Here’s the story of how Felix Alexander Quirk came into the world…
On the morning of my due date, I woke up around 6:30am feeling something a little different from the Braxton Hicks contractions I’d felt in the weeks prior. I was hoping I’d go into labor on a Saturday so I could go through the early stages doing my favorite things - going out to breakfast, checking out the farmer’s market and arranging flowers. I decided to go on a walk to see if they would subside and tried not to get my hopes up too much. I’d felt short waves of contractions in the weeks prior and thinking this could be it over and over was emotionally exhausting! It was raining that morning and my rain coat wouldn’t stay velcro’d over my bump. I walked about a half mile up and down the road before deciding we were in business!
I woke up my husband and we went to our favorite greasy diner for breakfast - I knew I’d want some fuel for the day ahead. Since the weather was crummy, we skipped the market and went to the grocery instead for some last minute hospital stuff - bottled water, hard candies and a bouquet of flowers. I don’t know why that was such a priority to me, but I thought coming home to a sunny bouquet would be nice. I also wanted to get my house clean because I hate a mess, especially when being away for a while and coming back home.
We were kinda sorta timing things and thought to call our doula when we got home, probably around 9:30 or 10. Once she arrived, we walked down the block togeher then I moved to the tub and started really having good, strong contractions. Adam helped me so much during this time too. My favorite way to get through them was to bury my face into his chest and do a deep moan. He was wearing a heathered green tee shirt. Just thinking about it now makes me so happy. He was such a comforting presence that day. It’s weird but I felt the majority of my pain in my hip flexors - not in my back or belly. It was all about the hips (something I have a little trouble with at the gym - I hold all of my tightness there!)
Laboring at home was good. Then all of a sudden I broke down into tears. Amy thought this was a good sign and that it was time to call the midwife and get to the hospital (which was just a few blocks from our house). We went straight to Labor and Delivery and they admitted me to a room and got started on all the stuff they have to do before they’ll let you do your thing. I didn’t want a nurse to check me and waited for Donna, my amazing midwife to come in. I was 4.5 cm dialated and kept making great progress. I moved around a lot, initially wearing my own clothes and got into the bathtub about 4-5 times. Modesty flies out the window when you’re in labor, so for the second half I was a naked lady running around the room.
Adam had me pose for “one last pregnant What I Wore photo” at the hospital
At around 6 cm, my water broke and it was the coolest thing I’ve ever felt. I loved it. Things sped up from there and the nurse said we’d have a baby by dinner time. We were all pumped things were going so well!
One of the things I visualized while the contractions came on were Tetris blocks - the tall, four square boxes kind in a bright shade of orange. I didn’t plan this - it’s just what came to mind! I imagined them falling into place and making a pyramid shape as the contraction reached a peak and then getting shorter as it faded away. I just kept seeing orange blocks for the majority of my labor! It felt good to visualize something while each contraction rolled in and out.
It must have been around 8 or 8:30 when I got the all clear to push and I loved the feeling. My midwife said I was a great pusher and the baby kept coming down, down, down… and then stopped. I pushed for three and a half hours - in bed, in the tub, over the toilet - and Felix just wouldn’t make it past a certain point. Somewhere around 11pm, I heard my midwife whisper epidural from the other room and I shouted YES from the bathroom. She couldn’t believe I could hear her from so far away. I needed a rest and a chance for my body to work the baby down a little more after being in labor for so long. I wanted a natural birth, but had told myself ahead of time if my care provider (who specializes in natural birth) suggested an epidural, that I would do it. At a little after midnight, I got the epidural and all of the stuff that goes with it and that was probably the second best feeling I’ve ever had after the water breaking.This allowed me a brief rest as well as my doula, midwife and husband. They were all working hard too!
Around 4am, I wanted to get the show on the road and meet my baby, so we started pushing again. We’d count to ten and I’d get the WORST headache by the end of each push. Felix still wouldn’t budge, so they called in my OB for a second opinion. At that time we started seeing a little meconium in the amniotic fluid, which is a sign the baby is in distress (his heart rate was also being monitored and at a safe level). My doctor said we could do forcepts or cesarean and gave me and Adam time to think about it. If we tried for a vaginal birth and it didn’t progress, it would be an emergency c-section or we could just skip that part and go to the cesarean. This was another part of my plan. I did NOT want a c-section unless the doctor suggested it. He has an awesome reputation for doing anything he can to avoid cesareans, so I knew if he brought it up, he meant it was the only option.
I was ready to have my baby.
Felix was born via cesaran birth at 6:28am, August 31, 2014. He weighed 8 pounds, 10 ounces and was 21 inches long. They told me in advance he wouldn’t cry and they didn’t want him to until they made sure his lungs were cleared. Actually getting him out took quiet a while because he was so far down into the birth canal (we could see all that hair when I was pushing!) and his head was transverse, or sideways, so in hindsight we saw that the c-section was indeed very necessary.
Taking after his mama and papa at birth, Felix was born with a full head of hair.
A lot of people tell c-section moms “at least you have a healthy baby” and I am so grateful for that. Yet, I also felt cheated in a way. I wanted that rush of hormones you get during a vaginal birth that help you instantly bond with your new baby. I wanted breastfeeding to happen a little more naturally (c-section moms sometimes have a delay in their milk coming in). It just felt a little unfair that I prepared so much and labored so long. I felt like a quitter. it’s something I’m going to work through at my own pace. During feedings in the middle of the night those first few weeks, I replayed August 30th and 31st over and over again in my mind. If I have one regret is that I’ve beat myself up over it so much.
EDIT: If you’ve followed my pregnancy posts, you probably saw that I was very much influenced by the work of natural birth supporters, specifically midwife Ina May Gaskin. I felt strong and prepared going into birth, not afraid of the pain and ready to reap the extra “rewards” of birthing naturally. And then I had my cesarean. I remember once thinking afterwards - I’ve failed Ina May. Well, update to that story. Reader Kait just sent me this podcast and all I have to say is wow. That really helped. (And another thing that’s helped are the many mothers who’ve shared their own experiences with me over instagram and facebook. Thank you!)
In the end, I did get a lot of the natural birth experience. I labored for 18 hours, including 4 hours of pushing before our path took a new direction. I do have a healthy child. A little boy we named Felix, which means happiness. And the day I met him was the happiest day in my life.