Yurt Birth Story
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Albert Einstein
Heavily pregnant with my third baby, I was keen to have a natural birth. I’d already had two very different experiences with birth- My first in the high Andes of Ecuador, South America, and the second in my then husband’s living room in a Victorian terrace in Bath, UK.
My first labour had been complicated- my son was ‘star gazing’- in other words he was non-vertex face first presentation which resulted in an unexpected trip to the hospital for an emergency Caesarean, but I received the best of care and both myself and my baby fortunately recovered very quickly from the trauma.
Once I was pregnant with my second son I was sure that my body knew how to birth without intervention, despite the complications first time around. I didn’t want to go down the NHS route as I was told I would not be permitted to have a water birth due to my history, so I opted for an Independent Midwife, and was connected with a wonder birth keeper initiated in the wisdom of old ways and the physical, psychological and spiritual aspects of natural birth.
I went about that second birth like an athlete: practicing yoga, meditation, visualising and hypnobirthing, with the fridge plastered in affirmations and watching home births on you tube every spare minute I had. I read books like Ina May and ‘Birthing From Within’, worked on my shadows and fears and fully educated myself on all aspects of this right of passage in a way that just didn’t really occur to me this first time round. I guess our western programming has removed us from so much wisdom.
So, when it came to my 3rd pregnancy and the birth of my daughter, having already had a home birth I wanted to head in an even more natural direction. I’d seen women having babies in water surrounded by dolphins in the ocean, I’d watched youtube clips of blissful water births and peaceful deliveries and felt drawn to an environment where my body could fully immerse into nature and deliver my daughter to the World.
In Italian, the literal translation of “to give birth”— “Dare alla Luce”— is: “to give to the light”, and as I allowed myself to wonder and meditate on my daughter’s birth I kept seeing flashes of us surrounded by woodland, hearing the soft sweet bird song and the light fractals through bright green leaves.
There was just one problem… My waking reality was a goldfish-bowl of a modern cul-de sac with a small yard overlooked by neighbours, and the only light I’d be giving to were the streetlamps around the house. I’d been going through a painful divorce and this was my ‘transition home’ where I needed an affordable, easy spot to get my breath back and recover from the ordeal.
My daughter was due in May, and despite the cold, wet drizzly reality of the cul-de-sac in March I continued to trust and believe that my daughter would be enveloped in the natural World as she arrived, despite not having a clue how this would actually happen.
As April progressed, my midwife quite rightly began to press me on the matter- “You’re 36 weeks now love, it’s possible that you could go into labour so you need to have a space!” I let her know that if the worst came to the worst the living room would have to suffice and made some noises about hiring a birth pool, but I also said, “I keep having this feeling that she will be born in nature, I just don’t know where”
As an entrepreneur having run my own business which I began in a double-dip recession on a credit card, I guess I’ve developed a muscle for holding my nerve and trusting that things will unfold on time and in a perfect way as long as I have courage, stay present, and stay attuned for the clues and the signs that I was on the right track. Even so, I was getting a little nervous about the impending birth and so I got very centred in my heart and in my meditation asked Nature to send me a sign.
Days later, my friend had invited me over for a play date as hit was the Easter holidays and our sons were having a wonderful time playing in her garden as she and I walked through the adjoining woodland.
As we headed back to the house we crossed over a little stream and when we began the upwards ascent I had a sudden flash in my mind that here was where the birth was going to happen.
I immediately dismissed the idea almost as soon as it had come to me, as I felt ridiculous, how would that even happen!? But just seconds later her husband handed me a small, freshly hatched pale blue eggshell, and I looked up at him and said “That’s so weird, I was just thinking that maybe I’d end up giving birth here”
My lovely friend, Lulu, squealed in delight and grabbed my arms, her face glowing with excitement- “Yes! That would be amazing”. The seed was sewn and we began to explore a way this was going to unfold. It turned out that they already had a pool from their son’s birth and then we began hunting for a Yurt. As it was the lead up to Glastonbury Festival in Somerset, to say Yurts were thin on the ground was an understatement. The clock was ticking, and every possibility we thought we had to borrow something was a dead end. So in the end I decided we could rent something, and we got put in touch with a lovely guy called Joel at Avalon Yurts. Well Imagine my surprise when later my Midwife, Tara Robson told me they were long time friends and neighbours!
The yurt was erected, and the pool was set up without any fuss and now it was May, the weather began to warm up a little, the days grew brighter and the school runs lighter as the evenings extended and Spring was in her full force. I was feeling delighted every time I visited the Yurt that I had rented for a month and became my safe spot for sitting and contemplating what had been a pretty intense year of turmoil and change. Without getting too much into the details here, as that is a story for another day I had been through a difficult separation that I’d known was coming for some time, followed by a whirlwind romance and this pregnancy that I hadn’t’t seen coming at all.
My daughter’s father lived in Canada, and after a period of trying to make the dots join up it became clear earlier in the year that our relationship wasn’t meant to stand up to the test of time either so there was a bitter sweet feeling as he arrived in England for our daughter’s birth and we discussed the next steps of her life.
I had the support of some strong, wise and amazing people during that time, and learned the truism that your darkest times bring about the greatest strength and show you who is really in your camp.
My due date was nearing and as the Spring quickened so did the feeling that baby was coming any day, as I was having Braxton Hicks and felt ready to pop, any mother will know what I mean!
It was an unexpectedly hot Saturday and after a swim and a bit of a sunbathe it felt good to go to the woods. Lulu and Simon were away for the weekend so I nestled down for the night after lighting the wood burner and eating a big salad. Almost as soon as I lay down at about Midnight the baby did a little ‘jump’ and the contractions began. I spent an extraordinary 6 or 7 hours lying in the half light breathing through wave after wave of surges whilst listening to the cows lowing in the neighbouring field. As the surges became more intense I was making some sounds of my own so to anyone listening it would have sounded like some kind of cow-human call and return! No one was listening though, except my daughter’s father quietly tending the fire and the stars.
It was light and the birds were singing. Through the clear top of the yurt I could see bright green spring fresh leaves gently blowing in the early sunlight. Dawn was here and I was stirring, I needed to move and walk around a while and then I got into the pool.
There’s a moment in birth that my midwife calls “Rest and be Thankful” It’s a glimpse of true grace between the veils, as everything seems to stand still for I don’t no how long but it’s such a sweet moment, and one that I don’t recall experiencing with my nerve wracking VBAC. Yet here in the woodland, engulfed in the sounds of birdsong, lambs and cattle I experienced a field of total peace and ‘is-ness’. That’s the best way I can describe it, it just was, I was, and there was nothing else except the moment.
Then it’s time for baby to arrive, and there’s work to be done… and from that moment of total peace came the second stage of labour and her descent which was intense. I had my eyes closed but I knew the midwife wasn’t there yet which didn’t bother me because as long as I stayed focussed inward I could manage the intensity and keep breathing through the strong surges.
The next thing I knew my baby was being caught by my midwife, who arrived at the perfect time, as I knew she would. My daughter arrived at 8.50 am on Sunday morning.
One of the many blessings of nature is the synchronicity it bring us, nature is always on time! I held my little girl and we waited for a while before clamping the chord so that she would receive all the benefits from the placenta before they parted ways after their 9 month journey together in the womb.
Later on as I rested, my daughter’s Dad took her to the nearby field for a walk. The cows were standing far away in the distance but in their maternal curiosity they all came over for a look at the baby who was born in their midst.