Ep 22: Birth Photographer Kendra Miller is Inspired to Have a Homebirth After Attending One

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    Kendra is a mom of 4: a 6 year old, 4 year old, 2 year old, and 1 month old Before becoming a mother, she was a vet tech. After the birth of her first child, Kendra entered the world of birth photography and has not looked back! She and her husband, who were high school sweethearts, have always seen eye to eye on birth: He has supported her in all of her birthing decisions. At the age of 19, Kendra’s doctors informed her that she would likely never become pregnant; she had chronic lyme disease, as well as what they thought was PCOS. Shortly after marriage, Kendra had a miscarriage. Although very disappointed, in a way they felt positive that she even conceived at all. After speaking with several doctors, they decided to begin trying to get pregnant (they hadn’t been, previously).  After a year, Kendra became pregnant with her daughter. She had what she refers to as a very “by the book” pregnancy and birth with her first daughter. Kendra says she didn’t think to research much.  She was told that she had borderline gestational diabetes, and her OB wanted to induce her at 39 weeks for fear that the baby would be “too big.” At about 3 cm, the nurse told Kendra that she looked uncomfortable, so she’d send the anesthesiologist her way. Kendra was nervous about the epidural, and now recognizes that she ended up having a panic attack due to the lack of feeling in her legs. Her daughter came out at just over 6 pounds, so NOT TOO BIG!, but she was a healthy girl, so Kendra and her husband did not think much of the experience. After the birth, Kendra said to her mom, “Gosh, I wish there could have been someone here like a wedding photographer to take pictures of the birth.” The nurse then told Kendra that that’s actually something people do! It was through her clients that she began realizing that she could have her next baby differently. “I started researching and realizing how I wanted to do it different if we had another baby” A month after her realization, she was pregnant with her second child! At 37 weeks, her OB told her they needed to go ahead and have her little boy- there were complications with the placenta. Kendra did receive Pitocin for an induction, but did not use any pain medication for his birth. She says it was the most exhilarating thing she’d ever done. “It was the most exhilarating thing I’ve ever done.” She hired a doula for her second birth. Kendra says, “My husband was my number 1 support.  I wanted the doula for him to be able to support me.” Her doula was amazing at helping them weigh each choice that came up. “With birth, you really have to know your choices… and what you want for your birth.” Kendra thought she was done having children, but then became pregnant with her third! She switched care providers this time in hopes of not being induced.  She was able to get exactly what she wanted, and had a completely natural childbirth at the hospital.  Baby weight in at 5 pounds and some change. Compared to the Pitocin contractions, Kendra couldn’t believe how well she was able to cope with the unmedicated contractions. She compares the difference, saying that with Pitocin she felt like she was out of control, but with no Pitocin, she knew a contraction was coming and felt she could ride the wave. Kendra’s third baby was over 9 pounds! Once again, after their 3rd baby, Kendra and her husband decided they were done having children….. Then…. She photographed her first homebirth! “Then I photographed my first homebirth, and I was just amazed.” Kendra said she had never felt more safe for a mother than at the homebirth, and she has what she refers to as a “duh moment,” where she thought, “This is how it is supposed to be… in the comfort of your own home surrounded by people that you love and trust.” She said that if they were ever crazy enough to have a 4th baby, they’d have a homebirth… and then she got pregnant. Kendra interviewed the same midwives that she had worked with at her first homebirth and loved them. She decided to hire them, and that was that! Kendra talks of how it was quite a switch to go from birth photographer to client. As a photographer, she speaks of how it’s all about going unnoticed.  To then have prenatals and care be centered around her was quite a different experience. Kendra loved how her prenatals were in a living room type office instead of a cold, clinical exam room. She loved that her kids had a place off to the side where they could play with hot wheels and baby dolls.  It made all of the appointments so much comfortable than what she’d experienced before. After the first appointment, Kendra’s daughter told her that she wanted to be with her at the birth. Her daughter was always asking questions and involved in the prenatals, and the midwives included her completely.  She loved the experience and how it felt like family. Though she didn’t add anything new to her pregnancy routine, Kendra says this felt like her healthiest pregnancy. She attributes this to feeling so relaxed. One exciting aspect of this pregnancy for Kendra was that she did not have to drink glucola for her gestational diabetes test. She loved that her midwives looked through her history and realized that the fact that her lyme disease affected her pancreas could very easily be why she failed the gestational diabetes test in the past. At 38 weeks, Kendra called the birth team to her house. They were there for 14 hours, when finally she asked to be checked.  She found out she was 3 cm dilated, and her midwife told her she thought what was happening was “prodromal labor.”  She was so frustrated, but also felt incredibly supported.  Her midwife reassured her that this was a normal part of birth and labor.  The same thing happened a week later.  Finally, at 41+ a few, she began having contractions.  Kendra got in the shower, and the contractions quickly intensified, so she called her team back. Her doula arrived about an hour later, and the contractions were about 2-3 minutes apart, and very intense. Her doula texted the midwives telling them to come, but not necessarily to rush because Kendra felt it would still be a while. Kendra’s daughter, wearing her “tiny doula” shirt, took care of giving her water and helping in any way she could. Kendra felt like she needed to go to the bathroom, and while she was on the toilet, her water broke. Once it broke, her contraction was incredibly intense and she called her doula in. Kendra’s student midwife arrived and had her lie on the bed on her side, in hopes of being able to breathe through the contractions until the midwife arrived. Once the midwife was close enough, the student midwife told Kendra she could get in the tub. She immediately stood up from her bed and sprinted downstairs to the birth pool. “I remember thinking to myself, ‘my body is doing things, and I’m not doing it.’” She felt lots of pressure and put her hand down to see where the baby was. She realized his head was out, and then his body slid out after. This baby was 6lbs 5oz, so much smaller than her previous! Kendra’s labor was very short, which she appreciated after so much prodromal labor. They noticed that her baby had a “true knot”. The cord was very long, but it tore away from itself, so her midwife had to clamp it quickly.  All worked out perfectly. Kendra had lost a very close friend of hers in August 2017- she was like a mother to Kendra, and she always came to help with the children after each birth. It was incredibly emotional moment for her once her baby was here and she felt like her friend was there with them. Kendra discusses how if she would have gone into the hospital during either of her prodromal labor situations, it’s likely they would have admitted her and progressed her labor synthetically because she wasn’t progressing. “If you’re healthy and the baby’s healthy and you’re doing all the best things- the baby really will come when he’s ready!” Kendra mentions how the long wait after prodromal labor was very tolling on her. In fact, she had a night where her mom took her kids, she cried, had a bath and processed through all of her emotions… and then the baby was born two days later! com/kendramillerphotography com/kendramillerphotography
Episode Roundup:
    Parenthood is a continuous learning journey. We don’t have, and never will have, all of the answers, but if we keep an open mind, we will continue to grow and make the wisest possible decisions for our families. Your body and your baby are so deeply connected, and they work together so beautifully. Although Kendra’s prodromal labor was incredibly frustrating, she and her midwives decided to continue to wait until her baby was ready- this led to a beautiful, healthy outcome.