Preface: This story is incredibly special to me. I am sharing many details I wouldn't normally share but I feel like it needs to be documented this way.
Donna Ruthie Millar
Decmeber 30, 2013 1:00AM
I thought I would start this story when I went into labor, but the story of Ruthie began long before that. About 4 years ago Trevor and I had been married just over a year, I was talking to my mother and she was telling me about an experience my brothers had. They were doing some emotional work with a friend of my mom’s, Suzie. Suzie has many gifts and one is that the veil is sometimes very thin, she said she saw a blond little girl come into the room to help in the process. Suzie asked her name and the little girl responded “Ruthie.” As my own mother, Ruth, related this experience I had the distinct feeling that that little Ruthie was going to be my daughter.
A few months later I found out I was expecting a girl. Trevor and I discussed deeply what we should name our baby. Of course I wondered if this was my Ruthie. Both he and I felt like this was a different spirit, this wasn’t Ruthie yet.
When I got pregnant again we weren’t really planning on it. We had planned to get pregnant a few months later so that the baby would arrive in the spring instead of winter. I was so excited when I found out I was expecting. I knew that this was a very special spirit, one who needed to come right now! She couldn’t and wouldn’t wait even a couple months. Could this be my Ruthie?
I kind of became consumed with figuring out if this baby girl was Donna Ruthie. Trevor and I went to the temple, we both felt fine about the name, that it worked for the little spirit inside me. But perhaps I was feeling like I needed a big spiritual “aha” experience that just feeling good about it wasn’t enough.
Over the next few months I kept thinking about it. One day I came across a story of a woman who was completely stumped as to what to name her unborn child. She had a friend simply say to her “Why don’t you ask the baby what she wants to be named?”
That was it!
I knew that’s what I needed to do, I had asked The Lord and he had given his approval but I didn’t feel like I had gotten all the approval I needed. Of course I needed to ask my baby what she wanted to be named.
I made some quiet time and began to take deep breaths to clear my head. I imagined going inside my womb to where this sweet baby was growing and developing and I asked
“What is your name?”
There was a long time where I thought nothing, then I had the thought, You know her name. “Well,” I responded, “what is your first given name? Are you Donna? Or are you Ruthie?”
I came away knowing that she was my Ruthie but because the name Donna was so sacred to both Trevor and I she would be honored to carry that name as her first given name.
Trevor and I both have grandmothers who have passed named Donna. In fact Donna is my first given name, April being my middle name.
Ruthie’s original due date was January 8th but I was also given the due date of January 2nd according to her ultrasound and fundal measurements. It was nice to have a range of dates because I just had it in my head that she would come sometime between the 2nd and the 8th but she was definitely coming in January.
I should have seen the foreshadowing with the fact that I became pregnant with her before I was anticipating. I should have realized that she had already exuded the personality trait that she does what she wants when she is ready; she doesn’t wait for anyone.
It was Sunday December 29th. It was a good day and I was feeling good. Church was excellent and we had plans to go to Trevor’s sisters house for dinner after church. I was assigned to bring dessert so I spent the morning making a huge mess in my kitchen. When we got home from church we jumped in the car and headed over.
We had a nice time with Angie and Mandy and their families. As we cleaned up dinner I was having some Braxton hicks contractions that felt more like an achy period cramp. They didn’t bother me, I could walk and talk through them and I just figured it was because I was moving up and down that was why they were coming more frequent.
We sat and chatted about the pregnancy I assured them all that I wouldn’t have that baby until January. As we sat down I noticed more of a consistency with these achy Braxton hicks. I began to time them. Every 10 minutes lasting 40-60 seconds.
That was interesting.
We left their house at about 8:45pm, on the way out to the car I said to Trevor
“I think I might be in labor” with a big hearty laugh.
“Are you serious?” he asked.
“Well I am having some surges that just feel like period cramps but I was timing them in there and they are coming about every 10 minutes. But I really don’t think I am in labor, these just feel like strong Braxton hicks. Besides I have so much I need to do before this lady comes. My kitchen is a mess!!”
