#Borntobirth

#THISISHOWIWASBORN with Alex Fine

Back in the day Alex and Ash used to have co-conception sessions as they started to plant seeds for their visions to materialize. Ash recently even found a scrappy old notebook with 'Eva' scribbled all over one of the pages- the christening of Dame Products' signature sex toy!  So here we are. Alex's vibrator is a real live thing, and her company is creating toys to openly empower the sexual experiences of womankind. Eva is the first Hands-Free, Strap-Free, Non-Intrusive Couples Vibrator. Sounds like fun, huh? How cool to come back together, talk about the power of our holes and learn about how she was born!

How were you born?

Here's how I was blossomed into this world: I was a full month late. And in case you are wondering, that makes me a Pisces with a Leo moon and Libra rising. I'm super stoked about my zodiac sign. Your rising is who you are trying to be, your moon is your internal being.  So I come across as Pisces and really chill but I'm not chill. There is nothing really chill about me. I've got fucking opinions and I'm proud as fuck. And my rising is a Libra- I'm always trying to be fair and balanced and it drives me crazy. 

But anyway, I decided I didn't want to come out of that hole. I wasn't dropping, I wasn't making moves to the outer world so my mom had a c-section. She was delirious at first so she didn't hold me after. She told me that my grandmother had told her that breastfeeding was disgusting so I wasn't breastfed. I came out all ugly and crackly because there wasn't much fluid left- maybe that's why I have such dry skin till this day.

I hear now-a-days they only give you two weeks before inducing. I would have been a totally different person...my natal chart would have been totally different!   

I definitely feel like your birthing experience has so much to do with who you are as a person.

Were your brothers born via sections also?

No. She went to a few doctors until she found someone who would support her doing it vaginally. It's weird to think of my mom deciding this was important enough to go to more than one doctor because she is usually just so trusting of doctors. It is interesting that it was such a thing for her. I left an awful scar. I bet you that's what it was, knowing my mom.

On another note...

I found my cervix the other day.

BB: Thats exciting! How did that come about? 

A: Gyno Training Associates came into the office to try Eva. 

BB: What is a Gyno Training Associate?

A: Cervix models! No, but seriously. They get hired as part of med school training to help doctors learn how to talk about gender and sexuality while they practice examining their vaginas.  

We used speculums and everything. My cervix was hard to find. It was really high. But I loved doing it.

BB: What did you love about it?

A: It's the door to life and you never see it! 

What are your thoughts on giving birth?

It's gonna be the coolest thing that I as a woman ever do and I'm definitely gonna do it the all natural way. But then after that, I don't know... I guess I'd wanna continue doing it that way. I'm so torn. Thinking about sex toys for example (this will come full circle, I promise) people are always telling me, "Do you really want to be using a sex toy? Don't you want to be having a natural experience?" And I'm like, "Yeah, I want to have a natural experience, but sometimes, I just want to have a different experience."

I don't walk everywhere; I most certainly use tools of technology to get from point A to point B sometimes. I don't like it when people don't acknowledge that's part of a vibrator. They are efficient tools. They can really help you get from point A to point B faster. People always ask why I talk about efficiency when I'm talking about sex. Well, sometimes, I only have so much time... and that's okay. And is that ok with birthing too? Sometimes I feel I wanna do this once because my body can do this amazing thing but after that it just seems kinda inefficient and maybe I can plan it and get on with my life. With other things I'm like, boom boom boom and sometimes I think it would be great for birth to be like that too. And I think that's okay. But we will see. Is that somehow unfair to my children? I know I really want to hold my child immediately after, and I don't want to be in a hospital.

BB: #Brilliantbit: your body takes care of that efficiency for you.  Typically, second time moms have much shorter labors.  So maybe if you let nature take over you might get to that boom boom boom too!

What are you currently birthing?

Sex toys. Making sex toys better. Eva is a hands free clitoral vibrator that a woman can wear during penetrative sex. It has these bendable arms that go under the labia majora and move with the body. 

So right now we are making it water proof and making it work better. I'd love to get more woman to come in to the place and let us take pictures... that's the real info we need to make it better.

WE ALL HAVE BRILLIANT IDEAS BUT ACTUALLY TRUSTING OURSELVES ENOUGH TO MAKE SOMETHING OUT OF THEM IS WHERE A LOT OF US GET STUCK.  WHAT GAVE YOU THE FINAL PUSH?

