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Ophelia’s Birth Story

Let me begin by saying that I LOVE giving birth. I know, I’m crazy! But I really, truly love it and the entire pregnancy feels worthwhile knowing that it’s building towards that amazing moment where I will go into labour and birth my child – meeting them for that first precious encounter where I lift their gooey, floppy body onto my chest and gaze into their tiny newborn eyes as they look around trying to adjust to this foreign world they have been brought into. All the highs and oxytocin vibes! This being my fourth child, I began the pregnancy as excited as always and would lay my head down each night dreaming about that special first moment together and excitedly anticipating the labour and birth that was awaiting me.

This is the story of Ophelia Fern’s birth. If you’re an absolute sucker for birth stories like I am, all the details will come at the end. But what makes her birth story so powerful to me is the journey it took to get there. What makes it significant in my own personal experience is what I had to endure leading up to the grande finale. And what makes her birth my favourite of all my births, is the way God came through for me above and beyond what I was hoping and believing for – because unlike my first three pregnancies, this one was not easy sailing. In the final trimester I was looking down the barrel of potential serious complications and – the most difficult thing for me to prepare for – the chance that I may not be able to experience birth the way I had been desiring. 

Ophelia’s birth is the ultimate climax of a journey of faith. If you are simply interested in the details and photography, then feel free to skip to the end where her birth begins. But if you would love to hear a story of God’s great faithfulness and goodness, then read on.

I began this pregnancy just like all my others. I have nothing to complain about (even though I do!) as I have been lucky enough to escape morning sickness and really just feel nothing more than tired and exhausted all the time. I have never had any complications during pregnancy whatsoever and my first three labours and births were natural, spontaneous and amazing (you can read about both Hugo and Fleur’s accidental home births here and here!). So this time around I was happily cruising along in pregnancy feeling great and looking forward to the third trimester. Well ok, as any mother will tell you, maybe not looking forward to that final, huge, heavy, exhausting couple of months that feel like an eternity(!), but looking forward to it drawing closer and closer to the birth and meeting our new little family member.

I was fortunate enough to get into a group midwifery practice, which meant I was able to receive continual care throughout my pregnancy from the one midwife, who I could build rapport and a secure relationship with. I have done this with all four pregnancies, which is wonderful because I was very low-risk and didn’t require an obstetrician, yet also didn’t have to see a different midwife each time and not knowing who I would get when I eventually went into labour. I love how midwives approach labour and birth so naturally. This is really what I value and believe in – that the body knows what it is doing and is designed to do. Of course, complications arise and we can never be guaranteed that we will get the birth that we desire, so even though I’ve had three natural, pain-free births before, I always know there is no assurance that it will always be like this. When I was pregnant with my first child we didn’t do the hospital anti-natal classes, but instead took part in Calmbirth – a course that was recommended to me by my first midwife and a course that I believe everyone should do! It taught us how the body works during labour and birth, when it is relaxed, without fear and at rest.

It was so refreshing to learn about the natural and scientific evidence of the perfect design of the female body, because I had been given a book that completely changed and prepared me for birth in ways that I had never imagined. ‘Supernatural Childbirth’ by Jackie Mize is a book I have given away to pregnant women countless times. I wont go into detail here, but it speaks about the spiritual side of labour and birth and how the curse of Eve (painful childbirth) was broken on the cross and how we can build up our faith to experience painless childbirth under the New Covenant. Yes, you read that correctly. PAINLESS. Now, I’m a huge believer in the supernatural power of God, but I have to admit that when I first read her book I thought it was WHACK!!! Whoever heard of pain-free childbirth?!?!?! But as the Holy Spirit worked on me during that pregnancy, I came to a place where I was believing for a supernatural birth. I believe this, coupled with the practical applications of Calmbirth is what equipped me for all the pain-free births I have had. So pain-free in fact that I accidentally had two of my children at home…BECAUSE I didn’t know I was in labour! I wasn’t feeling any pain and assumed I had hours, if not days to go! After accidentally having our firstborn at home, I was so paranoid and anxious that it would happen again when I was pregnant with my second that my midwife made me stay in hospital for a good 24 hours before I delivered as I was already 3cm dilated at one of my routine check-ups. As long and boring as the wait to actually go into labour was, it was good because when labour was finally started she came within 30 minutes!

