Khnum and the Pen
I awoke in the small room, having unintentionally dozed off, and sat up to discover that the markers I’d been drawing with had all dispersed and tumbled down off of the comforter and on to the floor. It wasn’t night yet it wasn’t day. I didn’t recognize the blank room, and I was swallowed by the unmistakable feeling of being inside of a great building where all light and passing of time was kept hidden from its halls. Fear stole over me, and I suddenly became aware that there was something unseen lurking in the room.
Quite as soon as this realization hit me, I looked down and watched my gray marker slide a few feet across the floor. The hair on my arms rose, dousing me with coldness, and I whispered names I thought might be near enough my heart to hear or feel my distress. The marker moved again against reason, and then it slid under the crack of the single door. I leapt up from the bed and threw open the door with panic rising in my throat, eager to greet the hallucinations of my head and disprove them. I searched the floor outside of the room and saw no trace of the marker.
I breathed a momentary sigh of relief, and then looked up, and there it was hovering before me, aloft in the air without a hand to hold it. I began to scream the names of all those who had ever helped me, of all those who could possibly hear me from my strange prison, and that was when I looked up and noticed the stairwell that led up from my room, and the great beast standing on the second landing.
It had the torso of a strong human, though woman or man I could not say, and on its shoulders the head of a ram bore its black eyes down upon me, its twisted horns casting ominous shadows across its face and the wall beside it. Its genitals lay bare and exposed between the railing, and I could now see that it was both a man and a woman in one.
Without speaking, it spoke to me.
“I am Khnum,” it said.
I tried to holler but no sound came. It had stolen my voice. I stood and trembled.
“I am the Maker of makers, the Father of fathers and the Mother of mothers. With my own clay I crafted you, that you would craft the others who have not come to be.”
With the boom of his soundless voice I felt inside me the tremendous love of a mother as if I were swaddled, the formidable and terrifying wrath of a vicious and merciless father in rage, the unsettling disappointment of a creator watching its most beloved creation destroy itself from inside out… I felt an amorous pining, a desperate grief; suicidal dejection so miserable it seemed insurmountable, yet so full of beauty it couldn’t be turned away from…
I saw suddenly in my own eyes a field of darkness where, even without light, radiating, vivid color and life drenched the air. I watched the sun rise over said field, and when the searing light hit me my heart peeled open. It tore itself asunder before my very eyes, gushing my lifeblood and soaking the earth with all of my love and pain and everything I’d ever felt. I fell to my knees, weeping as a child who first learns of the unreachable shadows of death by losing their most beloved to its silent jaws. I screamed as darkness descended again…
The vision passed away, and once more I saw only the beast, staring down at me from the top of the stair, and I could not meet its eyes for shame.
“I have made you in my fashion;” it said. “A creator of things which must needs exist. I did not betray thee, so betray not thy gift.”
And then I awoke.
It’s 9 o’clock in the evening on Monday, March 12, 2012, and a 39-year-old mom carrying a breech baby (butt down) who had given birth before by cesarean section because of her baby being breech the first time, is twelve days past her due date, and has begun to have regular contractions. She informs the birth team and continues to rest at her home in Ventura in gearing up for what’s to come.
At that moment, her doctor, Stuart Fischbein, gets a call from his other client, a second time mom living in Hollywood with also a breech baby who is one week early from her due date calls to say that her water has broken. She tells him that she hasn’t been experiencing contractions though, so she too is going to try and rest and will keep him updated with any new change. (However, being a second time mom, it means that when she does start having contractions, she will most likely fly through labor and be ready to push.)
So, crossing his fingers that both moms sleep a little longer, Stuart, not having left his home yet in Westlake (geographically right in between locations of both clients in labor), is trying to rest as well until someone needs him. Who would have predicted that one woman who is one week early, and the other who is twelve days late, 70 miles apart from each other, are in labor at the same time!
Karni, the midwife who will be attending the birth in Ventura as the mom will be birthing at her birth center, calls me to ask me to come up to the birth center just to have another set of hands in case mom comes in, she is ready to give birth, and Stuart is in LA.
As a side note, delivering breech babies is an automatic “no-no” in hospitals these days as the medical community are afraid that once the baby’s body is out, the head will get stuck, the baby will lose oxygen, and need resuscitation and/or possibly die. But with the proper training of delivering the head, one can manage just fine at home.
So, Stuart is the doctor who women go to after their other doctor in the hospital has told them that the only way to deliver their breech baby, twin babies, and/ or someone who wants to deliver a baby vaginally after having had a C-section (VBAC) is by having a (another) C-section. The research shows that each of those conditions, “breech”, “VBAC”, etc. are not in themselves a necessity to intervene, so why do we do it? Ego, fear of litigation, inconvenience, and lack of training…
When these same women don’t agree with that option and are determined to birth naturally, they seek out alternatives. While some midwives are comfortable delivering these “high-risk” babies, it is a pretty politically fucked system and a midwife could simply lose her license for doing it because it’s outside of her scope of normal birth.
