of time.)

Visual

A crazy hallucination I had the other day was seeing my pillow breathing. Yes, I know… ridiculous, but I stared at it as it inhaled and exhaled for the entire 5-minutes I watched. I blinked, shook my head, told myself there was no way in hell that was real, yet the pillow kept inflating and deflating, slowly, as if it was breathing. I glance over a lot to see if it’s going for a repeat performance. Nothing so far.

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I have the usual roaches and now some flying bats, but those are pretty yawn-inspiring since they’ve been around so long now. It’s the floating toilet paper roll, the pens, my Blistex lip balm… things that are here in my room, in my real life, just appearing, mid-air… there… and then fleetingly gone again. My food shifts next to me. I “see” music coming out of the speaker. The movements around the room are near-constant. (The book next to me is shuffling the pages as I write this.)

funky apple gif

I try to drive infrequently and only for less than a mile or two because it is frightening to not know if that box flying through the air is an illusion or really fell off that truck up there. I am terrified when I pass bus stops because people are so close to the edge, they slide over into the road sometimes, sliding back just as I get ready to veer away from hitting them. I do everything in my power to never drive during school drop-off or pick-up, the amount of busy-ness in the roads confuse me terribly. Don’t even get me started on mailboxes.

Tactile

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I am tapped periodically. No one is here to tap me. It’s nothing. I feel things crawling on me a lot. My room is clean! There are no bugs to crawl on me. No fleas, no gnats. Nothing. Yet I could swear there was a spider crawling up my leg or on my arm. Even when I am looking right at my skin, seeing with my eyes that it isn’t there, it is there… I just cannot see it is all. (Talk about a mind fuck!)

Auditory

I have these the least at the moment. Just some occasional whispers. Nothing telling me to do anything, I don’t get those kinds. I just get ominous whispers, just out of hearing range… my name whispered a lot.

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Resolution

Klimt
artist, Gustav Klimt

Writing all that down, I see I really might need to just up the Risperdal to curb some of this extraneous activity in my brain. I am crying writing this, fearful of gaining more weight. (I gained 80 pounds in 3 months when I started the Risperdal 13 years ago.) I know there are other meds I can try, but I get Tardive Dyskinesia so easily… and have it already from the Wellbutrin… I am so wary of changing from meds I know work.

Fuck, this is confusing sometimes.

Thanks for listening.

Kinks, Fetishes & Shame

There is this interesting dynamic that occurs in several kink & fetish communities. It is known as a Binge-Purge Cycle. Most of us probably recognize this term with regards to food, but in the kink community it takes on a slightly different guise.

I’ve witnessed and walked through this cycle several times with my phone sex clients over the last 18 months.

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Binge-Purge Cycle

The Binge-Purge Cycle goes through quite predictable stages. I outline them below.

Bingeing: Buying items of their kink or fetish… panties, dresses, make-up, wigs, heels, lingerie, diapers, bdsm toys, sex toys and the like.

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Indulging: A period of wonderful happiness, although it can also include some recklessness (unprotected sex, not being particularly careful about physical safety when hooking up, walking the fine line between having fun with the kink-fetish & tempting being discovered, putting pictures on the Internet, etc.).

Beginning of Discomfort: Sometimes this comes with a close call of being discovered (which I see happening almost as a subconscious set-up oftentimes) or someone threatening to tell the spouse or out them at work. Other times are when a life situation presents such as an upcoming business trip or hospitalization (“What if my spouse digs around and finds my stash?”), a near-miss car accident or a fall (“What if I was hospitalized and they saw my panties?” “What if I die and my wife finds my stash?”)

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“Hidden”, by Secret Fantasy

Deepening Shame: It is a short leap from discomfort to the shame that leads to purging. This often has religious overtones. I actually see this around Christian holidays a lot. As we would expect, the more fundamentalist the religion, the deeper the guilt and shame. Spouses and parents tend to really beat themselves up hard at this point. (“I would ruin my kids’ lives if anyone found out.” “My wife would take the kids if she ever knew I wore panties/sucked cock/saw prostitutes/etc.”) I do see this in single folks, too, though.