By the time I was pregnant with my third child we had moved locations and were right around the corner from the hospital. I had no fears that I might accidentally have another one at home, because by now I knew what a contraction felt like. I could be forgiven for not knowing with my first, having never experienced the sensation before, and with my second I knew what was going on and could feel the intensity in my uterus. Living so close to the hospital now I was confident that even if we left it to the last minute, it wouldn’t take long to get there, so we would be totally ok. Well, apparently not! Fleur was born on our ensuite floor right after I got out of bed in the morning to go and brush my teeth! I had ONE almighty contraction where my waters burst like Niagara Falls and she literally came out! (More details in her birth story in the previous link)

So coming into this fourth pregnancy I didn’t really know what to expect as far as “How will I know if I’m in labour? How will I know when to go to the hospital?” We assumed a home birth would be the safest option, but all the doulas and midwives I spoke to agreed that if the paramedics couldn’t even make it in time (we called the ambulance both times we realised I was actually in labour), then there’s no way a midwife would be able to make it. I was so happy when I got into the group midwife program at the local hospital – I felt a peace and confidence about it all and knew it was the safest decision, no matter what would happen. Early on in the pregnancy my midwife would joke with me about how I was most likely going to accidentally have this baby at home again (actually, ALL my midwives have joked with me about thisX maybe that’s a common denominator, ha ha!), so the ‘plan’ was to be prepared and equipped for that to happen (in the final weeks she sent me home with delivery packages from the maternity storeroom…smuggled out in my handbag!), but hopefully we would make it to the hospital this time.

Everything was going along perfectly and smoothly. Then at the beginning of my third trimester I received a call from the diabetes clinic  that changed everything. I had failed the glucose test I had done the week before. They wanted me to come in immediately and be educated and trained in Gestational Diabetes management. WHAT?!?! My midwife was just as shocked as I was. She and the nurses at the clinic all said I was in no way at risk of potentially developing GD (I had to be approved for the midwifery program by the head obstetrician because I was technically underweight by a good couple of BMI points, no thanks to my genetics and crazy metabolism), and had a healthy lifestyle and would never have even been tested for it years ago before they started screening everyone. Not only that, the nurse told me that I easily passed the 1 hour and 2 hours tests where my body processed the glucose perfectly…but my morning fasting levels were a measly 0.1 point over what they should have been. I honestly  thought that there had been a mistake (and was pretty certain the entire tub of ice cream that had been consumed the night befor my test HAD to have something to do with it!!!)  and we would get to the bottom of it when I met with the nurses and endocrinologist at the diabetes clinic.

The next day I was up at the hospital learning how to prick my finger and take my blood sugar levels four times a day. I was still in shock that this was even happening, but felt confident that after doing this for a week or so we would all see that my glucose levels were actually fine, and that would be the end of it. Well, it turns out that my levels were fine…after I ate. But it was my morning fasting levels that proved to be the problem. Although they were only very slightly above the baseline, it was enough to prove that yes, I had in fact developed Gestational Diabetes. I met with the nutritionist who was certain we could manage this with diet alone. After looking at my food diary that I was required to keep, she too was confused as to how I could have GD when my eating was already so healthy. She didn’t even change anything in my recommended meals as she said I was eating perfectly well, nothing to cut out and nothing to add in. I went home a bit confused. Everyone was confused. The nurses and endocrinologist at the clinic and my midwife all said my case was so unusual and confusing, none of it made sense. We gave it a bit more time to see if it could be managed with diet alone, but one Friday afternoon I received the call that shocked me even more – they wanted me to begin insulin straight away.

I completely recognise that developing GD and requiring insulin injections is in no way the worst thing that could happen in pregnancy. I appreciate that there are so many more serious complications and worse case scenarios. I am truly grateful that what I was facing had a very simple management process and I was on a significantly low dose of insulin that successfully brought my morning fasting blood sugar levels down. But for me it was the shock of it all, when I was feeling so good, living a healthy lifestyle and believing for another beautiful, easy, complication-free birth. And that was it – I realised – what does this all mean for the birth of my baby? What are the risks? Will I give birth to a 12 pound toddler? Will I need a C-section and miss out altogether on the birth experience I was so looking forward to? Will this end up being a long and painful labour, so different to all my others?

My heart sank after finding out I needed to begin insulin. I remember standing outside hanging the washing on the clothesline to dry and crying out to God – “Why? Why is this happening? None of this makes sense. I feel so good physically and I know I’m healthy and was having such a great pregnancy. I have been praying and believing for another supernatural birth, but what’s going to happen now?”

I wasn’t really asking expecting an answer, I just wanted to get it off my chest and vent to Him. But I immediately heard His reply, loud and clear in my spirit. “It’s time to up the anti.”

“Up WHAT anti?” I thought.

“It’s time to increase your faith. Believe for more. Believe bigger. Believe not just for another effortless, pain free, uncomplicated birth – you’ve experienced that three times already. It’s easy to believe when everything is going smoothly, but will you have faith when complications arise? Will you believe I can come through for you when you’re faced with risks and potential difficulties and issues? It’s time to up-the anti. It’s time to go to the next level of your faith. Do you trust in Me? Do you believe in My power to heal? Do you believe in My promises to you? Do you believe and trust in My Word? This pregnancy is going to take your faith to the next level if you put your trust in Me and stand on My Word and truth. Watch what I will do in you over the next few months if you partner with Me. This obstacle is not about the pregnancy or birth. It’s about you, and Me. It’s a beautiful gift and opportunity for you to grow closer to Me in trust, love and intimacy. It’s time to up the anti.”

