Melbourne Doula

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"Where the Spirit of the Lord is" - the birth of Saoirse Deborah

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is ” – the birth of Saoirse Deborah
In this birth story, which I wrote 7 years ago, it is clear to see how significant a couple's faith, beliefs and spirituality can be in their journey to birth.

Our Spiritual Journey
While I was pregnant with Saoirse, I felt led to read the book of Isaiah in preparation for the birth.

Several other books came our way that turned out to be significant to our journey of faith and discovery. One was “Supernatural Childbirth” by Jackie Mize, about how we can pray according to God’s Word. Some people believe that childbirth does hurt, or has to hurt, because of the curse in Genesis 3. But Galations 3 explains that Jesus took that up for us and that we are redeemed from the curse of the law. Jackie writes, "If you're redeemed - then you are." I remembered the old Gospel song, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.” I sensed the Lord challenging me to use my faith and boldly declare that I am redeemed from the curse of the law. I had to proclaim it and believe it and really get it into my spirit in order to step into the freedom He had for me.

Then we went to a seminar called “Feed My Lambs” about loving and bringing up babies and young children, and their special receptivity to the things of God from the earliest age. This seminar brought out how to pray special scriptures for the developing babe in the womb, and continuing on with that after the child is born. Once again, more about praying the Word of God. I made up a song to sing for my babies at that seminar:

“For you were meant to be,

You’re a daughter of destiny

Created by God, formed by His hand

Created in love.”

As I prayed for the baby, I felt sure she was a girl. An Irish friend had suggested a name, “Saoirse”, which is Irish for freedom or liberty.

Then, along came an excellent book called “Families Where Grace is in Place" by Jeff Van Vonderen. Chapter 7, which talks about reversing the curse to have a mutual marriage marked by teamship and shared responsibility rather an authority hierarchy, especially was dynamite! The thing that stood out to us in this book was, “It is not our job as Christians to do the curse a little more nicely or a little more benevolently than the world does. We are REDEEMED from the curse of the law.” We thought of books we’d seen that present the curse as “God’s first commandment to women,” as if Jesus died only for men but not for women.

On the mission field, we'd had some terrible experiences in which we were "shunned" by people who taught a very heavy-handed doctrine of the "headship of men" and the "subordination of women". We were shunned because we were too egalitarian. My husband was scorned because he carried the babies in a front pack, made all decisions together with me, cleaned toilets, floors and woks, and treated me as an equal team mate in all aspects of work and ministry. I was defamed as a 'Scarlet Letter' woman and told that I was a bad influence on the other wives because I had a "feministic spirit" - as if feminism was a bad thing!? The saddest thing was to see these women who were clearly stressed and oppressed and really struggling with the heavy yoke over them - absolutely determined to make sure that other women likewise came under the same bondage as themselves. It was freaky because it was so similar to the oppression of women you see in some parts of Islam - but this was Christianity! These women thought that the curse was a commandment to be obeyed, that they would be defying God unless they were ruled over by their husbands - thinking that the more they suffered, the more holy and righteous they were being. Suffering in childbirth likewise seemed to be a way that they proved what righteous, submissive women they were being. It is not supposed to be like this in Christianity - Jesus restored equality for women at the cross. And of course, wherever women are oppressed, the men are naturally miserable as well. Dominant and in control … but miserable. It was so sad to see. I felt in my spirit that this doctrine was wrong - but still, it affected me, because I ended up feeling like a "bad, ungodly, rebellious" woman not fit for decent Christian society. I felt they were trying to "punish" me into "submitting" and conforming to their misogynistic doctrinal spin - into accepting the oppression their own wives were under. Their wives were forbidden to associate with me. Imagine how lonely that was for me in an already isolated part of the mission field! These were my sisters in the Lord! Even though I felt covered in shame and scorn, somehow I still could not, would not give in. I knew in my spirit that what was coming against me was not the heart of my Father God. It was this painful experience, as I pushed my baby through the crowded streets feeling more alone that ever in my life before, that I began to get a revelation for God's true heart for women and his absolute love and honor and heart to protect and affirm women, especially childbearing women. The childbearing season is often the time when women of all cultures come under derision and attacks of worthlessness - but that is the devil, that is not the heart of God. I knew that God meant childbearing to be a blessing and a joy, to build us up and cause us to find our power, authority and confidence as women, as wives, as mothers, as people created in the image of our God and as co-heirs with Jesus Christ.