This Shame phase I have the hardest time with regarding my clients and those in my life. I will talk about this specifically in a few minutes.

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Purging: This tends to be a cathartic rather than a sad event. Some feel sad, but most feel remorseful-relief as they pile everything into garbage bags to take to a faraway dumpster. (I try and put the idea in their heads to donate the items instead of tossing them in the trash.)

Newly Abstinent: Huge amounts of relief replace the shame and this phase also has a “high” similar to the Indulging phase. This place without any of ones’ accoutrements around feels safe, clean, unburdened. They are able to breathe easier for awhile.

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Bargaining as the Building of Desire Increases: The urge to dress/play/have anonymous sex/etc. increases and intense bargaining occurs. (“I promise not to if you take this urge away.” “I will never cheat on my wife again if I can stop wanting to wear panties.”) No one takes the person up on the bargaining, of course. When they are in this phase, alcohol or medication/drugs often come into play to try and relieve the intense urges to fulfill their needs. As we know, substance (ab)use creates its own set of obstacles in relationships.

Bingeing: When the tipping point occurs, enormous spending sprees tax credit cards, their minds whir with how to not be discovered/where to hide the goods and an enormous high drives the entire production towards that reckless place once again.

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Binge-Purge Kinks & Fetishes

A few of the kinks & fetishes that do this cycle are:

Shame

I could just as easily pick out any part of the cycle to discuss –and might do others later- but the Shame aspect is where my heart hurts right now.

Hans Cras
artist, Hans Cras

It breaks my heart when I hear someone in this place. They speak to me softly, usually near tears, hiding in their car or locked in their office, telling me they can’t help it and how much they hate themselves for their horrible behavior. I want to bring them into my arms and comfort them (and do so in my mind).

Knowing how overwhelming and bad this feels, the first thing I do is tell them, with all the love in my voice, that there is absolutely nothing wrong with their desire. It is our society and culture that has the issue. That in other cultures and in other times, their kink-fetish was honored and revered.

I tell them it sucks to not be able to be who they really are and that I understand their fears of discovery and, if god is involved, how they think he will judge them and send them to hell.

I tell them I am not alone in believing in them and honoring who they are no matter what they wear or how they behave. I always encourage a kink-fetish-friendly therapist and have helped several find someone in their area. (Definitely not a part of my job and I am not paid for it, but feel it is a natural off-shoot to my love and care.)

My Own Shame

Shame makes me crazed sometimes. Surely because I have had (and am still plowing through) a lifetime of the sludge and muck that colors almost every aspect of my life. I don’t want anyone to feel this terrible filthiness and weight on the heart and spirit. 35+ years of therapy seems to have barely shoveled any into the incinerator. Or else it is self-replacing; some goes out, tons comes back in.

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As a midwife, I worked with the shame of clients… sexuality being a common theme. What was nice was I had a proscribed schedule, typically 7-8 months, within which to explore the shame and help them find tools to lessen the guilt and shame they carried.

Here, however, I never know if the call I am on will be the absolutely last call before a purge, so I feel compelled to discuss shame with many clients, especially if they are in what I would consider a high-risk-for-purging kink or fetish.

Bypassing Shame

Delightfully, I’ve talked to a couple of folks who’ve found peace in their kinks and fetishes and have created safeguards against discovery.

Fascinatingly creative, I’ll share one person’s solution.

Off-Site Storage

One gal, dressing (in girl/women’s clothes) almost since toddlerhood, had gone through at least 8 binge-purge cycles in over 40 years when she had the profound realization this need/desire to dress was simply never going away. There was not any lightning bolt moment where she saw herself… the rest-of-her-life Self… not willing to purge again and Be who she knew herself to be. The dawning took many, many years, she telling me that each purge brought her closer to never doing so again.

When the final decision to stop purging was made, she decided to be proactive in keeping her family from ever ever ever finding out about this part of her, yet be able to resume dressing whenever she went out of town on business.

