Saturday, July 22, 2006

Communication Breakdown

Brew of the day: Coffee sounds pretty tempting this morning, but I’ll go for a strong peppermint tea instead as my body hasn’t had caffeine in ages and would probably keel over!

I’ve been publishing The Mother magazine for four and half years. I can count the negative letters I’ve had as a result of articles on one hand. And I could probably tell you to the day when they arrived, and recall them word for word. I take every letter, positive or negative, to heart. And even if the complaint is about something someone else has written, it is impossible for me not to take it to heart as I single handedly choose what goes into TM. I birth it into existence. A nasty letter is like someone slapping me across the face several times because I’ve given birth to a baby with a physical defect!

I suppose, as far as publishing such a controversial type magazine goes, four letters in four plus years isn’t bad going. The thing is, despite whatever image people have conjured up of me (all impressions are usually pretty far off the mark!!), I’m not a super mum; a super resilient human being or, as someone put it the other day, “The Almighty Veronika”. Such impressions are completely wrong and I always cringe. I’m a human being with feelings and have a deeply sensitive core. People mistake my passion for about 1000 other things! Sadly.

My ability to stand my ground; to not take bullshit; to fight my corner or follow my dreams are as a result of non-stop bullying and ongoing sexual abuse by umpteen different men in my childhood and sexual harassment in my early working life. I simply woke up one day, in early adulthood, and said “Fuck you!” (to anyone and everyone who had stolen innocence from my life) and I decided that no-one would ever steal from my mind, body or soul again. The most important thing I ever learnt was that in saying NO to others, I was saying YES to myself. I learnt the hard way that clear boundaries (physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually) are vital to healthy self-esteem and a positive life.

My passion, boldness and directness may seem like strengths to many, but true strength, it seems to me, would be to go through life more comfortably wearing my vulnerability to all rather than just the chosen few. Perhaps one day I’ll be able to do this.

I had an email this week from someone who was deeply upset by an article I published in Issue 18 on Honouring the Breech Choice. When this article came to me I nearly wept. It was everything I look for in assessing whether to publish an article. I ‘nurtured’ it into The Mother (my baby) trusting it would give guidance to the many women and care givers who experience a breech presenting baby. In a nutshell the author critiqued a breech trial (which is almost always used to beat women over the head to have a caesarean) and then went on to give real life examples of breech births. She showed that regardless of whether you know you’re birthing a breech; whether it is twins; at home; at hospital, every breech birth is different and that NO ONE should use someone else’s breech birth to make a decision about their own. At no point did she use it as a controlled study showing what percentage of breech babies live or die.

The reader of this article counted up the “anecdotal” breeches and came to the conclusion that one in four breech babies died. The author never said or implied this in any way! That was not what the examples were about. However, despite several emails between us, I’ve been left throwing my hands up in the air wondering why on Earth I bother doing this magazine. You might wonder how it can affect me so much, especially given the huge number of emails I’ve had from women saying how helpful that particular article was to them.

Communication is the cornerstone of my life. I’m always at a loss when someone misconstrues the written or spoken word. I know, at many levels, it is inevitable that miscommunication happens, but sometimes the way it does truly leaves me speechless.

Let me be clear, when I get a letter from a mum angry because I’ve published an article on why not to have elective c-sections or how not having a natural birth can impact on your parenting, I truly do understand and empathise with her. I know when I place an article like that in the pages of TM that I’m completely putting my neck on the line and that it is me the reader will be furious at, rather than the author of the article.

It’s when I put an article like Honouring the Breech Choice in and get an email saying it didn’t support or inspire her in any way that I’m left stunned. I have read and re-read that article in the past 24 hours, NOT as an editor, but through the eyes of a woman due to have a breech baby and am still left shaking my head. It really does seem to be a case of ‘if you look for fish scales on a cat, you’ll find them!’

A dear friend of mine (wish he was still alive!) used to always tell me that a person convinced against their will, is of the same opinion still. He’s right, of course. People see things as they wish to see them. And therein lies my lesson for the week.

The anger from her emails (and the vitriol from her when she wrote that she was sending the article and my emails out to everyone in her Steiner community) [er, the purpose of which is?] had me feeling gobsmacked. How can someone with a one week old baby be spending so much time on a computer disseminating anger? Surely she must really want to be tucked up in bed breastfeeding her little one? Post natal bliss just wasn’t emanating in any way from her emails. Her anger was completely out of proportion to the situation. And let’s also bear in mind she birthed a breech baby at home naturally with an independent midwife. If that had been me I’d be over the moon with joy!

Must confess here, I’m the Queen of sending letters to newspapers, magazines or radio stations if I think their info is off beam. So I’m the last person to deny anyone expressing themselves this way, but surely it pays to be sure of your facts? One thing is for sure, I wouldn’t waste an irreplaceable Baby Moon on trashing someone’s publication. Then again, we’re all different aren’t we?

I spent yesterday meditating on a phrase we have in our kitchen to help ease me out of the black space I’d fallen into.

