Spencer Alan Miller
After having our third baby in March of 2010, my husband was certain he was done. I had always wanted four children, so I was slightly bummed, but didn't push the issue. When Jerzi was 18 months old, she weaned from nursing, and my cycle returned. I warned Nate I could get pregnant now, and he said – to my surprise – "If it happens, it happens!" Well, 2 months later, it happened! Baby Miller #4 was on it's way.
The pregnancy was a typical one...I got very big, very fast. We opted not to find out what we were having and I said from day one, "If this is a boy, it's going to be 10lb 6oz!" and every one always gasped...but my 5 yr old son was 9lb 14oz at birth, so I was ok with a 10lb baby. I started out seeing the midwives thru a local health group, and while they were very knowledgeable, they were very medically focused. I had heard of Morning Star Birth Center early on in my pregnancy, but it was an hour from my home, and I thought I'd just go with the hospital midwives. By 20 weeks I knew I'd made the wrong choice, but just stuck thru it. When they told me I couldn't have a water birth at 35 weeks, I broke down and called Morning Star. That's when things started looking up for us!
Our first appointment at Morning Star was at exactly 37 weeks. They took me in like I'd been there the whole pregnancy, and welcomed me with open, loving arms. I told them that my baby was on track to being well over 9lbs, and they said, "Excellent! More to love!" and didn't care that I wanted a water birth. They actually supported me and wanted to empower me and allow my body to do what it is made to do. We discussed the pregnancy, what I wanted for the birth, and got the rest of the appointments made. I walked out of there with a new found confidence and excitement for what I was going to experience.
On June 22, I had a horrible night. I thought for sure I was in labor! I woke up to awful cramps, nausea, shivering, body shakes, and contractions every 6 minutes. I didn't want to get ahead of myself so I waited for about an hour...unfortunately they stopped and I eventually fell back asleep. My 39 week appointment was the next day, and I let them know what had happened the night before. We all just chalked it up to me not eating supper that night and didn't think much more. About an hour after leaving the birth center, I ended up losing my mucus plug...and then I started thinking maybe that WAS the start of something. Nate said, "Well, you're going to have the baby on Monday. I know it. It's your dad's birthday and the baby is going to come then." I told him not to get his hopes up...I didn't want to get mine up either. Sunday was a typical day. No Braxton hicks, no cramping, lots of energy, and I actually felt great! We had dropped the older two kids off with Grandma on Saturday so we spent all day with Jerzi. We went to bed around 10 and I was actually comfortable...it was amazing!
At 12:01AM on Monday the 25th, I woke up to a single contraction. I thought, "No way...another bad night in store." This one was a little stronger, but nothing terrible, and I just got up and went to the bathroom like usual. I had a loose stool, which was weird for me, but again, I didn't want to get my hopes up. I laid back down and another contraction came at about 12:15...ok, 15 minutes apart. Nothing too alarming, but I let Nate know this could possibly be it. I said I'd let him know in a few hours. 12:24, another one...a stronger one. Ok...good, at least they are pretty far apart still. 12:34 and another one came...along with the shaking body and uncontrollable shivering. At 12:37 I called my best friend and doula, Monica, and she said get off the phone with me and call Catherine. Catherine answered the phone at 12:43, and I had another contraction while talking to her. She said, "Ok hun, I think it's time to have a baby, head on in!" and not 2 minutes later another contraction hit.
At this point it's real...not a false alarm. I almost lost it, and went face first crying onto my bed. Nate said, "It's ok, you can do this...call Maggie and tell her I will get Jerzi ready and you need to get to the car. We can make it thru this, together!" I pulled myself together and made my way down the stairs. I was scared and in pain, but knew this was when I needed to be strong. We got in the car at 12:52 and started towards Morning Star. I got on the phone with Monica and she could tell this was it.
Without Monica, I honestly don't think I would have made it. She calmed me down, got me focused, and helped me find my "groove" as she calls it. She told me to relax my body and tell that baby that we couldn't be in the car for the birth, and we needed to slow down. I started moaning thru each contraction, which were coming anywhere from 1-4 minutes apart. They hurt, and being in the car was not the place I thought I would labor, but with Monica's voice on the other end of that phone I made it thru each one. As Nate drove 90 mph down the interstate, I started having more and more contractions and more and more pressure. I had to focus, I had to breathe, and I had to make it to Morning Star! Catherine called at some point, and I let her talk to Nate. I don't know exactly what she said, but he knew he had to get me there and fast. He was great and just kept telling me I could do it. I remember him trying to hold my hand at one point, and I said "Don't touch!" because my hands had gone numb. He didn't mind and just kept comforting me thru his words. I finally hung up with Monica and just focused on getting thru the contractions, one painful bump at a time. Thank God we didn't get pulled over, or we would have never made it to Morning Star!