So that leaves Stuart. Having been trained over thirty years ago to deliver twins, breeches, and babies born to a mother who is a VBAC is what he knows, trusts, and supports. After being threatened by the medical community while working at Cedars Hospital because he supported home birth by backing up midwives who needed to transport their patients, he took his practice out of the hospital and into the home where his views of birth were clearly supported, encouraged, and practiced gently, safely, and with a lot of love and gratitude.
Anyways, as I am on my way up to Ventura that evening, I get a call back from Karni, telling me, “Well, Sarah’s water just broke”. What this means is that most likely contractions will get stronger and more intense as there now isn’t anything buoying the baby up between its head and the cervix, putting more pressure on the cervix to thin out and dilate for baby to pass through it.
I get to the birth center close to 11 pm and fall asleep in a spare bedroom until 3:30 am when Karni wakes me up to tell me that Ventura mama is going to be coming in in a half hour and that Stuart will also be here around then (as he hadn’t heard back from the LA mom). Stuart shows up around 4 am and sets his birth bags down. The couple comes in shortly after that, she moaning through contractions and her guy bringing their birth kit in from the car along with their other stuff. She gets on the bed and after awhile Stuart checks to see how far along her cervix is dilated. She is at a good 6-7 cm, which is awesome, as she has to get to 10 in order to start pushing the baby out. So, our plan is for her to just lie down so that she can rest in between contractions and switch sides every half hour so that the baby’s head hits all parts of her cervix.
At that moment, his client in Hollywood texts to say she has just woken up with contractions that are about 5 minutes apart. This is where all hell breaks loose!
Stuart, immediately calls another midwife in LA to go to the house in Hollywood to just check on mom and baby to give him an update as he will very soon have to decide what to do.
Here is the predicament he is in: If he stays in Ventura, he will (1) be asking a not so experienced midwife in LA to deliver a breech baby, which could be potentially dangerous. He will (2) be missing his client’s birth, which no one likes especially the mom in labor, plus (3) they are celebrities so he feels like he really has to be there as they will most likely help support him and the word of home birth, etc.
But if he leaves Ventura, a mom who suffered from severe post-partum depression from the C-section she had with her first child could (1) potentially flip her shit on him and make it a very hostile environment and maybe even sue, and (2) leave Karni to deliver a breech baby which she is experienced in, but still it’s a sticky situation for her to be put in.
After Stuart tells the dad the truth of the matter in that he might have to go to LA, the dad has a moment of being pretty pissed, but lets it go, and promises not to say anything to the mom until it was time. Right then, the mom in LA texts to say that her contractions are now one minute apart. Stuart jumps up and says he has got to go! The laboring mom at the birth center says, “Go”, and we had just hoped that he makes it time being that it’s now 6:30 am with impending Los Angeles traffic on the 101 freeway.
The mama at the birth center kept on laboring and was doing great. Stuart calls a little over an hour later to say that he had gotten to the house in time and baby was born about 15 minutes later. He was waiting for the placenta to come out, and to make sure everyone was stable and that he was going to leave the postpartum care of breastfeeding, etc. to the midwife so that he can whizz back up to Ventura.
He got back to the birth center by 10 am with the mom having the same labor contraction patterns - kind of spaced apart and not very strong. But we let her go on walking, getting in the tub, lying down, and nipple stimulation to get the contractions stronger and closer together. In the mean time, we ate, chatted, watched a birth video online, and discussed what we thought was going to happen with this one.
Stuart checks her again around 1 pm – 9 hours from when she first walked in and he checked her the first time – she as around 8 cm. So, in that span of time she had only progressed a centimeter and a half and her cervix was now a little swollen. We know mama is tired and the problem with letting a woman go on when she is exhausted in labor is that she not only has to have the power to push the baby out but also care for it for the next 48 hours straight. One of the main leading causes of post-partum depression is exhaustion – which we were all especially conscious of due to her history. The other problem with a tired body in labor is that the uterus is especially tired, which means less oxygen rich blood getting to the baby and less of an ability for the uterus to contract down after the baby is out to stop the bleeding once the placenta has separated from the uterine wall and there are exposed, open blood vessels. So then you are dealing with a potentially bad situation of mom who is hemorrhaging (bleeding out) and a baby who is possibly unresponsive due to not enough oxygen and needing to resuscitate. It’s an interesting line to ride – one that is careful and done with impeccable judgment.
