Figgy’s birth story (and more on birth, God, the good stuff).
40 weeks, 6 days pregnant.
I just had chiro. Definitely feel some regular cramps, and I had a little love heart shape of blood in my knickers. At this state of gestation I could be forgiven for thinking we’re close, very close.
After chiro, my husband and mum took the kids to their drama class. I walked to the other car so I could drive home for time alone. While walking to the car I had a beautiful thought: “I don’t want to talk about how tired I am of waiting, I want to talk about how loved I feel.”
I feel so loved.
By my family.
I feel so loved.
Those closest to me have been so, so tentative, considerate, caring.
I’ve had food dropped off at my house, people offer to have the kids. Mum and Erik are always trying to give me alone time.
This is what I want to talk about. I’m writing this through some cramps- I won’t call them contractions yet, but cramps. I just want it documented that this is so important during the wait.
That this is what was focussing on when I went into labour— Love.
Yes, we have to wait.
Sometimes ever day after 40 weeks feels like an entire week.
Sure, I’ve felt a little ‘over it’ towards the end.
But look at all the love.
*Right after this, I felt a little cramp. I knew she was coming when I got home.
I started the day the same way I had for months— a walk around the neighbourhood at the crack of dawn. Me and the kookaburras and that soft pre-summer 5am light. I had my headphones in so I could either voice note friends, listen to my birth playlist or pray out loud without looking crazy (it looks like I’m on a call to a girlfriend but really I’m on a call to God). My prayers were as hilarious as they were genuine.
I waddled. Sometimes I kerb walked. Others walking their dogs would always give me a wide birth, a sign of consideration as I must’ve looked like I was about to give birth on the footpath. Everyone who’d walked by me looked at me as if to say ‘oh my gosh you’re STILL pregnant?!’ I’d been waddling a while. My babies seem to descend early into my pelvis and then do head spins right up until show time.
Nanna took the kids out to the park in the morning, home in time for us to go to the chiro. The chiro is in the same building as the acupuncturist, and I knew as I walked in they’d say ‘I can’t believe you’re still in tact!’. I’d had three acupuncture sessions the week prior in which Claire, the acupuncturist said ‘you are really close.’ I was 40.6 by now. Not super far beyond my due date and still totally within normal gestation… but I felt really, really ready.
Readiness is a funny thing isn’t it. We feel ready but I don’t believe we truly are until it happens. We’re still being readied, up until the baby exits our birth canal. We’re not ready any sooner, neither is baby, neither is God.
We do all the things- spicy food, bouncing on a fit ball, kerb walking, acupuncture and most ambitiously at over 40 weeks pregnant, sex, to try and ‘bring labour on’. As if any one of those things is powerful enough to initiate the birth of a human, or to override true readiness.
We are so uncomfortable in the mystery and wish desperately for the convenience of ‘just knowing when it’s gonna happen. Should I cancel tomorrow’s appt?’ that we try to play God. We enter the all familiar state of delusional self sufficiency. We fall once again into the illusory thinking of ‘It’s all up to ME and what I do.’ Some of it is, of course- free will is a wonderful thing. We can and should do everything within our own power to support the highest outcomes-- in life and in birth preparation. But a sovereign hand rules over it all. With matters as sacred as the timing of creation, it doesn’t boil down to the fact we ate a hot curry. We are powerful to a degree, but our power doesn’t supersede that of God’s. Not in birth and not ever. This humbling thought is useful.
My approach to birth is both humility and confidence.
I know my body was designed for this, I trust God and the intelligence of my body. Also, I know that sometimes things just happen. I say this to acknowledge all of the women who ‘did all the right things’ and still had births that weren’t ideal. I see you, and I have more to say on this in another entry another time.
So back to the story.
The child will be born on God’s timing and on a more practical level, did you know what it is physically that initiates labour? It’s really cool if you want to look it up. I’m talking natural, full term spontaneous labour that doesn’t involve any dangers or complications. It’s initiated by a hormone released when the baby has the right amount of lung surfactant for her/his first breath on the outside.
“Thus, we describe a novel pathway through which the fetus contributes to the initiation of labor by signaling the mother when its lungs have achieved sufficient maturity for survival in an aerobic environment.”
