Massey Ruth's Birth Story

Around this time last year we found out that our sweet surprise was indeed a girl and would even the Miller family count. It’s hard to believe that the tiny baby in that picture is who we now know as our lovely Massey Ruth. We’ve been snuggling her in our arms for 7 months now so it’s well past time that I get her birth story documented.


This pregnancy was quite different than my others. My health was a struggle and had been before I even got pregnant. We had already began searching for answers for my extreme fatigue and weird hip issues beforehand (along with a host of other things) and it seemed even harder to find answers as a pregnant patient. But thankfully in the midst of being passed from doctor to doctor and test to test, Massey Ruth was always healthy and seemed completely unaffected. From a pregnancy standpoint, there were no issues. And we were very grateful for that. 

As I neared the end of pregnancy with still no answers and some tests that needed to wait until after birth on the agenda, my midwife started talking about induction options. She felt confident I would induce easily given it was my 4th and I had induced successfully with my first (at 34 weeks due to preeclampsia). But I certainly prefer more natural routes over medicated ones and after having such a smooth birth with Cora Mae (yes even in the van), I struggled to consider forcing my body into something it wasn’t ready for if the baby wasn’t showing any signs of needing out. My midwife was open to going as early as 37 weeks and attempting more natural methods of induction but I knew the longer we could hold out the better off baby would be and the more likely I was to not need pitocin. We decided to just take it week by week but knowing that induction wasn't an option at 38 weeks because that was VBS week and the majority of our support system would be tied up every evening. 

Here’s a couple things for context before I begin the ups and downs of those final days with our sweet girl on the inside. First, my prior two pregnancies I experienced prodromal labor… which is essentially contractions that come in waves but are patterned and increasing in intensity and last through positional changes but never get close enough or strong enough to cause actual dilation. With Malachi I had this for almost 2 weeks before we kicked real labor into gear with some adjustments and castor oil and lots of prayer. With Cora Mae it lasted about 4-5 days before it slightly shifted and then BAM quickly shifted. Which brings me to my second note for context, Cora Mae’s labor turned on a dime and I gave birth to her in the back of my minivan on the side of a major highway 6ish minutes from the hospital. And the combination of these two past experiences definitely heighten the drama on the “am I in labor?” game. 

June 17th | 37w6d
I had an appointment with my midwife first thing that morning and we made a plan that to check me and make a decision on induction the following week at my (almost) 39 week appointment. Afterwards we were supposed to be heading to the beach for the day as one final beach trip before baby. The next few hours were hectic to say the least. Our grocery order got delayed and eventually had to be cancelled so we stopped to grab groceries for the cooler to take on the beach. We (our 5, my mother-in-law, and our friend Liv) were spread between two cars to get to the drive on spot and then all piled in the truck for a very bumpy drive out onto the beach. I joked that this would be what put me into labor. We got on the beach and started setting up but we started being bombarded by flies like we’d never experienced before. We hoped that as we pushed through and got set up they would leave us alone…. but they didn’t. They were biting us all… like to the point my ankles were bleeding. Levi’s crying saying “This is the worst beach day every.” It’s comical in hindsight but in the moment was miserable. To add to the saga, the wind kept blowing down our umbrella’s and we were getting nowhere with getting set up. At some point Joel finally called it and suggested we load back up and head to the boardwalk for the afternoon. Pizza and rides and ice cream certainly got us over the frustrations of the morning. 

As we’re eating ice cream I had a couple painful contractions (unlike the Braxton Hicks ones I had been having for a few weeks) and felt some sort of a pop.  When I went to the bathroom I was quite wet. Now mind you, it was mid June and in the high 80s. I was almost 38 weeks pregnant and we have 3 other kids we were taking care of and our entire day had been fairly chaotic. All that being said, I to this day feel quite confident it wasn’t from sweat or urine but in the midst of that crazy day who really knows. We got loaded up to head home and I continued to have contractions every 10 minutes or so on the drive. On one hand I could easily assume that the wild day we had put me into labor and it was go time. On the other hand, I feared that it might be the beginning of prodromal labor. 

