Tag Archives | the birth series

Tag Archives | the birth series

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

Comments { 2 }

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)



Comments { 5 }

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.



Comments { 0 }

The Birth Series | Randi & Penny

Right now I am featuring a collection of real birth stories on the blog as I prepare for my own upcoming delivery.  To submit a birth story, please email me at cassmillerphoto (at) gmail (dot) com. **All birth stories are welcome in this series – it is not limited to natural or home births.  I am hoping to showcase all types of births and experiences.** 

Back with another beautiful birth story today.  Wish it was mine, but alas, I will use this story as inspiration and hopefully, hopefully, I’ll be experiencing my own birth story this week!

Randi was so sweet for letting me feature her incredible home birth experience.  She is a blogger as well, and wrote about her journey to discovering home birth HERE if you’d like to hope over to read that first.  I always love hearing about how people stumble onto different birth choices, and I especially love hearing when that journey leads them to a great birth.  So excited to be featuring this especially sweet story today….

{Penny’s Birth Story}

Towards the end of my pregnancy, Trenton and I took a hypnobabies class. I wanted to equip myself mentally to be able to withstand the pain of labor. Hypnobabies was so much more than just teaching me to fight pain.. it was a marriage strengthening, confidence building, mind strengthening, knowledge building experience. I love how hypnobabies provided me with tracks to listen to daily – particularly the positive affirmations track that was filled with positive words that calmed me. Hypnobabies was extremely helpful to me in preparing me mentally to believe in my ability to fulfill my calling as a woman. Just as a note, Hypnobabies uses a different language: Contractions are called pressure waves, labor is called birthing time, and transition is called transformation.

The day after my due date, (January 28th) I had my midwife check me to find that I was not dilated or thinning hardly at all. I was quite discouraged because I was feeling Braxton hicks and lots of pressure in my cervix. I had my midwife sweep me but we weren’t confident it would do much. Also baby hadn’t grown since the previous week so I was a bit worried. I used the fear clearing track that night to calm myself along with prayer.

Friday, January 29th, I woke up after having a good cry the night before. I was worried about everything Thursday – worried about baby’s growth, about going over my due date and having to go to the hospital, worried about complications arising, etc. Friday morning however, I felt peace. I had taken all my worries and placed them in front of me – gave them a good look then tossed them out. I no longer felt worry – just determination to do all that I needed to do to get baby here. I hung out on the birthing ball all day and if i wasn’t bouncing on the ball, i was doing exercises and stretches. Mid morning that day I lost my mucus plug. I was excited to see something happen that meant progress but I had seen this before with my second pregnancy and still got induced days later. I started getting sporadic “birthing waves” (contractions) but didn’t think much about that either.

Saturday morning (January 30th) I woke at 4:30am to contractions that were 30 seconds long and about 10 minutes apart. I waited til 6:00am to text my midwife. My midwife then told me to track the contractions for another hour then and by 8am they were stronger and closer together. We called my parents and asked them to come pick up the boys – not really knowing if we would have a baby that day. We sat down as a family of four on our bed and Trenton said a family prayer. Trenton also gave me a blessing right after the prayer. His prayer and blessing were beautiful and the spirit was strongly present. As contractions got stronger I was pausing to focus and Maxwell was concerned – asking me if I was sad. I told him I was very happy but that I had a stomach ache. hehe. Jude was just really bouncy and didn’t notice what was even going on. I was glad at that moment to have my parents coming to get them.

I got in my bathtub (as my midwife suggested to me) and listened to my birthing day affirmations and started channelling my hypno-anesthesia with each wave. (Hypno-anesthesia is a visualization technique that helps eliminate pain.) I found myself turning my switch to center and saying in my head “pressure not pain” as I visualized the anesthesia attacking the pain in my body. I was doing quite good at eliminating pain or at least dulling it. I felt really calm and in control of my contractions.

My midwife Cyndi arrived around 9:00am. When she had told me she was coming over but wasn’t going to rush I thought “Oh I guess she’s just coming as support… that’s so nice!” I still wasn’t sure if I was having a baby that day or not. haha! Anyway, when my midwife saw me in my bath she asked if it was helping and if I wanted to use her birthing pool… I hadn’t planned to use it but opted to try it because the water was nice but my tub was not comfortable. The birthing assistant April brought the pool and we filled it up while I got out of the bath and used my hypnosis through each birthing wave – while sitting on the birthing ball. We decided to put the birthing pool in Penny’s room simply because it fit best there. I didn’t know if I’d delver there and thought maybe I’d just use the water for comfort but thought it would be fun to deliver in Penny’s room if it worked out that way.

