Do you ever get that feeling, that little niggle or nudge? You can’t put your finger on it, you can’t know for sure what it is but something doesn’t sit right. It may not necessarily be a bad feeling, it’s like a caution signal. Maybe to stop and tune into your feelings and thoughts. Maybe pray or meditate. But you just don’t. Or you don’t enough. You push it away or busy yourself. You know it’s a feeling about something you have coming up in the future. You kind of end up subconsciously thinking, yeah, I haven’t got time for this feeling. Let’s just get on with it. Let’s get on with life, say that prayer, read that Bible verse but not meditate to bring about a calmness and peace in your spirit.
Well, I had to quickly get my head into a very new and different space on the 3rd of April.
Thursday night was just like any other. James and I hit the couch exhausted and ready to relax for a few hours watching mindless Netflix. At about 10pm I stood up and said “I can’t sit like this anymore. I’m just too uncomfortable.” And with that we went to bed. I tossed and turned. Nothing new here. Speaking for myself and maybe half the pregnant population (ha!) I don’t sleep so well from about 30 weeks of pregnancy.
At around 2am I suddenly felt some fluid in my underwear. Totally composed, I went to the bathroom. I just assumed this like all my others was the same feeling just before labour. The ‘show’ could be coming out or my waters about to break. However, things ended up very different…
I sat down on our toilet and focussed my very tired eyes, looking at my underwear I saw about a tablespoon of blood soaked through them. I didn’t have many thoughts just yet. Only staring at it. Then I felt something else strange. I looked into the toilet bowl and there was a blood clot about the size of a golf ball. Ah, nope… that’s not normal. I thought, ‘ Well now what?’ I called James into the bathroom. Asked him to look at it also. We stared at the bowl and then back at each other. I said out loud, “That’s not normal, I’m going to call the midwife.”
Right about now I need to add a very important point here. If I was hearing this story, I would feel all the feels right now. I would be so concerned and anxious. Particularly because I am that kind of person. However, I had that split second thought where the penny dropped. That was it! That was the niggling feeling, the nudge I was talking about. Where God was asking me to pray, go on, keep praying about your birth. Pray for safety and protection and for My hand to be upon you.
When you’re going through the motions on auto pilot like we were, you don’t have time to whip open your Bible and start proclaiming verses and songs. Instead there is only a few words you throw up to the Lord. My friend, does that make a difference? Does God need fine words and dances to answer our cries or prayers? Certainly not reader. And so, after literally saying in my mind “Keep my girl safe Oh Lord.” The next events came about without a single ounce of fear or trembling. It was just a smooth well orchestrated series of events that I can see had the markings of the Holy Spirit ALL OVER IT.
My next step was to ring my midwife. She was convinced it was just ‘the show’. I replied very directly explaining it was certainly not the show. Not satisfied with her response and knowing that this isn’t normal, I wanted a second opinion. Afterall, the health of my baby comes first. I Hung up and called Sutherland Hospital. After speaking to a lovely midwife there and answering a few important questions she advised I come in for a few tests with the hope I would come home to still have my Home birth. I assured her I would in fact be having the baby at hospital now. She replied with kindness but sounded like I had made that decision a little too early.
I just knew. It was all from that niggle I had going on in my heart a few weeks leading up. James and I both knew our baby wouldn’t be born at home. This knowing and niggling feeling we both had- sadly wasn’t communicated. Just last night as we were chatting about the events that took place he literally said to me “Everytime I walked past the birthing space it was as if something wasn’t right. Something was missing.” Now, in hindsight we know it was God preparing us for a change of plans. His plans and ways are certainly not ours. Let that be a good reminder to press into God and allow Him to always direct your path. I promise, if things don’t work out the way you imagined, YOU WILL NOT BE SADDENED because what He has for you is far greater than your thoughts or dreams!
James went and woke the children up. They came in wearing their matching little pj’s I had bought for the birth. Expecting baby would arrive in the middle of the night like her siblings did. I will never forget the smiles on the girls faces as they came into my room asking “how do we look mummy?” and “don’t forget to bring the brush for our hair mummy.” (We had a photographer ready for the birth. Scarlet and Aquila obviously wanting to look their best *wink*). The innocence on their faces. The joy. We had told them I had bled and we were on our way for mummy to have a check up. We explained that I would probably have the baby there just to be safe. No one was fazed by this decision. Noah was first into his seat. The excitement was very real for them each. Even little Selāh was just so happy and content.