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She moved everything out of the house, only bringing something home to wash occasionally and only when the family was gone.

The list of her off-site storage solution is astonishingly brilliant. Mind you, this took her about 10 years to iron out the details, but still… incredible.

• Pays cash for almost everything
• Has an air conditioned storage unit
• Has a post office box and uses this as her address for almost anything requiring an address
• Has a separate bank account, out of state, in her chosen name
• Has a separate computer she uses only for her alter-ego, including buying clothes, going to chat rooms, etc.
• Has a separate phone in her chosen name, out of state phone company
• Has a key in a tiny lock box that opens the safe deposit box at a large bank outside of town

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• Debit cards, phone and key to the storage unit kept inside the safe deposit box
• Inside the storage unit, she had a private closet consultant make a lovely closet for her to store her clothes, lingerie, shoes, stockings, wigs, makeup and jewelry
• Inside the storage unit, she has her phone
• Inside the storage unit, she has luggage that she packs in anticipation of the out-of-town business trip coming up next (prepared ahead of time except for clothes that can wrinkle, putting those in before the flight)

Isn’t this the most ingenious solution to leaving shame behind?

She did these things so that if anything ever happened to her… a heart attack, a car accident, any kind of emergency that would keep her from protecting herself, her family would be protected (her word) from knowing this part of her. The several keys and combinations to even get into the storage unit, the storage unit not being in her male name (if she died, they would simply sell her things off), the phones, the debit cards… all for her self-protection and piece of mind.

We did talk for a few minutes about if she was out in a club dressed and some tragedy like Pulse happened, she could possibly be discovered, but I did tell her that most EMS and hospital personnel would keep that part of her secret, it being irrelevant to the next of kin.

All in all, she covered her tracks beautifully.

I asked if I was allowed to share this with others and she said absolutely because she wished she’d had someone help her all those years ago.

My Conclusion

I believe there can be ways to offer others support and information for, if not removing, at least relieving, some of their guilt and shame.

I know I am not alone on this side of the amazing people’s journeys. Are you here, too?

embrace

Broken

 

Conflict

My wonderful submissive, my (Muslim) cublet, and I had some conflict this week about stuff going on in Europe (Freedom of the Press, Turkey, Netherlands, etc.) and he was feeling badly about how he responded to the discussion. Very badly. He felt that he’d let his Mistress (me) down.

After we worked things out, he asked me if, when I was a submissive, I ever disappointed Zack (my Dom) over and over and how did I deal with that.

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Endless Failures

I’m not sure where it bubbled up from, certainly from the recesses of my psyche, but I began talking, almost trance-like, about how Zack and I tried new diets every few weeks. It wasn’t a direct order to follow the regimen, but it was implied. I am able to follow the rhythm of these attempts in my Facebook Memories each day and, as I see each new diet, each new pledge to “Stick to this one!”, I wince knowing that I failed. Again. And again. And again.

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I’ve written about how I snuck food, hiding it, eating in the car and throwing away the evidence before I got home… how I still hoard food even though I have no need to whatsoever. Old habits and all.

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1 of about 6 hiding (hoarding) places.

When Zack and I learned about a new diet (always the Famous-Diet-of-the-Moment), it was up to me to research and make menus (which I despised doing). Then I would school Zack, we’d set a date to begin within the next couple of days and, once the sun rose on that date, we were off and running.

I knew as soon as the diet was brought up what was going to happen. Promises of “This Time!” and “I’m going to the gym every day.” Vowing, even to myself, that I would not cheat.

Yet within a few hours of the new diet, my stomach (mind) was rumbling and I needed food. Not healthy salads, which I could eat as much of as I wanted. Not the vegetable soup that I could serve myself every half hour if I desired. But food. Carbs, mostly. Bread. Tortillas. Potatoes. Burgers, fries, candy, cake… that endless list of Forbidden Fruit (yeah, fruit?!)

Diet
I would fly through this entire cycle in about 4 hours.

