Saturday, May 29, 2021


Today I am grateful for Chaos. My gratitude alphabet is moving slowly this time around because ... well, because of chaos. 

But actually what I really wanted to talk about here was this:

Ok, let's pretend we don't see the grammatical errors. Sorry to sound like an uptight bitch but I am so upset. Ok, here we go.

Sentence 1: I'm just going to ignore the first question, because that is a huge question and one that I'm trying to answer in a thoughtful and mindful way. So, if anyone actually wants to talk about that, and it's certainly worth talking about, then I respectfully invite you to enter into dialogue with me, but on my terms. Those would be no anonymity, no name-calling, no threats of violence, no libellous claims.

Sentence 2: I do respect people's chosen names and their pronouns. If someone came to me asking for my birth services and wanted to be called whatever, and whichever pronouns, I would absolutely respect their wishes and call them whatever they wanted. "when you go by an alias". Honestly, this phrase fills me with anger, shame, and dread. Anger, because I chose to use my "alias" to write and publish the original post, precisely because no one knows me by my former name and I didn't want to hide behind it.
Shame because Rivka Cymbalist, the name, has roots in a very dark time in my life. Toni Morrison actually had the same problem with her name. She had already divorced Morrison when her first book was going to press, "...I called the publisher and said, oh, by the way, I don't want Toni Morrison to be on the book. And they said, it's too late. They've already sent it to the Library of Congress. But I really would have preferred Toni Wofford."

Dread, because of sentence 3 below. 
Sentence 3: This really gets me because, actually, very few people who know me know that Rivka Cymbalist is not my birth name. Rivka was a name that a rabbi dreamed up for me twenty years ago when I was part of an ultra-orthodox cult. Ok, Cymbalist is my married name which ok, I get that we take our husband's names. But only people who knew me before 1997, or people who were actually part of that cult.... know that Rivka Cymbalist is my pen name. Why did I keep it? Because it's the name everyone knew me by in the birth world, where I have made a difference to very many women and their babies and their lives, by supporting them through birth. So I keep it, like a pet you never really liked but don't want to put down.

Sentence 4: Holy shit! I preach? Nope. 
Respectful maternity care? Yep.
"left a mother with unresolved retained placenta for four hours" This is Libel.
"went to your room to pray" Another clue that the (anonymous and cowardly) writer of this critique might be part of a religious cult, otherwise why would they think I would pray?

Be very clear, whoever you are. This is libel. You have just accused me of doing something that I never did.

Sentence 5: Let's just not bother with this. Ok, I will just mention that in fact the only time I ever used blue and black cohosh tincture was in a hospital with a patient under an OBGYN care who had asked me to try to induce "naturally". The patient had her BP checked every half hour and was under careful supervision. Those herbs are powerful!

Sentence 6: Well, there's so much wrapped up in this question.... let's just say that neither I nor the obstetricians I used to work with are in the habit of leaving a woman to die of infection or hemorrhage.

Chaos is in our blood. It's part of our mystery. It makes us human. As a mother, a wife, a friend, a human .... as a birth companion, a healer ... I try to embrace chaos as much and as often as I can. I try to live on the knife's edge because I've found that if you don't, you get bitter, and you get cut. 

Criticizing others is part of the way that we grow as humans and as cultures. But anonymous, hateful criticism, full of lies and darkness, scares me and although I know that this too is part of the chaos we live within, I'm sad.

So, today I am grateful for chaos.

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