When Stuart and Karni decide that they have tried everything they can think of, he presents the last trick up his sleeve, which is to attempt to push the last two centimeters of cervix over the baby’s butt in order for her to start pushing. We thought we would give it a go. But as we all sat in that room, mom, dad, and Stuart on the bed, Karni off on one side of the bed, and me on the other, Stuart tells them the situation that is at hand. If pushing the cervix doesn’t work, we have to call it and take her into the hospital to have a C-section (because no hospital would try to deliver a breech, VBAC vaginally despite the fact that she is nearly completely dilated and would just need an epidural to fall asleep for awhile to regain the strength to push baby out). Her guy put his head in his hands and I could see tears running down his face as I am sure he was not only upset to lose this opportunity to birth out of the hospital, but scared for her and of the idea that she could potentially go through the terrible depression she went through before and how hard that was to deal with especially now with two young children to care for.
So, Stuart tries it as she sits on the birth stool but he couldn’t do it as there was way too much cervix to push over baby. That was it. Show was over.
Mama sits there and cries and as Karni helps her up off the stool, she cries harder into Karni’s arms as her guy wraps his arms around her. It was a moment of pure disappointment and sadness.
She did say that all she had wanted was a chance to do it, birth vaginally, which she got and did beautifully, but the idea of going through massive surgery once again and being incapacitated afterward was heart wrenching for her. But, they got their courage together, wiped their tears, and packed up their stuff in the car to follow Stuart to the hospital to finally meet their baby.
While I didn’t get to see a vaginal VBAC breech at home, that whole experience was perhaps much more enriching than to see a normal birth. It was the times of Stuart and Karni trouble shooting every possible scenario and tool to use that were incredibly invaluable for me as a learning student. I was in the presence of such greatness that I felt truly lucky to know this side of life.
As I drove back to LA a couple hours later, I thought about those precious, hair-raising, intense, fragile, empowering and moving aspects of what I had just experienced that were all simply rolled up into just another day at the office.
...Go to this link http://www.birthinginstincts.com/aurora-breech-birth.htm. It's of a birth that Stuart attended which shows the seemingly effortless way of delivering a breech birth. It's pretty crazy. Unfortunately you can't skip right to the birth, so you have to watch a bit of the laboring part - swaying of the hips, big titties - you'll hate it. :)
Presently, I am face to face with a deeper sea, vastly beyond my experience. With my eyes wide open, I am vigorously kicking to make great strides toward touching land – even if it means unknown territory and unfulfilled expression. In pursuit of surviving my own perfect storm, my heart inflates and grows bigger with fresh blood in order to maneuver and move through such waves of emotion. I strive to hear the soft whisper of intuition amongst the loud and quivering chatter of doubt and fear, hoping the inherent wisdom that was once lost is soon-to-be found and rained down over me.
Still treading water, a smile sinks onto my face and I am truly humbled by my great efforts, at one time, to control this magnificent chaos.
Oh my god you guys, I'm losing my mind but I'm having so much fun it's disgusting. $15 for a block of clay that can make eight sculptures or so this size, AND it never hardens until you bake it so you can animate with it. I'm beginning to dip my toes into the idea of animation, and I'm super excited about it! Learning about different ways you can do it and how they can be combined to be made manageable. Eeeeeeeee joy.
I'm usually too self-conscious or too lazy to write much, even knowing how good it is for the soul. On my latest flight across the Atlantic, though, I was very pleased to find myself unable to stop. I'd like to share some of those writings with you, despite my aforementioned hesitancy. Here are some thoughts on the creative process and of the real bitch in can be.
Do away with distraction.
At first you may be horrified by the sight of your atrophied dream, the pitiful state of your embryonic destiny. You will hear one thousand mocking voices and one million I-told-you-so's. You will want more than anything to turn away; to eat, to sleep, to clean, to hang-out, to drink, to fuck, to fuck-off, to tweet and facebook and rot comfortably back in front of your macbook pro. You will do anything to mute those desperate whimpers, the laments of your soul. You will turn away. You will cover up your embarrassment and shrink from the truth; you will cower and hide and reach for a snickers bar. It will be too much to bear and you will return to the sick and poisoned breast of your false mother.
Some time goes by, you frolicking about in a sort of complacent, happy stupor, until again, you notice a dull pain deep in your stomach, though this time slightly more pronounced than last. Like a toothache it won't go away; it will be insistent, nagging - more bothersome than painful. Eventually, you can't help it and you must scratch the itch. You drag your eyes from the fanfare around you and rest them on the blank page, the creative act... and this, slowly, becomes a mirror, a reflection of your true inner state.
As the image comes into focus, thoughts, emotions, fears, ghosts, sorrows and joys hurtle towards you intent on ripping the layers of shit you've covered yourself in off of your body. They want to splice you open; to bleed you, to break and shatter you. What they want is to make you anew. What they want is to open you wide so that you can drink in the universe and birth the world. What they want is to show you your true, manifold face.
