Cora Mae's Birth Story

It's been a little over 3 months since our sweet Cora Mae made her grand exit from my womb. We are fairly certain that this little miss came into existence on the first day of 2020 so I find it fitting to share her birth story on the last day of this wild year. 2020 will hold a lot of emotional memories for everyone I'm sure but most of my favorite memories of this year involve this beautiful gift from God -- our Cora Mae. 


Everyone kept prepping me that the third birth could be a “wildcard” and that it could got much differently than my others. I was hopeful for quicker delivery and prepped for different but surely never could have expected the events of Cora Mae’s birth day. 

My first birth was an induction at 34 weeks due to preeclampsia. It took around 48 hour and spanned from Thursday around noon (Christmas Eve) to Saturday around noon. (Read Levi’s birth story here.) My second birth I had prodromal labor for almost two weeks and was scheduled for induction on my due date (Monday May 21) because of my history with preeclampsia. On Sunday the 20th I did some natural things to try to push my body on into active labor. I feel like my body was already shifting that way but I wanted to give everything a shot before going the Pitocin route again. I went into the hospital Sunday night with contractions and it was a 19 hour labor before seeing sweet Malachi’s face. The birth wasn’t quick and neither was transition. (Read Malalchi’s birth story here.) 

All the being said, I’d had many conversations with my midwife and a had a birth wishlist to take with me to the hospital. As long as my blood pressure was stable she was willing to let me go to 40.4wks before approaching a more natural induction. She knew I wanted as little intervention as possible and was on board with that. Because I was group B strep negative and my other labors hadn’t been quick she was comfortable with me laboring at home until my contractions were 3-4 minutes apart. This was the “plan” we discussed. I should also mention that this birth specifically I’d done a lot of reading and prepping and praying to trust the way God made my body through birth and not be afraid of the pain that would inevitably come.

Wednesday September 16th | 38wks 6days

I had been really crampy all night and was hopeful that I would be dilated some when my midwife went to strip my membranes. Much to my surprise and hers though I was still so closed up that she couldn’t get in to strip my membranes. She reminded me that didn’t mean labor wouldn’t start on its own and that all of that could change on a dime. I knew that but I was a little disappointed and I could tell she was too. I kept reminding myself that God already had her birth day picked out and whether it was on my own or through induction with my midwife - it would be just as He intended. As ready as I was to see her face, I wasn’t in a hurry but I did desire to go on my own.

Friday September 18th | 39wks 1day

I went for out for a Playa Bowl and a pedicure (with foot massage) with a friend. I had 4 contractions within the first 30 minutes afterwards and thought maybe things would pick up but they quickly dissipated. 

Saturday September 19th | 39wks 2days

We went to Joel’s family reunion in PA for the day. I started having some contractions in the late afternoon and they continued to be pretty strong as we did the hilly drive back home that evening. They were about 10-15 minutes apart. I knew it wasn’t anywhere close to active labor but was hopeful that it might be the start. They came throughout the night and had me just uncomfortable enough not to sleep but not enough to make me get out of bed. At some point in the middle of the night the intensity of them calmed down enough for me to sleep and they lost any sort of pattern. (Very similar to the prodromal labor I experienced with Malachi’s birth.) 

Monday September 21st | 39 wks 4days

It was Joel’s birthday so we spent the day celebrating him. He was hoping she’d be born on his birthday but at no point during the day did I think he might get that wish. I was still crampy and having random contractions but nothing that made me think she was coming soon.

Tuesday September 22nd | 39wks 5days

First Day of Fall

3:30AM —

I woke up around 3:30am to a contraction. After a few minutes of dozing, I woke up to another one. I went to pee and decided I was going to lay through them and rest until I couldn’t anymore or they went away (what I was expecting). They didn’t go away but I could lay through them and sleep between them so that’s what I did. Until just before 7am.

7AM —

Around 7 I texted my friend Kristina  (who helped during Malachi’s delivery and planned to help me labor at home before heading to the hospital) and said "I'm nervous to say this given that my brain plays so many tricks on me... but I think today might be the day." I took a shower and washed my hair and sat on the ball beside my bed. By that time Joel was up and I told him I felt pretty confident it was Birth Day! He went down and made me some breakfast. The contractions were steady and stronger than the prodromal ones I would get but not crazy painful and easy to work through. We decided to have everything packed in Joel’s truck and send him on to work until I reached a point that I needed his support to work through them. We had friends (who are like family) in from out of town and were staying with us that week. The kids were completely covered with care without having to make any calls because they were here. 


The contractions were coming every 5 minutes or so. Still strong but not crazy painful. I lost my mucus plug around 9:10 and finally let myself get excited that this really seemed as though it was for sure Birth Day. 


