River's Edge Urban Academy

Homeschooling 4 kids ages 9, 6, 4 and baby while working as a postpartum nurse and lactation counselor.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I thought I wanted to write a blogpost about how much I love K12 and think J is learning so much with it, and I love how being accountable to the school district is making me get my ass out of bed on rainy days and do school but I am too tired.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Warning: Birth story ahead...

The Birth of Soleil Rain Miller

All day of the Summer Solstice (June 21st) I had occasional contractions and felt the baby moving down very low. I was 40.2 weeks and really hoped my baby would be born on the Solstice. We didn’t know if this, our fourth baby, was a boy or a girl and I was getting very anxious to find out for certain, though I was sure it was a boy.

I spent the day shopping with my cousin for stuff for her wedding while her mom watched all the kids. My midwife, Vanessa and I kept in touch during the day, but by evening I had to admit that things were petering out. I was really tired so I told her I was planning to go to bed around 8:00 pm and would call her if anything changed. We felt sure labor would begin within the next day or so and I wanted to be well-rested.

For some reason, I never could get to sleep and at midnight both my 3 and 8 year olds were awake too! My husband and I were getting them back to bed and I had just been wrestling my 3 year old, Keian, into a diaper. As I sat up in bed from struggling with him I felt a warm leak. I started giggling and told Ryan. Baby gave me a few hard kicks, and the water was clear so I know it was okay. Keian was really amazed by the mess I made on the bed and insisted on using one of our birthing towels to clean up the “baby water”

I called Vanessa back and updated her. I promised to try to sleep, but there were a few things we wanted to get ready. I also called my cousin and best friend, Rachel, to be on standby as she would be coming to the birth. My 8 year old, Jossy was so excited. She started helping us organize our room and picked up the downstairs a little. She lined our sandals up in the front hall, as she said, “Like normal people.”

I then asked her to please take the 3 year old to the basement family room and watch a movie with him, as we had given up on getting him to sleep and knew he’d crash out in front of a movie. She was so helpful, she said because it was her job as my doula to do whatever I needed.

We filled the tub and my husband lay down to get some sleep. I checked on the kids watching the movie at 0200 and they were both still awake – they had really caught my excitement! I put them to bed then and both went to sleep. I tried to sleep from then till 0630 but I was having mild contractions every 15-20” or so and I was too excited to fall asleep. Around 0630, though they changed to being slightly more often and more intense, so I called Vanessa to tell her things seemed to be picking up and to check in. She reassured me that her childcare was in place and that she could be over within 15” of me asking her to come. I called Rachel and she was at my house by 0645.

I had cereal and tea and she and Ryan had coffee while we sat outside chatting. Rachel and I decided to take a walk but it only took one contraction in front of the neighbor’s house for me to decide I wanted to go home.

We then watched Good Morning America with Ryan as my contractions continued to get more frequent and intense. I had to breathe and wiggle around on the birth ball to get through them now. I called Vanessa and asked her to come. She arrived w/in about 20”. While I was waiting for her I was getting very uncomfortable. The contractions were now every couple minutes and strong. I wanted to get in the tub but also wanted to wait till Vanessa arrived.

Once she got there with her 4 month old, Sunny at around 0830 she helped us adjust the tub temp and I got in. It felt like complete heaven and my contractions spaced out and got a lot easier. Jossy and Zeffy were both awake at this point. Zeff seemed to be feeling a little nervous about being present for the birth. He said he didn’t want to be a doula anymore and just wanted to play video games so Ryan gave him breakfast and set him up with video games. He did come back on his own at some point, even giving me a hand massage during contractions. Jeanne, our other midwife, arrived at 0900.

The contractions picked up again fairly soon and got quite intense but they were so much more manageable in the tub. As one contraction started up I was commenting how the water helped relieve the pain so much that it was a trillion times better then “on land” contractions. As the contraction peaked, I did amend that to “only a thousand times better.”

Between contractions I was laughing and joking with Rachel, Ryan, Vanessa, Jossy and the baby, Sunny. Sunny was so sweet how she would interact with me. Copying my moans during contractions and laughing with me when the contraction was over. She was my focal point in a way and helped a lot.

For a while it was a really fun, upbeat atmosphere, with Bob Marley playing and everyone joking. I even took pictures of my birth team, from my viewpoint of the tub.

Soon, though, around 0930 it began to get much more intense. I was working hard to get through each contraction and they were lasting longer with almost no breaks in between. I asked people to be quiet and turn the music off. I snapped at my husband at one point, though he was being so sweet to me.

