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The Interdisciplinary Work of Lyss Warmland.

August 3 LIVE on Northumberland 89.7 FM Small Town Radio!
LISTEN HERE for the podcast version. 

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Hear my chat with the incredible Kim Doolittle!!

We chat about :
– Writing and performing music
– Her newest album “Into the Blue
– Being a long-term pillar of the music community for 40+ years
– Being a chick singer
– The housing crisis in Northumberland County

AND!!!! She played a song live on air!!!

Featured Tunes:

Jimmy Bowskill and Carlos Del Junco
Abby Zotz
Al Kirby and Jim Yates.

 

 

I was laying in the grass
and I saw one single bird
fly across my line of sight
wings outstretched
sunlight glaring off it’s feathers
which were black
like my hair
spread around me like a halo
weaving through blades of grass
while the bird weaved
through the tree line
shrieking at the barn cat
things were simple.

Once,
I felt part
of something
but
I didn’t feel
part of myself
just part of
outside of me
body lost below me
untouchable
except to anyone else
no room
left for me.

So I’ll just be grateful for birds (for now)
ones with wings that blend
into the night sky
of the new moon
ones that exist
simultaneously with the clouds
the trees even
the lake
when they need/want it,

something like
the opposite of dissociating
something like
the opposite of this
jaw-clenching reality
this existence I’ve tried
to  opt out of
until now.

Check out my very special birth story episode!

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I read 2 original poems (one written during my pregnancy, one written in the first days postpartum), share my birth story, and share my experiences with:

all locally in Northumberland County!

 

Featured Tunes by:
A Wilhelm Scream
Norah Jones
Regina Spektor
(Wilhelm) Richard Wagner

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Photo by Jeannette Breward

Content warning: birth, change in birth plan, failed induction, caesarean section, surgery, previous miscarriage, placenta (including picture of my placenta at the end)

 

I’d planned for a totally natural water-birth at home with my team of midwives, a doula, and my partner with our gentle shepherd dog looking onward. I had read about orgasmic births on Ina May’s farm and which essential oils were best for birth and the benefits of salt lamps and yoga balls. I arranged my birth pool rental and for my placenta to be encapsulated and wrote things like seeding and delayed cord clamping into my birth plan, which I printed out and secured in the binder the midwives gave me to keep at home with my charts and information for after the baby was born along with instructions on how to contact the woman who was to encapsulate my placenta and a phone tree with the phone numbers of family and close friends and who was responsible for each call. In the weeks leading up to my due date, I ate spicy food, had lots of sex, walked my dog for hours up and down steep hills, walked the stairs in my building repeatedly (note: these aren’t easy things to do with a 70+ pound weight gain…), took evening primrose oil, drank a ton of raspberry leaf tea, made art, and wrote affirmations about trusting my body and welcoming my baby.

Then, my due date came and went. I wasn’t too stressed initially, two of my close friends who had given birth within the past year had both gone 10 days over their due dates and I knew that, statistically, something like 60% of first time birthing people went over their estimated due dates. But once I was officially 41 weeks, with my induction scheduled, I started to feel stressed out. I knew I didn’t want an induction and I resented the fact that my baby was already being forced to adhere to some schedule without a medically relevant reason. Sure, there is an increase in some risk factors (including stillbirth) associated with going past 41 or 42 weeks, but my ultrasound and nonstress test showed a happy, healthy baby who we expected to be a bit on the larger side. As the threat of medical induction loomed, I drank two doses of midwife’s brew, a concoction containing apricot juice, castor oil, almond butter, and a strong infusion of lemon verbena. Although I had multiple friends tell me to prepare to go into labour shortly after taking the drink, as they had, it did absolutely nothing to help bring on my labour.

After a long conversation with my doula and an even longer one with my partner about options and how to navigate balancing advocating for my dream home birth with my midwives and their concerns, I decided to go into the hospital, as instructed, at 41+5, to receive a medication that would make my cervix more favourable (I’d been stuck at 1cm dilated for a couple weeks already with no forward motion) in hope that when I went home, I’d be able to relax a bit more and dilate my way into having my home birth after all. I was technically scheduled to continue the induction process (with the midwife breaking my water and starting me on Pitocin) the next day, but I was hoping I’d be able to avoid that part.

