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A “Pink Moon” and he's on his way

Emotional Resonance is a safe place where we can go deep on what a single song means to us. Happy times and sad, good news and bad, we explore the soundtrack to our lives.

It was four in the afternoon when Bonnie’s contractions started. On the news was a story about a Lunar eclipse that was to happen that night; the Earth would go between the Sun and the Moon, and turn the latter pink.

It came on earlier than we expected. We’d been told the 20th, and we were prepared, or as prepared as you can be. I didn’t really know how to help her, other than keeping her occupied and distracted from the pain that I knew was only going to get more and more unbearable before it was going to subside. So I set her up with a movie while I cooked, we talked and ate, she gritted her teeth through the waves of pain. And that was only an hour and a half.

It was odd that it was finally happening. The previous nine months had been building up to something, but somehow this didn’t feel like it yet. It never felt like there was a baby in her bump; the layers of skin and separated muscle providing a psychological as well as a physical barrier to the tiny person that was apparently growing in there. I’d been massaging her nightly, back and shoulders, then the feet and legs, then back to the back. So we tried that, but it didn’t work as a distraction, let alone a relaxation. By now it was 7:30 and the moon was meant to be at its pinkest, so outside we went to see the pink Moon, and pink it was. I tried to take a photo of the phenomenon, but the damn rock somehow makes itself smaller when seen by a camera.

We went back inside and put the TV on. There hadn’t been any fluids yet; no movie moment where it drops and she looks at me in utter bewilderment and screams, “MY WATERS JUST BROKE!!!!”. That never even came close to happening. She only looked at me with her eyes drooping at the outside corners in that tired, pleading sort of way. She was just in pain, and it was getting worse and worse. So I put on Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon”, and we lay down and listened.

There was something tribal and animal about the baby coming during the eclipse. Our doctor said afterwards that every expectant mother he was seeing had her baby that day or the one following, as if set off by the crimson satellite. I pictured mothers throughout history looking to the sky and seeing the Moon turn pink and feeling the sudden onset of labour. The tides are affected by the pull of the Moon’s gravity, makes sense its relation to the Sun and the Earth, and the alignment of the three, has a larger, more mystical effect.

Bonnie was in the bath trying to ease the pain when I picked up the acoustic guitar and Googled ‘Pink Moon Chords’. I tuned the guitar to one of Drake’s open tunings (DADGDF#, capo second fret in this case), and strummed away, singing to Bon and the baby as they got ready for the biggest moment of each of their lives. Nick Drake’s music is so human and so fragile it seemed to fit the whole scene so well I felt like I was in a montage from a Zach Braff film; Bonnie in the bath with only the yellow glow of a candle for light, me sitting on the floor, legs outstretched, laptop to one side, brushing the strings of an old acoustic. It felt quaint, but not clichéd. Just the right amount of heart to be meaningful in a deeper, more life-affirming way.

Errol was born at 1:33 the following day, after four hours of labour at the hospital. All the staff were impressed with Bonnie’s effort, each coming in to congratulate her in turn; she’d had no medication, birthed him all naturally, and was feeding him on the breast half an hour after he came so perfectly into the world proper. Not to brag. It was all up a surreal night, one I definitely won’t experience again.

It was a special day to be born, not that he’ll know from experience. But at least my little boy Errol will have a song that’s all his. I plan to play it for him as often as is acceptable.

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