I became a demon in search of the poison that (never) filled me up. I would sit thinking, “Where can I get money to go buy food? What excuse can I make to get out of the house? Where can I hide the other half of the burger I can’t eat while in the car?” Looking at me, you’d think I was merely watching TV. Inside my head, I was a military officer strategizing the next battle, down to the last marching step. Obsession does not begin to describe the experience.

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I always found food. Even if I had to steal it from my sister-in-law. Or sneak money out of Zack’s wallet to buy it. Or sell something for the few coins I received; candy is pretty cheap.

There it was. I was a failure. Again. A crushing failure, doomed to disappoint Zack. Again.
When he realized what was going on (how he didn’t know within hours is beyond me), usually after the second week’s weigh-in and he’d lost gobs of weight and… lookie there! I’d gained 5 pounds! That he believed in me each time, that he trusted me to tell the truth “this time,” (which is how he didn’t see me cheating – he trusted me) made my failure all the more bitter.

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Clinging Together

So when my cub asked if I’d been a serial disappointment, I don’t think he expected an entire post to fall out of my fingers about it.

pondering

So, he and I met online almost 18 months ago, both of us traversing different worlds, surely never to meet in real life, but here we are, my cublet and I, both sharing those same shame feelings.

Curious. Do you think everyone has them? If we all talked to each other long enough would we all find we had this deep place inside that feels we disappoint the ones we love most?

I know people really well… human nature really well. But I cannot recall others feeling broken the way he and I described to each other.

And how do 2 broken people find each other anyway? Is it a psychic connection that says, “Join and you shall begin to glue each other back together?”

2 broken

Does the mere airing of the pain begin the healing? (Provided we are in therapy, of course. I am aware that 2 dysfunctional people will not spontaneously heal the hurt.) This phenomenon really is quite baffling.

broken

Be-ing With the Pain

I spent several days deep inside, remembering these horrid feelings of shame and disappointment, actually worried I was getting depressed and might need a med change. Instead, I just sat with the feelings. Allowing them to curl around me, reminding me that, even if I don’t remember them, they do still exist and have an effect on my life.

Writing this has been an exercise of sitting with the pain, crying at times, really deeply sad other times and now that the post is winding down, I think I am finally finding some peace.

I hope it lasts.

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artist, calmdownchristina

Welcome, New Folks!

squeeee!

What a wonderful surprise to see the number of new readers/subscribers after my Navelgazing Midwife Facebook Page’s goodbye post. I am so, so happy to see you all here!

Welcome

Finding Me

I thought I’d share where else you might find me; I’m tucked around the Internet in several places.

My Bio – This is a good place to start to get an idea of the scope of who I am. I’ve been this person for a very long time, but many new folks might not know some of these labels I embrace.

Tumblr – If you don’t know Tumblr, it’s a sort of visual blog, filled with images. Tumblr is about half great stuff and half intense porn (that does not remotely interest me; I am much more discerning with my porn choices). My own Tumblr Blog is a window into what catches my eye and a reflection of my politics, which I am not permitted to share on my work Tumblr. You do not need to register in order to see the blogs.

Twitter – My Tumblr rolls over to my Twitter, but I do like Tweets from folks! My handle is: @NavelgazeWriter

Literotica – I’m working on several pieces for Literotica. I have to write erotic/pornographic posts for my work blog and have been told I am very good at writing about sex. I look forward to sharing the inner naughtiness of my mind.

Hope to see you around!

happiness_paradox

 

 

A Side Effect of Goodbye

I wrote my Goodbye post for my Navelgazing Midwife Facebook followers and received something that I couldn’t have predicted: love.

I Am Loved

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Thanks

thank-you-note

The kind words of thanks and appreciation for my writings over the last decade+ made my heart so full.

“A million times thank you. Without your influence I would never have become my own navel gazer.”

“Barb, I understand closing this door in your life and moving on but just know your words have had a great positive impact and you will be missed.”

“I have always been awed and so inspired by your ability to open up and share so boldly who you are.”

