The following birth story was written and shared by Katie Miller – an NHBS client who endured a devastating miscarriage followed by a triumphant pregnancy and birth.
Thank you to the Miller family for sharing their story with all of us!!
My husband, Jon, and I decided that we were ready to have kids in 2010. We went on what was supposed to be our last “adult” vacation in August 2010. After a few months of trying, we found out we were pregnant in October 2010. We were elated, but I was also terrified.
Years before, during one of those “life planning” conversations couples have, Jon mentioned that he was born at home and there were alternatives to a traditional hospital birth. This planted a seed in my brain and I began to research home births, midwives, and other “alternative” methods of parenting. This research made me firmly aware that a home birth was the type of birth I wanted to have, but after we found out we were pregnant, we went to see my long time OB since we hadn’t found a midwife yet and once you get a positive pregnancy test at home you are “supposed” to go to your OB to get the results confirmed, right? The visit with my old OB was not at all what I was hoping for. It was impersonal, rushed, and when we questioned the course of care we were told that this is the way things are done. Right after this appointment I began searching for a midwife close to us. I went through website after website, discarding them as possibilities for one reason or another. Finally I stumbled across NHBS and thought “wow, this sounds like exactly what I was looking for”. On I navigated to Stephanie’s blog and I was hooked! I told Jon that we needed to contact her and if she was half as awesome as her blog, she was meant to be our midwife. He agreed and we scheduled an interview. During our interview, Stephanie proved that she was much more awesome than her blog could ever truly convey and we luckily were able to fit into her July 2011 birth schedule. We had found our midwife and we were thrilled!
On December 27th, 2010, we had our 11.5 week appointment with Stephanie. All was going well until she went to find the heart beat – nothing. She told us to try not to worry and that it was possible that she just couldn’t find the heart beat. She told us to come back the next day so she could check again. The longest 24 hours passed and we went back, but the news was no better. Still no heart beat. Stephanie arranged to have an ultrasound technician come to our house that evening to see what was going on with the baby. That evening we found out that our first baby, whom we have named Poppy, had died. We were devastated. As terrified about being pregnant as I was, my whole world crashed around me when we heard the news. We talked to Stephanie to find out what our options were with a missed miscarriage. We wanted to avoid a D&C and we didn’t really want to wait for my body to realize the baby was dead since the ultrasound showed Poppy had only lived slight longer than 7 weeks. We chose to see an OB who prescribed Cytotec to help encourage my body to deliver Poppy. It took two oral rounds and one vaginal round to convince my body that it was time for Poppy to be born. On January 5th, 2011, my husband and I delivered our first child and buried her in a sunshine yellow hat her grandma had made for her.
The next two months were filled with frustration because I kept bleeding and bleeding from the miscarriage. I bled for over 8 weeks and each passing day was a reminder that we had lost our baby. Once I stopped bleeding Jon and I determined that we didn’t want to wait to try again even though our world was still shrouded in the thick, sticky, paralyzing fog of our loss and we were merely shells of our former selves. The months went by, holidays went by, time slipped away through the hour glass. Our relationships were tested and eventually Jon and I found ourselves again. The fog lifted over time and we began to piece ourselves together again. Being broken means that the scars will never truly fade and there will always be a hole where a part of you is missing, but when you fight to be remade you come out of the fire stronger than you once were. Jon and I decided that after months of trying to get pregnant again we needed a break and figured what better way to take a break than to go to the city where we were married and celebrate both our four year marriage anniversary (and 10 years as a couple) and Poppy’s due date, both of which fall in July. We were off to Vegas for a few days. A few weeks after our trip, Jon pointed out that I was a little late starting my period. I told him I didn’t want to jinx anything and I wasn’t going to take a test until I was REALLY late. I had taken too many tests when I was a couple days late over the past few months just to be heartbroken all over again when I saw the negative sign appear on the test. He said “well that’s fine; it will just be the elephant in the room until you take a test”.
A few more days passed and I finally agreed to take a test if I hadn’t started my period by the next morning. As soon as the positive sign showed up on the test, I woke Jon up to tell him the good news and I immediately called my mom. Again we were elated, but this time I was not terrified of becoming a mom, I was terrified of losing a second baby, terrified that my body would “fail” again. I asked the powers above and my angel baby to watch after this new life and keep it safe. When we met with Stephanie for our 12 week appointment I had knots in my stomach. I dreaded getting up on her table and hearing the same silence that we heard months before. For days before the appointment I prayed that the baby’s heartbeat would be strong and easy to find and my prayer was answered. Stephanie easily found the baby’s heart beat. Words cannot express the joy that filled my heart at that moment. We had a healthy baby growing inside me and we nicknamed the baby El, short for the Elephant in the room.