This is where things get fuzzy for me, and I am pulling some details from Monica!
At about 1:15 or 1:20 we pulled into the parking lot. Monica had been there for a few minutes and started setting up the room with Rachel. Catherine was walking in as we got there. I walked down to the Chocolate room and as a contraction hit, braced myself against the two walls. As I was coming out of that one, I told them I wanted my shirt off and my hair up. Bless Monica's lil heart, she is trying to get my hair up while I'm standing...even tho I have a good 4-5 inches on her! Catherine asks if I wanted to be checked. I told her I probably should because I didn't think it'd be much longer. Apparently I asked, "Do I just drop trou right here?" and they all giggled and said yes. Another contraction came and I braced the side of the tub, which was not even half full yet, and let it pass. Catherine checked me and as she got done I had another contraction where my water (in the words of Monica) erupted onto the floor. I literally flooded the room, and as they were trying to clean it up I had immediate relief. They kept saying, "Just 5 more minutes and the tub will be ready!" "Hold that baby in there, it's almost ready!" It was too late. My body started pushing, and I wasn't going to fight it. As I sat there, bracing the wall for support, I felt the head come out. No one told me when to push, or when to stop, I listened to my body and did what felt right. A few more minutes and I was pushing the body out. Someone asked Nate if he wanted to catch him...and Nate saying no thanks. I gave one final push and the baby was out at exactly 1:33AM. Nate looked over, and whispered in my ear, "It's a boy!" and after making sure the cord was long enough they handed him up to me!
I stood there, looking at him in awe! Did I really just do this?! Did I just have this baby, STANDING UP, and by myself?! It was so amazing to realize that I had let my body take over and do what it needed to do. I vaguely remember someone saying, "Shoot, you don't even NEED to be at a birth center next time, just have the next baby at home!" They asked if I wanted to get into the tub, which was finally full, and I did. I sat in there for what seemed like hours just looking at my lil Spencer. Even tho he didn't get in, Nate sat there and we just looked at Spencer, while the midwives and Monica rubbed the varnix into his skin. Rachel kept checking his cord, to see if it had slowed it's pulsating yet, and asked if we wanted to feel Spencer's heartbeat. It was so surreal feeling the blood being pumped into his body thru the cord, but something I will never forget. I finally felt like we could get out and lay down, so they helped us out and we all laid on the bed together. After getting into the bed we waited for the urge to deliver the placenta, and I was able to gently push it out while I nursed Spencer.
We were all anxious to see how much the lil man weighed. Catherine said under 10, Monica said 9lb 13oz, Nate said under 10, I don't remember Rachel's guess, and I still said 10lb 6oz. They put him on the scale and it said 10lb 6oz! None of us could believe it, and after they measured his length I was in pure shock! He was 10lb 6oz, 23 inches long, and his head was 14 inches. Definitely my chunky monkey! I was pretty proud of myself at this point, especially since I had no tears that needed repair.
Rachel asked if I wanted to see the placenta...I thought "Ok, that's kinda cool. Sure!" So while Nate stepped out of the room, we looked at the placenta. It had started to break down, meaning Spencer was definitely ready to be born, and the "tree of life", and my apparently extra long cord! They even measured it, mentioning it might be the longest they've seen, but I don't remember how long it was (it was 80cm[Catherine]). She showed us the sac where Spencer had lived the last nine months, and it was super cool!
So while it wasn't the water birth I had been dreaming about, it was better! I got to be in a place that was so warm and loving, surrounded by people who actually cared about us and wanted to help me do what they knew my body could do. I am grateful that Monica was there, and while she doesn't think she helped much, I couldn't have done it without her! She may have just snapped pictures at the birth center, but she helped me thru the worst part of my labor and she was there for me every step of the way. Nate was great too. Altho he didn't say much, just having him there and knowing no matter what he is there for me helped me thru the birth. I could feel him there and I knew I could do it...I was able to draw strength from him and I will always be thankful to have him as my husband and the father of my kids. The midwives were out of this world. They didn't force me to do anything I didn't feel like doing, and they guided me to do what I needed to do. Had I been in a hospital I don't know that I would have had such an easy labor or delivery...and for that I am so very thankful.
This week has been a dream, and Spencer's birth is still so surreal. I can't believe how things unfolded, and never imagined I'd have a story like his to tell. The staff at Morning\ Star helped me realize that while hospitals and Dr's are great for certain things, there is nothing better for labor and delivery than a place full of love and support, and little intervention. Thanks again, to everyone involved!