Welcome, Felix!

November 29, 2017
It has taken me some time to write down the story of my sweet Felix's arrival. When Penny was born, I couldn't wait to get down every little detail of her birth experience. On the 1 week anniversary of her birth I shared our story - complete with lots of smooshy exclamations of love and contentment and a fair bit of oversharing. I was so proud! I was so excited! I couldn't wait to share! And rightly so, it was one of the most blissful times of my life.

With Felix...it's been different. This time around there were a lot of unexpected emotions for me. While I had the fairly speedy labor (7 hours, start to finish), and the natural Birth Center birth that we can been hoping for, Felix's arrival was much different than I expected and it's taken me awhile to process everything.

I should start by saying that he was a true rascal throughout my pregnancy - he was a major kicker/mover/karate-enthusiast while in the womb; he was always positioned weirdly when the midwives were looking for a heartbeat (always anxiety producing for mama); he turned breech at 36.5 weeks and was thankfully flipped back (a thoroughly uncomfortable experience, but thankful it worked); and then the little rascal was 10 days past his due date. I don't know if he takes more after his mom or dad. 

By the time we reached 41 weeks, 3 days pregnant...I was pretty much in a state of madness. I was worried about facing unwanted induction, I was at the height of physical discomfort, I was stressing about where Penny was going to be when I went into labor...I was a MESS.

At 9:30pm on Wednesday, September 20, I woke up to what I thought just might be contractions. For at least 2 weeks prior I had been feeling contractions on and off, and there had been a few nights when I had been convinced I was going into labor...and inevitably did not. So I was determined to not let myself get too excited. (During the last weeks of this pregnancy my body decided to hang around the "almost-but-not-quite-in-labor-yet-so-just-be-chill" place that is just the absolute worst!)

But these weren't going away, and I started checking my phone to see if there was any regularity. Hmmm, 10 minutes apart. This could be the real deal. 




Around 11:30 they really started to increase in intensity, and by 1:30am we were at the Birth Center. I was in high spirits - YES I'M FINALLY IN LABOR!!! - and remember laughing and moaning through contractions while Matthew drove down a particularly pot-holed section of State Street. We pulled into the birth center parking lot and were greeted by our birth photographer Lisa, our midwives Beth and Alissa, and a beautiful, bright moon. I was surprised to feel choked up, thinking about Penelope at home with my mother-in-law, still mourning the loss of our family of three. We had talked about this transition for months, but as I walked into the building where I knew I would meet my son, it hit me all over again. My sweet girl, everything is about to change.


We got settled in the birthing room, Alissa checked my progress, and then I got into the birthing tub. Oh magnificent birthing tub! This time around it was a glorious relief to labor in the warm water, listening to music (Indigo Girls, always), and chatting with my rockstar support group. Aside from the occasional bouts of excruciating pain...it was rather pleasant. I labored in the warm water for awhile, until Alissa suggested I change positions and move around a bit to keep things progressing.

And that's when things went from fairly manageable to incredibly difficult for me. Later, I would find the right phrase to describe what it felt like - it felt like I was aboard/being dragged behind a runaway freight train and I just had to hold on for dear life. It progressed so quickly, the contractions were SO much more painful and intense than during my first labor, and I felt out of my mind as I tried to breathe and stay present. I remember crying and shaking my head over and over...I felt utterly defeated. Not like I wanted to transfer to the hospital and get an epidural, but just like I was DONE.

No more, can't do it, can't handle it. It was a really hard moment for me. One that I didn't experience in the same way with Penny, and one that really surprised me.

Alissa and Beth were comforting, encouraging, reassuring, soothing, and when they looked me in the eyes I knew that they really did know what I was feeling. I will forever be grateful for their support and love during what thus far has been the most difficult moment of my life. These women will forever feel like family to us. (And yeah, Beth was pregnant and up all night helping me have my baby. GODDESS.)

Thankfully, this rock-bottom moment was about 5 minutes before Felix was born. I crawled up onto the bed, Matthew holding me from behind, and my water broke. INSTANT RELIEF. Alissa was making notes and had her back to me, and I remember trying to convey that this was IT, that we were at full on pushing phase and that Felix was coming NOW. I pushed once, primal roar and all - and his head was out. (Matthew says his eyes were wide open, and he was staring straight at him.) There was a flurry of activity and Alissa was like "Jess! Take a breath! I only have one glove on!" Pushed a second time, and he was out. A total of maybe 30 seconds of pushing and we were done! (Alissa never did get that second glove on.)

