the birth of felix charles (part 1)

i have decided to break felix's birth story up into two posts. the first as an account of the events of his birth day and the second as a more emotional assessment of the process of birthing him and my processing of this experience vs. eleanor's birth.

birth day
"who knows how long i've loved you."

throughout my pregnancy i was given three different due dates; february 23rd, 25th, and 28th. knowing what that looming date can do to ones psyche i tried very hard to not put too much weight on any of the dates i was given. being that eleanor was 8 days late i felt it best to set myself up for the same this time around. so when the 23rd arrived i didn't think much about it. we spent the day in grand rapids, doing some last minute food shopping and admiring the plants and butterflies while walking around the frederik meijer gardens. little did i know that this would be the last day we would spend as a family of three.

i awoke sunday morning with less than 5 hours of sleep under my belt and feeling a different kind of contraction. i had been experiencing braxton hicks for months now but something about the surges my body was now having were different. i laid in bed with my family quietly knowing that this was it and thinking about what lay ahead. i got up and went about our sunday as usual, made a nice big breakfast and settled into cbs sunday morning. as the show went on so did my contractions and so for fun i began timing them. they were pretty irregular but i knew that this was it. this was going to be the day we would meet our son. knowing that movement is good for labor i decided to clean the house. i scrubbed the bathrooms, dusted the whole house, vacuumed, and swiffered and as i did my contractions became regular, 5 minutes apart. i texted my doula and told her where things were at and then called my mom to tell her that they might want to start driving. we continued to go about our day as normally as we could. after eating lunch and putting eleanor down for her nap we decided it would be good for me to relax a bit and let my body do the work. i took a nice long bath, finished packing for the hospital, and then laid over the birth ball listening to my birth affirmations. as i relaxed my contractions slowed down but every time i would stand up and walk they would pick up again. we were faced with a choice: keep moving to keep things moving, or try and rest and let birth pick back up on it's own. since i hadn't slept well the night before my doula and i felt that trying to take a nap could be beneficial. i laid down and tried to sleep but i just couldn't sleep through my contractions. they were growing in intensity and i was finding it hard to relax during them. i was trying to focus on the surge breathing we had learned in hypnobirthing but there was so much pressure that the inhalation was incredibly difficult. (looking back now and knowing what was about to happen i know that that was because my body was already working for him to descend) i called our doula and told her that even though my contractions were irregular we were going to head to the hospital. i sent the babysitter a message and she said she would be over in 5 minutes. stijn packed the car and i put my coat on and then a contraction came that sent me onto all fours in our kitchen. i threw my coat off and asked stijn to help me to the bathroom declaring that i had to go, NOW. as soon as i sat down my water broke. the babysitter arrived and stijn told her to take eleanor upstairs. still thinking i was going to get up, get in the car, and head to the hospital i was shocked when my body started pushing, involuntarily and i felt his head crowning. one contraction later his head emerged. i yelled for stijn (who was still taking care of eleanor and the sitter) and another minute later he caught our son as he was born in our bathroom. we both sat there stunned looking at each other and at our little man who came in such a dramatic fashion. in between our laughter stijn called karlye, our doula, to inform her of a change in plans and then 911. dispatch helped him to take care of me until an ambulance arrived that took us to the hospital. a few hours later my parents brought eleanor to the hospital in her pajamas to meet her new brother. i will never forget those moments of apprehension followed by smiles and "hi" and the most tender of touches. this was the beginning of our new life as a family.

in the end my only regret was that we had to go to the hospital at all. it felt like such a disruption to what had been the most natural of labors and birthing. we had wanted a calm unmedicated birth and in the end that is exactly what we got. i trusted my body and my body did what it was created to do. after a total of 10 hours we birthed a beautiful, healthy, 9.5 lb. 22 inch long baby boy. there are still moments where i laugh thinking that we are those people... and then there are moments where i forget the exceptional way in which he was born. these last two weeks have been wonderful and having had the chance to process not just the details of his story but the emotional aspects as well i can say that his birth was incredibly healing for me and i can't wait to share that bit with you soon.

i looked through my phone to get a real time assessment of his birth and for reference the space between texting our babysitter to come and felix being born was less than 20 minutes!