It’s easy to believe when everything is going smoothly, but will you have faith when complications arise?

I can honestly say that I was transformed in that moment as I was casually hanging the washing on the line to dry. I walked out of the laundry filled with confusion, doubt, anxiety, uncertainty and fear, but I walked back in filled with hope, faith and even excitement at the challenge life had thrown at me. Hear me out, I dot not believe God gave me Gestational Diabetes – God can’t give sickness and disease, it’s against His nature and Kingdom, He can only give what He has and He certainly doesn’t have sickness or disease in His possession. He can only give good things, because He only has good things. But we live in a fallen world and we all know too well that sickness, disease and suffering is a part of life. But God can use all things for the good of those who love Him, and this is what He was promising me that He would do – use a negative situation for His glory, for my growth and ultimately for His Kingdom purposes.

The next 8 weeks were a roller coaster of emotions, symptoms and confusion as I journeyed through the obstacle that was Gestational Diabetes and insulin injections. But no matter what happened, daily I was grabbing hold of the promises of God. I would spend time in prayer, spend time declaring over my body His Word, His truths and His ultimate healing. Before all of this had taken place God had given me Psalm 91 as a prophetic promise and decree over this pregnancy and birth. Little did I know at the time how crucial and powerful this Psalm would become. I would pray and declare Psalm 91 over my body, my baby and my birth every single day. And every day, I felt my faith increase. I still had no guarantees. I still faced complications and how and what would happen with the birth was my biggest concern.

As we drew closer to the end of my pregnancy my midwife began delivering the cold hard facts of GD complications and risk factors to the baby and birth. Funnily enough, I was measuring really small and after an ultrasound at 35 weeks the baby was only measuring at 32. So while having a typically large GD baby obviously wasn’t a potential problem, my body was. It was hospital protocol not to allow GD mothers to go past 39 weeks gestation, as the risk of placenta failure was very high. Being faced with something so serious, they usually induced at 38 weeks. When I heard these words come out of her mouth my heart sank. Again, I absolutely know this is not the worst thing that could happen at all, and the health of my baby and myself was all that mattered. But because of what God had spoken to me and His promise that He would come through for me with the birth, healing and health of us both, everything seemed to be heading in the exact opposite direction to what I had been so fiercely fighting for each and every day.

It’s funny how when faced with potential problems, our priorities adjust to what truly matters. At the beginning of this pregnancy my heart was set on another easy, fast, pain-free, beautiful birth experience. But over the past few weeks my hearts desires had completely shifted to what really mattered. If you had told me at the start of this pregnancy that I would develop GD and be faced with an early induction and potentials risks that could result in placenta failure or (my worst-case-scenario) of a C-section, I would have been devastated. Honestly, I would have been absolutely gutted that my ‘usual’ easy pregnancy and beautiful birth might not be attainable this time. But when we lift our eyes from the insignificant and unimportant and pursue higher values, what was once so important to us quickly fades away and pales in comparison to what really matters. And what really mattered to me this time, was not the birth at all. All I cared about now was growing closer to God, deepening in intimacy with Him, increasing my belief and strengthening my faith. What truly mattered most? More of God! Pursing the supernatural lifestyle of miracles and healing that Jesus promises us in His Word that we will walk in if we are His true followers! Experiencing more of the Father’s love, encountering Jesus and walking in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit! This became my sole pursuit. I passionately chased after this each and every day and the crux of it all came right towards the end of the pregnancy.

It’s funny how when faced with potential problems, our priorities adjust to what truly matters

 When we lift our eyes from the insignificant and pursue higher values, what was once so important to us quickly fades away and pales in comparison to what really matters

As I was pouring out my heart into my journal one afternoon the words spilled out of my mouth and through my pen before I even realised what I had said. “God, I just want YOU! I will give anything to have more of YOU, to know you more, to hear your voice more, to walk in your power more, to encounter you more, more MORE. I will pay whatever price to have more of you! I will sacrifice anything to get more of you! I will exchange my beautiful, easy, painless birth for a horrible, painful, long and laborious one if it means I get more of YOU!” I almost didn’t realise the words coming out of my mouth, but the revelation had already profoundly hit my spirit. There it was, what all of this was truly about, what the journey had been for all along. Out of the mouth flows what’s in the heart – and now I knew that what the enemy had intended for my harm God had used for my good – to draw me closer to Him, to adjust my desires from the simple and petty things of this world to the eternal, Kingdom priorities. And there it was, on paper, before my very eyes. I was willing to pay it all if it meant MORE OF HIM.