I got fired. So that was a real push. That made me have to decide, okay I'm gonna try and do this thing and not try and look for another job. And I made a prototype that stayed in place okay. I had a moment of clarity: an orgasm.  

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BB: A good push!

A: People say you can orgasm while giving birth! Actually if pigs are sexually stimulated, while being inseminated, it makes them more fertile so maybe there's something to it. 

What has the labor been like?

It's a slow process... very slow. But there's always a solution.

BB: That's what we say about labor :)

A: It's definitely my baby. I don't like when people refer to their company as a baby but here, it makes sense. 

BB: Why not?

A: If your company is failing I think you should kill it. Not the case with a real baby. 

Whats next?

We are launching our new site in March... will take on some investors. Hire up. "Birth" new products. 

Any favorite #brilliantbits?

Your vagina can double in length when you get aroused!

Also, I feel like I can squeeze my pelvic floor muscles enough to orgasm without touching myself. I'm gonna try that tonight.

BB: Let us know how that goes


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HOW A COMADRONA IS BORN

Ash recently had the great privilege of studying with a couple of midwives (comadronas), in Guatemala.  She went via an organization called Dar La Luz whose goal is to improve the health and quality of life for women and their families during pregnancy, birth and postpartum through health education programs and hands on support. Most of their work centers around Honduras, but they are expanding to Guatemala as well, and Ash was sent to start building these relationships.

While doula care in Guatemala is starting to pop up in some of the larger cities, it is overwhelmingly still unknown to the region and it seems the comadronas may benefit as much as birthing women. It is not uncommon for comadronas to experience abuse by their husbands and/or their clients' husbands because they “roam the streets” alone at night. Doulas would make it so these women aren't traveling alone and therefore less of a target. Dar la Luz is always looking for extra support. So all you doulas and midwives out there who are interested in working abroad, check this organization out! And for everyone else, consider making a donation if it is within your means.

While Ash could spend pages recounting her experience, the ups (temazcal, a traditional sweat lodge, ceremonies!) and downs (eating an entire bowl of pasta with globs of mayonnaise) and everything in between, we thought it might be more fun to share the story of one of the comadronas herself.

Meet Angelina. She is K'iche' and lives in Tecpan with her husband and four grown children. She is a home birth comadrona, and in fact, she organizes all of the midwives in Guatemala!  When she’s not busy catching babies, or organizing everyone who does, she works for the Women’s Presidential Ministry helping to protect women's rights and the traditions of the indigenous. So yes. She basically does it all!  

How were you born?

A: My mom had an unmedicated vaginal birth and I was 12+ lbs when I was born! I am the second child but the first one died when she was born; My mom was 16 at the time. She then spent eight years trying to get pregnant again. When I was born it was a party, everyone came to visit my mom and celebrate that she had finally had a baby. My mom says they gave her many gifts because everyone was very excited. After that she went on to have two more kids; I have a brother and a sister.

Why did you become a comadrona?

A: I am a comadrona because when I was born, the comadrona that my mom worked with, told her that I was going to be one. She was actually a partera, not a comadrona.

BB: What is the difference?

A: Parteras don't use the temazcal and they can use injections. My mom chose to work with a partera because during her first birth the comadrona she had worked with kept drinking in the temazcal and uncovered the baby when she was born in the caul, which according to my mom was why she died.

I was also born in the caul. The tradition here in Guatemala is not to just uncover it. When a baby is born in the caul it is because she has a special mission. We save the caul and give it to the parents so they can keep it. The partera told my mom: "Your daughter is going to be like me, she is going to be a comadrona." My mom says I was born with the mission. Comadronas are born, not made.

For how long have you been catching babies?

A: I started practicing when I was 17. Then I went to nursing school. I told the director of the school that I wanted to catch babies.  She believed I had the calling and supported me and I started attending births at the hospital. I only worked at the hospital for one year. I then worked for the Public Health Department in a rural community for 21 years where I had the opportunity to attend home births with other comadronas.

How many births have you attended?

I’ve attended thousands of births. No baby nor mother has died. Only once a baby girl died after 5 days of being born. 

Are there more risks in the hospital or AT HOME?