One thing I learned from my miscarriage was that we need to enjoy EVERY minute of EVERY day because we will never be in that moment ever again. I took this to heart during this pregnancy. I promised myself and El that I was going to truly enjoy this pregnancy and I would not let a single second be unappreciated. One of my biggest regrets is that by the time I was getting use to the idea of becoming a mom during my last pregnancy, Poppy no longer had a heart beat. I felt I had missed being truly excited about her while she was alive. I promised myself that I was going to enjoy and love this baby to the fullest extent.
I was extremely lucky to have such an easy pregnancy. Throughout the pregnancy I felt great, I didn’t have a lot of nausea, I regained my energy quickly during the second trimester. I continued to feel great throughout my third trimester and worked up until three days before El was born. My fears of having another miscarriage subsided over time and as I began to trust my body again my fears were replaced with the joy of hearing El’s heart beat and feeling El move inside me. I had a healthy little traveler and I knew that my angel baby was right there with us making this journey.
El was due Wednesday March 28th, 2012. With my due date having come and gone, on Friday the 30th Jon and I went to see a movie, hoping that it would be our last movie night out for a while. Saturday we decided that we needed to get out of the house and went off for a fun day out and about. We went to IHOP for breakfast, then to Woodcraft (one of Jon’s favorite stores). We were then off to the Tempe Art Festival, where Jon “force marched” me around the artist booths to try to encourage labor. Next we went to Macy’s to get some new towels with a gift card we were given for Christmas. We had lunch at California Pizza Kitchen and then we headed home because I was getting tired. Around 8pm we noticed that our backyard neighbors were having a party. Their parties have historically been pretty crazy and we wondered to each other how late this one would go.
Around 10:15pm, after watching what Jon declared was a very depressing movie, I started having pretty strong contractions. I tried laboring through the contractions downstairs in our family room for a little while but couldn’t get comfortable. I tried laboring on a yoga ball we got for the birth, but that wasn’t comfortable either. Jon and I went upstairs and the only position I could find that was comfortable was on my knees leaning against the cuddle couch in our bedroom.
Around 11:15pm (note: the times from this point are estimations since my sense of time was all screwed up) we called my mom to let her know that El was going to be making an appearance soon and that she should drive down to Mesa from their home near Show Low. Around 11:30pm I had Jon call Rose and tell her that we needed her to come over soon. Rose arrived around midnight and asked me if I wanted her to call Stephanie yet and if I wanted the pool set up. I said “not yet” to both questions thinking that we were in for a long night and I didn’t want to rush things.
By around 12:20am Rose had set up the pool after Jon rounded up our two cats and put them in a separate bedroom while our dog stayed on either the couch in our room or our bed watching over me, though she eventually had to be put into the cradle in our room so she could still be near me but didn’t get into Stephanie’s equipment. A few minutes after I got into the pool Rose called Stephanie and told her to come over.
Around 1am Stephanie and Krystal arrived at our house and the neighbor’s party was still going strong. Occasionally they would let loose with a loud “WooHOO!” and Jon called them my cheering section. My water broke around 2:30 or 2:45am after an intense pressure and a significant “pop”. I began pushing around 3am. Around 4am everyone mentioned that they were starting to see El’s head and the party outside was finally over.
At 4:25am Jon caught El and he passed El up to me. After a few minutes of overwhelming joy and a lot of tears, Stephanie asked us if we had looked to see the sex of our baby. Jon and I looked at each other and then looked down to notice that El was a little girl! The umbilical cord was pretty short and only took a few minutes to stop pulsing. At that point Stephanie clamped the cord and Jon got to cut the cord.
We called my mom and told her to come and meet her granddaughter. My mom arrived about 20 minutes later and met the new addition to our family, her first grandchild, little Lilly Ann. We are all overwhelmed by the presence of this little person who we had been awaiting for so long. Lilly’s presence was made possible by the horrible loss we had suffered months before. It is because of Poppy that Lilly is here with us today. On her birth day, our diamond girl, Lilly, was 6 pounds, 12 ounces, 19.5 inches long, with a head circumference of 13.5 inches. Happy April Fools Day!