I was willing to pay it all if it meant more of HIM

One day in my 37th week when I was home alone and getting all of the final nesting jobs done, I was in the kitchen cooking and listing to worship music. I had the Bethel Music Worship School playing on my iPad. The worship was so anointed and phenomenal. I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit in my home so powerfully that I abandoned tools and just threw my hands in the air and fell on the ground in the middle of the kitchen (seriously, lucky no one was home to witness!). Darlene Zschech was leading worship and the song was ‘This is How I Fight My Battles’ and the lyrics were repeating over and over “It may look like I’m surrounded but I’m surrounded by you.” This moment in worship was my battle. This surrender to Him was the ultimate weapon. I can honestly say this was one of my top 3 throne room moments in my entire life! His presence was so thick and I could feel His power surrounding me. Suddenly I had a surge of energy fly through my body and I just KNEW I was healed. I knew!!! I had no way of proving it, but I felt the holy fire spread through me like a bolt of lightening and I felt every burden and weight of Gestational Diabetes and fear of the birth scenario that I was carrying fall off me in that moment.

The rest of the afternoon and evening my blood sugar levels were seriously lower than normal. At first I thought it was strange they were down so much…it honestly took me a few hours to realise why, even though I had just believed I was healed! It’s funny how even with the evidence staring us in the face our mind and logic still needs to catch up with our spirit sometimes! I didn’t know what to do as far as taking my insulin was concerned. I didn’t want to suddenly stop taking it without first seeing the specialist but I also wanted to take a stand in faith believing I was healed. Considering my appointment with the endocrinologist was the next day, I decided to take a half dose of my insulin that night before bed. A few hours later I woke up to an intense hypo (when your blood sugar is far too low instead of too high like it is with diabetes). I was so weak, dizzy and nauseous I couldn’t even get out of bed to make myself some food to get my glucose levels back up. I laid there for a while thinking how strange it was that this was happening (yep, I’m a bit slow!), then I remembered…of course! I really WAS healed!

The following morning I went in with my recorded blood glucose levels from the past week. I told the specialist what had happened the night before and showed him my lower levels from that and the previous day (subtly left out the part about supernatural healing in the middle of a worship session in my kitchen!). He was really surprised and shocked and didn’t really know what to do. He told me to decrease my insulin again that night, which I did…and STILL had a hypo! From that point on the clinic kept lowering my dosage and we all watched as my blood sugar levels went down and remained down for the rest of the pregnancy! Although the obstetrician keptntelling menthisbwas because my placenta was starting to fail, I just knew in my spirit that it was because I was healed! I didn’t shout it from the rooftops or any crazy-Christian thing like that, I continued to follow their wisdom and leading, but just in my heart of heart a I truly believed it was because I wa shelled once and for all.

From this point on I was no longer concerned about the birth experience. While I was still believing for the best, I was more than prepared to be induced and even endure a long, painful labour, or even a C-section if it came down to it. But His favour fell upon me so powerfully in the final days, hours and moments. At my 38 week check up I had my bags packed expecting to be told that they would induce me that day. But when I met with my midwife she said that very surprisingly the head obstetrician had said that he wanted to give me every opportunity to go into labour naturally, as he knew I was capable of having an easy and fast birth and didn’t want to prevent my chances of that unless they absolutely had to. I couldn’t believe it! I felt like Gods grace and favour were upon their decision for me and my baby! went home so thrilled and prepared for my body to go into labour at any time, getting excited at every little tiny niggle I felt that week, wondering if it was it. Yet nothing happened. Although I had naturally gone into labour at 39 weeks with my other three births, I just felt like this baby wasn’t anywhere near close to coming soon. At 38 weeks and 5 days this was proven to be correct when my midwife did an internal and said that my cervix wasn’t even ripe, let alone dilated. This baby was up high and my body tightly closed. I slid from a high to a low in seconds as she explained that they would definitely not allow me to go past 39 weeks as the risk of placenta failure was far too high. I left the hospital disheartened and almost given in to the fact that I was about to have a difficult and unpleasant birth.

I left the hospital disheartened and almost given in to the fact that I was about to have a difficult and unpleasant birth

I was booked in to see her again two days later at 39 weeks, when I knew they would want me to check into hospital and be induced. So I was incredibly shocked when I received a call from her the next day saying that they wanted me to come in. Today. NOW. They had been discussing the safest way to induce me and simply rupturing my membranes and allowing my body to do it all naturally would be ideal, but unless I was at least 3cm dilated, they couldn’t do it.  Pitocin was the last resort, but they both wanted to give me the best chance to avoid that as contractions can be so heavy, strong and painful. The gel was out of the question for me as it was likely to cause my uterus to hyper-contract, given that I had already had very fast labours in the past (for people with fast labours the gel can cause it to be even faster, with no breaks in between…not a pleasant experience my midwife said!). They concluded that the best method for my situation would be for me to come in that day and have a Foley Balloon Catheter to open the cervix and then hopefully by the following day I would be dilated enough for them to break my waters.