By about 11:30 the pool was full and I got in. The water was an amazing comfort and I hadn’t even thought until then about how my special safe place is in water and how right for me a water birth could be.  (A special safe place is a place the very first hypnobabies track tells you to visualize. It’s really sweet! The track tells you to imagine somewhere relaxing and happy. I imagined a pool in a white room with big windows with me floating in the water and my boys around me. The track also tells you to imagine yourself holding your baby and to talk to your baby.. it’s pretty much the sweetest thing to visualize and moved me to tears a few times.) The playlist my dad made for me for my birthing time was playing and as one of my favorite songs came on (homeward bound) I remember feeling this overwhelming sense of peace and joy. I could feel the warmth of the spirit so strongly and I was moved to tears. This feeling was something I had looked forward to – something I knew was more likely to happen in my home than the hospital.

Birthing waves quickly became more and more intense at that point and my husband was doing a great job at saying “relax” and “peace” (both words to signal hypnosis) to calm me. But ultimately, I had to remove myself from the real world and search within myself for strength and peace. I would immerse my entire body except my face and hands (which were holding my husband’s hands) under the water and either pray or say peace to myself. The anesthesia became harder for me to channel and then I became really loud. haha! I remember thinking I sounded like a cow and I think I freaked my husband out a little! hehe!

As I got more vocal, the midwife and birthing assistant started to seem excited and were telling me I was doing great. I kept asking my midwife when I should push and she said I need to trust myself and push when I feel the urge. It was so strange for me to not be told when to push but soon enough I was able to listen to my body. By then it was happening so fast and I lost all control, I did not know how to channel hypnosis anymore. I was scared and I was making a lot of noise. I remember praying to my heavenly father to give me the strength I knew I did not have without his help. I knew what I needed to do but I did not want to do it. I told my midwife I was scared and she then said “Randi, give me your hand.” She put my hand on baby’s crowning head and this incredible peace came over me. All pain left me – I saw my special safe place, my body relaxed and I let out a big sigh. (Trenton also tells me I said “I love her!” but I don’t remember that.) I knew I was about to meet my baby.

Three pushes later and my sweet Penny was on my chest and in my arms. It took some loud noises and pain to get her out but all pain left me instantly once she was in my arms. Our sweet 7 pound, 2 ounce and 21 inches long Penny Belle Gardner was born on January 30th, 2016 at 1:19pm. She was born on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in her bedroom, in our home – just as we had hoped.

After Penny was born, my midwife wanted me to walk to my bedroom to deliver the placenta. I’m still cracking up about how I was holding my baby – umbilical cord still attached – while climbing out of the pool, and walking through the hall to my bed. It’s amazing to me that I could just get up and walk instantly! I felt amazing! I delivered the placenta and Trenton cut the cord after it stopped pulsating. (If you don’t know about delayed cord clamping, look it up! I was shocked to find out that there are many nutrients still remaining in the placenta even after the baby is delivered… it is so beneficial to wait and let the placenta and cord drain before cutting it off from baby.) I didn’t need any stitching – I had a very minor tear. I didn’t need any medicine, or oxygen. Everything was so completely uncomplicated and wonderful.I was able to have skin to skin time with Penny and let Trenton hold her too for a long time while my midwife and birthing assistant cleaned up, did paperwork etc. They then helped me shower while they changed my bed sheets and made my room comfortable! They even fed me! hehe! The care from Cyndi and April was absolutely wonderful. I felt sad when they finally left – like they were my best friends now and I didn’t want to say goodbye. I am so thankful for them and highly recommend them!

It is incredible to have two strong women guiding you but not telling you what to do – reassuring you that YOU have the strength to know how to give birth to a baby. Giving birth naturally is the single most character building experience of my life. I feel like I am this transformed woman walking around in this seemingly normal looking body. Yes I appear to be simply a 27-year old average looking woman.. but inside I am powerful, strong, and immovable. I am daughter of God with the ability to channel his godly power. I have a divine role as a wife to Trenton, a favored son of God and worthy priesthood holder. And as a mother to Jude, Maxwell, Penny and the other sweet spirits waiting for us in heaven. I am not what I appear to be on the outside, I am so much more. And giving birth naturally has made this truth so much more clear to me.

This experience was all that I wanted it to be. It is an incredible experience to do something you never thought you could do. It is amazing to have to rely on the Lord so strongly, to pray harder than ever before, to rely on your husband so strongly and feel that incredible bond of husband and wife bringing life to the earth together.


 View Randi’s full post with pictures HERE.

Comments { 1 }