Van Vonderen's book showed the way of living being continually filled by the Holy Spirit and not under the curse, but redeemed. It tied in with Jackie Mize’s book – “You don’t have to hurt – it doesn’t have to be that way. You’re redeemed!” Again, I sensed the Lord’s prompting – “If you’re redeemed – say so!” We are – but we have to do our part – we have to believe, and receive and stand on the Word and on Jesus’ finished work at Calvary, in order to make it a reality in our lives. There was the challenge. There was the adventure!

Then the next piece of the jigsaw came along – a book called “Glory” by Ruth Ward Heflin. Ruth talked about intimacy with God – praising and worshipping until the glory; the presence of the Lord comes. The whole book was awesome – but something on pp 61-63 really captured my attention – it tied in with all we’d read so far. Ruth wrote that our intercession does not have to involve travail when we simply worship and celebrate the Lord, because then the King of Glory, mighty in battle, comes in and fights the battle for us. (Psalm 24). That is how they were doing their intercession. Then she shared how their mothers were experiencing blessings in their births, as they would all be praising the Lord, caught up in loving Jesus, and the babies would be born very quickly and easily.

I’d noticed how when you are caught up in worshipping the Lord, you can hold your arms up for a long time and your muscles don’t get tired. How totally relaxed you are in the presence of the Lord! What better time to be focussed on the Lord and completely relaxed than during labour? I thought, if birth is a time of praising and worshipping and celebrating, and if Jesus, strong and mighty in battle, comes to do the travail for us, then birth could be something really awesome and not at all traumatic. So my dh and I thought we’d better get into practice.

Two years previously when I was pregnant with Talitha, my dh and I went right through the Bible and wrote down every scripture that talked about having babies. An awesome collection of treasures from God’s Word, wonderful to have at hand when praying! I realised the significance of praise during the spiritual warfare of birth, and the connection between joy and strength during birth. So Ruth’s teaching brought a deeper dimension to that, and to Jackie Mize’s teaching. And what Terry Mize shared about Jesus redeeming us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, and being women who know their Covenant, tied in with what Jeff Van Vonderen wrote. And it all tied in with what the Lord was showing me in His Word, especially Isaiah. We were getting excited and more filled with faith and confidence.

We finally made it to New Zealand for the birth. We were stationed in Hong Kong at that time, but we took a "Baby Furlough" and went to our Vineyard Church in New Zealand, where we knew we would be accepted and supported. Our first Sunday in New Zealand, the worship began with the sound of an Irish tin whistle, like waves on the shore. Very special for us, because we both have Irish descent. The anointing flowed and I was in tears even before the song began; I could sense Jesus near. Then they sang a song called 'Freedom'. I could sense the Lord assuring me, “Yes, I have brought you out into a spacious place of freedom and liberty … this is of Me.” The hurt and heaviness of all that legalism that had been thrust upon us, fell away. I knew for sure that the baby was a girl and that we would call her Saoirse, and that her birth would be a signpost for all the Lord was doing in our lives. He was setting us free from the yoke of bondage - of religious legalism.

That's a lot to explain just to get to the part of the birth in the shopping mall! But if you understand some of what was happening in our lives spiritually at the time, what happened at the birth makes more sense.

The Best-laid Plans
We planned another home birth. It was great to be surrounded by loving, supportive friends. The day came to pick up the birth pool we’d hired, so Doug headed off with 2year old Talitha. I sensed a few "niggles" in the general tummy area and decided to stay back and enjoy a quiet time in prayer. I sat on my beanbag and worshipped God, tears streaming down my face as I saw all the love and wonder in the awesome promises of His Word. I read Isaiah 53 again and saw that Jesus had forgiven my sin and taken up my suffering. Then I pondered Is. 66:7-10. It was totally beyond my natural understanding (I remember thinking some people might think I was a bit flaky if they knew I was praying according to this scripture!) But then I thought, “It doesn’t say that the woman will have a baby without going into labour. It just says that the baby will be born quickly and easily, unusually soon after labour has begun, and BEFORE the woman is overwhelmed by the pains of labour. Right! I can believe that!" Me and Doug had agreed to pray for a 3 and a half hour labour. Talitha’s birth took 24 hours – a peaceful, gentle birth, but lo-oong all the same. My brain short-circuited at the thought of a baby being born in only 3 and a half hours. That just did not compute! But I so sensed the love and tender compassion of the Lord that through my tears, I asked boldly anyway! I knew I was not being presumptuous because I could sense how pleased the Lord was that I was standing on His Word.