I had never heard of a Foley Balloon Catheter, so my midwife explained. Two little balloons on either end of a catheter are inserted, one end goes in through the cervix and then both balloons are slowly filled with water until at capacity. The idea is that the pressure on the cervix of the inserted balloon causes it to gradually soften and dilate. This usually takes around 12-24 hours to happen and generally they send women home in between having the catheter inserted and coming back to have their waters broken. But in my case, with a history of fast labours, they couldn’t let me go home in case I dilated too quickly. I didn’t like the sound of this method at all. It was so intrusive and sounded very painful. I believe my midwife’s solemn words were ‘it can be very painful and traumatic.’ But hey, what had I said to God? “I’ll exchange my easy pain free birth for a long, painful, horrible experience, if it means I get more of you!”

So off we went to hospital that afternoon. As we sat in the examination room waiting for the procedure to begin, I couldn’t help but feel so defeated that this is what it had really come to. My heart was heavy and I was feeling scared looking down the barrel of a long and painful labour in the next 24 or so hours. I felt like everything I had been praying for, everything I had been believing for, everything I had been declaring and every word, truth and promise I had been holding onto was all for nothing in the end. I felt like maybe God wasn’t going to come through after all. I felt like this whole journey with Gestational Diabetes and the walk of faith and healing was all just a silly dream. If I didn’t have the breakthrough, then what was it all for? And worst of all, what if I had heard God wrong? What if it wasn’t His voice at all, what if it was all in my head? If I hadn’t heard God clearly this time, then maybe I don’t really know His voice at all? Maybe I’ve never heard Him, maybe He doesn’t still heal today, maybe there is no supernatural, maybe there is no power of the Spirit at work today? Maybe this is ALL for nothing? Maybe I’ve got it wrong ALL ALONG? This is honestly where my heart was at as I lay on that hospital bed, given in to defeat and preparing for the worst. This wasn’t the exciting moment it usually was, knowing I was about to meet my baby. Instead, I lay in feelings of discouragement, depression and loneliness. I felt so abandoned. I felt forgotten.

This wasn’t the exciting moment it usually was, knowing I was about to meet my baby. Instead, I lay in feelings of discouragement, depression and loneliness. I felt so abandoned. I felt forgotten.

A lovely midwife came in to check my vitals. I half glanced at her amidst my heavy feelings, and  instantly recognised her as an acquaintance I knew. She was also a believer and I suddenly felt comfortable in her familiarity and our small history together. We began talking and she asked how I was feeling and if I had any questions. Knowing my heaviness and fear, my husband said “Yeah I have a question. Can we not do this?” She said we don’t have to do anything we don’t want to do, which I already knew, but in my opinion I didn’t want to take any risks that could potentially cause harm. She then said the most reassuring thing to me which changed my perspective of the whole situation. “This method is the most natural way to allow your body to go into labour itself. There are no drugs involved, no synthetic hormones, all it is doing is trying to get your body to release its own oxytocin in order to spur labour on.” I hadn’t thought of it like that. I still had a chance at a natural labour, albeit with the slightest intervention possible. I perked up a bit from here on in, there was still hope! But I still had to endure the imminent ‘potentially painful and traumatic’ procedure of the balloon catheter.

Finally, the obstetrician came in and was ready to begin. After checking my cervix he said that it was still very high, very thick and very closed. This may be difficult and long and I may not even be 3cm dilated by the next day. As he began the procedure I was scared and shaking, but he was so nice and funny that the three of us ended up all laughing and making jokes and sharing stories about our kids and families. For something that was potentially going to be so painful…I didn’t feel a thing! I became so relaxed as we were all talking, it didn’t even feel like a pap smear! He kept saying “Wow, you’re handling this well! Can’t you feel that pressure? Is that too much? Are you ok?” I kept assuring him I couldn’t feel a thing, that everything was completely fine. He continued with the procedure and was filling the balloons with the water. He said we would be lucky if my cervix dilated within 24 hours, let alone the next 12, but as he said that the inserted balloon suddenly fell out. I was devastated again. Did this mean it didn’t work and we have to start all over again? He had a look of shock on his face and I thought something was terribly wrong. But he went on to explain to me that the ballon fell out because my cervix had literally just dilated! He checked and sure enough it was 3cm! He couldn’t believe it, but more importantly, I couldn’t believe it!!! My faith was starting to rise again and my hope was increasing minute by minute! Maybe, just maybe, this birth wasn’t going to be horrible experience I was preparing for?

I was taken to the maternity ward to sleep the night there. They weren’t going to risk sending me home before, but now that I was already 3cm’s they definitely weren’t going to allow me to leave! Much to everyones amusement, another delivery package was given to me and set up in my room….you know…just in case I had to deliver the baby by myself during the night!

