Photograph by Janell Shirtcliff.

French Actress Soko Shares Exclusive Photos From the Birth of Her First Child

In her own words, French actress and musician (and Gucci muse) Soko on the most radical love there is: a mother’s for her child. Photographed by Janell Shirtcliff.

by Soko
Feb 15 2019, 5:42pm

Photograph by Janell Shirtcliff.

I used to say that if I were to die tomorrow, the biggest regret I would have was not having been a mom. I felt pretty satisfied where I was at, career-wise, but at the end of the day, I always felt like something was missing for me—I really wanted to have a baby. I had decided I was going to call my first child Indigo 10 years ago, because I always wanted a magical gender-neutral name. And I felt like, “I know I’m gonna be a single mom.” I knew that in my core, since forever. I’m doing this alone, but I have an amazing support system and incredible friends being part of it. And Indigo will have Nick Cave as a godfather in their life, and he’s one of the best men I know. That’s a good man to look up to.

Nonetheless, I thought I wasn’t pregnant when I took a pregnancy test last March and I posted it on Instagram. I wrote, “Happy International Women’s Day, when this is the best news you’ve ever had,” thinking I was being really funny and I wasn’t pregnant. I posted the test results, and people were like, “Oh, my God, I see the faint line.” Two of my friends that were pregnant said, “Wait, did you think you were not pregnant? Because you are.” I was in denial the whole time. I had a really hard pregnancy and was really sick the whole time, until I started showing at six months. Before six months, my belly was totally flat. I still had abs! Because I was in denial. And then, at six months when I started showing, my therapist said that I should post it on Instagram. I did, and the minute I did, I popped—literally overnight. I had waited six months and then suddenly I was getting so much support and validation from my friends and online, which sounds cheesy, but I thought, “Oh, okay. I think I can do this.”

Photograph by Janell Shirtcliff.

My birth was insane. I had been really horny while pregnant—like, super horny. I had to stop masturbating at some point because I’d heard that coming can induce labor. I hadn’t done it in over a month because I thought, “I’m not ready, I need to organize my house, I still don’t even have the crib!” And then my parents came to L.A. from France to help me, and the night they got here, I thought: “You know what? It’s time, I think I’m ready,” and I went to bed masturbating. Four hours later, I woke up to pee and I realized, “Oh, shit, maybe my water is breaking.” All of a sudden, I’m on FaceTime with my sister at 6:30 am and my water is gushing. When my contractions were coming two minutes apart, my friend Meredith said, “You are not staying there. I’m taking you to the hospital right now.” My hospital bag was ready. She was throwing everything in the car, we had so much stuff: a star filter, essential oils, Palo Santo, a speaker for relaxation music, Christmas lights, a crystal salt lamp. We just wanted to make it really vibey and cozy in the hospital.

I got to the hospital and thought, “Okay, it’s 10:30 am, I’m gonna have this baby before noon. I’m always fast with everything, this is gonna be a piece of cake!” Within minutes, I was in excruciating pain, screaming like The Exorcist, shivering and wanting to throw up. I couldn’t even articulate anything because my teeth were chattering so much, which is apparently a normal symptom, but it was hardcore. My entire body was shaking.

I begged for an epidural, and they started to closely monitor my contractions and my heart rate, and the baby’s heart rate. Each time I was on my back, the baby’s heart rate was going lower, and for a moment they thought I might have to have an emergency C-section. Hours in, I wasn’t dilating fast enough, so they had to inject some Pitocin to speed up my process. It was getting late in the day on October 30 and I told them, “I don’t wanna have a Halloween baby! Please let me have my baby today!”

Photograph by Janell Shirtcliff.

I had four really close friends with me in the delivery room, all women. My doula, Rima, is a Kundalini prenatal teacher, so she was playing mantras and we were singing these Sanskrit songs, playing crystal bowls, music, and chimes. She told us that massaging breasts is great to induce faster labor and faster contraction, and so, at some point, someone asked, “Okay, do you want an eight-hand breast massage?” Then, suddenly, all my friends were massaging my hands, my boobs, my head, my neck, all at once. And I thought, “Wow, I’m in heaven.” They were like, “Well, if we hadn’t considered being lesbians yet, now we’re totally sold.” It was definitely a mega-estrogen party in there.

When my doctor asked, “Who’s cutting the cord?” I said, “I’m a single mom. I’m cutting the cord.”

Then we did a laughing yoga session and we said, “Okay, let’s bring Indigo into this world with laughter. We’re gonna laugh for 10 minutes.” We were having so much fun. Then we started howling like a pack of mama wolves waiting for their baby! The whole time waiting with them, spending a whole day indoors where nobody can go anywhere, nobody was on their phone—I really felt like they were all giving birth because they were all so connected to me and so with me, so present.

Once my doctor got there for the pushing, they set up a mirror so that I could see...everything. I wasn’t expecting that. She told me, “We don’t know if your baby is going to come out on their own. We might have to do a C-section still.” Then she said, “Do you want to try a little more? You’re a really good pusher, you can probably do it.” And so I pushed more (while listening to Nick Cave’s Push the Sky Away—that helped!). They used a vacuum and with two contractions my baby was born. Indigo came out facing upward—they called it “sunny-side up.” The doctor looked at the clock and said: “11:58! We did it! They’re not a Halloween baby, congratulations!” We sang Indigo “Happy Birthday” and played “Indigo Blue” by The Clean, the song they’re named after.

Photograph by Janell Shirtcliff.

Rima later told me it was one of the most connected, beautiful, loving, peaceful births she’s witnessed, and, as a doula, she’s seen many. She said, “I’m so inspired and feel so empowered. That was the first birth that I attended where there was no man involved, at all.”

When my doctor asked, “Who’s cutting the cord?” I said, “I’m a single mom. I’m cutting the cord.” So I did it, and it was so gooey and weird, but also I felt so empowered when I was holding those scissors. I was just like, “You and I, buddy, we’re a team. I’m your team, you’re my team. We’re doing this together. You tell me whatever you need, and I’ll do whatever I need to do to make you happy. I’ll take care of you and protect you with my entire life, forever.”

Nick Cave