Dance of Birth
The Dance of Birth Story
Ancient and enduring, movement has the inherent capacity to assist in our collective remembering of what it is to consciously create, to naturally birth and to creatively rear our children. By grounding our bodies, opening our hearts and befriending the variety of feelings that arise for everyone directly involved in the birth cycle of life, we can establish direct and intimate contact with our instinctual wisdom. This allows us to access our vital and sacred connection with ourselves, with each other and with That which creates life with and through us. The Dance of Birth grows out of Melissa’s personal body-centered inquiry into the nature of birth and the gifts and challenges inherent in creating new life. It is rooted in her years of practicing and teaching the 5Rhythms® dance work. It is supported by my association with birth professionals, midwives and doulas committed to creating a healthy future through conscious birthing. And above all, it is fueled by decades of mothering daughters.
Melissa’s birth story
Nestled in a converted garage in Santa Cruz, California, at 23 years old, I gave birth to my first child. What began as a simple home birth ended in a dramatic and ultimately successful home birth. After two and a half hours of labor and delivery, my daughter, Mariah, was born. Her water sac broke at the final push, releasing her head to the big outside world. She entered breathing peacefully, taking 20 minutes before fully exercising her rich capacity to vocalize and express herself. During those 20 initial postpartum minutes I, however, went on a journey that definitively changed my life.
Unable to stay present with the magnitude of sensations that were moving through me, I significantly disconnected from myself, losing contact with all feeling. I left my body and found myself consciously hovering above the room watching the following scene. My baby lay cuddled between pillows next to me as my body began to profusely hemorrhage. Threats to take me to the hospital without my baby, wrenching of nipples, shots of Pitocin? The works. Nothing could stop me from bleeding. My ability to stay present fluctuated. At one moment, my consciousness was clear as a bell as I articulated to my two fabulous midwives that yes, I would stop this bleeding. Then I would leave again, watching the scene on the bed from above, thinking to myself, how will I ever do that. Since this was one of those life or death moments where words need to be backed by action, and since I was not walking my talk, my midwives, of course, called for medical assistance.
The fire department and an ambulance arrived, while an M.D. consulted by phone. All joined together preparing to hook me up to life support. At that critical moment, my partner brilliantly blurted out from his station behind his camera, Melissa, use your will to stop yourself from bleeding and call on the Mother.
Reaching into the deepest core of my being, I gathered whatever energy was left in me, and with a full body gesture and sound called out M-O-T-H-E-R-! Instantaneously, my uterus contracted shut and my bleeding stopped. The rest of the evening was filled with healthy baby care and enormous bellowing waves of gratitude. We feasted on melted ice cream, savoring the miracles of the previous few hours.
Meanwhile, a question began to live in me that eventually shaped this dance of birth… What happened?
My quest for answers and healing took me to the classrooms of inspired teachers and the offices of body-centered practitioners. The love and guidance of these mentors supported my task of bushwhacking through the internal terrain of painful memories and the day-to-day workings of difficult relationships. This journey eventually washed me to the shores of my own body, my first and last frontier. Within me lay the precise resources necessary for my thorough healing and awakening. At the intersection of my deepest suffering and my vast longing, radiated the precise keys for my personal emergence. My community of guides had given me the first support I needed to move into and through my story to the simple truth of my wholeness. With great discipline and interest, I then learned how to build and sustain a strong, grounded container within. I learned discernment through my awakened senses and, thus, also how to appropriately open to life’s creative energy.
Eight years later, after this intensive investigation into my own story of trauma, I gave birth to my second daughter. Robin’s birth in Boulder Community Hospital was a simple, successful, natural, erotic and empowered birth from beginning to end. In the morning at home I danced, my husband and I made love, I took a nap and awoke early afternoon to contractions of some regularity. I put on my new shoes, a long flowing dress and headed out on foot to the hospital seven blocks away. Having thoroughly befriended the hospital environment, I was able to negotiate my way out of all technical intervention except for a brief fetal monitor when I first arrived. Within the hour I danced some more, and squatting on the bed, pulling down on the headboard, I pushed my second daughter out into this world. Her water sac also broke with that final crowning push. Due to my developed capacity to stay connected with my opened self and all sensations moving through me, I welcomed my daughter and the afterbirth in a simple, grounded way.
In that moment, I knew unequivocally the true healing capacity of personal inquiry, dance and community. Filled with peace and gratitude, my birth team and I spent the remainder of the afternoon in the hospital. Meanwhile, Mariah headed home with friends to prepare our dinner. That evening, we celebrated life as a family at home.
The Dance of Birth Overview
The body of work shared on The Dance of Birth Video grows directly out of the discoveries I made in my own healing process during the eight years between the births of my two daughters. Having embodied and mapped the journey from trauma to dynamic well-being, I transformed my basic prenatal birth story. Due to the magnitude of trauma on many different levels that I experienced prior to bearing children, I knew very well how to open and expand, but knew very little about how to contract, how to close and return after a threshold experience, like birth. My ingrained patterns for dealing with trauma became my primary navigating dynamic in the face of intense situations. I knew how to open and simply leave my body. Disassociate.
My healing involved building a strong internal core, a place to leave and come back to.
Consciously developing pathways for making the journey of expansion and contraction became essential. Unlike how I birthed my first child, the practical body-centered tools I accessed during my second child’s birth allowed me to stay present and connected. What was a series of survival tools for myself has now become a resource for others at major life passages, like families in the birth cycle of life.
This video and subsequent training, thus, evolved from one woman’s story, my story. My intention is for it to speak to every woman’s story, to the urgent need for us to collectively return home to ourselves, to our hearths, to the place within where body, heart and soul are one. It is time for congruency between what we think, what we feel, and what we do. Imagine if we were attuned to the Spirit moving through us and thus able to be fully inspired in our creative deeds. The Dance of Birth is thus an invitation to kinesthetically connect through movement with the great mystery unfolding through all of us who are involved in acts of creation. This video is a movement experience, an opportunity to dance often with and through each of the special phases of early parenting.
Please enjoy this piece Melissa wrote honoring the reality of Motherhood: