Tag Archives | the birth series

Tag Archives | the birth series

drowning in blessings

cassmiller – Just a happy little reminder left just for me on my sidewalk by one of my children. #tendermercy
If you are going through a stormy season, let me remind you that your rainbow is coming. God is with us in our trials and He never wastes a hurting heart. 💛


I have been dealing with a wave of depression over the last little while.  I know it’s depression, not only because depression has gotten so familiar to me, but when my life seems pretty smooth, everyone is doing well, things are busy and bustling and there’s nothing to be sad about, yet still I feel sad inside.  That is exactly what’s been going on here.

This morning, as I finished up my hour of gratitude, where I start my day noting all the things I am grateful for, I told Mr. Miller, “I feel like I’m drowning in blessings.” and that is exactly how I feel.  I am so grateful for this full and happy life, and sometimes it just feels like so much full and happy life.  I guess I’ll take that particular set of issues.

Depression isn’t something I chat about too much, even though it’s something I’ve dealt with my entire life.  Lately though, as I have been studying depression, post partum depression, depression in women, I have found some truths and statistics that troubled me.  Like, post partum depression being the highest complication after delivery, but only 7% of these women suffering get help.  I found this through my own research to find answers for my post partum depression, a very misunderstood and misdiagnosed form of depression.

I, of course, believe in living a healthy lifestyle.  I do all things possible to maintain a happy, healthy, and wholesome life.  These things include but are not limited to: eating habits, exercise, self care, therapy, good books, nights with friends, a good date night, resting, self love, down time, vacation, feeding creativity…  I believe everyone should be striving for these things on the regular.  IF MAMA AINT HAPPY AINT NOBODY HAPPY.  It is not bad mothering to enjoy life and prioritize taking care of your mind, body, and spirit.  That is actually great mothering.  You cannot fill anyone’s cup if yours is on empty.  Take time for yourself.

I (after exhausting all my options I could on my own) sought help from my OBGYN, because ya know, post-partum/women/childbirth…  but after they lead me kind of astray and I felt worse and more confused after their carelessness, I eventually found myself in the care of my primary care doctor, which is exactly where I should have been in the first place, I learned.  So, know that is where to go.  Depression you can chat to your primary care doctor about.  *And if you find one you like, keep them forever! (words from the wise here) His help might be lifestyle suggestions, different areas of therapy, hormone support, medication… there is a variety of different treatments, but just talking about it to someone safe might make the world of difference toward feeling better.

Do you know the signs of depression?  If you aren’t feeling yourself, if you can’t feel the joy that you can see all around you, if you have increasingly less energy that you typically have, or are finding yourself always feeling like you’re running on empty… these could all be signs of depression.  I have struggled with depression and post partum depression, and after each of my babies, my post partum depression has manifested itself differently.  Sometimes with anxiety and panic attacks, sometimes with all consuming, reason-less sadness, sometimes in extreme feelings of failure or never doing enough.  I muscled my way through it, and now that I have an entire family that depends on my emotional well being, I have had to prioritize myself and get the help and answers I needed to get better.

There is NO SHAME in self love, self care, self prioritization.  The more kids I have, the more I have to prioritize myself.  The weird thing is, the more kids I have, the less natural it feels for me to keep myself at top billing.  I have really kept to aligning my life with my relationships with God and myself as my priorities.  This is the only way I wont get swallowed up by the bits of life that can become consuming.

For me, this dance is not hardly ever graceful.  Or not ever.  I burn way out before I start asking for help, but I am learning that about myself, and looking for opportunities to be better.  Working on my own personal boundaries and figuring out what I can really fit on my plate.  And that’s it, just on my plate.  Not what is on her plate, or what the general area has on their plates in comparison to mine.  We all have a different place here, and it’s okay if I can only squeeze in one kid in a dance camp for the year and tell the rest Santa will only come if they sacrifice extra-curricular activities. (Just kidding, but really..) While other friends of mine seem to breeze through the web of organization it requires to maintain a bustling family schedule. (Looking to you here Liz, Jess, Amy…)  “Different” is not “less than”.  Run your race, let the others run theirs.

I am feeling better after a couple of tough weeks, and I pray that as I continue to learn about myself, I can heal faster, grow deeper in faith and love, care for myself better, and maintain a happier, healthier, more beautiful life.  At least, that’s the goal here.

If there is one thing that I have learned through this blog of mine, it is that we are not alone in our lives.  Not only is God with us, but He provides us angels all over in the world to connect with.  You all have been a blessing to me, and I care about us all too much to not sometimes talk about the important stuff.  If you are out there reading this, needing these reminders today, remember this: You are loved, you are thought about, you are prayed over.  You, my dear friend, are not alone.


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Major’s Birth | Part 3

As soon as he was out, the girls hopped down off the bed to either side of me.  Their little hands quickly grabbing hold of his, feeling his head, his back.  I couldn’t think of a time I had ever been more happy or fulfilled.

Harlo looked at him, “You’re right, mom.  He looks like a Major.”  Major is the name I had loved for a boy, but Harlo hadn’t been so sure until she saw him.  “Can we name him Major?” she asked.  My girls sat at my side as I delivered the placenta.  “Look girls!” I said “That’s where the baby lived while he was in my belly. That’s where he got all his nutrients to grow.” Janae held up the placenta and bag attached for the girls to check out.  Easily the coolest science project I’ll ever be able to show them.

I held him while we all oo’d and aww’d over his sweet little face, his too-big-for-his-body hands, his long feet and toes.  We were all completely smitten.  We giggled about how he looked exactly like Stella, and I told the girls about their own births and how they were the same and different from this one.