Births

signs-of-spiritual-transformation

But the comments from women about their births… my heart melted with those.

“so sorry to see you go! i found you during my surrogacy pregnancy, and you were a huge factor in my choice to birth med. free.”

“While pregnant with my first son I couldn’t get enough of your blog – it is what ultimately allowed me to find my voice and speak up that I wasn’t liking the care I was receiving from my OBGYN. I chose to leave that practice and seek out a midwife. Best decision I’ve ever made.”

“I love you Barb. You patiently waited for me to find my strength to say what really caused my baby to die. You held my hand and my heart as it took me years to realize how my daughter really died. You didn’t shame or blame or deflect from the truth.” This mom went on to become an NICU nurse instead of home birth midwife after her baby died due to the negligence of a home birth midwife.

Caring for Women
hands mixed
photo by Barb Herrera

And then there were the women who shared their personal paths from doula to nurse or certified nurse midwife. Stunning.

“I have followed you for so long, yours was the first blog I found and fell in love with when I realized that I NEEDED birth in my life! I’ve since gone to nursing school and become a l&d nurse, chairing our NCB Committee, and trying so hard to help women be respected and truly cared for during their experiences.”

“You have been such a wealth of knowledge for me as I completed my journey from doula to labor nurse to nurse midwife.”

“I was accepted back into nursing school today – 4 semesters stand between me and a BSN. L&D is the goal and upon graduation, my MSN to become a CNM. Thanks Barb, I owe a lot of my drive and self discovery to you.”

Thoughts

I am incredibly humbled by the comments I received on that Goodbye post. That I had an affect on so many is so amazing to me. As I write this, I am wiping tears of gratitude for all the blessings I’ve had as the Navelgazing Midwife. As is usual, the love and indebtedness people have for each other is symbiotic, flowing back and forth… a Möbius strip of love.

Thank you to all.

giffull

 

My Navelgazing Midwife Goodbye

Weaning is complete.

I began my Navelgazing Midwife Facebook Page (NgM FB Page) in 2009 and will be closing the door on it Monday, March 13, 2017.

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I took this photo and used it for 10 years on my business card and in correspondence. One of my favorite clients, Silvia Frank, was killed by her husband after she left him for Domestic Violence. Her 5 daughters are amazing.

I became the Navelgazing Midwife (NgM) right around 2003 or so. The first blog I had was on Blogger, but when they snatched pages from it and censored me because I had nude women (birthing and breastfeeding!), I moved to Squarespace after making sure they would not be censoring.

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One of the favorite photographs I’ve ever taken. Jenna was nearing the end of her labor and we watched, mesmerized, as her uterus crested outside the water during contractions, then her belly sinking completely under the water after the wave. This picture was the header for my Navelgazing Midwife Blog for several years.

My first post on the Navelgazing Midwife Blog was July 3, 2004 and the last post I put there was July 31, 2016, directing folks to my new blog, the Navelgazing Writer (NgW). I’ve debated closing the NgM blog, but know there are still wondrous birth stories there and some midwifery history we would be good to remember as time passes.

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Katie birthing Uma while her mother supports and loves her. Katie’s mom has passed; looking at this, my heart soars. I took this photo.

My NgM FB Page holds much history as well, including the moment-by-moment births of my grandbabies Gabriella and Preston… and included the postpartum hemorrhage that nearly killed Meghann 36 hours after Preston’s birth. The news of my angel grandbaby Eliott is also enclosed within these pages. My newest granddaughter Alexandra’s early cesarean birth was announced there a mere 3 months ago.

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Gabriella, 5 – Preston, 2.5 – Alexandra, 1 month (my grandbabies!)

If you’re reading this on the NgM FB Page, you already know I have been weaning for a while. I left birth completely 2.5 years ago (except for my grandbabies), having left midwifery 5 years before that. News has gradually lessened; my commentary barely audible anymore.