“The scientific thinker does not give power to things, conditions, people or circumstances. He is full of poise, balance and equanimity because he knows his thoughts and feelings mould, fashion and shape his destiny. He is not afraid of any thing or person, for the only enemy he can ever have is his own negative or fearful thought.”

For those of you who know anything about astrological transits, Neptune is squaring my moon… Fortunately, I’m familiar with the energy of those two planets as they’re conjunct in my 12th house...but boy, oh boy, can it throw a girl for a six!

The Moon is so deep at the best of times (but especially so when it is natally in Scorpio like mine) and Neptune (unconditional, universal love ~ the higher octave of Venus ~ planet of love) can be so intangible, so bloomin’ hard to grasp!

Still, I got through a couple of years of Pluto square Pluto ~ surely that must make Neptune transits seem like a picnic!?

Before I met Paul I’d planned on training to become a Minister of Metaphysics…I’m still deeply passionate about it and latterly have thought about doing a Doctorate in Divinity. I’m sure I’ll still do the study but what puts me off being a Minister is that people put you up on a pedestal and think you’ve got it all worked out! It’s the one downside of doing The Mother magazine and I can’t help but wonder if I’d be recreating a similar situation. How would I teach the invaluable messages of metaphysics, either orally or by written word, without people assuming I know it all?

Slummy Mummies kick back!

On the positive side, this week I had a very dear friend and her four home educated kids stay with us for a few days. Although the friends I have are all so very different and loved for who they are, there was something rather nurturing about spending so much time with someone who shares the same values about food, parenting and lifestyle choices. It nurtured me no end and our shared visions for the future have spurred me on even more to follow the dreams I have for me and my family. Thanks Nikki!


Thanks for all the emails regarding the birth of Elizabeth’s twins (last week’s blog). The boys are doing really well and she’s managed to breastfeed them both at the same time! The hospital itself needs a kick up the arse as they booted her out of a room near to the Special Care Baby Unit and wanted her to go home as she didn’t NEED a room (with twins in special care???????????????) so when she suggested that wouldn’t happen and she’d camp in the hospital grounds they miraculously found her a room in another ward. That’s my girl! Give ‘em hell!

Prime Ministerial Status

If I were prime minister every NICU or SCBU would have a double bed for each baby so its parents could be there 24/7. What they hell do we pay taxes for anyway?

If I were PM the bulk of agricultural land would automatically be turned over for crop production.

If I were PM I’d place hefty fines for anyone using rubbish bags rather than recycling.

If I were PM I would remove the need for planning permission for anyone building a low impact dwelling on their land.

If I were PM I would ban smoking in any public area (opened my dining room window this morning to smell of my neighbour puffing away! Aagggh ~ sent a message to the universe to find me a lovely, new, affordable home NOW).

You can see why I didn’t go into politics...

Have the best week ever, won't you? ~ Veronika ~


HugoMummy said...

Hi Veronika,

I hope you are having a lovely weekend in sunny England. We are still in rainy season over here in Japan- very sweaty and mouldy!

I am sorry to hear about the negative letter you received recently- but four letters in four years sure is a small number, particularly considering how radical your magazine is (lucky my father has never read it- he would double the negative letter count in no time!). Just thinking about the woman who wrote, reminds me of myself when my son was born. I had him at home with a NHS midwife- everything was simple and fine. But afterwards I was really angry and depressed- angry with my family and their dreadful support, angry with the silly midwife who told me I was not in labour and who I stupidly trusted over my own body and angry with myself for not being more trusting of my body and my baby- but to everyone else it seemed great- you know, home birth, no interventions, living with partner and brother and sister so lots of help (in reality they were no help). But I needed to go through that phase- because it completely changed my life and my view of myself. What I am saying is that to you it may seem that this woman ought to be enjoying her babymoon, but for whatever reason she is very angry and thus is unable to enjoy this time with her newborn. She needs to go through this- and maybe she will carry on subscribing ;-)

Actually, I remember a certain article written by Jeannine Parvati Baker about how a mother needs to just follow her child- I think the question was something about a mother needing time with her friends. When I first read this and my son was still small I felt really annoyed by it, but I kept re-reading it since it made such an impact and now I realise I was so annoyed because it was exactly what I felt to be true in my heart, but found it hard to accept (since I am English and we are taught that even holding our babies may ruin their lives!!!).

Wish you were Prime Minister- I would stay in England with the generally grey weather, pretty boring culture and bad dressing for that! Actually, looking forward to our first trip back in 2 years in September- wonder how it will seem? When did you last visit Australia? Come and stop over with us on your next trip- we live pretty close to Tokyo airport!

Emma xxxx

Naptime Noter said...

You go girl.

Veronika said...

hi emma ~ i remember the article you refer to written by touched a raw nerve in me at the time too, but you know, it is one of the most empowering things I've read in terms of parenting and there is a lot to be said for surrending and embracing the path rather than resisting.

Thanks for your offer to stay if going via japan...i've never travelled that way when going to or from oz/nz ..always through the middle east...

hi naptime noter ~ nice to see you join us