The sweetest relief that has ever existed.

Felix Leander Roy came quickly into this world at 4:20 am, weighing 9lbs even and measuring 21" long.

We ate scrambled eggs and toast in bed while Felix nursed, and it was such a peaceful time. After a few hours, Matthew ran home and returned with a pajama clad Penny, who was SO EXCITED to meet her little brother. I still tear up remembering the moment she came into the room and crawled into bed next to me, eyes wide and sporting her Big Sister button. "Oh hiiiii Felix! Oh hiiiii Mommy!" Easily one of the top 5 most incredible moments of my life.

About an hour later the four of us left the Birth Center and were home in our bed by 9:00am. Heavenly. 

Over the next few days as I began to process my experience, I struggled with feeling like I had done a bad job, or like I hadn't handled Felix's birth the way I should have. I know that sounds weird - I had just successfully birthed a beautiful 9 lb baby boy, he was perfectly healthy, he was eating like a champ, I was feeling physically great - and yet I didn't have the same pride or excitement that I had after having Penny. Perhaps it was the vulnerability of experiencing such a huge event in front of close friends? (Hospital nurses, though lovely, can feel anonymous and I will love the midwives forever and ever, the end.) Or maybe that the intensity and speed of Felix's arrival really did take me by surprise and I felt completely out of control...or maybe, as the midwives assured me afterwards, I was experiencing what many women do with their second births. That "freight train" feeling of just holding on for dear life - apparently, this is pretty common.

Another thing that really helped me process how I was feeling was looking back at the birth photos. Lisa Field was our unicorn of a birth photographer - she has a background in labor and delivery so she was completely comfortable in a birth setting, and she is a talented artist who is able to capture the raw, unfiltered emotions of the moment. I am in love with her work, her outlook on life, her beautiful, spiritual presence, and both Matthew and I felt so grateful to have her be present for our birth experience. If you are on the fence about having a birth photographer, I encourage you to meet with Lisa.

Felix is now a couple months old and I am happy to say that I'm feeling much better about everything. I've let go of how I thought I should have handled the experience, and I've embraced the reality of what actually happened. Because I rocked it. It was hard and I cried and really, I thought I lost my mind for sure, BUT I came back from the brink and got through it. And now! Now I have a gloriously soft and squishy baby boy who laughs at my jokes. (And by jokes I mean gooney faces and noises.)



Any of you mamas reading this experience something similar with your second birth? If so, know that you are not alone. Definitely reach out - I would love to be a support or sounding board if you want to process.

Stay tuned for the photo explosion...coming soon. xoxo

3 comments

  1. I can't wait for the photos 😍
    You definitely rocked it!!
    I totally relate to the just being done feeling, that's how I felt when things were really intense with lily, I didn't want an epidural, I didn't want a csection, I was just like "no, I'm done, I'm not doing this anymore" like that was an option 😂

    You rocked it, 9 POUNDS of it!

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    1. Seriously! Definitely not one of my more rational moments..."yep, I'm done. Can I go home now?" 😂 Thank you for your encouragement - now I can hear it and feel awesome, but it was crazy how I couldn't hear it at first! It's been so great to share my experience with other moms and commiserate.

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  2. This nearly brought me to tears because I felt very similarly about the birth of my sixth baby last year. I felt terrible about her birth, something I'd never experienced and wasn't expecting after so many positive experiences. The feeling of strength and empowerment were absent. I somehow felt like I'd failed even though I had birthed a perfectly healthy and beautiful baby. I felt guilty and ashamed for feeling so powerless and then felt ungrateful for allowing myself to feel such things; such complicated emotions. It took me months to be able to talk about her birth without crying; at first I didn't even want to talk about it. What kind of mom doesn't want to talk about her birth story?? I don't think I even wrote in my journal about her birth until she was 6 months old. My mom, sister, and my husband (who had all been present) were so supportive and wonderful but I never felt like anyone could understand or relate to what I'd gone through. Although I'm sorry you felt the way you did, I am a little relieved to know that I wasn't alone in my experience. Thank you for sharing! By the way, I grew up with Matthew and always liked him. I regret that we weren't better friends in our school days. Felix is a perfect baby and I'm happy he's here; I can't imagine going 10 days past my due date! Also, the photos are stunning! What a treasure! Congratulations to your family!

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