I’ve turned to chronicling my life for my kids and their kids, sharing my knowledge of and inclusion in the early LGBT communities in Orlando, Florida, Frankfurt, Germany & San Diego, California. I have barely begun to share the story of my 2+ decade-long relationship with Zack (previously known as Sarah) and the impact of his transitioning on our lives.

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Zack (before his transition) nursing his son and my daughter Aimee. We co-nursed for 2.5 years, often saying all families should have 4 lactating breasts in the home. I took this picture, circa 1986.

Interspersed will have to be birthy stories… I just wrote 2 about the immigrant populations I worked with in San Diego and El Paso, Texas. Birth has been an integral part of my life since January 1983… I could not write my autobiography without including it. I just have a different viewpoint now that I am above and far away from the stories that once affected every aspect of my spirit, emotions, relationships and friendships.

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Shayla and her then-husband. Shayla had one of the most horrific hospital births I attended in 32 years. Exhibit A demonstrating blatant racism in maternity care.

I’ve had a sort of hidden life for a long time… one of intense sexuality and BDSM. I was a lifestyle submissive with my former partner Zack and am writing about these things as well.

My life since puberty has been colored with mental illness. Bipolar Disorder and Depression and are well-represented in the NgW blog. Much more to come as the blog is still fairly new.

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I was addicted to opiates for 8 years, it sliding through my sister’s dying of an accidental overdose on opiates, Fentanyl being the actual cause of her death. I am now 2.5 years clean and share that story in my new blog as well.

My body, at almost 56-years old, is tired, disabled and in a lot of pain; Mindfulness Meditation and 800 mg. ibuprofen are my pain relief. I struggle with a plethora of issues, most fat-related. It is crucial for me to write about my life as a fat woman, someone who’s tried a hundred times to not be fat anymore, but still fat after trying it all. My feet have arthritis and keep breaking just from walking. I have osteoporosis (from the gastric bypass). My diabetes, while okay at the moment with a HgbA1c of 5.9, that is with 2 insulins on board.

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Since leaving birth, I’ve become a sex worker. I’m not writing a lot about it at the moment, but it colors my life tremendously. Amazingly, all the years of birth work and therapy have armed me adequately for caring for the men, women and transfolks I work with every single day. There is not one day when my birth experiences do not figure prominently in the interactions with others.

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Because of the state of the United States right now, I explored different topics about which to write, but quickly saw that, not only did some topics affect my mental state, but a zillion different ones joined the list every day. I needed to focus my attention and have chosen Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press as my main demonstration issues against 45.

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Illustrator, Eric Drooker

It’s been an interesting shift in my thought process, from birth to politics. I’m observing my Self intently, monitoring my emotions, mental state, my body’s physical responses and lastly, what those around me have to say about what I’ve written. The NgW Blog is still really small, very few readers with each post, but it took about 2 years for the NgM Blog to pick up steam, so I’m not sweating it. Also, I really am writing for myself, giving flight to my thoughts and experiences, and if others find what I write helpful or creates a visceral response, all the better.

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There were only a couple of posts in the NgM Blog that were written with the reader in mind and whenever I did that, I regretted it. Of all the posts, only one was removed and edited because of the backlash I got from my licensing organization. (I cannot tell you how freeing it is to be completely unrestrained now, writing writing writing without someone threatening my livelihood. There really are nasty, ugly parts to midwifery politics in the US.)

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I know many of you reading have followed me for a long time. I cannot thank you enough for considering my views and listening to my thoughts, even when you disagreed with me. Thank you for challenging me, making me think… allowing me to shift and change and grow. I am not the same woman who created the nom de plume “Navelgazing Midwife,” but you are not the same either. Isn’t it amazing to witness our own growth and transformations?

NgMadieu

Endless gratitude to all of you and may your lives and the lives of those around you be filled with boundless love and light. You will never be forgotten.

theend purple

What Is “45”?

“45” is what I call POTUS, the 45th president of the United States, that horrid man who squats in the White House tweeting (LYING) about random topics to divert our attention from the fucked up bullshit he does that will, PLEASE GODDESS, get him impeached.

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