A Full Moon Eclipse Birth
by Kristin Nuttall
Kristin has had the opportunity to attend many births as a doula and biodynamic craniosacral therapist. The more she learned about birth, the greater her reverence became and the greater her passion grew in assisting mothers to have empowered birthing experiences. Kristin’s greatest birthing support mentor is Gloria Lemay from Vancouver BC. Many women of the Sea-to-Sky corridor had had "Gloria babies". Kristin took the "Wise Woman Way of Birth' and "Birth Takes a Village".
My darling angel baby, I want to tell you about your birth…
They say that when the student is ready, the teacher appears. This student spent years trying to conceive you by wishing, praying, inviting, dreaming and manifesting. From lifestyle changes like modifying diet, taking herbs and receiving acupuncture, to the well known local secret of eating lots and lots of Pemberton potatoes (which by the way could be the reason that Pemberton has the second-highest birth rate next to Idaho. They interestingly get their seed potatoes from Pemberton). Even inverting my body and that finally seemed to be what worked, or maybe it was the combination of everything? I remember the time of your conception when your gramma (on daddy’s side), unknowingly entered into the room without knocking during our vacation to the Island. Little did she realize why I was upside down and barely covered.
Your daddy knew before me of your presence, when a couple of weeks later I thought I had food poisoning from our sushi date. Our Chinese medicine doctor, the infamous Sunny Lee, said from the pulses that you were a boy or possibly a strong-willed female. Leading up to the birth process I did every movement possible with the "Spinning Babies” exercises to get you into optimal positioning. Meanwhile, you had already been there waiting in position for many months. I learned in my schooling of biodynamic craniosacral & perinatal psychology training about a baby's clockwise rotation descending through the mother's pelvic stations; that if started from a left side lay it would be easier to find the optimal occiput-anterior birthing positioning. I wanted to protect your safe passage by doing everything I could to avoid any medical interventions. I wanted to create space for you to smoothly negotiate past the tight soft tissue and bones. I visualized you being there with your head tucked, chin in and your arms crossed over your chest. We co-created your beautiful birth, we did it together! I am completely in awe of you and will always be.
At long last, the estimated date of your arrival had come and a few days had gone by. I was feeling ready, but we hadn't quite finished preparing everything. You literally waited until all details were in place. Your support team was assembled, the car was packed, the freezer was stocked, my belly-cast was done, your nursery and co-sleeper bassinet were all ready for you. We decided to make our way to Squamish to my dear friend's home. She had had three home births and she offered to vacate the house with her family to go stay with her new man. It was an offer we couldn't refuse. Your glamma and auntie (on my side) were busy cooking and cleaning for three more days. We had time to set up all that we might have possibly needed, even down to the sterilized towels sealed in brown paper bags. I was taking evening primrose oil and having your daddy doing perineal stretching with birthing oil, etc... In lieu of sitting on a tractor, I bounced on the trampoline (which I got in trouble for). I drank tea and needled my thumbs all in hopes of bringing on your birth. I think the acupuncture could have really helped, then again, you knew exactly the moment you were waiting for was when the full moon rose on our horizon as a visible eclipse.
There was some bright red spotting, it was just after 5 p.m. on July 15, 2019. I excitedly hopped in the bath and slowly felt the sensations coming on. I ate a huge meal to give me energy for the marathon ahead. I got in the shower again. I stared out the window at the beautiful moon. I had patience and we waited for your arrival. Our whole family had completely taken over my friend's house. I crawled into her bed with a shower curtain placed thoughtfully under the sheets to protect the mattress. Your daddy was still at our house with the doggies in Pemberton. At about 1 a.m. I called him and said, “This is happening soon, please bring my red dolphin-wolf to comfort me”. Until he arrived, it was so special to spend time with glamma, she felt very honored to be there with me. In the spirit of honesty without wanting to offend, I had let her know in advance that if I felt her anxiety around this home birth scenario or any incongruence, that I might ask her or anyone else in the room to leave. It was comforting to know that she understood. I learned that the wonderful thing about supporting a birthing woman is that no one should take any offence to anything.
Resting between surges through the night, I gathered strength and curled up by my mom; your daddy arrived at about 3 a.m. Things got really intense around 5 a.m. and I needed your daddy's continuous pressure on my hip flexors for every cresting wave of contraction. By 7:30 a.m. I called our doula who was also a 3rd year midwifery student at UBC. She arrived by 9 a.m., filled the pool and I hopped in. It really was an “aquadural”, as they say. Your glamma tuned into the ancient ritual of continuously boiling water for the birth pool. Your auntie kept bringing the warm water to add in to keep me warm. There was music, candles and a whole table of comfort resources, but I forgot about them all. The only thing that mattered was that pressure on my hip flexors which had then been taken over by my doula. Your amazing dad moved from his three hour post at my hips to support my quivering jaw so he could reassure me and coach me. I was so proud of him that he knew instinctively to do that. I declined checking dilation in advance. I knew it would only make me anxious and take me out of the body-entrusted state I was in. Around 10 a.m., about 15 hours into it, something had changed. I felt what must have been “cranial moulding”. My pelvic floor bulged like a hammock, then retracted and I wasn't doing a thing. I thought it was time to call the midwife.