Your coddled, conditioned mind will not like this, will thrash about like a fish on land and throw childish tantrums. But you will get, through the tumult, a taste of your most glorious nature. This torrent, this godlike blast of real shit will threaten to break you open and it will scare you to hell. Actually, it'll scare you into turning away once more, and you flip open your netflix to watch the next Office episode.
I have a thing for fish, can't stop drawing them and painting them. :) I made that little sculpture fish to pose so that I can paint him like crazy with reference instead of trying to find good fish photos in books and online. I think I might make a whole school of colorful sparkly fish and hang them from my ceiling so it looks like they're swimming through my house. This is the first, his name is Ezra, and I love him. I hope you like him too.
Gearing up, paying discmakers, rehearsing with the group, writing new tunes, making a website, gonna be good shit. Lining up shows and picking the best one for a CD release.
Thinking of you friends and hoping you are well. I'm grateful for you all. (and did I mention I'm exceedingly proud of you fuckers as well? I didn't? Well shit, I am.)
So far 2012 has quite possibly been turning into the best year of my little life. It seems all I have to do is give some meditation and focus to exactly what I want for myself, and BAM, it smacks me in the face- friendly-like, as if to say, "Here I am, ya dummy!" And then I grin and say, "Oh well of course, how did I not see that before???"
Yesterday at 11 a.m. I went to a photo shoot- My friend Christian put together a new record, and every musician that participated was in the photo shoot. As we were wandering around the gallery being goofy and having our pictures taken, I was once again struck by the amount of joy that has filled my life, by the people that I have come to befriend up here, and by the depth of our friendships.
I was also astounded by their ambition and talents, and by their drive to get shit done. I thought to myself,"Inés, you really need to pick up the slack. You need a real promo video, a press kit, a website..." As I let these thoughts flood me I became a bit overwhelmed, as I have a proclivity toward doing...
But as we were leaving the gallery, two of those wonderful friends asked me, "Hey, can we shoot an idea the artist video today? A promo video, ya know?"
This is what happened.
Who knows if Bruce will replant for next season. My guess is no. I'm ok with it, even though I might persuade him that the effort was worth the two nights of broccoli and awesome strawberries. Maybe he got some subliminal healing and growth from watering the plants. I recommend a family garden at any time.
I came home for December and it felt great. I had a week home to get into the swing of the solitude of the valley before Adam and I got hard at work on this film score that we will be performing at the Lobero on Feb4th. It's a pretty surreal concept to write music to a film. We are writing the music to a silent film made in 1927 by a German named F.W. Mernau. It's called Faust. It is netflixable and is worth the brief introduction of the first 5 minutes to the 2 hour film. Super cool shit. I just hope we can get our shit together to pull it off live during the Santa Barbara Film Fest...music critics are CRITICS man. I hope people show up stoned enough.
I find instagram very very fascinating. I think it is such a great depiction of the world that we are living in. I basically got rid of a FREE android phone that works perfectly fine, just to use instagram and all of the iphones super fun apps. I was hard pressed for an excuse for my mother as to why I needed to buy a new phone when the one I have works perfectly fine. "For the Photos Mom" I said. And it's true. I think it's fascinating that we have these phones that do so much, all in one pockets sized gadget. These photos we take all get filtered to look as though they are old and tangible and vintage and slick, and we express what we see to a constant stream of other peoples similar visions on this internet based app to share our experience on this earth. I want to be slicker, to have gear that has more vibe, to take what's been given and make it loook good and feeeeel good. If I'm going to spend time with it, I want it to feeeeel goood.
I'm still trying to judge how much better my life is with my iphone that I needed so bad. I'll get used to it soon perhaps, but I think the whole shibang of the story represents where I'm headed for 2012.
I'm in Portland right now. The cat you see is that of our roommate Brandon. The cat's name is Gus, and he's a baller. He likes deep rough tugging pets that make it feel like a porno when I pet him. He only comes in at night or early in the morning. He's somewhat of a sentinal. A guardian. I haven't been able to leave this house we are renting for the entire week I've been here in Portland. We've been writing songs all day in a cold basement ending most nights with a cold 40oz of Colt 45. This malt liquor just seems to have the most style points. It's lubricated this blog post for sure.
Fuckin A man. Drunkinly writing to you from a dining room table in Portland, realizing I havent posted in a while, but still love the shit out of all you mom's and dads.
Here's to a new style...and..........Coachella 2012 :)
Moms & Dads! Wetlands EP is out!
All proceeds go directly to Xela AID! This is the organization that Jeremy and I worked with this summer in Guatemala. They are a small non-profit that works closely and conscienciously with Guatemalan families to break the cycle of poverty through educational and financial oppurtunities (http://www.xelaaid.org/).
You can buy the EP for $5 at: http://wetlands1.bandcamp.com/
Spread the word!