Friday, July 17, 2009

Hedgehog Medicine:
Rising American Maternal Mortality rates,
and a call for the help of any quilters out there.

When I was talking to my friend Laura at Snip-n-Snail (click for link) about The Remembering the Mothers Quilt Project (click for link) (a quilt to remember american women who have did in childbirth) I kept seeing hedgehogs. Suddenly, they were all over my backyard!

I have never in my life seen a hedgehog before.

When an animal makes itself very obvious to me, or gets my attention like that, I like to receive it as a message. I google animal medicine or totem for that animal, and see what it's meaning has been to cultures that believe mother earth is a living, communicative being.

Here is what I found about hedgehog- it is the symbol of elder female wisdom. It is associated with fertility, and also the sun since it comes out in the summer season. Since it is nocturnal, and has poor vision, it is associated with psychic ability, prophetic dreams and visions, and particularly the knowledge of the weather, and knowing when it will rain. It is immune to snake venom, and so it is a native American symbol of the triumph over evil, and the defeat of death.

The animal walks close to the earth, and knows how to center itself by curling into the fetal position. It knows how to protect itself, and keep its environment clear of threatening energies, and always lands on it's feet. It is a symbol of the balance in work and play- being resourceful, strong, but playful.

Laura is planning a panel with the support of one of the founders of The National Organization for Women to bring attention to the very high and rising maternal mortality in the USA, and the utter lack of any tracking of the actual numbers or causes. Ina May Gaskins, midwife/ female elder conceived of The Remembering the Mothers quilt project to bring attention to this issue and will sit on the panel. The panel will be on November 1st in Sarasota, Florida, which is also the day of the dead. A good day to remember the mothers that have died. It will be a landmark forum, as previously this issue has received little attention from the feminist leadership and has not been recognized as the public health crisis it is with in the USA. It is an issue of global interest, as American birth practices are getting very bad results for both mothers and babies on a public health level (evidenced by the highest infant mortality and morbidity rates of the western world), yet the american birth models and practices are still being copied by other countries through out the world.

I hope they are blessed by 'hedgehog medicine' in their endeavor. That they walk with the wisdom of female elders, and can 'defeat death' by bringing awareness to the issue of high/climbing American maternal mortality rates, and lower them. And that Laura can protect herself, be balanced, and have fun along the way.

If you are a quilter, or know one, please ask them to contact Laura and help "Remember the Mothers" by making a quilt square for a woman who has died giving birth in the USA in the last 30 years (click here for link).

This post (click for another link) is a call to for quilters to help creates squares to remember women, and has specific names of women who need to be represented in a special quilt dedicated to women who have died of amniotic fluid embolism (AFE) . AFE was once a very rare complication that has now become staggeringly common and is suspected to be an (as of yet unrecognized) complication of induction of labor, specifically assocaited with the use of the prostaglndin drug cytotec. Laura has not gotten the quick response she has anticipated from quilters on this, so please do what you can, and pass the word on to freinds that can help so this project can be completed soon.


Kangaroo said...

it brought be such joy to hear your voice, and to tell you how your legacy continues. i hope this panel is groundbreaking, lifechanging, thought provoking...and FUN. i can't wait to break the news stateside.

and i will never forget the words i heard on the other end of the phone, half a world away..."look honey, the hedgehog is right there, just behind that lilac bush." live in sweden!

Liquid Pen said...

the magic is on! Beautiful to watch.

Andy said...

Thanks for posting about this - I have read about it in other places too, it is such a sad loss for a family! My vibes, as I don't quilt, will be sent to Sarasota to all who help and attend.