She arrived in 20 minutes and had to inform me there was no OB that could do an emergency C-section in Squamish and now was our last chance to drive to Vancouver (just in case.) I said, “Thanks, I'm good here.” I went back to your birth song - making the sounds of my deep primal brain where I had complete trust in my body and in you, my baby. I felt a wooden tool in the water against my belly to listen to your heart tones. This made me happy, I didn't ever want to use a doppler.
One thing that kept ringing in my mind was not to push at all until my body did so naturally. I see how that can really help keep the perineum intact, which was true for me. Your daddy held my jaw telling me I was beautiful and kissing me. I told him to kiss me with some tongue! He remembers me yelling that boldly at him and he was a little embarrassed in front of the family... the hormones of his kiss took me into some momentary respite of joy and peace. I kept looking at my beautiful wolfie pup laying beside me, being relaxed and I could relax a little more too.
Your head crowned and popped right out. I let out one surprise shriek as my left labia tore superficially for a split second that was barely painful. Lucky for me, I think the “ring of fire” feeling that some women get was completely offset by the water. Then, it was truly a moment suspended in time. I had my hand on your head and the midwife brought her hand there too. I thought she was turning your head and so I swatted her hand away telling her not to touch, but it was YOU corkscrewing your shoulders out! On the next wave of my fascinating expulsion reflexes, my doula cued me saying you were about to come into my arms and that I could push during the next contraction. I said “Really?!!” So I directed my breath, bearing down... I felt total relief as you came out and the midwife said, “Catch baby, catch baby…”
Then I brought you on to my chest and you didn't even cry. We gazed into each other's eyes with full clarity, no drops to blur your vision in seeing me. Your colour and reflexes were good, still not a peep. It was the undisturbed “golden hour”. I couldn't take my eyes off your eyes, it felt like the most important first face to face imprinting chat. Your daddy said, “HOLY SMOKES” over and over. He checked and announced that you were a girl! He named you Winnie. Warm towels were draped over us and I encouraged you to do the “breast-crawl” moving up my belly. You bobbed your head around and you found the big bull's eye, unassisted for your first feed. It was total bliss. About 30-45 minutes later, our midwife said the cord had pulsed out, she felt the slack of the cord and tightening of my uterus. She gently guided the placenta down and it followed out without my noticing further contractions. Your glamma prepared the bedroom with fresh sheets, flowers, candles and delicious nibbly food. Your daddy took off his shirt and held you while I rinsed off in the shower. We all crawled into the bed with a platter of treats. After considering the possible pain of a few stitches, that my sister said had been worse than giving birth, I chose not to stitch the tiny superficial tear as it would have only been for esthetic purposes. My doula said that the freezing didn't work well superficially or for the pudendal nerve anyway.
The level of informed consent from my midwife and doula with the option to decline all interventions was incredibly satisfying for me. I feel for the women who don't know that they can claim their power when physiological birth is best to remain natural. I continued to enjoy the firsts of you, my darling, as you fed and slept on my glowing heartbeat with peace and quiet. Your glamma and auntie made sure I stayed in bed and they hurried about cooking and cleaning.
My dear friend whose home we were in had arrived moments after you were born while we were still in the birthing pool. She quietly supported and went to work dehydrating and encapsulating your placenta.
Gentle fawn, meeting you was the most beautiful day of my life. We celebrated you with a very fancy birthing-day cake as you nuzzled skin-to-skin inside my shirt. We stayed there in Squamish for another week, resting and being together in the splendor of newborn moments.
We are so blessed by all the support and care we had. My doula and the midwives visited us at the house every day for 7 days. They all said you had “a beautiful and gentle birth”. Your auntie, being a postpartum doula, prepared a daily herbal sitz bath with comfrey root. She wrapped my belly in long cotton fabric to aid in reshaping my torso, she put cool cabbage leaves on my breasts as my milk came in and cooked nourishing foods based on the 4th trimester traditions to assist in milk-making.
They stayed by our side for six weeks with a camper parked in the front yard of our house. Your grandmother was right when she said that with your birth, I would experience a deeper level of love than I had ever known. Your daddy and I love you more than we could have ever imagined, thank you for choosing us. This story, dear Winnie, is a gift to you for your first birthday.