Neither of us thought to pack extra clothes for myself or the baby. (Lucky for me, I don’t stay overnight when I birth!) I was in my very, very old and daggy sweats for comfort while sleeping. I put some slips on and away we went. It wasn’t actually until my baby was born and the midwives asked what my baby was going to be dressed in that I realised I HAD NOTHING FOR EITHER OF US!
We turned up to Sutherland hospital just before 3am. Driving up to the general entry doors. We prayed as a family and I kissed them each goodbye. The midwife I was speaking to on the phone assured me it would be a fast check to know just exactly what was going on. Again, that calmness hadn’t left me. I took the lifts up to the labour ward. I was met by a few lovely midwives who asked me some questions. They attached the CTG to my stomach. The sound of Abilene’s heart beat was the sweetest sound in the world. I couldn’t tell you what words were coming out of the midwives mouths in that moment. All I knew was I could hear a steady heartbeat. One that wasn’t in destress at all.
The Dr came in to ‘examine’ me. I won’t go into too much detail here…. I’ll leave that up to your imagination. Jump to the end of the examination and he explained there were lots of little blood clots. He didn’t know where they were coming from. And basically I was going to have the baby later on that morning. He explained the baby was totally fine, though I had to be induced (welcome nerves, I’ve never been induced and I heard it brings labour on super painfully?!). I went back downstairs to see James and the kids and tell them I would call when I was in labour to come back and be with me through it. They left happy and excited to be buying donuts from Seven 11 on the way home. They totally deserved that reward!
My midwife drove up to the hospital to connect with me for a moment. It was a nice gesture. I was placed into a really spacious birthing suit. Only one other woman was labouring that same night. So, the ward was really quiet. I got into bed, when the Dr came back in to chat with my midwife and myself. He looked at my midwife and said, “Did you see the size of the clot?”
My midwife: “Yeah, it was only this big… (creates a 5c coin with her fingers)
The Doctor standing on the opposite side of the bed replied, “No, It was this big… (using both hands to create a 10cm circle).
I almost burst out laughing, I felt like I was in the middle of a comedic skit! To which I promptly replied, “Neither of you are right, it wasn’t that big or that small, it was the size of a golf ball and that’s large enough to know it’s not right.” So with that I bid my midwife goodbye so she could hand over the reigns to the hospital staff. I felt really confident I was in the place I needed to be for a safe and peaceful birth.
I was supposed to be getting some sleep before being greeted with the handover of staff, but I couldn’t sleep. I was eager to meet my baby! My mind was in overdrive.
Around 7am I was met by my new Doctor. He was one of the top Dr’s in charge of the birthing ward. I liked the sound of that. The guy has gotta know what he’s doing.
And, this is where it get’s REAL GOOD… As I turned around to be greeted by the new staff I saw a beautiful, familiar face! My friend Sarah. She is a remarkable midwife and totally like minded in her faith in the Lord Jesus. Oh man, this was just pure joy to my heart. There it was, another wave of peace! She was here on the journey with me. Sarah explained she never takes the morning shift. So I knew there and then I was given another blessing by God! He is good!
Okay, back to it. This Doctor wasn’t one to pretty up a situation. He didn’t dilly dally with what has to happen. I was literally told they didn’t know where my blood clots were coming from. I would need to have an epidural in case something went wrong then resulting in an emergency C-section… a C-Section. NOT GOING TO LIE! The words C-Section worried me. My prayers kicked up!! I did not want a C-Section.
I FaceTimed James and the kids about three times before the Dr. came back into the room. Man, we were all buzzing. The Dr. walked in and I quickly hung up from the fambam. He broke my waters at 8:40am. (Have you seen the knitting needle type devise they use to break your waters? All I can say is SHIVERSSSSSS). As soon as my waters broke the Dr. was really happy. He told me baby was now engaged and I was sitting at 3cm dilated. He left and I never saw him again. I knew then and there, I was having a natural birth! 3cm is good. That’s active labour…. Let’s do this…. let’s do thissss…. Agh, nothing’s happening! I kept repeating to Sarah that nothing was happening. Not a single contraction.