This little extract is taken from the paper ‘Fetal-to-Maternal Signaling in the Timing of Birth’ (Referenced at the end of this entry).
**Side note: For those new here, once upon a time I was a research scientist, in the field of metabolism, exercise, appetite, bioenergetics. I am not a ‘trust the science’ type with regards to many modern goings on, but I love a good bit of proper science when it isn’t um, ya know, manipulated.
In summary, a hot Tikka Masala isn’t the boss here. Neither is a little semen in the cervix. Sure, they help the process, but they aren’t boss. Neither are we.
I still ate the dates, bounced on the fit ball and had acupuncture. Hey, it’s entertainment if nothing else. I also did what I do every second week— get an adjustment at the chiro.
On this day, we went to the chiro in two cars. Mum, Erik and the kids would go to the kids’ drama class after chiro and I’d come home to rest. I had a feeling I’d go into labour when I was on my own. I had a little feeling about this day.
My chiropractor Siobhan said cheekily ‘Let’s push the go button’. I said ‘yes please’! I mean, I know it’s God who pushes the button but God works through people, so… push the button! I can imagine God like a DJ about to make a sick drop— ‘aaaaaaaaaaand now’. Labour begins.
40 weeks, 6 days pregnant with my third bub. Yes Siobhan.. PUSH. THE. BUTTON. Also, your timing God, hehe. I’m not trying to take control I swear! Your timing God! Also, yes Siobhan push the button. Now.
We left chiro, feeling some kind of way. Put it this way— I knew I wouldn’t be re-entering those premises without a baby in my arms! I said bye to Mum, Erik and the kids as they went to drama class and I waddled my way to the car parked right outside a cute little farmstall/deli. Mum asked if I wanted her to drive me there. I said ‘No, I need to walk.’ I went into the farmstall and got some snacks and groceries for my family and those who’d be in my house that day. I knew there’d be an event. Either the birth of a baby or a casual picnic.
I drove home and felt some cramps— they felt more regular than anything I’d had thus far but very, very minor.
I got home and there was a little love heart shaped blood in my knickers. I sent a photo of it to my midwife. I was texting my husband and he was asking if he should go in and get Sol out of drama to head home. I said no. It seemed SO early and I knew how much she loved drama class. Besides, her Christmas carols performance was coming up and she needed to practice. I also didn’t want a full house just yet as I was enjoying being alone as it kicked off.
He knew better than to listen to me. He knew how quickly my first two births progressed and how much I downplay my sensations until… BABY’S HERE! Sol finished drama at 1:45pm and they headed home. Jo, my midwife came over too. My cramps were 30 seconds long and 3 mins apart but were SO light I wouldn’t call them contractions. After some to and fro, my midwife texted me “you’re having a baby today!”
I went to the toilet, more blood. Jo came over at 2pm.
I see in my texts I wrote to her ‘it’s just sooooo manageable I just hope it’s real.’ Typical words from early labour.
I told Erik to prepare the kids on the way home. They were already prepared but you know— I wanted them to know it’d be happening on this day. They walked in ever so quietly, only to be greeted merrily by me— as if nothing was happening at all. We put ‘The Grinch’ on for them. One of the bonuses of limiting screen time is that movies are so clutch in moments when you want peace and quiet in the house. (Note to readers. We limit screen time but definitely don’t ban it).
For the next few hours we all just hung out. I chatted with Jo, bounced the fit ball. Erik got the pool filled up. He was adamant he’d do it early this time since he was running around frantically trying to get it blown up for Pax’s rocket ship birth.
I felt like I was having period pains — they were nothing I needed to stop and breathe through. About 4:30pm I made a snack plate for everyone to make sure everyone (my kids, mum, Erik, Jo and Philly who’d come later) had something to eat. Typical me. About to have a baby in about an hour— but first… make sure everyone is eating! Snack plates! In labour? Me? No. Eat!
I talked, walked, and made snack plates. Then, it reached a point where I needed to go in— all birthing mammas will know what I mean. Enough chit chat. I put my headphones in with some Scripture and affirmations and laid forward over the fit ball next to the pool. I needed to really breathe through the surges now. I had one headphone in listening to God affirming words and through the other ear I could hear the kids listening to some obnoxious movie- I think it was the Bee movie. A little God, a little obnoxious kids movie. Perfect.