I barely slept that night. I don’t know if it was the noisiness of the ward and listening to all the screaming babies, or the excitement of the next day and knowing that it wouldn’t be long before I could hear my own little one’s sweet cries. Thankfully I didn’t go into labour or birth a baby on my lonesome that night and Gavin was told to come back in at 6am the next day when we were quickly taken back to the delivery room to get started. I don’t know why we were so rushed to get there early, we waited in the room for hours before anyone even came in, let alone to get the party started. It was mid-late morning before it began. The midwife checked to see if I had dilated any further overnight. Although I had the usual Braxton Hicks that I live with for most of the pregnancy, I knew I hadn’t had any contractions so wasn’t expecting any good news. I was right, I was still only 3cm’s dilated, but at least it was enough to be able to break the membrane.

Yet again I braced myself for a painful experience. Just looking at the knitting-needle-like tool was enough to scare me. I closed my eyes and waited for it to begin. The midwife apologised in advanced for how ‘uncomfortable’ it was about to be. I kept waiting, and waiting, and wondering when she was going to finally do it. Then she said… “Are you ok? It’s finished!” I couldn’t believe it! You mean, that thing just when inside and broke my waters? I honestly didn’t feel a thing! By now I had experienced two invasive procedures that were supposed to been ‘highly uncomfortable’ at the very least and ‘painful and traumatic’ at the most, and both times I hadn’t felt a thing! I started to think… “Is it possible? Is it possible that I can still experience a pain free birth?” I had completely given up on the prospect of that. I just assumed everything was going to be unnatural, invasive, unpleasant, uncomfortable, painful and horrible. Yet here I was not having felt even the slightest bit of discomfort, much to everyones surprise. Mine the most!

With my waters now broken we played the waiting game. Waiting for contractions to begin. I felt so much pressure. The obstetrician on duty had told me that while they were giving me the best opportunity to have this baby naturally, if labour didn’t begin soon and if it didn’t progress once contractions started, that they would have to give me the Pitocin. I really REALLY didn’t want the Pitocin drip, but in my mind I had already resigned to the fact that I would end up on it. I just felt like my body wasn’t ‘naturally’ ready to have this baby. I felt like the baby wasn’t low enough and wasn’t ready to come out by itself. I was thankful for the opportunity to try and go all natural, but felt I would need the intervention in the end.

Nothing happened for a while. Time was ticking and watching the clock just made me feel under more and more pressure. Although in my head I was expecting a long labour, we called our brith photographer who is also a good friend of ours to see if she wanted to come in or not. She was really relaxed and chilled so I figured we would all just sit around chatting and joking while we waited for labour to begin. Knowing how fast I had my babies in the past she said she would be there right away. I assured her she had nothing to worry about, this wasn’t going to happen fast!

Not long after she arrived and set up the midwife wanted to check if I was making any progress. I knew I wasn’t. I hadn’t had any contractions yet. She checked again and sure enough I wasn’t even 4cms dilated. In the time between having my waters broken and now I hadn’t even dilated an extra centimetre. She explained we really needed some contractions to get the labour going, or they would have to intervene. I was ok with all of that. I knew it was going to be a long labour. I knew it was going to end up painful. I was just waiting for them to tell me it was time for the drip.

My midwife from the program popped in to say hello in the early afternoon. It was when she was in the room that I sensed a change in my body. If I wasn’t in a state of hyper-awareness, I wouldn’t have even noticed. Was that..? Is that a…? Is my body..? Yes! Contractions had begun! These contractions were very different to anything I had experienced before. I put it down to having my waters broken, instead of that happening spontaneously, but these contractions had a different sensation to them than my others. They were still very slight and almost unnoticeable in intensity, but after a few I started to have to stop talking and breathe through them. I was so thankful labour had finally begun. One of the midwives joked that this baby would be out in the next two hours. I laughed because I knew there was no way that was going to happen, because these contractions were so dull in intensity. Maybe before midnight, if I was incredibly lucky!

The midwife kept asking me how I was going. I thought it was strange because I felt fine and still felt like nothing was progressing very fast. She asked if I wanted to hop in the bath. I didn’t want to use the water until the very end when I had to, but the thought of the big birth tub seemed good as I had been on my feet the whole time and my legs were aching. The minute I stepped into the bath I felt amazing. Weightless and like I was floating. I immediately felt the contractions die down, and assumed I wouldn’t be able to stay in for very long if this was going to stall labour. But I was enjoying my nice bath in the meantime. I was so tired from not sleeping the night before, all I wanted to do was to sleep. I sat in the bath with my head on the side trying to sleep, or sitting in the water with my eyes closed just trying to get some rest before I needed my energy for labour.