Because my friend Jenni was in to visit, our previous Bible Study group (that she hosted before she moved) was all getting together at my house to visit and catch up. I knew that the few women coming would be perfect company for me in early labor and that if at any point I needed to retreat to my bedroom, they would completely understand. I was enjoying chatting and eating Ms Debbie’s blueberry bread in between contractions and could easily work through them standing and swaying when they did come. Ms Debbie kept telling me I was going to have the baby right here and that if I did she was leaving haha. At her insistence, I started timing them again and was surprised to find that they were now 7-8 minutes apart. The fact that they were getting stronger and more painful made me still pretty confident it wasn’t a false alarm. As they got stronger my friend Keinna jumped right in and started rubbing my back during contractions and when she had to step out to take a call, Rachael stepped in her spot. It really was the perfect way to spend my morning in early labor. It helped me be distracted in between contractions and gave me a team of support during them. 


Around this time our group was starting to wrap up and my contractions were getting more intense so I texted Joel to tell him to go ahead and wrap up and come home but no huge rush. I also texted my friend Kristina and told her I was ready for her support when she wanted to head over. 


Kristina got to my house a little after noon and soon after Joel called saying he was on his way home and was going to pick up lunch. After a little bit of chatting and assessing and timing contractions (still 7-8 minutes apart) Kris suggested we go for a walk to try to get them closer together. We were all guessing and hoping for an evening delivery which I was encouraged by. At this point I wasn’t desperate for it to go faster, I was just thankful it was happening on its own. 


We were getting ready to head out on a walk around the time Joel arrived. I was still planning to go on and eat much lunch when I got back. As we headed out and greeted Joel I had a couple contractions where I felt a little nauseous. Then I realized it was way hotter and muggier than I expected on the first day of Fall. These things combined made me decide to nix the walk and eat lunch and get in the shower instead. When I walked upstairs to my room, Kris warned me that I would have a couple back to back from the stairs and that then they would space out again. That happened and then I stood at my dresser and enjoyed my lunch between contractions.


At 1:36 I was getting in the shower. (Kris decided to double as photographer a little bit and I’m thankful for the time stamps especially.) At first when I got in the shower I was listening to worship music and the water was helping me work through them and I felt like I was still getting a good break in between. After a couple in the shower, I had her call for Joel to come up and get his trunks on so he could get in and rub my back. We started talking about our “go to hospital plan” and agreed that when they hit 4 minutes apart we’d start heading that way. I remember her saying during this that she was guessing I’d deliver sometime in the evening that if she were guessing based off her experience I was probably around the 5-6 range. I was encouraged by that and still didn’t feel desperate for it to hurry. I was in pain during the contractions but (as opposed to Malalchi’s delivery) didn’t feel overwhelmed by it and felt really clear of mind in between. Somewhere in this conversation I asked if she thought she could ride the hospital with us and have one of her family members pick her up there (since only 1 support person was allowed in with COVID restrictions). She thankfully said absolutely. 

After Joel helped me through a couple contractions in the shower, I suggested we started timing them again because it seemed as if they were getting closer together. Kris had already noticed this and was already working on it. I had a couple more contractions back to back and she told Joel it was time to get dressed and get moving. In approximately 45 minutes, my contractions had gone from 7-8 minutes apart to 2ish minutes apart and I was for sure in transition. 

We began the process of heading out but it was just that — a process. My contractions were coming quick which meant I had very little time to do anything else. I got out of the shower and had a contraction. I dried off and had a contraction. I got halfway dressed and had a contractions. Then the rest of the way dressed and had contractions. Down the stairs. Contraction. And so on. There’s a picture of me telling my kids bye at 2:18 but even once we got to the van I had a few contractions before we got the luggage from out of the trunk (where I wanted to labor) to the front seats (where we originally thought I’d be riding). I should mention here that we ALL (except maybe Jenni) still thought we had plenty of time for me to get to the hospital — I was just dreading laboring on the ride.

I climbed in the van and got on my knees laying over my birthing ball. Thankfully they had put a blanket under me so that I wasn’t on the clasps where the 3rd row locks in. Kristina was in the back with me to help me through contractions and Joel was driving. This is where labor got tough for me. I had been in a rhythm of swaying and squatting and managing them that way but once I was “stuck” in the van, I was in significantly more pain. I had 3 contractions on the way out of the back of our neighborhood and thought “this is going to be a long 20 minute trip.” I remember sitting at the light to get on the four lane for what felt like forever and just being so ready to get out of the van to labor.

I remember so much about the drive.Kristina texting my mom a picture (2:28) and her replying that she was jealous we were partying without her. Literally thanking God out loud that I had gone into labor on my own. Kristina cracking up talking about what the people behind us must have thought. Joel worrying that he was going to get pulled over for speeding. Going over the rt 1 bridge and feeling relieved that we were about halfway there. And then…

Pop. The first contraction after the bridge my water exploded. Not broke. Exploded. I had on yoga pants and literally the water splashed against the back glass of my van. Joel heard it break all the way up front even over the music. Kristina told Joel to call and let them know they needed to be ready. That my water had broken and they needed to be waiting on me at the door. I couldn’t communicate it immediately but at this point I realized we weren’t making it there with her inside me. I instantly felt her engage and knew no amount of deep breathing was going to keep her in another 6-7 minutes. 

