Rev. Pamela's Blog
At 2 a.m. on March 12th, 2018 I felt a hard kick inside me that woke me up. A rush of liquid flooded between my legs and I thought I had urinated in my sleep. I leapt, as best as a pregnant woman can leap, from bed and rushed into the bathroom. When I got half way to the toilet bloody fluid pooled under my feet. “Is that my Water?” I frantically questioned to the quiet room. No one answered. I panicked. I called out for my husband, but because of my loud snoring that had developed in the months prior, he was wearing earplugs. My heart raced; I began to cry. It was over a month before I was supposed to give birth. I again called for my husband and he finally roused from his slumber. “I think we have a problem, can you come look at this?” I begged. He shuffled into the bathroom and looked awestruck at the floor beneath me. “Is that my Water?” I asked. He shook his head, rubbed his eyes and said, “I don’t know. Call the midwife.” The next half an hour or so feels frozen in time. I took a picture of the watery mess and sent it to the midwife who responded that it was indeed my water and that it looked like I was going into labor. The next nine hours I labored at home at the instruction of my midwife who said there was no reason to come into the birth center until I was closer to delivery. She was wrong. Something was wrong. When I was delirious with pain and could no longer speak my husband called the midwife and told her we were coming in. A quick inspection of my cervix revealed a foot. My son was breech. I was rushed to the hospital where our backup doctor offered no consolation. He just exclaimed “Breech!” and a cacophony of medical intervention ensued. I lost all my power at that point and in a timeless vacuum I was prepped for surgery, anesthetized improperly by someone who appeared to be a rookie anesthesiologist—leaving me able to feel the entire procedure, and my baby was cut out of my body as I was given high doses of fentanyl because the doctor realized I could feel everything. I became the Victim during a event where I was supposed to become a Goddess.
The following months I was stricken with horrifying postpartum depression. The mix of the nightmare of my birth experience and the chemical imbalance prevented me from bonding with my son. I was already no stranger to trauma, having been raped in my 20’s and almost dying of a kidney infection in my 30’s—but none of that compared to the shift in reality that Motherhood + Depression had inflicted upon me. It is hard to describe how I felt during those months of mental anguish; I felt completely detached from my body and looked at it as if it was my enemy. The sadness that permeated my entire being made it very hard to focus on my new task at hand.
When a woman experiences trauma in relationship to her femininity, i.e. birth trauma like I encountered—there is a denial of the innate power of her own body and the creative energy that allows her to heal. The accumulation of traumatic experiences of my life, of which the birth of my son was just the latest in a long line of torment, put me into a state of separation. C. T. Crowley (2013), in her dissertation on the Negative Psychological Effects of Medicalized Birth, confirmed my feelings when she expounded that woman who have had the same experience reported they felt disconnected from their bodies during medicalized childbirth and that there was a, “constant undermining of their sense of self and their sense of wholeness” (p. 83). I will admit that I did not feel safe in my body anymore. I feel that this was a result of the victim complex, a bodily trigger to the feelings produced by my experiences. Marion Woodman (1985) explains that women who have had these types of experiences often do not have the ability to heal without some sort of outside intervention, pointing out that, “their souls are dislocated in bodies so wounded that the ego’s willingness in itself is simply not enough” (p. 55). After my labor I could not conceive of what would affix my soul back in my body. Luckily, I was smack-dab in the middle of my studies for a PhD in Depth Psychology and had been attending a nurturing Jungian Psychoanalyst when all of this occurred. With my Psychoanalyst I participated in Sandplay Therapy, a non-verbal practice, using figures in sand to help process through my deep wounding. My studies had also provided me with other tools, such as Expressive Arts Therapy, SoulCollage, and other healing modalities that I used on a regular basis. And finally, a chance encounter with a spiritual practice on the cliffs of a California retreat center offered the final part of the antidote.
For Mother’s Day 2018 my husband gifted me a weekend at the Central Coast’s most famous retreat center, Esalen. Without knowing anything about it, or how it would change my life forever, I chose a workshop entitled “5Rhythms Moon Lodge”. I mainly selected that workshop because it was women-only, and I felt like I needed the safety of that type of space. On the first day when I sat in the huge Dance Yurt perched on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean I encountered Lucia Horan, a teacher of the Five Rhythms for twenty years, who had just become a new Mom herself. The first couple of hours she taught us about the dance practice explaining that it was based on the two pillars of Non-Judgement and Kindness. She then described the “Five States of Being” of this spiritual dance practice:
When I returned home I launched into cobbling together a personal practice that revolutionized my existence. I began attending 5Rhythms and Ecstatic Dance classes in Los Angeles where I lived, and did teacher training. I dedicated myself to honing my skills in the modalities that helped me unravel my depression, including taking classes on Sandplay Therapy. As I had become a Certified Herbalist years prior, I found the right combination of supplements to heal the chemical imbalance. And I started working on my PhD dissertation—designing a program to help woman transform their lives after trauma. I was finally in the light at the end of the tunnel of despair. I was back in my body, embracing Motherhood, and ready to help others like myself.
In January of 2019 my family and I moved to Crestline. I had grown up here in the Mountains. It was as if I was experiencing my own Hero’s Journey—leaving my home of origin, battling with monsters, retrieving the treasure, and finally bringing back what I had found to help my community. I had left the mountains in the 2000’s to get my Master’s of Divinity and work as a Hospital and Prison Chaplain. Wanting to help those in the private sector I returned to school for my PhD. Now that I have put down roots in the land I call home—I am ready to do my work! As I finish my PhD dissertation, I have dedicated my life to helping people transform their lives after trauma. I now have a private practice at Liberation Therapies in Crestline, providing Holistic Therapy: my own unique combination of Pastoral Counseling in the vein of Psychotherapy, Sandplay Therapy, Somatic techniques, Herbalism and Reiki. In August I am starting a 9-week series with another artist called TRANSFORMATION THURSDAY—where we will share fun and creative practices with women who want community and healing. And finally I am starting a monthly class called BREATHE! DANCE! BE! at Bizzyland (next to the Stockade) that helps women get back into their body with ecstatic dance and breath-work. Check out my website for more details. Please feel free to email me or call with any questions. I look forward to meeting you and helping you on your path.
Crowley, C. T. (2013). Negative psychological effects of medicalized birth. (Doctoral dissertation). Available from Dissertations & Theses @ Pacifica Graduate Institute;
ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (UMI No. 3645460)
Roth, G. (1997). Sweat your prayers: Movement as spiritual practice. New York, NY: Putnam.
Woodman, M. (1985). The pregnant virgin: A process of psychological transformation. Toronto, ON: Inner City Books.
This blog is all about my process. I will explore my development of the MULTIHOOD program for New Moms, Sandplay Therapy, and other goodies.