ENTER- the anaesthetist, I was given an explanation on what was going to happen for this epidural. Still, not a single contraction. What is going on here? I started to think this ain’t so bad. If I’m going to get this ‘needle’ in my back at least I can enjoy a “pain free” labour…. Well so I thought!
After the injection, Sarah sat with me to allow the epidural to kick in. We chatted about everything! It was lovely to catch up and talk about life, family, faith, you name it. We chatted. My spirit was calm with her close by.
10:40am – Sarah started the drip of Syntocinon Infusion (thanks Sarah for the correct pronunciation of the word) at the lowest dose possible (to bring on labour). I then FT James and the kids again… chatting. Watching the kids do their craft. Waiting, waiting, waiting for labour to actually begin!
11:10am- Sarah was back in the room, I was in the middle of recording a video to the family again when I finally had my first contraction. AND IT KILLED ME! I FELT LIKE I WAS BEING QUICKLY RIPPED OPEN. Here’s the funny part. Because I had this epidural, all I was thinking was “man up Jennifer, what’s wrong with you? You labour without painkillers. Why are you dying now. Just focus.”
11:20am- I told Sarah I would just call James and the kids to come once I am further into the labour. Sarah graciously smiled and nodded knowing all the while the truth of the matter. Being that children are not allowed into the hospital at all while Covid-19 was still around. Then again, maybe… maybe I did know but just pushed that thought away. I convinced myself it would be ok for my family. And I needed to so I could stay focussed on my labour and not get emotional.
There it was again, BANG! The surge, the wave was unbelievable. This isn’t normal labour? Where is the duller contractions? Why am I feeling it so intensely if I had an epidural?
I turned to my side out of sheer embarrassment. Breathing slowly and deeply. It felt like the last contraction, you know the one before you push the baby out. I was dying but trying to remain calm and cool. I didn’t want Sarah thinking I wasn’t strong. I fixated my eyes on the chair in the room and covered my face with my right hand. It was shaking from the pain I was in. I could feel Sarah watching me. “Stay cool Jennifer, surely this is not normal. It will settle down soon.”
After that crazy contraction Sarah asked me how I was going. I tried to keep my voice as relaxed as possible but what came out instead sounded like a 12 year old boy who’s just hit puberty. “Um, it’s hurting a bit. Is that normal?” was my perplexed, I mean totally composed reply. Sarah assured me “Yeah, it will hurt a little, once the epidural kicks in it will be fine. You will be in active labour for up to four hours.” She left the room to grab her computer- explaining to me later on (when we debriefed after birth) she assumed I was establishing my active labour. I was secretly dying at the thought of having a long labour!
I face timed James at around 11:40am… Just explaining to him and the kids I had two contractions. Once active labour starts I would call them all to make their way over. Hanging up the phone I had another contraction. This one was smaller. I thought “You beauty, finally normal labour has sunk in. This must be the beginning of my labour.” WAIT, at the end of that contraction I felt my baby’s head actually move down. On an angle. My body wanted to push so badly. But I resisted. NOT YET! I haven’t begun proper labour yet. I turned to Sarah, using my 12 year old boy voice “I feel the baby’s head down low, there’s so much pressure there.” Sarah kept poised explaining it was all good and baby is just doing the right thing. Another contraction. And another. On this contraction I was sure I needed to push. I said ” Sarah, I think there is a head coming out, can you please look.” Sarah, totally chilled walked down to the end of the bed. Pulled back my sheet of ‘dignity’ and gasped “Oh my gosh.” she lunged for the emergency button to call back up. Sarah cried out “I don’t have my gloves on.” Bouncing off her expression and shock I used whatever stomach muscle I had left from growing 5 children to sit up just a little and say “What’s wrong? Is the baby ok.” No sooner had I said those words, then I saw six other women flood my birthing suit. Sarah called out in excitement “nothing is wrong, you’re having the baby. She’s coming out.” I glanced across the room to read the faces of the other staff and they were all smiling. Man that felt good to see. Another midwife added “look down, pick her up honey.” I gently pushed and Abilene Jewel entered the world. I lifted her onto my chest holding her in COMPLETE SHOCK AND WONDER. Sarah and I half laughing, shaking our heads saying over and over “How? How did that happen? I can’t believe it. I’m shocked.” We couldn’t stop laughing about the “I don’t have my gloves on” line.