One thing I said aloud was, “It will be over soon and I’ll be holding my baby, and it will be a boy!” I think I was both trying to reassure myself and get my self mentally prepared to have a boy.

Rachel was busy pouring water over my low back as I swayed and wiggled my hips around while on all fours. Even at the height of transition, labor always felt manageable to me, I think because of the tub. After several back to back super tough contractions I got a couple really weak ones and then a little break so I figured I must be complete and probably would get pushing urges soon.


OHMYGOD! When the urge hit and I had to push it was the most painful thing ever. I screamed super loud and was told later that everyone in the whole room jumped. I got a little freaked out, as this was much different then when I had pushed out my other kids. It felt like I was pushing so hard and not making any progress, where my other babies came out super quick, with just a few pushes. It also was much, much more painful than when I pushed out the other kids. This was the point where Keian woke up (he slept till 10!!) and joined us.

Vanessa and Jeannie did a great job reassuring me and helping me to calm down and breathe. They were coaching my pushing and supporting my perineum because the head was looking so big and coming so slowly (normally they are more hands-off with water births). I felt the ears come out and then they said the head was out. I asked if it looked like a girl or boy.

Then Jeannie told me to brace my foot up and to push as hard as I could with the next contraction. I was a little scared because I figured she was worried about the shoulders getting stuck. But I pushed as hard as I could, screaming one more time, and then the baby was out. They pushed it forward towards me and I caught and lifted it from the water. They warned me to go slow because the cord was short and I ended up almost having to do a floating back bend to get the baby out from the water with out pulling its cord. It wasn’t too bad though.

The baby didn’t start crying immediately, though it was breathing. We stimulated it to cry a little more and Jeannie suctioned its mouth one time for stimulation as well. Because I could only see the top of the baby’s head which looked bluish I continued to stimulate and try to get it to cry more but Vanessa and Jeannie showed me that its body was totally pink except for the part that I could see which was just bruised.

I was just laughing and crying and so excited to have gotten the baby out! The kids were going nuts too. Keian kept saying, “It’s a baby, daddy!” and Joscelyn said “Was it worth it, mom?” Zeff was just taking it all in, and resting his hand on my head as he looked at the new baby.

I tried to see if it was a boy or girl, but couldn’t see and finally announced that I was going to feel under the towel to see what this baby was. “Holy Shit, this baby doesn’t have a penis!” The room exploded. Everyone knew that as much as I would have loved a little boy, that I secretly wanted a girl and Rachel, Jossy and Vanessa kind of felt that way too.

Ryan, Vanessa and Jeanne then helped me out of the tub and into the bed. Once the cord stopped pulsating Ryan and Jossy cut it. I had hoped to leave it intact longer but it was hard to move around since it was so short.

I then delivered the placenta while Ryan held our newest daughter. I really hate that part. It just seems like you shouldn’t have to do that too, after all the work of birthing the baby! An orange sized clot came out right after the placenta. Vanessa kept her hand on my uterus and we got the baby to start nursing while Jeanne gave me Shepherd’s purse tea to drink. After about 10” my uterus was staying firm and I had no trouble with bleeding after that.

For a while we all just hung out and looked at her. The midwives made me some scrambled eggs and helped me get cleaned up a little and checked my bottom. Ryan and the kids all held the baby. My mom and dad came and hung out, and then took the big kids home with them for the rest of the day.

While my parents and the kids were there, Vanessa did the newborn exam which is when we found out how big she was! Our daughter weighed in at 9#9oz with a 14 ¾” head, 15 1/8” chest and she was 20 ¾” long. She was almost a pound heavier than my next biggest baby and her head was an inch bigger. I think that is probably why the pushing hurt so much. She was born at 10:05 am after ~4 hours active labor and only 13 minutes of pushing.

About 4 hours after the birth the midwives gave us our postpartum instructions and left and a little later Rachel did too. Ryan and I then lay in our bed, trying to take a nap, but mostly just staring at our beautiful little miracle while listening to the pounding rain outside.


I am posting this about 3.5 months after her birth. I wrote her birthstory out in the week following her birth. She is still a great baby and we all love her to pieces. She loves her baths and the kids say it is because she is a water baby. She is getting quite chubby and is very smily and has the goofiest sounding laugh. She is probably our last baby and I am glad to have had such a beautiful birth experience with her.