After talking with Kristina (the friend who delivered Cora Mae ha), I decided to eat some food, take a shower, and go to bed. I knew that if was the real deal they would wake up me and I wouldn’t be able to lay through them. But that never happened and after about 24 hours of contractions coming consistently but never picking up speed or intensity enough to head to the hospital we made the assumption that I was indeed in prodromal labor again and that my experience on the boardwalk must have been a partial water break or a surprising contraction with some leaking. 

The next week was a wild ride of rising and then dissipating contractions, VBS every evening, and exhaustion on an entirely new level. The worst was that at some point every night (usually between 3 and 5am) I would wake up to contractions that kept me awake for an hour or two but would never force me out of bed in pain. I’m not normally one who’s desperate to be done being pregnant but that week certainly had me at my breaking point. 

June 24th | 38w6d
My midwife checked me and I was “maybe a fingertip dilated” and she was unable to strip my membranes. Cue the disappointment. I knew this didn’t mean labor wasn’t soon as I had a similar experience with Cora Mae but I had hoped to be dilated enough for her to do a membrane sweep and know that if I did opt for induction I wouldn’t need a foley bulb (used to get you to 2-3cm). In the least overstepping yet pushy way my midwife highly suggested we schedule my induction for her hospital day on the 29th when I would be 39 weeks and 4 days. I have a great relationship with my midwife and really trust her opinion and she really respects my desires. She was willing to let me go to 40 and 5 (her next hospital day) if I chose but she knew that with all of my health issues, the added stress of prodromal labor had me in a very unwell state. We decided to schedule a “natural as possible” induction for the 29th with the agreement that if I changed my mind I would just cancel it. 

The next few days consisted of prepping my body for labor as much as possible: ball sitting, magnesium, a pedicure, lots of Indian food, red raspberry leaf tea, and numerous adjustments. It also consisted of lots of mental debate, prayer, and conversations about whether or not I should actually go through with the planned induction. I’m incredibly thankful for that group of people that wrestled through those days with me with much grace and understanding for my constant indecisiveness. While I can’t possible describe all the pros and cons of each way, I’ll give you a quick view of the things swirling in my head….

No induction. — I have a deep nerdy love for natural birth. Call me old fashioned. Call me crunchy. I find it beautiful and miraculously designed by the Creator. If not for medical issues I would absolutely go for a home birth. And even though Cora Mae’s birth was wild, I got to experience a birth with no intervention and it was so smooth and part of me just wanted to have a similar experience again. (Just not in the back of my minivan. 🤣)  I also am just a firm believer that labor goes smoother when your body is ready on its own time and statistically, induction increases the risk of c-section. All that being said, in normal circumstances, I try to push induction off as long as possible in hopes of giving my body the best shot of going into labor on my own.

Induction. —  The key in that last statement there is “normal circumstances” and very little about my body had been normal for the previous year. The roller coaster of health issues I had been through was difficult to explain, especially given that it’s yet to be diagnosed.  I was beyond exhausted between the health issues, constant appointments, parenting the my 3 littles, and now prodromal labor on top of it. To add to that, I wasn’t sure how my body was going to respond in labor given the state of my health. And all of that together made me extra desperate for my midwife to be the one there for the delivery. She knew my health situation. She knew my birth desires and respected them. And I trusted her enough to know that if she told me interventions were necessary, then they were.

Normally when I need to make a big decision, I feel like God makes it abundantly clear. But I wasn’t getting that clarity this time and so I decided on Monday that we would proceed as scheduled unless the Lord made it clear I shouldn’t.

June 28th | 39w3d

With induction scheduled for the next day, I wanted to take the day with the kids to have some fun and enjoy the time with them as much as possible.  We went swimming with friends and soaked in our last pool day for a while. After dinner we took the kids out for ice cream and stopped by the store for the makings of a castor oil milkshake. That had been enough to kick my prodromal labor over the hump with Malachi’s birth so I was open to trying it again.

