In some ways, I can’t believe I’m writing another birth story…. and in other ways, deep down I think I knew our family wasn’t complete after having Rhett.
Miles was a surprise to us but not to God. He knew the plans He had for us and I’m so grateful I didn’t because it’s one CRAZY year to be growing our family by one more baby. We started a school this year and while it’s literally one of the best things that has ever happened to our little family, it’s also been a dramatic shift for our lifestyle. Michael is incredibly gifted with kids. He always has been. So, it’s a beautiful thing to see him leave the house daily to be in the studio with our learners. However, it had also left a large gap at home and just when we were getting adjusted to that change, we threw in a new member of the family! ha!
The truth is, we are finally getting the hang of our new rhythm. The first few weeks were the hardest postpartum weeks that I have ever had. This has been the easiest physical recovery out of all five of my births. The struggle was mentally and emotionally. Miles was pretty fussy and just overall unsettled his first few weeks. I’ve NEVER had a baby that wasn’t content to be put down or happy in the swing. I’ve also never had a baby with gassiness and the discomfort that comes from that. So, needless to say, the sleepless nights led to a lot of tears and stress. It wasn’t just the sleepless nights, it was the fact that I knew something wasn’t right and I couldn’t help but keep trying to figure it out. Was it dairy? Was it a latch issue? Did he have a tongue tie? Did he just need some probiotic? Is he just a colicky baby and this is going to be our life for the next 6 months to a year?!
Thankfully, I reached out to the wonderful world of Instagram and was encouraged to see a speech and swallow specialist in Richmond who could truly see if he had a tie (Pediatricians and IBCLC’s often miss them and they did 3x in our case!). Sure enough, he had a posterior tie and a grade 3 lip tie. They were released and his gas practically disappeared, his latch improved, my pain in nursing improved, my milk supply doubled and he gained 2 pounds in 14 days. Talk about wins all around!!
So, why am I telling you all of that when this is supposed to be a birth blog post? Well, all of that (plus an international trip/wedding to shoot) is why I’m just now getting around to sharing this blog post! Now that I’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about his birth.
Mile’s birth was my most confusing but also my simplest.
Miles was born at home… on purpose… and I loved every minute of it. I seriously wish I could have had all three of my living boys at home because it was so incredibly peaceful and simple and dare I say RESTFUL! Yes. It was restful. The laboring was more restful and the postpartum experience was 100x more restful than being at the hospital!
Ok, so how did this happen? Why did I opt for a homebirth?! Was I scared? All of these are great questions and honestly, the best place to hear answers is on this podcast episode! I share my entire birth journey and details about my decision to do a homebirth. You can listen HERE!
So, back to the birth story…. I had my first experience with prodromal labor. I basically felt like I was in labor on Thursday night and we were just minutes from calling Nancy, my midwife, to get on the road to our house…. and then I walked to the kitchen and it all stopped. It stopped and honestly didn’t return. So I had just lost a full night’s sleep and there was no sign of a baby. We waited until the next night and my midwife decided to come to the house to see how I was doing. She checked me and I was at 5cm. So all of the prodromal labor wasn’t useless… just frustrating. She adjusted/aligned the baby and then I walked laps with a belt on to keep him in place. Contractions came but they weren’t consistent when I would stop walking and so it was about 10:00 at this point and we decided to either call it quits or take Nancy’s castor oil concoction. Her concern was that this was my fifth baby in six years and that I had technically been in labor for over 24 hours at this point and I would be getting close to exhaustion when the time did come for full blown labor to pick up. I didn’t know what to do. I was definitely stressed about it. My body was literally doing NOTHING like I envisioned it would. In the past, I have started labor and that was it. It was go time and we had a baby in a matter of hours. This was bizarre and so incredibly frustrating to me. I felt like my body had just forgotten how to have a baby…. and what’s crazy is that Nancy (our midwife) had told me MANY times prior to labor that 5th and 6th labors can be like this. I wanted to will myself into making it happen and that caused more harm than good. I needed to just relax. Nancy told me that many times!
I decided to take her up on her ice cream, peanut butter and castor oil mixture. I ate it and then just waited. She told me to not think about it and go watch something on Netflix for 30mins. So I sat in the living room with Michael and my sister and watched a comedy show and didn’t laugh at any part of it! ha! I was trying to relax but in my mind, I just kept thinking “What am I going to do?! Poor Nancy is here, I’m 5cm and fully effaced, she says I’m ready but my inconsistent contractions are driving me crazy. Thankfully, it wasn’t long before my 30mins of resting was up and I started walking again. This time, the contractions were stronger and I needed to stop for them. Nancy made me squat during several of them (pure misery!) and lunge for a few. I appreciated having her tell me what to do because I’ve never had a doula or midwife experience where someone was there to coach me through contractions and positions. I did everything she said because I truly trusted her. She’s spent decades bringing babies into the world and she told me “We’ll have a baby around midnight” and she was *almost* spot on.
