As Lloyd and I arrived back in Cape Town from our travels, we hit the much awaited second trimester, and along with it came a scan, a heartbeat and heartburn.
As far as pregnancies go, I think I got off pretty lightly, once I discovered that gluten was in fact the root of all evil [heartburn], and let that go, physically, the pregnancy went as expected. The journey for us was more in figuring out not just that we were giving birth, but how, where and with who. Our medical cover, or lack thereof, meant that we looked at all the options, from government clinics, to private tertiary level care. We landed up following in the footsteps of some good friend of ours who had a home birth with a private doctor/midwife team, and a doula. As we explored this avenue, we met a doctor, Daphne, who was willing to walk alongside us – for us she felt like the perfect fit, as a homeopath and a GP, she helped us navigate our more medically minded heads and our hippy-fun-wild spirits. We’re not hippies, but I’ve always fancied myself as a bit of a closet hippy, like, if life were a bit simpler, I would definitely be making all of my own yoghurt and choosing seeds over doughnuts…but life isn’t simple so…doughnuts (this dabbling into the hippy world was exaggerated by the fact that I had to give up my doughy treats, and so suddenly seeds, dates and cucumber sticks were much more my vibe. Anyway..)
We really loved discovering the beauty that was so evident around giving birth, the way our bodies are designed to make this thing happen, the way baby and mum are a team, overcoming hurdles to do this first big thing together. We read some of the science around natural births (which placated both of our fairly logical, science-y brains) and uncovered things about breastmilk: for example how if you have a boy, his DNA gets imprinted into mum’s DNA. What?! How cool is that?! And so the fear of the unknown blended into a real excitement for what was to come; anticipation of this serene, natural, rhythm of birthing (I mean, serene, lol. But also, YES! so much YES, but also lol!).
I guess when I found out at six months that I had a low lying placenta and would most likely need a C-section at 37 weeks, I was slightly thrown.
God?! You hijacked my plans to adopt, you made me do this thing, you then got me excited about it, and now you wanna come throw another rock in my path?
Yip, I flipped out a bit…but was so sure that God had set us on the path of natural home birthing that I rallied the troops and got my community praying for the placenta to move. Whilst waiting for the miracle, I wrestled God again around my entitlement to have things my way, and realised that as much as I wanted to go au-naturale, that I didn’t want there to be a cloud over my son’s arrival, even if it was a c-section, so I fought for my peace, and found it.
I remember driving around Manenberg, I must have been about 5 months pregnant, and I was chatting to Snowflake about how I wanted to protect him from all suffering, how I didn’t want his heart to have to deal with pain for as long as possible, but how I knew that when he arrived, he was going to be so important in bringing healing, in being one that loves so extravagantly, that those in pain, those battling injustice find freedom.
Within a few weeks of this, a beautiful brother in our family in Manenberg was killed in a horrific accident. As one of the leaders in Tree of Life, I was thrown in to shoes that were far too big for me, making decisions I felt too young to make, and grieving a loss that only felt like a robbery. Once again, I found myself driving around Manenberg, this time to inform people in our Tree of Life family that Maruwaan had died. Later I cried as I told Snowflake I was sorry he had to experience this kind of pain before he had even arrived out of what was supposed to be completely protected space, my womb. I told him my heart was broken, his family was hurting, but our pain was not him, our hearts, my heart, still longed for him, for his arrival and the joy he carried. I knew he would bring healing.
[to hear more about Maruwaan, check out this beautiful movie made about his life https://maruwaanmovie.com/]
I visited the hospital for my last scan, the one that would decide whether or not Snowflake was coming out via C-section not – I must confess, I had made such peace with the outcome that part of me actually hoped he might come out via c-section as that would mean I get to meet him a few weeks earlier, that and the very natural, oh my word, look at my belly, this has to come out of me thinking had also set in!
A doctor took one look at my scan and said that everything was looking fine, he didn’t really know what I was doing there, the placenta was in the right place so birth at home would be completely fine.
The placenta had moved. Look, I don’t know how probable that is, maybe it’s totes normal, maybe not, but it was my little miracle that made me confident of God’s presence in this with me and a little glimmer of hope to hold on to.
At the same time as all of this was going on, Lloyd and I signed to buy a home in Manenberg – we signed for it a week after Maruwaan died, and so what was a massive celebration for us, and our Tree of Life family, was somewhat overshadowed with our sadness. Still, we took moments to stop and be thankful for the faithfulness of a God who answers our prayers – it was something we’d been hoping for, for over 2 years and why the Lord thought it appropriate to make it available a month before we gave birth, I’m not sure, but alas, we started to make it birthing ready. The house was (and still is) a bit of a mess, a glorious, potential-filled mess, but it was our mess, and we loved it. A few weeks before my due date, we were knocking out walls, setting up our little nest at the back of the house and hanging a picture or two to make it feel like home. We were ready for Snowflake!