I will never forget that prayer time!

Then I went and had a nap and fell into a deep sleep. Woke up when Talitha and Doug got home with the birth pool at 3pm. Had a sandwich but only et half of it. I could feel a few twinges, but I didn’t say anything yet. At 4.30, we set off to the lake to meet our friends so that their 4 girls and our 1 could feed the ducks together. Plan was to have fish and chips by the lake but it was a bit cold and windy, so the plan was changed in favour of going to the nearby shopping mall …
Good thing, or Saoirse could well have been born under a tree by the lake!!!

Saoirse Suprises Us ...
Strolling down the pier after admiring the swans, I leaned over a rail and swayed from side to side. My loving friend Kathryn came up and said, “Looks like the real thing, ay, Julie?” and I said, “Yeah, I think I’m in labour!” I felt that it was still just the early stages, so we thought it would be good to go to the mall to get the kids fed. I had one contraction in the car and another walking into the mall. I remember thinking, “I can still walk through them, so this must still be early stages.” While everyone was eating, I thought I’d go to the toilet. My waters hadn’t broken and there had been no mucous plug, so I thought I was still in pre-labour.

In the toilet, I put my hand on my tummy and said, “Cervix, I speak to you in Jesus’ name and bless you to dilate quickly and easily, without pain. All you muscles, relax and yield. And all that is within me, praise His holy name!”

Big ‘show’ in the toilet!

“Oh! I’m really in labour now!” thought I (catch on quick, don’t I?) I thought that a bloody show marked the start of real labour. I didn't know then that sometimes there is a big show when dilation is complete! I'm aware of this now ....

I thought I should go out and suggest to the others that it might be time to head home. Kathryn came looking for me and I had a big contraction so that I had to lean against the wall for a minute.

Back at the table in the food court – “Looks like we’re underway, so maybe we should think about heading home soon.”

Suddenly, another strong contraction came. I leaned over the table – and mid-contraction, dropped to my hands and knees on the floor. It was like dropping a bomb! It registered in my mind, Doug’s mind and my friend’s mind simultaneously that often women instinctively drop to the floor just before they deliver. A bunch of other people reacted, too!

“Would you like to use my wheelchair to get to the car?”

“What’s going on?”

I looked up to see two burly security guards looming over me. I reassured them that I hadn’t been in a fight. They talked about calling an ambulance but I knew there was no time to go anywhere. Then Kathryn calmly said in my ear the same thing I was thinking: “Julie, there’s a little baby-care room right over there, it’s quiet and clean –“

The contraction ended and we made a bolt for the parent-care room, just next to the toilets. There was a little breast-feeding cubicle that even had a curtain to pull across, so we had total privacy. I whipped off my trousers and kneeled over the chair as another contraction came. Then in my ear I heard:

“Hello. My name’s Beryl. I’m a midwife. Would you like me to help you?”

I thought, why not, the more the merrier!

Beryl “just happened” to be having dinner in the food court when the drama began to unfold and bravely came to offer her services. Her dinner companion “just happened” to be a student nurse who was training at the same school I trained at, and who assisted by keeping a written record.

Beryl did a VE (unnecessarily - if I could go back in time with what I know now, I would have politely delined) and said, “Well, the baby’s right there ready to come out!”

We figured.

It was great. I had everyone with me that I had planned to have at the home birth. Instead, we were having a special “home-away-from-home birth.” I had my dh, Talitha, my best friend Kathryn and two health professionals. I had total peace and privacy and the security guards stood outside like big angels to stop anyone barging in. They called an ambulance “just in case”, and they stood ready just outside. Everyone was friendly and cooperative and respected our requests to not be transported to hospital, and for peace and quiet.

Saoirse Waits for No Man ...
Saoirse came quickly. Just a couple of contractions and I could feel stretching already. My dh knelt beside me and did his best to encourage me to take my time. He was so cool and calm. The sensations were quite sharp and at one point I yelped, “Ow! It hurts!” and held on tight to the chair. In retrospect, I think that if at that point, I had remembered to pray just like I had in the toilets, speaking to my body and my inner being to relax and stretch, I could have relaxed more and slowed things down. It all went great, but it did hurt just before Saoirse crowned.

