Taped to the door of room 7 was a plain piece of paper that read “Shannon Michaels is breezing through this process with hypnobirthing.

Now I’ve heard good things about hypnobirthing, but knowing what my sister was going through two doors down made me want to burst into Shannon’s room, kick her support person in the ankles, and begin singing ABBA at the top of my lungs.

I took all my frustration out on Shannon’s smug little sign because I couldn’t do anything for my sister. (Well, I did some things, but nothing that felt even remotely useful despite her claiming it was.)

For any of you unfamiliar, I have one sister who is 22 months older than me. She’s the best sister I could have asked for, we’re a swell little team with quiet voices and substantial noses. She’s never been larger than a size 2 in her life and the next most surprising thing after finding out she was pregnant was seeing her sprout boobs, real. live. boobs, around 5 months. (Pregnancy! Whoo!) She is a very petite person and her pregnant figure was nothing short of adorable and full of baby. From behind no one would have never guessed what was looming out in front.

emilie, 39 weeks.

When she said she was going to try for an unmedicated birth I thought “GO YOU! But you do remember bruising a rib coughing that one time right?” Unmedicated labor fit her M.O. so I wasn’t surprised. When she’s sick she drinks tea, I take NyQuil and say sayonara cruel world. When she orders Thai she asks for the tofu while I ask if there’s an option to get all the meat. She takes herbs, I take drugs. She drinks spritzers while I drink Mexican Coke. She eats beets and thinks they’re delicious. I like cheeseburgers, she likes miso soup.

sissy's house.

She was there for my labor with Addie and knew what a pleasant person I became after my epidural so I never said anything more, she knew the option was there.

Her water broke just before 3 am on April 2nd. She had already been in early labor for what seemed like the entire week, and certainly since the previous afternoon (April Fools sucka!) She was big and uncomfortable but once we were all at the hospital she went straight into listening to her body, making all the adjustments, bossy demands and movements necessary for her to be (somewhat) comfortable. After several hours of swaying and groaning I thought “Hot damn, she’s OWNING this birth thing! No drugs for her! This birth is going to be powered by ice chips and counter pressure alone!

Tayden's Birth

Tayden's Birth

She didn’t progress a whole lot. 2 cm when she arrived, 4 cm after several hours and only 5 cm after several very, very long and painful hours. She was exhausted. We all were, but she hadn’t slept for almost 36 hours and she hadn’t slept well in at least 4 months. I could tell she was scared, I was scared. I wished I could take it all away for her. That I could do it for her. I’d done it twice, I could handle it! Let me do it! But that’s not how this birth thing works.

Tayden's Birth

She never said the words out loud, but we knew what she wanted, and truthfully it was getting to the point where we all knew that’s what she needed.

Her birth plan went from ‘Unmedicated Childbirth’ to ‘Kicking Birth’s @$$‘.

Even after medication she was still uncomfortable but able to rest. She was checked again we were all surprised to hear she had progressed to a 9 and the nurse said she’d be pushing within the hour.

Tayden's Birth

Is pushing hard?” she asked me.

Nope. It’s like pooping.” I responded.

Oh, how I regret those words.

Her doctor told her most first time moms push for an average of 45 minutes to an hour. I stood to the side and thought “Pfft. You haven’t seen my family give birth. We practically SNEEZE babies out.”

After watching her push for nearly two and a half hours I was choking back tears and wondering what gold trimmed and diamond encrusted present I could buy her that would show her how very, very sorry I was for ever saying pushing is like pooping.

Tayden's Birth

I’ll spare some of the more personal details that would make your bits clench in solidarity and say he made it out.

All 9 lbs. 6 oz. and 22.5″ of him.

Tayden's Birth

My tiny sister birthed a baby that was nearly 9% of her pre-pregnancy body weight.

No one saw that coming.

I knew I liked her husband but boy if I didn’t fall in love with him even more as I saw the love he had for my sister and their new son during those crazy intense 12 hours.

Tayden's Birth

Tayden's Birth

In the end she got her baby. A perfect little man with a full head of dark hair, thigh rolls, a dimpled chin and chubby cheeks.

Tayden's Birth


We had a talk tonight over sushi about how we have these things we get to keep.