When I got to the hospital, I had a long conversation with the patient OB who had followed me throughout my first trimester (due to a history of recurrent miscarriage) and he explained his concerns with me not giving birth within the next few days. He pulled up a chair and took time to answer all of my questions and heard me out about about my concerns. By the end of the conversation, I honestly believe that he was committed to supporting me and my team in achieving as much of my birth plan as possible and that a bit of medical assistance was warranted in this situation. The first step remained what I had already decided I felt okay about doing- the medication in my cervix to increase its favourability. I also opted to stay in the hospital for the night and to reconsider my home birth. The extra couple of days increased the risks for my baby and, at this point, that was my only real priority. I also knew by that point, although I didn’t say it out loud, that the medication was unlikely to work. Something was causing my cervix not to dilate and I just felt, like, SO deeply, that it wasn’t going to budge.

 

The medication was super uncomfortable. I started cramping, and by the time my partner my doula, and I went out for dinner, I was feeling pretty awful. I hoped this meant that I was wrong and that it was working. The next morning, when they checked my cervix, it hadn’t changed at all since the day before. As per my discussion with the OB, he agreed to administer a second type of medication meant to achieve the same result- one that my midwife said tended to work better in her experience. Six hours later, my midwife attempted to check me and, this time the check was so painful I screamed. My cervix still hadn’t changed, it was still so far back she could barely reach it and now so irritated, the extreme discomfort I normally experienced during cervical checks had become a searing pain that terrified me far more than the idea of labour itself. My midwife decided to check in with the OB to discuss possible next steps and came back within a few minutes to explain that neither of them felt comfortable moving forward with the induction as we had planned it, but that at 41 weeks and 6 days pregnant, my pregnancy was too high risk for them to feel comfortable with it continuing. I was presented with two options:

  1. Get an epidural and go through with the induction plan otherwise, in spite of my unfavourable cervix and hope it worked
  2. Elect to get a cesarean section

I was scared. All I wanted was my baby safely in my arms and I didn’t feel that continuing to put my body through an extended course of failed intervention was particularly respectful to it. There’s also something incredibly emotionally exhausting about your body repeatedly reacting poorly to failed methods of induction, both natural and medical. I started to cry and asked the midwife if my partner and I could have a few minutes to discuss what we were going to do. We talked about the options, and my partner brought up that his main concern was me feeling sad or disappointed in straying so far from my original birth plan, and I explained to him that, at this point, the game had changed and I felt good about adjusting my expectations. I explained my feelings about something going on with my cervix that we didn’t understand and not wanting anything else to be stuck in it and also that I felt that, for this reason, this birth was going to end up in cesarean whether I continued to put my body through the induction process or not. I tearfully phoned my doula and talked through the situation with her and she, along with my partner, supported my decision to do what I needed to do to emotionally process the change in plans and to shift my mindset around how my baby was going to enter this world.

We told the midwife that I was going to opt in for the cesarean section, and within an hour I was being taken through paperwork, given information by my midwife, by the OB, by the amazing nurse, and by the anesthesiologist, who told me he would be putting a spinal block in so I wouldn’t feel the procedure at all but would be fully awake. I signed the papers, and got to hug my doula before I was taken to the OR and the spinal block was administered.

Everyone in the OR was amazing, casually talking about their weekend while checking in and communicating with me every single step of the way. At some point, I started to cry…not because I was sad as much as because I was a crazy mix of scared for both my body and my baby’s body and also because I was just so physically and emotionally exhausted from the past few days- no- from the past week since my pregnancy had changed to increase in risk each day. My midwife checked in and asked if I was okay, and I said “yes” unable in that moment to explain to her exactly what was going on for me. My partner came into the room (I learned later that when the anesthesiologist had gone to get him, he had warned him that I was pretty emotional) and didn’t need to ask me any questions- he knew exactly where I was at emotionally. He was confused about how violently my body was shaking though, until the anesthesiologist explained that it was from adrenaline. My partner stood right by my head and the procedure began. The midwife and anesthesiologist talked me through the whole thing, though I remember very little of what they actually said.

