Mary Ziegler had a happy childhood and a loving mother and father. Their love did not create her but it sustained, comforted and nurtured her. “ I always knew I was adopted from 10 days old and was very much loved throughout my life” Mary says.
Mary’s birth parents were teenage sweethearts who had been firmly directed that they could not and would not raise Mary themselves. There was one concession. Mary’s Maori father, John, was allowed to attend the birth.
Mary’s mother Lyn, was raised a Catholic and she’d been sent away to a convent for the latter part of her pregnancy. After delivering her baby, Lyn was instructed to keep the birth a secret. She was left with nothing – not even a photograph.
Instead she cut a picture of a dark haired baby girl from a magazine and kept it in her wallet in honour of her dark haired daughter with whom she’d never share a home but would always share her heart.
Raised in New Zealand, Mary studied nursing and went on to work in a variety of areas before discovering maternity nursing as her passion and made it her vocation. Mary feels the magnetism wasn’t so much about the babies, but rather the one on one interaction with women, forming a partnership to create the best birthing experience possible for the woman and her family.
Both Mary’s personal and professional life proved to be the source of profound discoveries and fulfillment. Mary married at 21 and a few years later began teaching community nursing, paediatrics and maternity nursing at Auckland University of Technology.
By 28, Mary and Mike decided to start a family. Three ectopic pregnancies and a series of miscarriages left Mary devastated. It was the cruellest of coincidences that Mary was surrounded by new life at a time when she was unable to have a baby of her own.
“That’s when I started to look for my birth mother. I wanted to see if there was something hereditary causing my problems. Little did I know that I had MTHFR – a methylating gene that could in part, cause this, especially taking Folic Acid as a routine supplement for pregnancy.” Sadly Mary’s birth certificate had been officially vetoed, leaving her unable to trace her birth mother and the health information she needed.
It was another 8 years and IVF treatment before Mary finally finally conceived and gave birth to her only child, Mikaela. During the proceeding years Mary took up Nursing assignments far and wide, including a posting to Thursday Island. “ I saw a woman birth in a dingy cast on the beach. I was there with a midwife and I felt powerless but in awe of the natural, instinctive process I was watching. I also felt a very real fear of the resident crocodile – Harry – who’s turf we were on!”
Mary returned to New Zealand to train and qualify as a midwife and later helped establish a group of Independent midwives called Maternity Associates in Auckland. In the mid 2000’s she relocated to the Sunshine Coast in Australia and worked as a midwife across all areas of her midwifery practice at Nambour Selangor Private Hospital.
Recounting the roadmap of her career, Mary admits she took several detours delving deeper into birthing practices aimed at demystifying labour. “If you think of of everything we see in the movies, on TV, and everything we hear from women who talk of horror and pain in birth, it’s no wonder it’s become so medicalised and focused on pain and interventions.” Mary says that these kinds of dramatic representations embed in the subconscious and end up turning into beliefs about birthing. Frustrated by these types of recurring misconceptions, Mary began to study alternative modalities including hypnotherapy, HypnoBirthing and neuro-linguisitc programming – just to begin with!
“If you train yourself to relax and expect a good birthing experience, you can reprogram your belief system. HypnoBirthing uses the Laws of the Mind – repetition and attraction to train the mind to work with the sensations of the body, the progress of the baby, and to expect the best birthing experience possible” Mary says.
Parallel to her professional studies, Mary underwent some very personal development. In her studies of hypnotherapy she underwent a regression session that went back to her own birth. She describes the experience as if she were inside the birthing room watching her mother in labour.
The detail is incredible……the room pale yellow….a pregnant teenager lay on the bed in stirrups….a nun gowned in clinical robes and instructing from between her legs….emotions are tense, sad….. An older woman sitting in the corner of the room. A young man is brought into the room after the birth crying. His tears mirrored those of the mother of his child as he handed her a small black box concealing a silver cross…..the baby being wrapped and taken from the room by the nun, never to have nuzzled at the breast of her mother.
Fast forward a couple of years and Mary was contacted by the New Zealand authorities announcing that her birth parents were indeed trying to locate her. Following Mary’s birth, John and Lyn had been forced to go their separate ways but after decades apart, they reunited looking for Mary and rekindled their teen romance.
Given that Mary was in Australia and her birth parents were in New Zealand, the best they could do immediately was to skype. “ I raced to my computer and the connection was so slow all we could do is watch each other come into view inch by inch – my heart pounded! This was the first time I’d ever seen them, I could see I had Lyn’s nose and some of John’s Maori features” Mary said.The emotions were phenomenal, the physical resemblances profound!