Still hooked up to the fetal monitor, the midwives kept coming over to me asking if I felt like anything was happening. I assured them nothing was going on, just mild, early contractions. I figured I wasn’t even in active labour yet because they weren’t anywhere near intense enough. Although I haven’t experienced pain in my other births, I would describe my first two labour’s contractions as ‘intense pressure.’ My third birth at home on the bathroom floor didn’t give me anything to go by! But I knew labour was still going to be long. Every time I said this they seemed confused as they looked at the contraction data spilling out of the machine. “It looks like you’re in strong, established labour? Are you sure you’re not feeling that? Contractions are coming harder and faster together. Do you feel like you need to push?”

PUSH?!?!?! Are you kidding me??? I didn’t even think I was properly in labour yet, let alone anywhere near pushing. I think the literal words that came our my mouth were “I am no where near close. We have HOURS to go before this baby is ready to come out.”

They went back to their business and Gavin quietly leaned over and told me that the baby’s head looked really low when I was in the middle of a contraction. Having seen all three of our other children being born he knew exactly what a woman’s body looked like who was about to deliver a baby. I quietly whispered back to him assuringly that I was no where near ready to give birth yet. After all, labour hadn’t even actually started in my mind.

No sooner had those words left my mouth, I felt a little head starting to come out!

I felt the baby crowning, without a contraction and without any pushing. “It’s coming out! NOW!” It caught me so off guard! I wasn’t ready! I wasn’t mentally prepared! I was more shocked than anyone else in the room that it was coming NOW! The midwives kept telling me the contraction data showed it was close, Gavin had said it was close, but I knew the sensations and didn’t feel any intensity that it was not only close, but coming out NOW!

My body and natural instinct automatically took over and I moved myself into the middle of the bath. I wasn’t pushing at all, I didn’t need to, the baby was just coming out like it had with all my others. No pain. No pushing. My body was relaxed and doing what it was designed to do. I knew it would only take two contractions – one for the head and one for the body. With this in mind I had about 0.00001 seconds to prepare to deliver the baby then and there! Hospital protocol meant I wasn’t allowed to actually birth in the water (ridiculous, right?!?! Look at those amazing tubs!), and they quickly drained in 45 seconds before the first contraction began. The midwife asked me if I wanted to reach down and deliver the baby myself. I wanted to, but my instinct had my right hand placed firmly on my perineum and it wasn’t moving! (I didn’t know this, but I have naturally always put my hand and pressure on my perineum when giving birth and one of my midwives told me that’s a method they use to prevent women from tearing. It’s funny how our bodies can naturally do things we don’t even comprehend! So now I know why I don’t tear in birth!). I was happy for her to deliver the baby, while I held myself up with my other arm.

The head was out and my heart excitedly prepared to meet my little one! Next contraction and the baby was here! I was in shock at how fast it had happened! I was in complete shock and I kept repeating over and over and over “I was not prepared for that! I was NOT prepared for that!” I apologised to the midwives profusely for having just told them mere seconds before that I wasn’t anywhere near giving birth and that we had HOURS to go! They all just couldn’t believe their eyes as they looked at the contraction data fly up off the chart in intensity and me barely bat an eyelid!

I sat back in the bath and pulled the baby up to my chest. It was minutes before anyone even asked if it was a boy or a girl. It hadn’t even occurred to me to check as I was still in shock that I had just had the baby so quickly! Cusping the tiny little bottom in my hand I knew what it was. Sure enough, a beautiful little girl, our fourth child and third daughter, Ophelia Fern.

Wanting as much skin to skin as possible and after waiting a while for the umbilical chord to stop pulsing and empty of all the precious blood, Gavin finally cut the chord and I lay in the bed as Ophelia began searching for the breast. I was so grateful for the length of time we were allowed to have for us to bond together and establish that first special feed. It was more than an hour before she finally got weighed and checked for vitals. The midwife looked at my placenta and even used the word ‘perfect’ to describe its health and form. I don’t know from a medical point of view whether that means it wasn’t close to failure or not, but I took those words as a wink from God that what I had believed for had really happened.  In such a relaxing environment I finally handed her over to her Daddy and went and had a shower. We eventually moved to my room in the maternity ward and the kids came and met their new little sister.

*  *  *

That night as I held my precious little daughter in my arms I looked back, still in disbelief over the past 24 hours. This time last night I was at the lowest point after a complicated third trimester and preparing myself for a long and traumatic birth. But this whole time God had a plan and a purpose and His promises remained true, despite the circumstances surrounding me.

Not only had I experienced the natural, easy, pain-free, joyful, peaceful, beautiful birth that I had originally desired – but I can honestly say that Ophelia’s birth was my favourite by far. It was the easiest of all four, even though I was expecting it to be the most difficult. It all happened naturally (albeit spontaneously) even though I was expecting to be induced, or even needing further intervention. It was the second fastest (nothing will ever beat Fleur’s 5 minute labour! Most of which was me holding her in stopping her from falling out!), even though I was expecting it to be long. And it was completely pain-free, even though I was expecting it to be incredibly painful.