When they cut me open, they were surprised at how much I bled and I remember the midwife warning me there was a lot of fluid and there was going to be a lot of the sound of suctioning going on. My blood pressure got very high (unusual for me, whose baseline blood pressure is barely that of a conscious person) and also dropped very low at certain points, so the anesthesiologist kept having to give me medications to alter it. The team asked my partner if he wanted to see our baby come out of my body, and he asked me if that was okay with me. I said, “of course”, and he excitedly peaked over the curtain to see our baby be taken out of my body, head and one arm first, and then the rest of him. I heard him cry, and thought with relief, “that’s the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard”. Someone held him up above the curtain and I saw his screaming, bunched up, red face and thought, “there you are” and “who ARE you” and “holy shit, there WAS a human in there”! This abstract thought that was my “rainbow baby”, who I was almost afraid to believe, even until the end, would ever be here, was real after all. He was here. After almost two years of pregnancies, three miscarriages, and a day short of 42 weeks with this being growing inside my body, I could barely believe it. Wilhelm Erik Warmland was born at 6:27pm on March 2, 2020, weighing 7lbs 15.6 oz at 20.5 inches long.

The midwife placed him on my chest and I held this being who I knew so intimately and it was completely surreal. After a few minutes, the midwife asked if my partner wanted to do some skin-to-skin as well while they finished closing me up. My partner asked if I was okay with that and I said, “of course”. I just wanted one of us to be with him. They went back to my hospital room and I joined them shortly after. I held my baby and didn’t let him go for hours. My dad and brother came to meet him and eventually my partner did more skin to skin and my brother went out to get us food and then he did skin to skin with his long-awaited nephew while we ate. My friend came and took gorgeous photographs of our first hours together.

The woman who was encapsulating my placenta was on route, so my doula reminded me that I could ask my midwife for a “placenta tour”, which I had mentioned being interested in. When she did this, she noticed that my placenta contained an extra lobe with veins. This can happen when the pregnancy started out as a twin pregnancy, though I also wonder if it could be related to my previous miscarriages, including an early miscarriage I had the cycle before conceiving Wilhelm. It turns out this can cause issues with bleeding if it’s ruptured during the process of water breaking and often results in cesarean section, which validates my decision to stray from my birth plan. This wasn’t the only extraordinary thing about Wilhelm’s birth though. In spite of being almost 2 full weeks “late”, he had vernix on him and there was tons of clear, meconium-free amniotic fluid. There was also no calcification of my uterus at all. My body knew. I kept saying I knew I could trust my body, and it turns out I was right. It just didn’t look the way I expected it would.

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Photo by Jeannette Breward

Check out my interview with Shayne Traviss!

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We talk about:
– What it means to live a radically authentic life
– The trauma-based patterns that keep us stuck in suffering
– Grief and how to live through it
and so much more!

Get his book, “Your Vivid Life: An Invitation to Live a Radically Authentic Life” here!
Follow him on IG @shaynetraviss and @YourVividLife
Check out his website for informatio on all the cool work he does here: http://vividlife.me/ultimate/

Featured Tunes:
2nd Date by The Unlovables
Hollow Sounds by Dan Andriano in the Emergency Room
One Great City! by The Weakerthans
Anna’s Song by Teenage Bottlerocket

(PhotoCheck out my interview with Phil Redford from the Coldest Night of the Year organizing committee!

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(Photo by Jeannette Breward)

We talk all about what it’s like organizing the event and the wonderful local organization it’s raising funds for, Green Wood Coalition.

To sign up, click here.

To donate to my fundraising efforts, click here.

To learn more about Green Wood Coalition, click here.

Sarah* had been through some shit. She started working at an art gallery for a well-off man known well around town. Lots of people liked him, he was friendly and spent money at local businesses and sat on town council voicing his concerns about the local economy. He started making sexual comments to Sarah and talking to her about all the affairs he’d manipulated other women in town into. She was clear that she didn’t want anything to do with knowing this information or being part of any of his future stories, but he didn’t stop. If anything, he escalated. She ended up filing an anonymous complaint with the town- anonymous because she had already thought of all the things they would say about her for daring not keep quiet-

“she’s mentally ill, she’s probably making it up.”
“if this has been the case with other women, why haven’t they come forward”
“she’s just causing trouble”
“That’s just the way he is”

When others came out (also anonymously) and one person put her name and face to the same kind of stories, they heard all these things and more.