The girls helped Brady cut the cord while we all marveled in the miracle of life.  We snuggled into my bed in the wee hours of the morning and let the feeling of heaven opening right up for our family soak in.  Our boy was here, and life was all but perfect.

Mr. Miller has a son!


After Thoughts:

 My son’s birth was one of the sweetest experiences in my life.  Having my girls there to witness this miracle will go down as my favorite moment with them.  Their precious little spirits were so calming to me as I worked hard to delivery their brother.  Stella humming alongside me kept me focused and comforted, and it helped me accomplish my goal of bringing this baby into a calm, loving space.  Harlo’s excitement and wonder was just the most precious thing.  They weren’t nervous or worried, they were calm and thrilled.  There was never a single moment I wished they weren’t there.  They know me so well, and knew just how to help me in ways that no one else could have.  They are still talking about this experience even two months later.  They loved being a part of this, they were so mature and handled themselves so well.  What a sweet bonding experience it was for them and I.  My precious big girls!  Heaven sent.

This birth was my third natural home birth.  It surprises me each time how different my birth experiences can be.  Major’s labor was as sweet as they come, but he really made me work for every last bit.  I overcame physical limits I had never had to before.  Pushing out that strapping son of mine was hard work.  So hard, that I was certain he would be at least 9 lbs.. maybe 10.  I was only slightly disappointed when he was 7.13 – not even my biggest baby.  Ha! Major’s birth story will be my favorite labor, and my toughest delivery.  But worth every last drop, times one million.  Would I do it all over again?  Absolutely.  If I have another baby, would I do a natural home birth again?  For me, it’s the only way.  My babies have the absolute best of care and love as they come into this world.  My birth team, especially my midwife, is the best there is.  Janae loves my babies fiercely  – she handles them as they’re her very own.  She has supported me in some of the toughest decisions I’ve had to make, and has walked with me as I have found myself and settled into my own slice of motherhood.  Every pregnant mother deserves a Janae.  She is invaluable to me, and I know she was divinely placed in my life.

A few weeks before I delivered, I wondered if not finding out the gender was the right choice.  I felt myself being worried about the possibility of having a boy.  Two weeks before my due date, I asked Brady, “Should we just go get an ultrasound?” Ha!  I will tell you that that moment of finding out what our baby was – all together in that special way – was the most thrilling experience.  There was no room for worry or disappointment, and I’m so glad I got to experience that.  I have never experienced anything sweeter than that moment with my family.  If we have any more babies, there is no way we would find out ever again.  That surprise was just too too good.  What a wonderful welcome!

Major came into my life exactly when he was supposed to.  I know that more than ever.  He brought with him such peace, joy, healing, and faith restored.  Since he arrived, there has been an abundance of happiness in our home.  He is exactly what our family was waiting for.  Simply put, this boy is everything we never knew we needed.


Janae’s Website HERE

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Major’s Birth | part 2

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.

IT’S A BOY!!!!!

(special thanks to Ashley Flowers Photography for these precious, priceless photos)



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major’s birth story | part 1

During my pregnancy, I had it in my mind that I would at least make it to my due date.  I have found being mentally prepared for going overdue has helped in the past, so I didn’t let my mind think about the possibility of going early.

Just like I had predicted, I woke up on my due date, still very very pregnant.  This pregnancy had been quite an uncomfortable one – I was carrying this one straight out in front which was wreaking havoc on my back, ribs, and hips.  I had sciatica pain, and horrible rib pain.  I had tried to be patient, but I couldn’t deny that I was absolutely miserable – and huge – at this point.  I was getting little to no sleep at all, and prodromal labor had started like it does for me.  Contractions picking up and getting consistent just long enough for me to get my hopes up before they would die off again.  This mind game mixed with my physical misery had begun to feel like torture.  I had my midwife’s appointment that day and didn’t bother getting checked for dilation.. I knew I would be way too disappointed if I wasn’t progressing and I didn’t want to add that to my plate of misery.

The next day, Mr. Miller took me out on a date – our usual weekly occasion.  We went to one of our favorites and had a delicious meal hoping it would be my last pregnant meal.  Brady was so sweet to me that night and helped me hobble across the street to the car while my sciatic nerve was flaring up.  He took me for a drink and then for a drive, which is one of my favorite things to do.  We talked about how crazy we were for not finding out what we were having and the possibilities for each.  We chatted about some final name ideas – Major or Harris for a boy and we were still between a few for girls.. Luca, Arden and Ever.  We talked about how crazy and amazing it was to be having our fourth baby and I wondered if we would have more, or if this would be my last.  It was just the kind of night I needed to lift my spirits and get me through the next few days.  

That night I had quite a bit of contractions starting at midnight and lasting til about 3:30, and sadly, I dozed off and woke up again still pregnant at 6.  I woke up on Thursday feeling like I would certainly be pregnant forever.  My friend had recently gone 19 days overdue, and I got depressed at that mere possibility.

By Friday, I decided I would not be leaving my house again.  I stayed in comfy clothes, tidied up my house, ordered pizza for supper and arranged a family movie night.  I had some contractions start around dinner, but that was typical for this time of night.  My dad text me to ask if I could help him with something or other on the computer and I text back and said “not tonight, dad, I’m going to stay home and hope labor starts and I don’t want anyone over.” ha! He’s a good man, and text me back “Totally get it! Good luck!” I sat on my birth ball through the movie and welcomed each and every contraction that came.  My girls were cuddled up to Brady on the couch and my heart was overwhelmed with love for my little growing family.  It was a perfect night to have a baby, I thought, but even if I didn’t, I was still the luckiest mama in the world.



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