After we got the girls to bed, I was still having contractions on the regular. I was trying to ignore it, because I swear my labor is afraid of it’s own shadow. If I mention that I’m having contractions, they’ll shrink away immediately! I got the house picked up, and folded the rest of the baby laundry. I read over my birth affirmations and put on my birthing necklace for all the good energy I could muster. I prayed, and meditated a bit connecting with my baby and my body. I had text Janae earlier letting her know what was going on, and by 10:30 or so, I was feeling more ready to have her come. Brady got the birth tub out and ready to fill for when the time came, and around 11, Janae (midwife) and April (friend and videographer) both showed up.
We all sat in my room chatting a bit, and my contractions slowed way down. (I told you my labor is afraid of it’s own shadow..) at 12ish, Janae suggested she and April go in the other room and see if my labor picks back up. At this point I felt like it was more prodromal labor and my contractions were dying down. I felt super discouraged. I asked Brady to give me a priesthood blessing. He gave me such a sweet blessing; that my body would be strong, and my mind would be at peace, and our baby would be safe and sound. As soon as my blessing came to a close, a contraction hit strong and steady. In a minute, another, and then a minute after that. Janae and April had probably been out of my room for 5 minutes and when they came back in, I was in full blown, in-the-zone labor.
They quickly got to getting the tub filled, which proved to be a little difficult with our 1950’s house and tiny water heater. As I waited, contractions were becoming stronger and stronger. During each contraction, my sweet little team would take turns pressing on my hips with my heating pad. Once the tub was ready, I happily climbed in and immediately felt the relief I was hoping for.
Trisha, my doula (and janae’s birth assistant) who has been at all of my births, was headed out of town for the night when my labor started, but she turned around and came back for me. I was so so happy to see her and felt so grateful she would do that. A birth without her just wouldn’t be the same.
For weeks, the girls had been making me promise that if I went into labor during the day, I would check them out of school, and if I went into labor at night, I would wake them up. I promised I would. While I was laboring in the tub, we kept talking about when we should wake the girls. Sometime after a few very strong contractions and when I was feeling more pressure in my hips, we decided it was time. While I was still in the tub, my sweet, sleepy girls came walking in. “Hi mom,” Stella said, with Harlo quietly creeping in behind her. They hopped up on the bed and got comfortable, just taking in the scene from this exciting night. The sight of their sweet little faces was so precious to me in this time. I was so glad they were here.
We chatted between contractions a bit, and I’m not even sure what about now, but several times I got the giggles so bad and had to tell Mr. Miller to stop making me laugh. I thought in the back of my mind how much I loved having babies with my Mr. Miller. This is one of my favorite versions of him – seeing our babies in the world together. It’s such a happy and exciting time, and I cherished having my older girls be able to witness this with us.
Pretty soon I wanted out of the tub. I’m not sure why I always want out of the tub when my transition starts, but I just feel out of control. I’m not a big water person in general, and I just can’t fully let go when I’m in the water, even though it does feel so good. I decided to get out and get checked and go from there.
Janae went to check me and I said “am I even progressing? I’m not like at a 2 and you all are going home soon?” The false labor always plays with my mind. They all laughed and Janae said I still had a lip and could start pushing or doing whatever I wanted. At this point I could feel the baby moving down just like it was supposed to, and felt grateful that sweet thing was helping me out. I felt the need to be in a squatting position, and when I got into that position, the baby slipped even further into my pelvis and I suddenly had excruciating pressure in my tailbone and hips. I felt like they were going to split in two. Just then my legs started cramping up – their nightly routine – and I had to quickly move back to my back to stretch them out. I stayed there fighting with my body for a little while… taking turns stretching my legs out to avoid a charlie horse, and then getting back up to relieve my back/hip pressure.
I made a point to focus on my laboring necklace and all the good energy it brought to my birth. I would glance up and look at my birthing affirmations that said things like “my body is strong”, “my baby is coming!”, “birth is joyous”. I would make one my internal mantra for the next few contractions. I was surrounded by the most perfect birth team – my midwife Janae and her assistant Trisha, some of my two closest friends, April and Ashley who were there to shoot video and pictures, my sister was tuning in via FaceTime in California, my two precious girls who were calm and sweet and brought such a neat energy into the room, and my strong and capable husband who was there to see me through like he always, always has. In this moment, I felt so so blessed. I knew I could get through this labor.
My contractions picked up in intensity and I immediately found the need to lean on that strong and supportive birth team. Stella hummed with me through contractions which kept me grounded and focused, between contractions she would hop down and rub my arms and back. Harlo would lean down a hand for me to hold. Brady attended to my every whim applying pressure on my tailbone the way I always like. Janae kept my mind focused. Trisha kept the towels coming in non stop rotation, April and Ashley encouraged me right along, getting me sips of water, or whatever else I would need.
I started feeling defeated, as the end of labor makes one feel. “Janae.. help me!” I whined through contractions. I could feel every inch of the baby in my hips and the pressure was unbearable. She had me lay back to check me and though I was fully dilated, I still had that lip of cervix to get through. “Want me to break your water?” she said “YESSSSSS”, I almost shouted. She broke my bulging water bag which gave me quick relief of pressure, but just as soon as the relief came, so did the intense contractions.
“You’re just going to have to push through that lip, Cass and it will be all over.” Much like Grae’s birth, she had me lay flat and pull my legs back. She asked if I wanted help moving the cervix out of the way and I said yes, but when time push came to shove (literally) I quickly snapped “No! I remember what that feels like and I don’t want to do that.” This part was hurting so much more than my others had and I couldn’t take a bit more discomfort than I was already experiencing. I pulled my legs back and pushed and the hip-splitting pain intensified. When I would quit pushing, the contractions seemed to overtake me. I would push against the contraction, and again my bones felt like they were being ripped apart. I knew my girls were there and I wanted to control myself for them, but in my head I was losing control. “WHY ISN’T IT COMING OUT?” I exclaimed through exasperated breath. “The head is right there! When you push we can see the top of his head.. just a little more, Cass!” everyone encouraged. My irritability was gaining momentum and I suddenly felt the fury I needed to get inside myself and finish this labor. I curled over my huge belly one last time and pushed with every single inch of strength I could muster. Pushhhhhhhh, quick breath, pushhhhhhh, quick sob escaping, pushhhhhhh. There was the head top of the head. I pushed hard again, and out inched the face. I waited for the easy part to come, when the baby just slips out, but that wasn’t happening. I pushed again. “Okay, Cass, here you go! Grab the shoulders!” It seemed nearly impossible to think about my arms reaching down to get this baby, but I somehow managed it anyway. I wrapped my arms around those sweet shoulders and had to push just one last time to get the rest of the body out. This baby made me work for every last inch.
I pulled this precious child onto my chest. The sweetest relief I’ve ever felt. I wanted to lay just like that for 100 years. “What is it?!” Janae said, “I don’t know,” I brushed off, not even being able to think about the next step through my exhaustion. And in this split second, I truly didn’t care. I loved this baby. This was MY BABY, the one I had been waiting and waiting for. The one that was sent just for me. Whether it was a boy or a girl seemed somehow insignificant now that I was holding it in my arms. I reached up to move it’s warm little leg out of the way. “It’s a boy!” Janae and I announced simultaneously. I heard the room roar with excitement and I held him even closer. Brady half-laughed/half-sobbed into the back of my neck as he wrapped his hands around my arms. I felt so proud and secure right there in his arms, holding our newborn son.
“Our son. I have a son,” I thought. “My son! Of course! Of course it’s you! My son!” I said over and over in my head.
(special thanks to Ashley Flowers Photography for these precious, priceless photos)