After we got the kids down to bed, we watched the finale of a Chopped tournament on food network that one of our friends was competing in. While watching I was drinking raspberry leaf tea and pumping to try to get contractions stronger before I did the shake. But unlike the few times I had done that over the weekend, my contractions didn’t change much. At that point I considered just forgoing the castor oil but decided it was worth the shot.

I finished the castor oil around 10:30 and that began a good bowel cleanse and some intensified contractions. I gave it some time to make sure they would remain intensified before I started timing them but they continued to be 2-3 minutes apart and strong enough to be uncomfortable.

June 29th | 39w4d
Around midnight we decided we'd rather go sooner rather than later and not play the "when should we go in" game all night. This decision was even easier given that Joel's mom was in town with us and ready to go on kid duty at any moment. Once we got to the hospital they checked me and determined I was 2-3cm. This was great progress from Friday and made me very encouraged that I wouldn't need a foley bulb even if my contractions did slow down. But thankfully they didn't and the nurse informed they would get a 30 minute strip on baby and send me to walk for a little while to help progression.

During that 30 minute observation, they noticed Massey Ruth was having some decelerations on the monitor that they weren't comfortable with. They had me do some positional changes and such but were still concerned enough to make me hang tight for monitoring. Around 3am they decided to go ahead and admit me. Her decels were less frequent but she didn't have the variability they wanted to see. By this point my concern had turned to frustration if I'm being honest. Laying still in a certain position for the monitor to read through contractions on the triage stretcher bed was quite uncomfortable and I was completely convinced (and still am) that her heart rate was "off" because of the strange positions they had me in that I never lay in. Also they used their concern to force me to have an IV put in even though I didn't need any medicine currently. I tried to explain that my veins are very finicky and often blow and I haven't had great experience with them in the past but she wasn't hearing of it. I digress.

Once they got me upstairs to the floor my nurse was much more compassionate about my "birth wishlist" and assured me that they would have me up and out of bed as soon as they could. I stayed on the monitor and worked through contractions laying down for next couple hours while Joel tried to sleep a little before I needed him. I felt the need to pee every 10-15 minutes because of contractions and fluids and also still drinking water and eating ice. I would try to put it off as long as possible because I hated paging my nurse that often but the more I would put it off the worse the contractions hurt and the longer this went on, the harder it was to manage them in the bed. Around 5-5:30 I finally called my nurse in and told her I could no longer lay on my back and if they could get me positioned with the monitor sitting up then I would try to stay as still as possible but I needed at change. At that point she felt Massey Ruth's heart rate looked okay enough to try the portable monitor. This allowed me to get out of bed and work through contractions sitting on the ball and standing and brought about so much relief for me in working through contractions.

At this point, my friend Kristina texted to check in and we discussed her getting ready and heading on in the next bit. Shortly after the contractions intensified and I had to wake Joel up to start helping me through them by letting me rest against him between and rubbing my back during them. After about an hour out of bed the nurse came in and said that Massey Ruth's heart looked great on the monitor and didn't seem to be having any issues. I felt SO THANKFUL that she was doing well, the portable monitor was working (they can be quite finicky sometimes), I had a nurse who cared about my preferences and my baby's health, and that I was able to manage contractions out of bed. At that point I started napping between the contractions every time I could get a chance and soon after Kristina arrived with coffee and a warm hoodie for Joel since I was freezing him out ha.

I continued resting between contractions. My new nurse had come on and she was great and so supportive of me laboring out of bed in the calm and quiet with my worship music. My midwife also came by and said she didn't even want to check me or mess with my water breaking until she did rounds on her postpartum patients because she felt confident transition would be quick. She also said that she was so glad when she saw I was admitted and had come on in the night before because apparently there was a bit of a baby boom that morning and some of the inductions had to be cancelled due to capacity. (Thank you Jesus and castor oil! HA) By the time she left I was really ready to get in the shower so my nurse capped my IV and taped me up. During the wait we also sent Joel to grab some CFA for breakfast. At this point I was incredibly relaxed. Water is such a relief to me in labor and I actually laid my head over on the metal bar and slept for a bit. Joel returned and yes, I did indeed eat my chicken biscuit sitting on the ball with my back towards the shower. It was right about that time that my midwife came in and was ready to get things moving. She found it quite comical and also very typical of me to find me chilling in the shower eating CFA. She knows me well.

