The Oyster is the Spirit Animal of every new Mother. Cool and calm, she burrows beneath blue waves, working hard to create her Pearl. The Oyster, symbolic for the female womb – home of the creative feminine force – is responsible for the production of all human kind, a beautiful gift that no one else can give.
Rapidly during labor, the Oyster’s shell opens to present her treasure to the world, but upon extraction she finds that she remains open, her very heart and soul now vulnerable and exposed to the elements of our modern world. And like the Oyster, a new Mother finds herself in a watery, sensitive state, having depleted energy and resources in protection of her little Pearl.
After birth, Mother, now open – sensitive – vulnerable, begins a six-week or longer closing journey. I like to call this time “The Last Frontier.” It is the final segment in the cycle of childbirth and leads her back to her pre-pregnant state of fertility. Across The Last Frontier she will discover the new parts of herself realized by the alchemy of her transformation into Mother, and she will greet old familiar parts as they emerge from their nine month hibernation to join her once more.
During this precious time when Mother is still open, those around her have a fleeting opportunity to fill the expansion created by the birth with beautiful, loving things for Mother to close around and keep inside her. This is the optimal time for Mother’s partner to express wonder and gratitude for her strength and beauty – for her to be nourished with delicious, warming, pleasing foods. This is the time to gently and lovingly celebrate Mother and take care of her in the most special ways, so that as she closes, she traps feelings of love, accomplishment, and strength inside.
“In certain latitudes there comes a span of time approaching and following the summer solstice, some weeks in all, when the twilights turn long and blue… You notice it first as April ends and May begins, a change in the season, not exactly a warming – in fact not at all a warming – yet suddenly summer seems near, a possibility, even a promise. You pass a window, you walk to Central Park, you find yourself swimming in the color blue; the actual light is blue, and over the course of an hour or so this blue deepens, becomes more intense even as it darkens and fades, approximates finally the blue of the glass on a clear day at Chartres, or that of the Cerenkov radiation thrown off by the fuel rods in the pools of nuclear reactors. The French call this time of day “l’heure bleue.” To the English it was “the gloaming.” The very word “gloaming” reverberates, echoes – the gloaming, the glimmer, the glitter, the glisten, the glamour – carrying in its consonants the images of houses shuttering, gardens darkening, grass-lined rivers slipping through the shadows. During the blue nights you think the end of the day will never come. As the blue nights draw to a close (and they will, and they do) you experience an actual chill at the moment you first notice, the blue light is going, the days are already shortening, the summer is gone …” Joan Didion, Blue Nights
The Blue Night is a nearly perfect analogy for the optimal atmosphere during a Mother’s closing – the period of transition between the birth and the time when Mother is physically, emotionally, and mentally ready to fully re-enter society. The Blue Night symbolizes a calm and cosy time when mother is sheltered away with her baby and partner. She is to be kept and cared for so that the new family can slowly unfurl. Bonding, breastfeeding and healing develop in their own time, and Mother rests without rush. This is a time when meals are brought to her, she is listened to and loved, beautiful herbal baths are drawn for her, her body is massaged to aid the recovery process, her house is tidied and cleaned by others and she is just expected to heal, feed her little Pearl, and get acquainted with the new part of herself that has been born along with Baby.
A home during the Blue Night is a sanctuary, a low-lit haven of healing and love. It is not open to the public, but is instead a sacred space to protect a new Mother and Father’s journey back home to themselves. As your Postpartum Doula, I am the keeper of the Blue Night. If we think of Mother as a Goddess, having just created life - we can think of the Doula as her Priestess – gently and quietly tending to Mother’s needs, lovingly supporting her through her healing and emotional transition, honoring and encouraging her creative feminine strength, and finally celebrating the end of her Blue Night and waving goodbye as Mother re-enters her outside life.
When we allow a new Mother time to gently transition - meeting all of her needs, emotionally and physically, we then see that Mother emerge empowered by her own feminine strength - and that is a woman who can truly can take on the world.