As we discussed what would happen if I was hypothetically in labor, I said well I have to go home and clean my house, and we have to find the adaptor to the sink and the hose for the birth pool. We had bought the adaptor but had also lost it. We figured it was in the house but with a very helpful two-year-old in the house the adaptor could literally be anywhere.
When we got close to home I decided I had better call my mom and give her the heads up in case I woke up in the night in actual labor. It was about 9:00pm. She was not feeling well at all, I told her to not worry about it because I was not convinced at all that I was in labor. Luckily she didn’t believe me and told me she was going to take some medicine and come over. I told her to bring her pjs so she could sleep downstairs because I probably wasn’t going to have that baby tonight. But I did feel better knowing that my mom was going to be there in case I did go into labor.
We got home and Trevor and I both started to look for the adaptor. We could not find it anywhere. My surges were still coming regularly 8-10 minutes apart. I decided to get in the tub to see if that would make them subside. Bridget heard the water going and decided she really needed a bath too. She and I got in at about 10:00pm and I texted my midwife, Sherri Price.
“Hi, just wanted to give you a heads up, I have been feeling contractions every 10 min for the past couple hours. They aren’t super strong, just hard period cramps. I got in the tub to see if it will change anything. I will let you know.”
They didn’t subside in the tub but they did feel better. I decided to get out to get Bridget down for bed. Trevor was frantically cleaning my kitchen, vacuuming the floor, searching for the adaptor, and concocting a new adaptor all during this.
10:45pm I got a text from my dad “April, mom wasn’t feeling well so she laid down and took some asprin. So hopefully in the next little while she’ll be feeling better. If you need her let me know.”
“Ok. Thanks so much. I would say I am definitely in labor just not active labor yet.”
11:00pm I texted Sherri again, “Things have gotten stronger, can’t really walk or talk through them. Still about 1 min long and 6-8 minutes apart. I’m heading to bed and going to try and get some sleep."
I was in complete denial.
In my mindset I had hours and hours still ahead of me. I think there were a couple of factors that made me believe that.
First, with my labor with Bridget my surges came on very strong from the beginning and continual. I had to be in a complete relaxed zone the entire time with her, during the surges and between the surges, I was always feeling something with her. With this labor between my surges I felt completely normal, like I hadn’t felt a thing. I had this ongoing debate in my head during a surge, well these are pretty strong, I think this is labor. And between surges, There is no way I am in labor, I feel nothing right now.
Next, it was still December. I truly did not consider that Ruthie would come in December. She was going to come sometime between the 2nd and the 8th of January.
And lastly, the week previous I had attended a 34-hour labor of one of my clients. She did amazing, but witnessing her in her hard active labor and comparing it with my own labor, which I never should have done, I convinced myself I still had hours and hours ahead of me. I figured I was probably at about a 4cm.
At my appointment a few days before Sherri taught / showed Trevor how to check my cervix. I asked him if we would check me to see if I was in labor and if anything had changed. “Whoa,” he said “Her head is really low, I can’t feel any cervix but I don’t know if it’s moved.”
He doesn’t know what to look for. I justified in my head.
It was 11:15PM that I asked Trevor to give me a blessing. It was such a sweet blessing and we both had tears flowing when he was done.
After that things shifted and I started involuntarily moaning through my surges. Trevor was still bustling around trying to get everything together. He would come running in every time I started in with another surge and started moaning and put pressure on my back or knees. He asked if I wanted him to fill up the birth pool. I logically thought about it and said no. I figured once the pool was filled it that was it, I wouldn’t be draining and filling it up multiple times and I wanted to be closer to the delivery before I got in. I decided I would wait for the assessment from Sherri before we brought the pool into it.
11:25pm I texted my mom again “They are getting pretty strong, about 6-7 min apart. Mom out?”
“Not out. I’m coming!”
“Are you feeling ok? I don’t want you to get sicker.”
“I’m Ok, so conflicted about greeting Ruthie sick. But I can’t miss it, I am coming!”
I literally breathed a sigh of relief. I needed her and I knew Trevor needed some help.
11:53pm Ruth: “In the car but need to stop for gas. See you soon!”
