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Ruminations on Being Labor Cesarean Born - by Robert Leverant

In cultures which honor and celebrate the Mysteries, birth is a sacred experience which unites Heaven and Earth. It is understood that when a woman is pregnant she recreates in her womb the creation of the universe. She becomes the Great Mother Goddess, Earth Mother, Changing Woman. Every stage of her pregnancy reflects the creation myth wherein the two principles are manifested: bio - creation in the phenomenal world in a particular form, the baby, and zoe - the eternal energy, existing in beginningless time and, unstopped, gives birth to life in myriad forms again and again and again, over and over and over until the end of time and then again.

The incarnating energetic bundle has its own unique soul's journey to complete and "chooses", in the way of affinity and magnetic attraction, the womb of a particular mother to enter as the parents copulate. The attraction is to the karmic propensity of the parents. Through character styles, parenting styles, and genetic disposition they will provide environmental support, both positive and negative, for the incarnating entity to untie -- soften and open -- karmic knots. These are what Reich called armor; mind/body patterns which keep the organism contracted and living in separation from the Source energy -- call it God, Tao, orgone, satchitandanda, Rigpa, Presence, Christ consciousness, THAT, the zero point field, etc.

Labor cesarean born people experience the state of separation quite strongly. This is because of the curtailing of the natural process of labor by intervention and surgically introducing an artificial process which results in the birth being in a different direction. Instead of coming down and out of the birth canal, the labor cesarean born is pulled backward and removed from the uterus through an abdominal incision. As a result at the same time the baby emerges into this world he/she is closer to the other world from whence he/she came.

The trick or skill of inhabiting two worlds, of being able to go back and forth between the two, belongs archetypally to the trickster, the shaman, Hermes, Persephone, the artist, the poet, the seer, the priestess, the Bodhisattva, and the depth therapist (as guardian of the soul). For labor cesarean born the initiation ceremony for this skill was the birth process. In later life, if the labor cesarean is fortunate enough to individuate and return to wholeness, he/she fully claims this gift by fully claiming his/her calling -- a life role which embodies the archetype. Until then the labor cesarean never quite lands here, never feels that he/she belongs here, has place here. Also until the calling is claimed, the labor cesarean looks backwards when in the present; sees a past situation in a fresh one and thereby misses the open ground of the present with its many possibilities.

Energetically, the interruption of labor by surgery interrupts the energetic completion of a genetic birth program, "The Cyclic Nature Of The Implicate Order Of Natural Life." This is hard wired into the mother's and foetus' bodies (and all living matter). Reich pointed out a four stage energetic cycle in the orgasm reflex; a cycle found in all natural functioning. The stages are: tension, charge, discharge, relaxation; applied to the birth experience: tension = conception; charge = pregnancy; discharge = labor; relaxation = birth.

In labor cesarean birth, unlike natural vaginal birth, neither the mother nor the child complete the third stage which they begin. Yet there has been a birth.

The cyclic nature of the implicate order of natural life has been broken, yet some kind of completion has taken place. It is not the never ending cycle of completion in the natural world where creation in the present (bio) and the eternal energy (zoe) come together in the four stages of natural functioning. It is something else -- the never ending cycle of incompletion in the artificial world (TV programming, cloning, etc.) where the creation in the present and the eternal energy never come together yet something is produced.

In labor cesarean birth the full discharge of life energy (stage 3) does not occur; after the birth the muscles, connective tissue, and the nerves of the baby and mother remain contracted and are unable to let go in the deep relaxation (stage 4) and melt in organismic pleasure of the luminous ground of life energy.

Since the cellular loyalty of the adult labor cesarean is to living the first two stages, tension and charge, he/she often doesn't know how to discharge in a natural or easy way; has difficulty in letting go; more often than not is, glib as it sounds, "stressed out." To discharge and relax he/she often, in an echo of the birth experience, pursues effortful activities with long builds culminating in a brief peak experience; or as a shortcut utilizes recreational drugs to gain (partial) energetic release and then relax.