After just an hour, I was in transition and decided to get in the tub. Hot water felt amazing. I think I had about 30ish minutes in the tub before Miles arrived. It was very much like I had envisioned. I wanted to be able to move around (super easy when you’re floating in water!) and I prayed that it would be straight forward. I wanted to trust my body even in the midst of the worst tension and pain. I remember thinking “I can’t do this…but I will” and in the past, whenever I got to that “scary place”, I just stayed in the “there is no way this is going to happen” mindset. This time, even though I was saying things that sounded like I was defeated, I knew it was going to happen and I had a peace about it that I never experienced before in birth. I remember feeling something shift when I was leaning over the tub and I knew he was getting close. Before I knew it, he was crowning, then a contraction or two later, he was here!!
If you listened to the podcast you know that I really wanted to be able to experience the Fetal Ejection Reflex. I had experienced it before but only in the midst of coached pushing on my back at the hospital. I knew my body could get this baby out if I just waited and relaxed and sure enough, it did! I wouldn’t say that I was out of control, but there there was definitely an aspect of letting my body do the work and I was just trying to relax instead of trying to “push”. The pushing was happening without my permission. It’s absolutely incredible what our bodies are made to do and when you learn about the physiological side of birth, it removes SO much of the fear of birth. Please listen to the podcast if you want to learn more. I’ve never felt more empowered or prepared for a birth than I did for this one! Knowledge removes so much fear, especially when it comes to birth!
At 12:54am, Miles Lee literally shot into the world, underwater and we gradually brought him to the surface. His first cry made me weep with joy and relief. I did it. I couldn’t believe it. After delivering the placenta and knowing everything was fine and there was no need to go to the hospital, I laid in my own bed in amazement. I had just given birth in my BEDROOM. On purpose! Who am I?! I’m a girl who had her eyes opened to doing things differently. Not to prove anything or buck the system… but because my education empowered me to make a decision that I knew was right for me this time around. Seeing my momma and sister watch our last baby enter the world was something that I desired but could have been tricky in a hospital setting. Giving birth in water isn’t allowed at our hospital and I really wanted to get to experience that. There are so many reasons this made sense for me… but I know it won’t make sense for most. My encouragement is this…. no matter what you desire for your birth, learn about the physiological process of birth before you’re in labor. Really, learn about it as soon as you find out you’re pregnant. It will change your perspective, it will free you from so much fear and it will allow you to have a voice in your journey.
I really only intended to write a few words since there is an incredibly long podcast about all of this but here we are…. I overdid it again. Ha! Enjoy some pictures of the birth and of our family of SIX! Wow… We are still getting used to that! God is so faithful. What a story of redemption to have lived through a stillbirth and wondered if I would ever have a complication-free pregnancy and then give birth in our home. We literally slept for 6-7 hours after he was born and then the kids came home and met him…. and if that isn’t wild enough, Miles was born on Evy’s birthday and so we had a little family party for her 12 hours after he was born. That’s how amazing I felt! Isn’t that crazy?! We were running on adrenaline but it was a day full of precious core memories that I’ll cherish forever!
Thank you Emily Gerald for being our dream newborn photographer! I told her last time “Aw so sad this is our last time doing this!” and it wasn’t! But I mean it this time! :)
How special is this?! Another sweet KJ Couple turned KJ Family and I had the honored of capturing this fleeting season for them!
I want this podcast to be a place where you come to have more of a conversation with me about what’s going on in our day to day life!
Oh I just loved this session. The light, the outfit choices, the location, the family! It was all perfect and I’m so grateful for a chance to see a veteran KJ couple again!
This new AI feature in Lightroom has made it easier to now leave Photoshop behind and do almost EVERYTHING I need to in Lightroom! Wow!
I have come to realize that there have been so many people in my life who have shaped me and called me up to be the mom, wife, business owner, photographer I am today. I am sharing why I think mentorship is so valuable to every individual and invite you to consider who is helping you learn and grow!
This day was just perfection. I knew it would be from the moment Caitlin emailed me about being a part of their day. She and Devon are in the photography industry and I knew they would put a high value on the creative side of their day.