12:12am me to Sherri: “Back in the tub they are getting stronger longer and closer together.”
My mom got there at about 12:30 I had a few more deep moaning surges in the tub and decided to get out. I do remember expressing to my mom how grateful I was that I shaved my armpits that morning. I moved into my bedroom and sat on my birth ball. Trevor had my back and my mom had my knees. I told Trevor to call Sherri. He was on the phone with her when I started into another surge. He was putting pressure on my back with just one hand as he talked to her but that wasn’t working for me, I needed his strong grip around my hips. “Put the phone down! I need two hands!!” I demanded. He dropped the phone and helped me through that surge.
Sherri had heard all that she needed. She said she was in the car and would be there as soon as she could. She also called Roxanna, another midwife who lived in Spanish Fork. I had met Roxanna a few times and liked her a lot.
Down at my knees my mom said to me, "I think you are in transition." “No way” I scoffed. I think you think I am much further than I really am. I can still handle this.
It was about 12:45am when I was in a surge and there was a knock on the door it started quiet and got louder and louder until there was hard relentless rapping on the window and door. Trevor and Ruth didn’t dare leave when I was in such a hard place. “Can’t she just wait a second?” I heard my mom say. I finally burst out, “Go let her in!” Trevor left and was back at my side in a split second.
Roxanna came in and in a flash my bedroom was covered in chux pads and she was directing me to the bed. “I need to check the baby’s heartbeat and I would like to check your progress but after your next contraction.” I got as far as my hands and knees and was again at the mercy of my body and the support I received from the nurturing hands of Trevor and my mom.
Faster they were taking over with little relief in between, Roxanna got in there and all was well with baby’s heartbeat. Roxanna got Sherri on speakerphone as she drove and they were both offering up words of encouragement. There didn’t seem to be any end to my next surge so as the sharpness faded and the pounding ach remained I told Roxanna that was her chance to check me. In her fingers went and a small chuckle flowed from her mouth. “Ok, Sherri baby is less than a knuckle in and I feel no cervix, there is a bulge from the bag.”
“Wow April” Sherri’s voice came over the speaker “when you said you go quickly you weren’t kidding!”
It was then I felt another shift in my body. I could feel the baby moving down, my whole focus and attention on her head, I was down there with her. I was vaguely aware that my breathing had changed to pushing,
“Don’t use your thumbs! Get your thumbs off my back!!” I commanded my support team.
I am sure they were completely confused by my demand. And looking back I realize it had nothing to do with them, in fact it had everything to do with what was happening inside me but I could not figure out how to make it stop and that was the only thing I could associate with what I was feeling. Then with a small pop water rushed down my legs. My water had broken. That was it, the urge to push was overwhelming.
“Whoa! Ok, April you need to slow down, we need to ease her head down and out.” Roxanna exclaimed.
The crazy thing was even though I was in the thick of all of this, I knew she was completely right. I could feel that my baby’s head was moving down too quickly and things weren’t getting the chance to unfold like they needed to.
But the problem was, I didn’t know how to slow down; look at your mouth, keep exhaling I thought to myself. I followed that advice. As I write it now it seems obscure and ridiculous. How in the world was I supposed to look at my own mouth? It was almost as if I was having an out of body experience. Don't get me wrong; I was very much in my body, very much feeling every single thing but my mind was so focused on my baby and what was happening down there that I needed to remove my focus. I shifted my mind to my mouth and focused on my breathing. I was at the end of my breath but I knew I had to keep exhaling, if I took another breath I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop my body from pushing with all my might. Slowly I wrapped my brain around a way to inhale, through my teeth, ok that was working. Until I reached the top of that breath and I couldn’t stand it anymore, my control was gone, the few seconds I bought had better have helped because I was pushing the baby out now!
And out she came.
According to Trevor you could just see her head then all at once she was out to her shoulders. Then a split second later the rest of her body came whooshing out. With her cord wrapped around her arm Roxanna expertly untangled her.