This man was Sarah’s boss, she counted on him to not only keep her job, but not to make her job miserable. When she tried to assert her boundaries gently, with compassion for both herself and for him, he ignored them. When she asserted them by following a formal procedure, she was burned at the stake.


 

Kayla* was dating a guy in a band. She watched as people got absolutely wasted at shows and the men scouted out the women to flirt with and, eventually, fuck. Both parties had liquid courage. Sometimes they were aggressive- the men and the women too. Sometimes the men fucked women who were close to passed out. Sometimes they fucked women who were passed out. She watched as women traded sex for guest list spots and men traded guest list spots for sex- always on their terms, let’s be clear.

She watched as these dudes smoked outside the van and traded stories from the show the night before, always including degrading, objectifying statements. Then, she waded into the crowd to hear the women trade stories from the night before, brimming with excitement that the man they idolized, whose work they celebrated, had dedicated their time and attention to them for a while.

When Kayla brought this up to her partner, he explained that this was just the way the scene was. That the rush was real, and this was the game to play to survive successfully. When some women started talking about their experiences and how they felt about them years later, they were accused of lying, of attention-seeking, of not understand that that’s just the way it is.


 

Jen* worked in a field that was mostly woman-dominated, where consent was literally written into the code of conduct because the nature of the work involved touch. She worked in a place where multiple other people all did the same job, but operated as individuals, just out of the same space.

When women started coming forward about having been touched inappropriately during treatment, the entire workplace changed vibes. Local (and, eventually, less local) news outlets picked up the story and people started boycotting the business. Now everyone else who worked there wondered, as they were being investigated, how the choices their coworker had made would affect their careers.

They were told they were complicit for something they’d known nothing about. They were told they were being unsupportive of the women who had spoken about about their abuse for voicing their concerns. They were told that the public reaction was just the way it is.


 

Malorie* worked at a local theatre. She saw the artistic director harass queer women who worked there and heard rumours of sexual assault perpetrated against actresses who passed through as they performed in shows and other rumours about underage girls he’d bee inappropriate with. When he started touching her inappropriately and describing what he’d like to do to her in private, she found ways to never be in a room along with him. So he got sneakier about conveying his messages to her.

When the emotional cost became more than she could bare, she quit and got another job. She spoke with a lawyer and began a multi-year long pursuit of justice- which resulted in her being dragged through the mud by all angles.

People told her that she was lucky to have had that position. That she dressed too scantily to be taken as a professional, especially given how beautiful she was. That he was a gift to the community whose creative work ought to be admired and that that’s just the way he is.


 

With the cannabis industry booming, a business opened up on a reservation and offered amazing opportunities to marginalized people- Indigenous people, women, disabled people. They were explicit in their support of hiring and walking alongside people who had some healing to do and may not have done well in other industries. The man who owned the business was doing good work in advocating for these marginalized people in a powerful industry.

Rachel* was going through a time in her life where she felt vulnerable when she was hired there. Some things had happened that were out of her control, resulting in her technically quitting but essentially being constructively dismissed from her underpaying management job with another large company in the industry.

When the owner started making sexual comments and jokes involving her, she laughed it off. She’d worked in this male-dominated industry for a few years already and knew that this was just the way it is. When he started being more forward, she deescalated and redirecting the situation by saying things like “maybe if we were both single! Now about that project…”. When he started to get more physical, often in front of other employees, none of whom said anything (after all, they all knew, that’s just the way he is), Rachel started looking for another job. When she found out that she had been paid less than what had been agreed on all along, it made it that much easier when she received another offer. She left and got out.

The better part of a year later, two men who had worked with Rachel, one of whom knew a bit about how uncomfortable she’d been, contacted her to tell her that another woman had written a semi-open letter detailing some similar behaviour to what Rachel had experienced. Eventually, Rachel received the letter the other woman had written and was taken aback by the similarities in their experiences. The other woman had worked there longer, and it had escalated farther, but a few of the most disturbing and disgusting things she described were things Rachel had also experienced.