In other words, the labor born cesarean lives the inhale (tension, charge) and seems inhibited in breathing the exhale (discharge, relaxation). Though incomplete this pattern is normal in industrial/ technological cultures. As such labor cesarean birth is an induction into the values of the culture which rewards production and activity, not contemplation and leisure.

Unlike natural vaginal birth, the timing of a labor cesarean birth is not biologically programmed by the mother and the foetus. It is determined by a clock in accordance with the convenience of the surgeon and the bottom line needs and profit demands of the (once public now private) chain hospital and the HMO. This, too, like so many aspects of the labor cesarean birth, is an induction into the values of the culture which supports the exploitation of children (and nature) by commercial interests.

Once birth is viewed as a commercial product, it is dictated by economic considerations. As a result there is a regression from meeting the biologically based needs of the mother and the baby. Today the whole gamut of market driven solutions drive birth decisions. These make sense only if you "follow the money" and not the baby.

With regards to schedules, labor cesarean (as well as vaginal forceps birth) often voice, "I have no right. I have to do this on everybody else's time schedule." Often deadlines are anxiety ridden. Procrastination prevails until the very last minute and results in much internal pressure to perform quickly. (In labor cesarean birth the surgeon's decision to end labor is based on the mother's and foetus' "failure to perform" on time.)

General anesthesia administered to the mother renders the foetus partially to wholly unconscious and numbs the nervous and muscular systems after labor has begun. This intervention deprives the foetus of the use of her/his legs, once functional in the womb and during labor, to push and kick his/her way down the birth canal in his/ her own biological time in tandem with the mother's contractions and movements. Thus the foetus is prevented from completing the self-initiated task of being an active participant, a cocreator with the mother, in the birth process.

On a psychological level the loss of the use of legs in the birth process translates to a loss of confidence in one's legs for self-support. In adult life the labor cesarean, much like a hobbled woman in ancient China, finds him/herself inhibited in using her/his legs to walk towards personal goals and being confident in one's ability for self-support. On a spiritual level the loss of being a cocreator in the birth process deprives the foetus/baby (and the mother) of participating in the gnosis of the Mystery. This is revealed in the birth process when the baby is born; and bio and zoe come together one spot resulting in an embodied experience of the godhead. This is yet another induction for the foetus (and reinduction for the mother) into the values of the dominant culture which prohibits subjective experience of the godhead.

In natural vaginal birth there is a one hour opportunity window of 100% heightened awareness which begins when the baby's head crowns. During this hour several psychomotor systems and neural circuits are activated; some, like the limbic system, are triggered by the baby's recognition of the mother's smile. In labor cesarean birth this window, due to the drugging of the mother, is closed to the foetus, who is partially to fully drugged. It is tempting to say that the loss of this window and the subsequent unconsciousness accounts for the depression, adult A.D.D., and dyslexia, commonly found in the adult labor cesarean born. However, these illnesses are genetic and multigenerational; have both biological and behaviorally inherited causes. Clinically this means that perinatal and other psychotherapies are usually not sufficient to fully treat these conditions.

This window of 100% heightened awareness also offers the baby the opportunity for biochemical bonding with the mother and father . This takes place if the baby's skin is pulsating and touches the parents' skin for several minutes. In labor cesarean birth this is also a missed window opportunity -- the father is not allowed in the surgery room and the mother and baby are drugged. Thus there is little pulsation and streaming of life energy on their skins. In adult life the labor cesarean often has difficulty in feeling bonded in relationship in an embodied sense (vs. through enacting an idea like loyalty). This is particularly true if she/he experienced maternal deprivation, chronic abandonment, or chronic contact rupturing experience (from psychotic, schizoid, or autistic parents). In contemporary life these are commonplace.

The labor cesarean baby is not out on its skin. It's life force is back in the interior of the body (or out of the body in part or altogether). This is because the organism is in terror, as evidenced by the difference in the after birth screams of a labor cesarean born (and a vaginally epidural born) and those of natural vaginally born child. The screams of terror of the labor cesarean baby are the result of the mother's body, due to the general anaesthesia, not pulsating and being numb. To the baby, it is as if she has died giving birth; a perception which is enhanced by the abrupt surgical intervention.