When they eventually came face to face a few months later, Mary’s mother handed her the black box. Inside was the silver cross she’d visualised during her regression therapy. All hervisions were validated by the two lives that had created her own. “ This day had the most impact on my life and midwifery practice for years to come” Mary said.
Mary’s lost count now of the number of new lives she herself has welcomed into the world but the 1000 births has been passed. When I congratulate Mary on delivering so many babies she is quick to set me straight. “ Midwives don’t deliver babies, mothers birth their baby!”
That empowered path to parenting became the foundation of Know Your Midwife – a private practice of Midwives and an Obstetrician which offered a continuity of care program called The Circle of Care.
Know Your Midwife was established in 2009 and since then, the Circle of Care has supported and help shape over 400 women’s birthing journeys. The program has incorporated tools and teachings from HypnoBirthing, Birthing from Within, Calmbirth, Lamaze, Yoga, Mindfulness in Birth – and many others. The published statistics of low birth intervention, high breastfeeding success and the statements from women such as “ I did it! That was awesome! I can’t say it’s painful, just intense!” is the ultimate for Mary. It says the program works! Women can have the best birthing experience even if it’s not the exact carefree birthing journey they planned.
Mary now has a dream that all women on earth should be able to experience what she has witnessed…….. if only they had the same preparation. She knows first hand what an impact the type of birth this has on the baby and his mother and father – fearful and terrifying or loving and spiritual. Women have a choice!
The online courses Mary has designed is bringing together all her years of knowledge and experience, women’s experiences, ancient knowledge and divine feminine power in birth, and she is keeping the important relationship between a midwife and women by making it live online interaction.
This story was written by Kara De Shot with Mary Ziegler.
I have a dream that all women on earth may assert their sacred feminine power to create once again on earth, the sacred, profound, fantastic, miraculous, experience of birth.
“If the knowledge of the sacred feminine has been lost how can we know what to do? Part of the wisdom of the feminine is to wait, to listen, to be receptive. A woman does not consciously know how to bring the light of a soul into her womb and help it to form a body. And yet this mystery takes place within her. Nor does she consciously know how to nourish this light with her own light, in the same way that she gives her blood to help the body to grow. She is the mystery of light being born into matter, and her pregnancy is a time of receptivity, waiting, listening and feeling what is happening within her. She and the Great Mother are one being, and if she listens within she is given the knowledge she needs.” – Llewellyn Vaughan-Leigh
I believe birth is sacred. Like death it is the portal of life. There is something mysterious and awesome about our transition from invisible to visible worlds and back again. The birth of a baby is a rite of passage in the life of a woman, her partner and family. With the birth of a first baby, a woman not only gives birth to her baby, but transitions into motherhood. When she is empowered with knowledge, supported yet undisturbed in labour, she can tune into her instinctive ancient birthing knowledge and know exactly what she needs to do to birth her baby comfortably and safely. I acknowledge and hold sacred that ancient wisdom and believe in partnership, trust and mutual respect in the woman’s journey.
I believe that for the baby, the moment of birth is a time of deep significance, laying down primal memories that become the foundation for future beliefs about life. When babies are born gently and lovingly, they are imprinted with an assurance that the world is a safe and benevolent place. My life as a midwife has been in assisting a gentle birth, promoting skin to skin contact and early breastfeeding supports the bonding between mother and baby from this beginning.
“ WE did not inherit the Earth from our ancestors so much as we have borrowed it from our children”
I believe that for a father too, the birth of his child is a life changing event. He can play a crucial role during pregnancy, labour and birth if he is well prepared and understands his unique role and contribution. I have provided this support this through formal and informal education. I believe that this can lay a foundation in their partnership and parenting.
I have a dream that childbirth can once again be transformed into a healthy, normal, physiological process for all women on earth. The art and science of midwifery lies in the knowledge of, and devotion to, this process. I have delivered care in a manner that is flexible, creative, empowering and supportive. By scientific evidence, collective and individual practice and by intuition, I endeavour to enhance the woman’s innate feminine knowledge and life experience she brings to the relationship.
I have a dream….. that all women globally will reclaim their sacred ancient wisdom, the divine feminine spirit to change birth on earth for our generations to come.
“Let there be peace on earth and let women begin it with birth”
Read here: The Divine Feminine if you would like to gain more of an understanding about the divine feminine and birth.