When Jemima died my faith in God took a hit. I wondered whether I should even bother praying and asking God for the things I needed (and wanted), and if I could ever trust Him again. It took me a while to come to the conclusion that though God hadn’t answered my prayers to save Jemima’s life, that I couldn’t face life without Him and that I did trust Him even though, for whatever reason, He had said no, to the most important request of my life. This verse summed it up for me:
“I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my inheritance; therefore I will hope in Him!'” – Lamentations 3:20-24
I continue to hope and believe in God’s love. And with that in mind, as an act of faith, I decided to ask God to bless us with another baby (and for a girl!) I also knew that if God decided not to give us another child, that that was ok too. That I could trust His plan for my life. It took us 4 months of trying (we fell pregnant 6 months after losing Jemima). During this time a friend lent me the book “Supernatural Childbirth”. It inspired me to be very specific with my prayers (even to the point of asking for a girl!) So I did. I prayed for my girl baby. I had lovely friends praying with me. I also prayed over the labour and birth. Jemima’s birth had been relatively straight forward (though she was a little posterior). I had laboured for 4 hours with terrible back pain. And halfway through had used the gas. While pregnant with Gemma I regularly prayed that she would get in a good position, that labour would be quick (my goal was under 3 hours!), relatively painless and that I would be able to give birth without pain relief. I also prayed that she would come early (not tooo early, but before my due date. Jemima came at 38 weeks and I was hoping for something similar).
When my parents booked flights to come over from Norfolk Island, we had quite a few discussions about the timing. Should they come on Gemma’s due date? Or would she come earlier? I really wanted Mum to be with Peter and I for the birth. They ended up booking flights to stay with us from 38 weeks to 41 weeks with the expectation that she would hopefully come early.
For the last month of pregnancy Gemma was 3/5ths engaged. I did lots of walking, ate whole pineapples, drank raspberry leaf tea, made Peter do his marital duties, ate 6 dates a day, and bounced on the swiss ball. But 38 weeks came and went and no Gemma!! Near the end of my 39th week my midwife suggested booking an induction just in case she came late. I REALLY didn’t want to be induced. I really wanted a natural birth. So on Thursday night after a grumpy day (I was so OVER being pregnant, and sooo impatient to meet Gemma!) I took 2 raspberry leaf tablets (hoping they might be more potent than the tea) and I got in the bath and spent several hours soaking and reading over all the verses and promises I had written down over the past year. I prayed (actually begged) God to answer my prayers for Gemma to come early (only had one day left as she was due on Saturday).
The next morning I woke at 5.45am when Peter got up and realised I had just had 2 dreams where I was in labour. Thought that was interesting… and MAYBE I was early stages of labour and had been having some contractions in my sleep…? I didn’t feel in labour though, maybe slight period like cramps but I wasn’t certain. Peter asked me, like he had every morning that week: “Are you going to have a baby today?” My reply this morning was: “Maybe…?” And I told him about my dreams. He was dubious and decided to go to work. When he left at 7am I was up and feeling a little more like MAYBE things were starting up…?
If it really was labour, I wanted clean sheets on the bed to come home to. So as Mum and Dad ate breakfast, I stripped our bed and remade it and started noticing contractions and that my back was getting sore. Mum suggested baby might be posterior like Jemima and that when I had a contraction I should get down on all fours to give baby space to turn if needed. I texted my midwife to tell her that something was starting but nothing major yet and that I’d keep her posted. She had told me earlier that week not to have the baby on Friday morning as she had an assessment in Porirua that morning. Murphy’s Law right!?! Kim (my midwife) called back at 8am and my Mum had to answer the phone. I was down on all fours, mid-contraction, in tears. The contractions had ramped up and were coming every few minutes. Kim, who had just got to Porirua, heard me in the background and told Mum I needed to get to the Hospital ASAP! She got in her car and raced back to the Hutt hospital to meet us.
I quickly got my stuff together, in between contractions, and called Peter who had just arrived at work. I told him he needed to meet us at the hospital. Poor dear, had to get on his bike and cycle back. We drove the 20 mins to the hospital and wouldn’t you know it, there were road works and a detour to add to the drama!! Fortunately, though traffic slowed down, it wasn’t too bad and we got to the hospital just before 9am. Peter was there to meet us in the car park. As I got out of the car I had another contraction that made me bend over in pain. I waddled awkwardly up to delivery where Kim was waiting for us.
She got us settled in our room and checked me and I was already 6 cm dilated. I kept wanting to go to the toilet. So spent some of my time labouring on the toilet (a surprisingly comfortable position) and up on all fours on the bed. We used a heat pack for my back pain, and Mum was THE BEST at rubbing my back while Peter let me give his arm the grip of death during each contraction. Kim was great at reminding me to breath through each contraction. I spent some of my contractions focused on breathing (thanks Kim) and some doing a weird moany song. I had my lavender pillow to sniff (such a hippy) and kept praying and trying to relax. At about 9.45am I felt like I needed to use the toilet again. My Mum said: “I think your waters will break this time.” And sure enough, after I’d squeezed out a poo, I felt my waters break. I got back to the bed and after a few more contractions Kim offered to check how dilated I was. I was 10 cm!! She told me I was ready to push!!! It was 10am! We propped the back of the bed up and Peter held one hand and Mum held the other and when the next contraction came I pushed. Kim said she could see her head. And that with each push I was getting her head 2 steps forward then one step back. I could feel my poor body tearing. I knew I needed to push and then give a little bit extra to get her through so with the next contraction I pushed then pushed some more. Her head was out. Apparently her cord was wrapped around her neck and Kim quickly flicked it off. Next contraction I did the same – push and push some more and she was out!! Peter caught her and lifted her onto me. She was born at 10.16am. She did a wee cry, and was very alert looking around at the world. A few minutes later I felt another contraction coming and easily pushed out the placenta blob.
We waited for the cord to stop pulsating before Peter cut it. And within the hour Gemma had latched on to my breast and was having her first feed. A young female doctor came in to do my stitches. I asked how many and she said they didn’t really count them these days… (I’m thinking there must have been a few. Lol!)
I’m so grateful to God for hearing my prayer for a quick labour, Kim says it was 2 hours (from 8-10am). And for Gemma coming early (just!) and being able to do it pain med. free. Though I’m not sure it was entirely pain free… but the pain was manageable. I still can’t believe how fast it all happened!!
We named our dear Rainbow Baby, Gemma Joy because God answered our prayers and turned our grief into joy. Her name is a nod to her older sister Jemima and also a bit of a feminist moment for me. Seriously – why do men get to name their son’s after themselves? I’m naming my daughter after me! So yes – her name does sound like Emma. It’s on purpose! (My middle name is Joy too).
“Weeping may last through the night,
But joy comes with the morning.”
“Bring joy to your servant, Lord,
for I put my trust in you.”