Doug caught Saoirse and passed her to me just as he had with Talitha. Saoirse was tensile and muscular right from the start, like a salmon in a waterfall. Doug said it was like trying to handle a big slippery fish. She yelled a bit more than Talitha had, because we didn’t have a nice, warm room with dimmed lights as we’d had for Talitha, who was born in front of an open fire. We couldn’t figure how to dim the lights and it was a bit cool. (Leboyer does have a point.) So we wrapped her in Doug’s jacket and she snuggled up with me to have a breast-feed. Doug cut the cord and we prayed for Saoirse. (That jacket just happened to be the very same jacket that, 2 years before, we had used to wrap around our first newborn, because we didn’t have time to go for the baby things in the warming cupboard. We’ll never be able to throw out that worn, frayed jacket now!)

We agreed to let the ambulance take us all home (poor people were desperate to be of service somehow!) and it was hilarious, being wheeled out through the food court on the stretcher, with Doug walking behind cuddling this little bundle! People nearly choked.

Someone's Watching Over You
At home, our home-birth midwife met us and our ‘volunteer’ midwife handed over to her. My midwife wrote in her notes, "Julie shocked, exhausted." My birth was written up as "precipitate". But I did not feel that it was too fast, or "precipitate" and I did not feel at all shocked - I felt ecstatic! My midwife helped me deliver the placenta and Saoirse and I enjoyed a lovely herbal bath.

Saoirse got a bit tired and began to cry, so while the midwives helped me, Doug took Saoirse, expertly swaddled her and tucked her in his arms for a firm cuddle. Lovely to watch this tiny little being snuggled up in those big strong hands. Saoirse settled immediately and the midwives were most impressed. There was me, Talitha, and Saoirse cuddled up in bed, and Doug still with blood on his hands and jeans. Doug said, “Let’s pray and thank the Lord for his care and protection.” My midwife acknowledged, “Yes, sometimes things do seem just a little too perfect.” Beryl said, “I do believe that someone was really watching over you!”

Shop 'Till You Drop
Beryl then told us how she had raced off the Chemist shop in the shopping mall to ask for some plastic gloves and a few things for the birth. The dour-faced Chemist ignored her, and said he couldn’t help because he was busy counting pills. “It’s a very important job,” he said sourly. Beryl shouted, “Oh, for heaven’s SAKE!” and raced off the the Delicatessan just next door. “There’s a woman having a baby in the toilets!!” she panted. The sweet girl behind the counter said, “OHHHH! What do you need? How can I help?” She handed over an entire BOX of plastic gloves and said, “Towels – do you need tea-towels? Here!” So Saoirse was delivered with food service gloves and landed a nest of blue and white striped tea towels.

Also having dinner in the food court that night, was a reporter from the local newspaper. So next day, she came round with a photographer and we told the whole story to them.

“Does it really say that in the Bible??”

We ended up being in the newspaper 4 times. But only one article mentioned that we had prayed for a quick birth.

We remembered how we had prayed for the baby to be born in 3 and a half hours. Saoirse was born at 1830. The first real niggles began at 1500 … we counted …. It was three and a half hours exactly.

It certainly gave a whole new meaning to the phrase, “born to shop” or “shop till you drop!” I figure God has a sense of humour and is not above a good practical joke.

And He is awesomely faithful to His Word!

Freedom Reigns
Saoirse is 7 years old now - she is still our little freedom girl with a wild, free spirit – just like her birth.

Whenever we play the Vineyard CD with "Saoirse's theme song" on it, I still cry.

"Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom ...

Lift your eyes to Jesus, there is freedom ....

Freedom reigns in this place

Showers of mercy and grace

Falling on every face

There is freedom

If you're tired and thirsty, there is freedom

Give your all to Jesus, there is freedom ...."

2 year old Talitha went to get her toy camera since everyone else was taking photos. Spot the blood on Dad's jeans!

Talitha gets a special birthday present.

Talitha's new baby.

When Saoirse was 7 days old, we went back to her birth place.

The food court.

Here's the gorgeous girl at the delicatessan who supplied gloves and tea-towels! Bless her.

Inside the parents' room.

This is the breastfeeding cubicle where she was actually born.

One of Auckland's beautiful beaches - just the place to take your baby on her first outing.

Talitha likes this baby the best.


Bek said...

That was a beautiful, beautiful story. I'm very misty eyed after reading it. Inspirational and a great testimony to our wonderful God.

Amy Phair said...

What an incredibly beautiful, and powerful birth story. A story of faith and of God's amazing answers to prayer. Thankyou for sharing! I am so inspired <3 Thankyou for reminding me to trust more, and to believe big, we have a MIGHTY God after all <3