It’s the same. But here in Guatemala women are afraid of going to the hospital because they won’t get their tea, the medicinal plants and other traditions that are very important for them. People think there are more risks of death in the hospital than at home, but the risk is the same.

BB: How interesting. It is the exact opposite for most people in America.

Are there any specific Mayan traditions that you use during the births?

Here in Guatemala we have a very spiritual connection with Mother Earth and the Fire. There are many rituals that we do for families that come from the Mayan tradition. One of them is the placenta ceremony. You build a fire and add incense, flowers and sugar and put the placenta on top surrounded by flower essences. It’s a ritual to give thanks to the ancestors and the Creator for the flower of life. In Guatemala we call the placenta the flower because it's where the baby grows. It’s the mother of the baby, where the baby was born and developed, so it is very sacred.

There’s also the Temazcal ritual. When a woman is pregnant she goes into the temazcal twice per week. If the woman wants to give birth in the temazcal then we have the birth there. After the birth there are 5 temazcales, every other day for 10 days. On the 13th day after birth we have the Ash Ceremony in the Temazcal. We do a cleansing bath to call the ancestors to the temazcal so they can protect and help us. At the end of the ceremony we offer alcohol and tobacco (smoke) to the ancestors (by pouring it on the ground). We also make food to share (if we have enough money we eat chicken, otherwise just tamales with egg and salt). The food is shared with the ancestors; that’s how we say goodbye to them and release them so they can go somewhere else. We also clean and purify all the impurities that the mother might have accumulated during the 13 days she has been in bed. Because our ancestors sometimes bring bad energies, we have to get rid of them too. We use flowers, pine and incense and give a bath of medicinal plants. After this ceremony there’s more balance and the woman can take good care of her baby and get out of bed.

After 40 days we do the Introduction Ceremony where we introduce the baby to the sacred Fire. 7 years later we have another Introduction ceremony that marks the beginning of childhood. At 13 years there’s another special ceremony in front of an altar with flowers and many offerings, as well as a big party. It’s a ceremony in which the child thanks her parents for the gift of life and gives away all her toys. In exchange she’s going to get her work tools. This ceremony marks the beginning of adolescence. She now has responsibilities to help at home and to work. It’s a beautiful and very emotional ceremony that can be a little sad too. It’s the beginning of womanhood.

After this we keep celebrating cycles every 13 years. At 26 years old the woman is ready to be a mother, she has the next 13 years to give birth. The next cycle starts at 39 when she starts prepping to be a counselor and an elder. At 52 she receives the "authority stick" which is when she can start holding council.

 
 

What is the most important thing women can do to prep for labor?

It starts with pregnancy. There, are two main things.  The primary one is the emotional state of the mother. In our case this can change depending on if it is a wanted pregnancy or the result of sexual violence which unfortunately is very common. Another very important aspect is nutrition, the mother has to eat well and get enough nutrients to be strong enough and healthy for labor.

What are you currently birthing?

There are two main projects. One of them is to create an ancestral maternal health center where we can gather all the Mayan traditions and practice the values we have lost in the hospital setting. There are many places where women are choosing the hospital because the traditions are becoming too foreign. The idea is to go back to the traditions from our ancestors and use all those grandmother secrets that are so useful and preventative. For more than 37 years of catching babies I’ve wanted my home to be a place where women can come and give birth on their own terms. It doesn’t matter what I want or what Western medicine wants. What’s important is for women to be comfortable and follow their instincts and choose how she wants to give birth.

 
 

The other project is to educate and train comadronas. I am the National Representative of the Comadronas and have been teaching for many years around the country. My goal is to create a national network of comadronas so we can all exchange secrets and wisdom. The idea is to combine both projects so we can have exchange programs with other countries, and invite guests from other places but also travel and see what is being done in other traditions and countries.

Any #Brilliantbits to share?

It’s not about the body but about the spirit. I am always inspired by the exchange of wisdom with our ancestors which I’ve felt many times. There’s a connection with what I call the aura. It’s an energy that comes and takes over us, it makes us part of the cosmos and the universe, and a wisdom exchange is made.

The comadronas wisdom is abstract, you don’t see it but feel it. We connect that ancestral energy and let our elders work through us. We ask for permission to the Creator before we work with women. That’s the essence of the comadrona life.


Don't forget to checkout Dar la Luz and consider making a donation if you can!