I also had answers to questions that I had always assumed were unimportant, or at least, would never really know. Why or how does my body give birth so easily, quickly and painlessly? Being hooked up to the fetal monitor was so fascinating to see the graph show intense contractions but me barely feeling a thing. I’ve always assumed I dilate slowly and gradually over time during the last few days or even week before my body goes into labour. But debriefing with my midwife after Ophelia’s birth, she said my body just goes BOOM! – from 0-100 really quickly, dilating really fast. It was so interesting to discover all of this amazing information, that I wouldn’t have ever known otherwise. 

As I lay in bed that night snuggling and feeding this perfect little gift, I questioned everything, but from a very different perspective this time. Why had I doubted God’s Word? Why had I doubted His voice? Why had I doubted His promises? The night before as I lay in bed thinking that it had all been for nothing, when actually, not only did He give me EVERYTHING I desired, but He went ridiculously above and beyond and gave me superabundantly MORE than I ever dreamed of! I couldn’t sleep that night either, because I was in awe of His goodness, faithfulness and intimate love for me. Every little detail He had planned right from the start. Every complication He had redeemed. Everything that was stolen He restored. Every unimportant desire of my heart, He fulfilled. It turns out that everything I laid on the alter, everything I surrendered at His feet, everything I was willing to give up in order to have more of Him, He not only gave back to me pressed down, shaken together and overflowing, but He drew me closer to Him deeper than I could ever have imagined.

Every little detail He had planned right from the start. Every complication He had redeemed. Everything that was stolen He restored. Every unimportant desire of my heart, He fulfilled. Every disease healed!

It turns out that everything I laid on the alter, everything I surrendered at His feet, everything I was willing to give up in order to have more of Him,  He not only gave back to me pressed down, shaken together and overflowing, but He drew me closer to Him deeper than I could ever have imagined

I know this isn’t your typical birth story. I know not all labours and births finish with a happy ending. The internal process that God was doing in me throughout this pregnancy is the real story here. That’s where the power lies. That’s where the happy ending is found. And that’s the message that I pray this story imparts to you as you read these words. I pray that it ignites hope. I pray it conjures up belief, not just in the natural design and ability of the female body, but in the supernatural promises of the finished work of the cross and the power of the resurrection to reverse all curses, to heal all sicknesses and diseases, to take all pain by His wounds and to release us into the grace, power and authority that overflows into us through the resurrection. I pray that whatever you have experienced in the past, or are currently going through now, whether that be pregnancy and birth, illness or disease, relationship breakdown, financial circumstances, grief and loss, whatever it may be, that a glimmer of hope could arise within you and that your faith could begin to build and strengthen to believe for more, to believer for bigger to believe for better. God is good. And God is faithful. We can have faith because He is faithful. I encourage you to take hold of His truth, His Word and His promises and violently pursue what it is that you are believing for! 

We can have faith because He is faithful

{ PSALM 91 }

The Passion Translation 

When you sit enthroned under the shadow of Shaddai,
 you are hidden in the strength of God Most High.

 He’s the hope that holds me and the Stronghold to shelter me,
    the only God for me, and my great confidence.
 He will rescue you from every hidden trap of the enemy,
    and he will protect you from false accusation
    and any deadly curse.
 His massive arms are wrapped around you, protecting you.
    You can run under his covering of majesty and hide.
    His arms of faithfulness are a shield keeping you from harm.
 You will never worry about an attack of demonic forces at night
    nor have to fear a spirit of darkness coming against you.
 Don’t fear a thing!
    Whether by night or by day, demonic danger will not trouble you,
    nor will the powers of evil launched against you.
 Even in a time of disaster, with thousands and thousands being killed,
    you will remain unscathed and unharmed.
 you will be a spectator as the wicked perish in judgment,
    for they will be paid back for what they have done!
 When we live our lives within the shadow of God Most High,
    our secret hiding place, we will always be shielded from harm.
    How then could evil prevail against us or disease infect us?
 God sends angels with special orders to protect you wherever you go,
    defending you from all harm.
 If you walk into a trap, they’ll be there for you
    and keep you from stumbling.
 You’ll even walk unharmed among the fiercest powers of darkness,
    trampling every one of them beneath your feet!
 For here is what the Lord has spoken to me:
    “Because you have delighted in me as my great lover,
    I will greatly protect you.
    I will set you in a high place, safe and secure before my face.
 I will answer your cry for help every time you pray,
    and you will find and feel my presence
    even in your time of pressure and trouble.
    I will be your glorious hero and give you a feast.
 You will be satisfied with a full life and with all that I do for you.
    For you will enjoy the fullness of my salvation!”

Photography by Erin Hunt Photography www.erinthunt.co/

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