Friday, February 7, 2014

The birth: Félix

 photo birthstory2.jpg
I had been certain towards the end of my pregnancy that this baby was going to be early. I had been feeling a lot of pressure on my cervix for weeks and it just felt different. Perhaps it was wishful thinking. My due date (16 December) came and went, and I started feeling fed up and very tired. This time around, pregnancy was hard with an energetic and strong-willed toddler.

My midwife started talking about appointments with doctors to discuss induction. I ate curries, went for long walks on the evenings that weren’t too hot, and had a long, blissful induction massage. The days crept closer and closer to Christmas. I tried not to imagine dashing off to the birth centre mid Christmas dinner.

On a hot and humid Friday afternoon we all set off for a swim in the village pool.  All week I had been sitting on the sidelines, not willing to squeeze into my (non maternity) bathers, but this time I longed for the cool water. Saskia swam happily with K and her little cousins, and my sister-in-law suggested I bob gently around the pool. I enjoyed the feeling of weightlessness and buoyancy.

That evening as I sat on the sofa, I found it difficult to get comfortable. I felt restless and a little out of sorts. I kissed K goodnight and thought I’d head to bed to rest and find a comfortable position.

I woke at around 3.45am to some very mild waves. I lay in bed for the next hour, observing the sensations. The contractions stayed light but seemed close together. I tried to remember what our midwife had said about when to come in. Saskia and K were sleeping soundly beside me.

Wanting to make a plan for Saskia’s care and finish packing the few remaining things for the hospital bag, I woke K. He told me he felt much more flustered this time around, which I found surprising.

The waves started to increase a little in intensity around 5.30am so we went upstairs and I called my parents to let them know our baby was close, and to come and stay with Saskia. I had been using Ujjayi breathing since waking and was comforted by how familiar it felt. The contractions were coming regularly and quickly, but felt manageable and still quite mild. As each one began I would get on all fours. I didn’t want to be upright or lying down.

Close to 6am we heard Saskia call out, Mama. K went down to the bedroom to settle her but she kept asking for me. I waddled down the stairs and when I walked into the bedroom a wave began. I crawled up and onto the bed next to Saskia. No Mama, over dere, she cried, pointing to my side of the bed. I couldn’t believe my two year old was bossing me around in the middle of birthing. I chose to do what would involve the least amount of pain and hoisted myself up, mid contraction, and crawled around to the other side of the bed. K and Saskia rubbed my back through the next few waves. I felt so grateful that she had woken and was able to play a small part in the birth.

Mum and Dad arrived and took Saskia upstairs to have breakfast. We called our lovely midwife (who had been present at Saskia’s birth also) and told her that contractions were now coming regularly, every couple of minutes or so, and she suggested we make our way in to the Birth Centre. As we collected our bags and grabbed last minute additions I started to get a feeling of wanting to push. It wasn’t strong, but I could sense it was building. I think we better get going quickly, I said to K, I think I might need to push soon. We hurried out of the door, waving goodbye to Sassy and my parents. They were about to take her for an early morning walk around the Village, and then Mum was going to make her way in to meet us, as I was wanted her to be at the birth again.

Again, the car ride felt so surreal (I remember this part so vividly from Saskia’s birth). It was 6.30am and the sun was bright and warm already. I texted friends in between contractions to let them know I was on my way to birth.

We arrived at the Birth Centre around 6.45am and made our way to the room. I remember walking down the quiet corridors, thinking how lovely it smelt (I think our midwife had put out some oils) and how deliciously cool it was. In the room the curtains were drawn and the beautiful, oversized bath was beginning to fill. The rushing sound of water was soothing.

I asked for a mat and a Swiss ball, still wanting to breath through each contraction on all fours. The intensity was starting to increase, so I stayed quiet and focussed. K played my meditation through the iPhone and I continued with the Ujjayi breathing. The desire to push was also increasing and I asked if the bath was nearly ready but my midwife said it would take another 40 minutes to fill. I was craving the water.

Contractions were coming one after the other and I started to feel the druggy haze of birth hormones. My eyelids felt heavy and I remained quiet, still focussed on the breath and trying to conserve energy. K rubbed my back and gave me sips of water. I remember feeling overcome with love for him. So gentle and caring and aware. I felt so safe and confident with him beside me.

Finally the bath was ready and K helped me up the stairs and into the water. I can still remember how wonderful it was to sink into the deep, warm pool. My body seemed to melt as I lowered myself in. Almost immediately, my body began to push. I think I’m pushing, Denise, I said, a little shocked by the force of what my body was doing. It was such a strange sensation. The muscles in my body were labouring for me, and I was being guided by their work. Birthing Saskia I remember actively pushing (for almost an hour and a half), but this felt very different. I embraced the feeling and put my head down on K’s arm. He will want me to write that I bit him (I did).

After that first push, I knew immediately that it had brought the baby close. I reached down and could feel a big patch of my baby’s head. I was surprised. So soon? Another couple of pushes and your baby will be out, our midwife said calmly. I almost believed her, the pushes were so strong and forceful, but surely not? 

I could feel another push building. I was leaning on the side of the bath with my head close to K. With each push I would press into the side of the bath and lift my bottom up. K told me afterwards that he would look down my back and watch muscles almost ‘emerge’ and ripple with each push (there’s been no sight of them since!).

On the third or forth push, our baby’s head appeared. Here comes your baby’s head, the midwife said. Next push and you’ll have a baby. We were both so shocked. Whoa, whoa, whoa, just wait! said K (to no one in particular, I suppose!).

I remained leaning on the bath and with the last push, our midwife took his shoulders, turned him slightly and helped to ease him out untangling the cord (it had been wrapped around his neck). She placed him on my back as I steadied myself. What is it? I asked K. The midwife turned him over. A little boy, K smiled.

I turned around and sat on the bath’s bench. I held my little boy close and listened to him cry his first cry. I felt so thankful for his safe, swift and straightforward arrival. Both K and I were still so shocked by how quickly he had come – and without fuss (I didn’t tear). I felt tired, but beyond elated, like I had run a marathon, but was ready to do it all again (thank you, birth hormones). I moved to the bed, settled in for a feed and waited for his proud big sister and grandparents to arrive…

Our little Félix (Fox)
born 21 December, 7.44am, into the water 

 photo birthstory1.jpg


  1. Beautiful, Claire. And what a photo! Gorgeous! x

  2. That is beautiful. What an amazing job you did! And I adore the photo of Saskia meeting her little brother - what an amazing moment. Kellie xx

  3. Just beautiful! It sounds like such a special birth and that final photo of Saskia meeting her little brother is just so sweet - you can see the excitement on her face. Well done mama! xx

  4. Oh my goodness, that bought a tear to my eye. I remember reading your birth story with Saskia when I was pregnant with Josephine, and now here I am reading Felix's and getting closer to birth again. It makes me so excited for that experience again, despite everything else that is going on. And wonderful pictures xx

  5. I never tire of reading stories like these; of the surrender, power, strength and kindness of birthing little ones into the world. Well done mama!

  6. What a beautiful experience Claire. And such a special little capture of Saskia meeting him... x

  7. Oh what a dreamy magical wonderful birth!! So beautiful to read Claire, thankyou for sharing xxx

  8. So beautiful Claire! And the wonder on Saskia's face in that last photo is simply priceless x

  9. What a beautiful story and a beautiful pair of photos; I can't help but tear up...