In Jo’s notes it says:
5:30pm, all the same, early labour.
5:45, Peta went inward and put her headphones in.
I don’t know the timing but soon after I pulled my headphones out. I said to Jo in a very quiet voice— ‘pressure’. It was all I could get out. She asked if I wanted to get in the pool, I said ‘no, what if it slows it down.’ My typical birth pattern— totally underplaying it. Jo urged me to get in. Lucky for me, she knew there would be no slowing down. This is the beauty of having the same midwife for all three births— she knows me, my body, my signals. She knows that I will be saying ‘nah, I’m all good’ when a baby is about to rocket out. If you knew my mum, you’d know where I get this from.
I got in the pool as the pressure was quite intense now. I leant over the pool on my knees. I felt a strong, strong amount of downward pressure with a giant contraction, and then one more. On this second one, I pushed a mighty push. The water broke and out came my beautiful baby girl.
It was swift, simple, sweet.
According to Jo’s notes:
5:30pm, all the same, early labour.
5:45pm, Peta went inward and put her headphones in.
5:50pm, Into the pool
Jo called the kids over and Erik pulled her out.
There she was, our beautiful girl… and a full head of dark hair! Our European ancestry on show! I was impressed with her mafia style hair do, and shocked!
The first words out of my mouth were ‘Get her out! She’s covered in my poo!’.
I thought that my waters breaking were a huge diarrhoea, cos it felt like that! Everyone looked at me confused— poo?? Where?? Turns out, it wasn’t poo, it was my waters. It can all feel a bit the same when birthing a baby.
I then sat back and held her and said ’Thank You God’.
I was so grateful to God that my baby was here, that the birth was so beautiful and swift, that she cried a big cry… all of it. What a privilege to participate in God’s creation— three times. Seriously.
She cried immediately (a heavenly sound).
I got out of the pool and birthed the placenta immediately. Then we transferred to the couch.
On reflection, all of my three births have been different but similar. All three were smooth, swift, and at home— I am so so grateful for this. This one was the first birth where I leant on Jesus.
I definitely felt Him buffer me in those last intense moments. I felt a presence that made sense to feel. Of course my Creator was there in this moment of creation. I felt so grateful to God— a gratitude I could never explain.
Welcome Figgy Jean… my beautiful girl. Born late November— The smallest of my babies. Pax was over 10 pounds (4.54kg), Sol was 4.16kg (over 9 pounds), and Figgy was 8 pound 6 (3.8kg ish). I weighed them all after their huge poos because all three have maintained the tradition of doing giant meconium poos when they have skin to skin with dad. We kept the cord on for each of them until they stopped pulsing, then cut. This time, both Pax and Sol cut Figgy’s cord.
Ok, I think this is where I want to turn it over to you. As you know, I used to offer a birth preparation video where I go through all the ways I prepare for birth. I don’t offer this anymore, but I’m considering putting it into a shorter more succinct ebook style read.
Are there any questions you have?
Any elements of pregnancy, birth or postpartum that I could share my perspective on, or simply my experience with?
I remember when I was about to give birth to Sol. Another woman who was birthing with my midwife, gave birth just before me. She text me and told me how it felt, what it was like. It was like a game of pass the parcel between women and felt so special (I’m talking about you Lorraine, thank you).
Birth is one of the things I could talk about for hours on end, and if there is anything I can do to nudge women in the direction of more trust and faith with their birthing experiences, I’d love to.
Although I’m a home birth advocate, I am not dogmatic. I understand it’s not for everyone and I understand that we don’t live in an perfect world where everyone just always gets what they want. So, while I am encouraging, I am not naive as to the vast amount of considerations surrounding birth.
I want to write or podcast an episode titled ‘Why I don’t free birth’, for this reason. There is no room for ego in the birth space, and at the same time, it is important to celebrate the perfection of God’s design.
Questions welcome! I won’t respond to all comments with answers but rather will use questions to craft future entries. Although I don’t anticipate it, any disrespectful comments will be deleted and users blocked.
Love, PK XX