I on the other hand slumped down on my arms feeling as though I needed to gather back all my body parts. I knew my baby was out and I knew she was in good hands, but I needed a few moments. I took a few deep calming breaths to stem the flow of adrenaline that was now surging in my veins. I was somewhere up in the atmosphere and I needed to ground myself. I was having an even harder time believing what just happened.
"1:00AM exactly" I heard Sherri proclaim over the speaker.
Several more chux pads were laid out so I could flip myself over and hold my baby. As she was laid on my abdomen and I covered her tiny body with my hands I was thrown from the clouds and immediately back in the present.
This really happened!
My baby was in my arms!
It’s interesting because I believe and know that immediate skin-to-skin is incredibly beneficial for the baby to regulate all body functions. But I never considered that it would be exactly what I needed to ground me and give me balance.
We needed each other, she and I.
She literally did not cry, at all. She squeaked some but not once did she cry. Even now as I write this a week later I have yet to hear Ruthie really cry.
I remember Trevor saying, “Have we made sure she’s a girl?” That’s so silly, I thought, OF COURSE this baby is a girl. Even though I too had not verified. Low and behold…she stayed a girl.
We hung out and soaked up each other’s warmth, not needing to say a thing just connecting our spirits. Ru was then passed to Trevor to get some skin-to-skin bonding with daddy.
I was able to get into the tub with Ruthie at about 2am. It cleaned us both up and it was incredibly relaxing, again I am sure for both of us, to unwind our tense muscles. It was amazing to watch Ruthie the more she relaxed in the water the more she unfolded her little body. It was literally as if each of her limbs were breathing a sigh of relief and rest.
(yes her cord was still attached to the placenta and her placenta was bobbing around in that bowl. She stayed attached for over an hour, until the cord was completely white and very thin.)
At 3am Sherri was stitching me up when little Bridget woke up.
A little note, I am convinced it was a complete miracle that Bridget slept through the entire labor and delivery. I am sure she had some angels watching over her making sure she stayed sound asleep. The whole thing would have had a very different outcome had Bridget been awake.
She walked into the room with what I can only interpret as confusion. Luckily my mom was there to comfort and console her.
With me on my back unable to move while I was stitched up and Trevor holding another baby, we betrayed her. She didn’t want anything to do with Trevor, little Ru, or me. Luckily it didn't take long for Bridget to forgive us all and she has been exceptionally sweet, gentle, and kind to her new baby sister.
Ruthie is an amazing little nurse-er, she has the best latch and all she does is just smack her lips together a little to let me know she is ready for some food. She sleeps so well and truly couldn’t be sweeter. None of us can get enough of her. I feel so blessed to have her in our family. My heart has swollen and I feel as though it might burst with the love that has consumed me.
This was my team! Trevor and my mom, Ruth. Sherri is in the purple and got to my house about 10 minutes after Ruthie was born. Roxanna is in the black in the right hand corner, I am so glad she lives in Spanish Fork and was able to be there to deliver Ruthie. Gloria, in the tan, is Sherri's apprentice and is a special friend of mine, we went through doula training together. She got there about 20 minutes after the birth.
Not pictured, but the one who took these pictures is my dear friend Whitney Smith. Months ago I was talking with Whitney when I told her I was planning a home birth. Whitney exclaimed that she has always wanted to film a home birth. So of course I invited her to the birth. And unfortunately she missed it as well. Arriving about 15 minutes after Ruthie did.
I am so grateful for all of these amazing women who helped to bring Donna Ruthie into this world. Not only that but before they left they changed my sheets, did my laundry, took out the garbage, fed me, and made sure my home was in perfect order.
I am so grateful I was able to have a home birth, in fact I think I would have ended up with a home birth had I planned one or not. Trevor told Sherri a few days later that he thinks he should take an emergency childbirth delivery class. "In case things go even faster next time I should probably know what I'm doing if no one else can make it."
Which brings me to Trevor, I am so grateful for him! He is my rock and foundation. I cannot believe how supportive he has been with my desires to have this baby at home. He is the best man, husband, and father. He stayed so calm throughout the whole thing I was amazed. Seriously, I hit jackpot with him, thank you Trevor. I love you so much!!!