Around 11:15-11:30am, when she checked me I was only 4cm. I KNOW you're not supposed to use the word "only" there but that is certainly how it felt. I had been having contractions every 2-3 minutes for about 12 hours at that point and I had only progressed 1-2 cm since they checked me around 1am. But... this was similar to what I did with Malachi too and while I'm thankful that castor oil can push me over the hump of prodromal, it's still certainly not the same as my body going into labor because it was ready. She broke my water and I got back out of bed and swayed through contractions while she and I chatted. Even during those first few contractions after my pain had gotten much worse and I could tell I really needed to get in the zone of working through them. She left saying she was certain it wouldn't be long and she'd be back in soon to catch her and I just hoped she was right.

I headed back to the shower to sit on my ball and focus on managing pain. By 11:50 I was moaning and really starting to feel the intensity, especially in my back. After several contractions standing and sitting in the shower I decided I needed to try something new because the water was no longer giving me any relief. I went and got on my knees on the bed and laid over my ball (the position I was in when I gave birth to Cora Mae) but after 2 contractions I couldn't even manage to stay in that position. I hopped off the bed and was squatting in the floor and I said to Joel, "I don't know if I can do this." At that moment he knew we were very close. I was feeling pressure and communicated that so they pushed the call button. But even then I was doubting if it could actually be time. I remember Joel saying that it was probably time and me saying "There's no way. I was only 4cm just 45 min ago." He comically replied "What do you mean there's no way? We had our last one in the car on rt 1." Valid. haha.

Kristina encouraged me to get back up on the bed because I felt "pushy" and as soon as I climbed on the bed on all fours, I knew she was coming out. Joel ran in the hall to get someone, anyone (because him and Kristina had got their fill of catching last time haha). Thankfully the nurse made it in as her head was coming out and was able to catch as I gave one more push. She was born at 12:26pm. My midwife made it in a couple minutes later and joked that I really must not want her to actually catch my babies haha.


The relief that came in that moment with her out and safe and hearing her sweet cry and having her snug on my chest drinking in her lovely features is really indescribable. I get emotional even trying to relive it here 7 months later. So much gratitude. God had faithfully brought she and I through a very trying pregnancy and tiring prodromal labor. He had blessed us with an incredibly smooth labor and delivery overall and the most fitting birth team. The flood of thankfulness can't even be expressed.

We tried to soak her in as much as possible in that next 24ish hours of our time with just her. She was (and still is) just the sweetest little thing from the very first moment. The next day we brought her home to the most giddy, obsessive, loving big sibling trio you can possibly imagine. They were insanely nuts about her (like unmanageably so) and still are quite often. She's got a fan club for everything she does. Lately she's been blowing raspberries on command you'd literally think she did a tumbling pass in the olympics when it happens. It's overwhelming sometimes but goodness it's adorable to watch them love her so immensely. Watching them meet Massey Ruth was truly one of my favorite moments of my life. 

Our precious Massey Ruth is such a special gift from God. We feel this way about each of our children but she's and extra reminder of God's grace and goodness. He gives the most gracious perfect gifts even when we don't even cognitively desire them. We've been quite open about our personal conviction to surrender the number and timing of our children to the Lord but it doesn't mean we still don't in our flesh have preferences. With my health issues and trying to get to the bottom of them, my preference then would have been to wait a bit before getting pregnant again. But praise God that His infinite plan is bigger than my finite brain. I can't imagine life without our sweet Massey Ruth. We've enjoyed her so so much and she's such a blessing to our family. We are so grateful that God would give her to us to love and disciple.

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