Being forced to come into the world through outside intervention, the labor cesarean born is programmed at birth to anticipate and rely on outside intervention. This attitude is magnified when parents deny the child autonomy. In adulthood open gestalts are not easily completed without outside assistance or the anticipation of outside assistance. Her/his attitude is one of expecting help, often rescue, in order to complete projects, studies, relationships, and even spoken and written sentences, etc. By a variety of life strategies (e.g. being a victim, playing helpless and/or dumb, being a good girl or good boy) the labor cesarean, particularly when denied autonomy in childhood, manipulates the environment, to get outside assistance. This may look like neurotic behavior to a therapist and others, who want the behavior to stop, but it is not. In the psychological framework of the labor cesarean born it, what some spiritual traditions call the dependent mind, is functional hence rational. Neurotic behavior involves the labor cesarean creating life situations which require outside intervention.

On an energetic and somatic level, at the point of nearing completion of an activity, the labor cesarean may experience numbness, frustration, anxiety, fear, and coldness. (All echoes of the birth experience). In action there is hesitancy, which may appear to an observer as ambivalence or unnecessary caution. It is a cellular plea for help. Lacking or disdaining outside help, the labor cesarean born sometimes impulsively jumps over this moment and encounters unanticipated consequences and risk.

Matrix beliefs arising out of the labor cesarean birth experience can include: self support is not possible; completion is in someone else's hands; I expect to be rescued; life is an unconscious activity; violence is normal; I am fundamentally flawed; through drugs I can return to life.

All too often the violence and trauma of a labor cesarean birth continues to be inflicted upon the baby and the child well into teenhood in the form of physical and sexual abuse. This makes adult life a precarious struggle and positive relationships very difficult to maintain.

Psychotherapy can be useful for the labor cesarean born to: gain back his/her legs ; support abdominal breathing -- particularly the exhale; express held terror, rage and longing; address attitudes and beliefs around dependency, codependency, helplessness, fear of autonomy and authenticity, need for control; bring together in the present the cellular memory of the birth experience and awareness; teach ways of working with shame, despair, perfectionism, self-criticism, anxiety, and obsessive behaviors; encourage self-nurturance and self-love; teach communication and relationship skills; enlarge the capacity for contact; enkindle a return to life and relationship.

The positive aspects of the archetype "Labor Cesarean Born" include deep longing for connection. This drive is often met by becoming a practitioner on a spiritual path, a pagan in the earth religion, or shamanic journeyer; engaging in the expressive arts and the martial arts, receiving and giving bodywork, being in the helping professions, and by farming, gardening, and being in the wilderness. The labor cesarean born is usually very principled, practical, skilled in critical thinking, intuitive, aware of shadow material in others, helpful, and caring.

The negative aspects of the archetype called "Labor Cesarean Birth" are having tendencies of being distrustful of life, detached, obsessive, codependent, and controlling; inviting oneself to be narcissistically used, avoiding contact in relationship, lacking the ability for self-support; experiencing pleasure when fused with trauma (more so if genitally mutilated through circumcision and/or beaten as a child). More self destructive patterns for the labor cesarean can include: seeking connection to life energy through addictions like drugs and sex; sadomasochism; psychotic violence.

For labor cesarean born who awaken to their perinatal history, the term " labor cesarean born" becomes , (like the word "circumcision"), a personal metaphor for all the shadow material from the collective unconscious of the culture and their parents that has been enacted upon them without their permission; irrevocably destroying (in their view) all that was natural, beautiful, and true in them from their very first moments.

This is a composite picture of "labor cesarean born" drawn from my professional practice as a somatic and archetypal psychotherapist and from my own life as a labor cesarean born.


Robert Leverant is a somatic and archetypal depth psychotherapist. His birth was a labor cesarean with a 60 hour labor. He was raised in Boston in the Fifties in a blue collar family. Prior to becoming a therapist, he was a commerical and art photographer, taught, and wrote numerous articles and five books on photography. He is a long time meditator, teacher of meditation, and a poet. He is a dad to a seven year daughter and a stepdad to two women in their mid twenties.

Robert Leverant 471 S. High St. Sebastopol, CA 95472 robert@monitor.net


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