As the next contraction started I said “Can you pull my pants down? I feel like I need to push”  and Kris encouraged me to just breathe and not push. I  said “Kris, can you pull my pants down she’s coming out.” Joel’s relaying all of this on 911 - little did we know they were telling him to just hurry and get to the hospital all the while Kris was telling him to pull over. I remember Kris saying “Joel, I am in the car with you. Listen to me. Pull over.” (Haha y’all she’s the bomb.) Joel pulled over at the Rt 1/13 split. As he opened the hatch Kris had just got my pants down and sure enough he could already see her head. Without me intentionally pushing at all she rocketed out as Kris caught her (or broke her fall as Kris says ha). 

At approximately 2:43(?) — an hour after that picture of me laughing in the shower— Cora Mae Miller was born in my Kia Sedona on the side of Rt 1. Haha. I chuckle just typing that. 

All the next moments were a bit comical too. Once she was out and crying a little and we knew she was good I was trying to get turned over to hold her but the cord made it a bit like a maze. After a little maneuvering we figured it out and she got laid right in my arms. The sweet bliss of holding my daughter in my arms for the first time. Cars zoomed by going 70+ MPH (the scariest part of this all) and “angel Bill” as we call him stopped to help while we awaited the ambulance. He put out cones and tried to flag traffic to the farther lanes. Meanwhile Kris had told Joel she needed a towel and Joel says he ran a random lap around the car with all the adrenaline to come right back to the trunk and remember he had one right there ha. 911 timed 4 minutes and told them to tie of the cord with some sort of string. My shoelace had to do. 

Soon after that the paramedics got there and a firetruck to block off the lane closest to us. They cut the cord and got us both out and onto the stretcher. Joel got to hold her (an snap a pic) while they got me out. In the ambulance ride she nursed and I delivered the placenta and I chatted with a sweet EMT named Lucy as I told her that was my Grams’ name who Cora Mae was named after. We got to the hospital and beautifully bypassed triage and was taken straight up to a room. It felt like a VIP pass with numerous people congratulating us along the way. I had to chuckle because I got one of the new L&D rooms with a big shower. My midwife had hoped I’d get one of those so I could more easily labor in the shower… turned out I wouldn’t need that. Or that birth wishlist that I’d made. 

The next 24 hours were in the hospital and they were incredibly smooth. Apparently if you have a baby in a van, no one will argue you on your requests. Ha. After a couple visits from friends (one at a time of course), checking off all the discharge list, and Joel doing a basic car cleanup (because it smelled that bad) we headed home for Cora Mae to meet her Bubbas. They were so crazy giddy and obsessed from the very first moment. I'm so thankful our friend Steph was there to document all their excitement. 

3 months later and they still are giddy and obsessed. We’re all quite smitten. She’s the sweetest little pea with the biggest grins and this ONE adorable dimple. She’s usually super chill but when she gets feisty she goes there rather quickly… just like her birth. I still can’t believe it’s her story, our story. We are so incredibly thankful that everything went as smooth as it did. We certainly wouldn’t have chosen it but we also wouldn’t trade it. At my 6 week postpartum checkup my midwife said “i know it was in your van but you kind of got everything you wanted” and she was right. I wanted an intervention free delivery where my body just got to do it’s thing and that’s exactly what I got. I’m thankful that God in His goodness had prepared me to trust Him in this, placed the exact support people I needed with me, gave me so much peace throughout the entire delivery, and blessed us with our precious Cora Mae. 

Some FAQs: 

(If you have one that’s not hear just comment it. - I’m happy to answer.) 

— Why didn’t you go to the hospital sooner? A couple reasons. I was trying to avoid being there for a long time as I knew that would be more time I would have to deal with interruptions to my labor. Also, I knew I could only have one support person and wouldn’t be allowed to walk the halls due to COVID which made me want to put it off even longer. 

  Why didn’t you just stay at home and call an ambulance? Because none of us thought I wouldn’t make it in time. We joke that even once on the way Kris was still predicting between 4 and 6pm. The sudden urgency didn’t hit until my water broke. 

— Were you scared? Freaking out? No. Honestly. The scariest part was sitting on the side of the road holding my brand new baby watching cars fly past so close. 

— What will you do differently next time?  Next time I would love to have a home birth if I can work it out with a midwife. If I can’t, I will head to the hospital right away and likely walk around the hospital until I’m ready to be admitted.. and then insist they leave me alone because I had my last one in the minivan. 🤣

— How bad was the damage to your car and did you get it detailed? Well… it was pretty gross and stinky. Joel did the initial cleanup to try to get it to a place we could ride home in without gagging. A dear dear friend to us called several places trying to find somewhere to detail it but because it was bodily fluids it was considered biohazard and they couldn’t take it. Our friend insisted that he would detail it. I tried to refuse but this man has the biggest servant’s heart and he wouldn’t take no for an answer. Not only did he clean the back of it, he detailed my entire car. It literally looked like we were driving it off the lot. For the first few times I got back in it afterwards, I just cried. Talk about an act of service. Talk about showing the love of Jesus. 



Post a Comment

to top