The thing that complicated matters further was that Rachel had advocated for women who had been sexually harassed and assaulted in the past. This had gained her a reputation for being a strong advocate with some, but also for being a troublemaker a lot of people in power felt threatened by. It had cost her jobs, friends, and, at times, her sanity. Death threats and rape threats will do that to you.

Rachel was faced with the question: does she stand up for herself the way she has for other women in her community and face the inevitable backlash she’d already had more than enough of a taste of? After all, that’s just the way he is. Or does she continue on with her life, grateful that she got out when she did.

After months of uneventful, even joyful, stability, Rachel felt sad and angry and everything all at once.

When she tried to reach out to one of the men who had spoken with her about the other woman coming forward, he ignored her text.

When she tried to talk with her partner, he focused on reframing the situation in hope of avoiding her misery by telling her that it didn’t matter what anyone else thought, why should she care either way?

When she tried to get more perspective from another ex-coworker, he told her that he’d been informed not to talk about the situation.

That’s just the way it is.


 

Don’t get wrong, I’m a big believer in (radically) accepting that things are the way they are. What I’m interested in, in the context of sexual harassment and assault, is how we get to a place where that behaviour isn’t just the way it is. As a woman who has advocated for other woman, a woman who has been harassed and assaulted in the past and tried to minimize it or to explicitly call it out, as a woman who is faced with the reality of raising a son… I have a few perspectives.

I believe the way forward (at least a step forward) is two-fold:

Compassion: When people feel attacked, they’re rarely willing to do the work it takes to create a paradigm shift, whether that’s from a “victim” perspective or a “perpetrator” perspective. When we pause to consider where someone is coming from, we have a better opportunity to understand why they’re acting or reacting the way they are.

Why did the women in the stories stay in situations where they were being mistreated? Why did they often try to minimize or accept what was going on for them rather than getting right out?

Because they men in the situations were in positions of power. That’s true in these individual stories and it’s also true within the greater systemic context of the way Western society operates. Because there are consequences for every and any reaction, but when women challenge the dynamics that are “just the way they are”, the consequences can be violent- if not literally, subtly at least. Being fired from jobs, having jobs made even more challenging, having people talk shit about them to prevent them from future opportunities…

Given the opportunity, I like to believe that most people will choose to respond with curiosity and care, sometimes we just a radical remodelling of what that looks like.

Honesty: It’s hard to be honest when you’re afraid of the consequences, but at some point, we have to weigh those risks. At some point, we have to trust that we can tell people, even people in power, when their actions aren’t acceptable and that they need to do better. That we believe they can do better.

Sometimes, we have to be honest with ourselves about the victim mentality we place on both “victims” and “perpetrators” in these situations, because, as these stories make clear, some will always see each person, “victim” and “perpetrator” as the opposite of how they see themselves. Whether there is an inherent truth somewhere there is less relevant than the fact that it’s just the way it is.

I’m deeply frustrated that people of all genders are in the position where there is nothing close to a “right: thing to do, where no matter the choices they make, they’re trapped in a losing battle.

So we can shift the way it is to be a more open, honest, compassionate dialogue in general.

Not talking about sexuality or expressing sexual desire isn’t the answer here. Not acknowledging the systemic power dynamics that privilege men over women or gender-variant people isn’t the answer here. Cancelling men isn’t the answer here. Pitying the women who are living these stories every damn day of their lives isn’t the answer here either.

Shifting the way that it is through compassion and honesty is a step towards something that might look more like an answer.

* All of these stories are based on true stories I’ve heard over the last few years, but none of the names are the names of the people involved.

Check out my interview with Mike McCormick from The Arrogant Worms!
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We talk about:
– How The Arrogant Worms got together
– What Mike brings to the band
– What makes The Arrogant Worms successful
– What makes for a good song
– Why they support literacy
– What it means to make fun of this “big, dumb world”
– What’s funny and where the limit to humour is (if there is one!)
– Why they’re playing Port Hope and the local ties they have to Northumberland county
– What it means to be “fan-funded

and more!

 

DON’T FORGET TO ENTER OUR CONTEST FOR A CHANCE TO WIN FREE ARROGANT WORMS TICKETS!!!

Featured Tunes:
The Mountie Song by The Arrogant Worms
Lump by The Johnstones
Chick Singer by Winona Wilde
Carrot Juice is Murder by The Arrogant Worms