Sarah’s joy was as great as mine. This woman helps to bring babies into the world every single day and the joy she shared with me was as if this was the first time she had ever seen a delivery! That’s what makes her a good midwife. Such tenderness to each mother.
Here’s the next part to God’s providence! My blood loss was minimal. My placenta was immediately birthed and no drugs were given to get it out (I’m a fan of everything being natural if it can be helped). I was able to finish her birth with delayed cord clamping goodness!! I had no tearing! Still shaking my head in disbelief and wonder. Once everything went quiet, Sarah and I sat there taking it all in. I couldn’t believe how quickly she came. 10 minutes of active labour!!! Is that even possible. I will never forget the words Sarah said to me. “When I hear those stories of women birthing incredibly fast I have never ever believed it. Now, I’ve witnessed it.” I WAS TOTALLY THE SAME!! But I can confirm, It can happen. It did happen and God was all over it! A perfect birth! What happened to the blood clots? Where was all the extra blood? Or my complicated birth….. nowhere! AMEN! I overheard Sarah sharing the story with other midwives outside my room. She was showing the ladies the CTG of my contractions. I could feel my pride in boasting in what the Lord has done.
And so about 12 minutes after hanging up the phone from my husband (I birthed Abilene and cut her cord) I FaceTimed him again. I can confirm when we chatted about this last phone call as he went to answer the phone the thought did cross his mind, “Imagine she had the baby?!” And here is my only regret, I didn’t film his reaction. There I was, baby in my arms on the screen. He FLIPPED OUT! Jaw wide open in shock. He was ecstatic! The kids came running over to the screen. They lost it! screaming with happiness. Aquila blurted out “But we have to be there!” I said “She just came, she just came out! You better get ready to pick me up everyone.” No one was upset, no one was grieving our plan.
And I’ll tell you why. God made way for Abilene to enter the world in a way where it just wasn’t possible for James and the kids to arrive on time. If I knew I was in active labour and had rung. They would of been in the car on the way over when I had birthed. James would then have to stay in the carpark with the children because they were not allowed into the hospital due to the new regulations with Covid-19. This idea would of then caused stress. It would of felt horrible to sit in a car park knowing your wife and mother are just 3 floors above you giving birth! And then to go home and wait two hours before coming back to pick me up. Then we imagined dropping the children to a friends home last second. (pretending James could make it on time). Again, we know our kids. It was never ever discussed or an option. To leave them suddenly would of shattered them. Instead James and the children spent two hours making welcome home banners. They prayed a few times together and played. James has no sadness about not being there. I don’t have sadness. I never once felt alone. God painted the story in a way where we were protected from the sadness of missing out because of the time!
And it’s quite a novel idea knowing I was able to cut the umbilical cord! What a memory to cherish. It was quite amusing when one of the nurses told me it’s time to cut the cord. I looked around the room- then realising, oh wait… That’s my job!
Once all the checks were done. Sarah was finishing her shift at the same time I was leaving the hosptial. So she offered to film the family’s reactions to meeting their baby daughter/sister. All my ideas of matching pj’s and pretty clothes went out the window! And that’s ok. This is our everyday. It’s just fun to plan those special moments. But we need to be able to openly let go of our ideas and make room for God’s. I was wearing my old sweats, the kids looked like they had been playing in the dirt all day and James looked exhausted. Such is life. A life lived to the fullest. A life of joy. A life well lived. A new life added to the mix.
Welcome my littlest darling, Abilene Jewel.
You were prayed and deeply longed for.
Jennifer X (Mama).
I stumbled across this quote at 7:15am the morning of Abilene’s birth in hospital. While scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook. What a timely reminder.
“God can never be out manoeuvred, taken by surprise, or caught in a disadvantage. He is a God who knows no crisis… Before an emergency arises God in His providence has made adequately and perfectly timed provision to meet it.”J. Oswald Sanders.