We have husbands with whom we are madly in love with.

We have homes with mortgages in our names.

We have the jobs we dreamt of as little girls.

And now we have these perfect little children that we get to keep for as long as they’ll have us.

I always knew my sister was a good one, but I never knew just how strong she was until yesterday.

sissy n' me 1985

my sissy.

I love you sissy, and your little men too.


  1. You and your sister are exactly as far apart in age as my sister and I are. Neither of us have children yet, and neither of us are married, but I’m about to change that this year with my wedding in September. I hope we can be there for each other the way you have been there for each other through everything. Love it!

    What a beautiful baby boy. And how big he is! Wow, go Sissy!!

  2. Your sister is a beast! Good on her for doing such a fantastic job. And I envy your sister-ness. It brought a tear to my eye to read your words. Congrats, Auntie!!

  3. My first labor was very, very similar to your sister’s. I was in actual labor for 30 hours, so completely exhausted, didn’t want an epidural but finally surrendered around the 23 hr mark, pushed for 3 hours. If it’s any consolation to your sister, my 2 babies that came after were so, so much easier. And quicker. So quick, in fact, that I had to do it drug-free just because there wasn’t enough time.


  4. HeidiLee says:

    Oh, wonderful photos, wonderful words, congrats to all.. :)

  5. Crying at my desk at work for this lovely post about your sister and the birth of her little man. Those pictures are gorgeous.


  6. I love birth stories…and you tell them so well. This could be your new gig: Birth Story Teller.

    Also? Congrats, Auntie!

  7. That’s quite a birth story! Congrats to your sister and her (your) family! And those are truly amazing photos – ones I am sure she will treasure forever…

  8. A true love story on so many levels. Beautiful, Casey!

  9. This is just wonderful.



  10. Melissa Smith says:

    Holy wow – it’s Addie (after a teeny bit of flat-ironing)! Seriously, I’ve been following along here since the middle of your pregnancy with Vivi, and I don’t recall ever seeing a childhood photo of you – but of course I’ve seen many of Addie, and she is the SPITTING image of her momma! No doubt whatsoever. Many congrats on the newest edition to your family, Auntie Casey. Simply beautiful.

  11. I totally pushed for 2.5 hours. It was awful. I would never do it again if my midwife didn’t PROMISE me next time will be easier.

    Goodness. It was 19 months ago and I still shudder. Eep.

    (You are a wonderful sister.)

  12. What a wonderful birth story! Your sister should be so proud of herself for accomplishing such an amazing feat. I too, planned for an unmedicated birth, but after 18 hours of hard contractions (and only at a 5) decided an epidural would help my body relax, give me control, and hopefully avoid a c-section. The most important thing is that she kicked birth’s @$s and has an AMAZING baby to show for it. HIGH FIVE!

  13. Birth is so weird, and I will never get hearing the story being told. You do a good job at it, I can firsthand attest to that!

    Congrats to them all!

    Casey Reply:

    @designhermomma, I got what you were putting out there.

  14. that comment made no sense. You tell a good story.

  15. Congrats Aunty Casey!
    Cheese and Rice that is a big baby – glad everyone is doing well!

  16. Seriously awesome post. Go sis!

  17. Your gift with words is only surpassed by your gift with photography. This is beautiful. Congrats to all of you

  18. I’m not sure whether the words or pictures got to me more. Either one could stand alone to tell this story and show the love in that room. Congratulations to your sister and all of your family.

  19. I BAWLED when my sister was in labor. I couldnt even see through my viewfinder to take pictures, I was just sobbing. Like your sis, she pushed for HOURS and all I could think was that that little baby will never truly understand how hard his mommy worked to bring him into this world. Man – Im gonna cry now if I dont stop thinking about it.

    Beautiful birth – congrats to the new little family!

  20. Love <3 :-) (There's really nothing more I can say!)

  21. Loving the picture of you and your sister young and old(er).

  22. Beautiful piece. You have brought tears to my eyes.

  23. Beautiful documentation of the labor and after the delivery. I know she will be so glad to have them. Hooray for sisters! And new babies!

  24. Woohoo, Congrats to your sister!! That is one big baby for her tiny self to push out!

    I had no pain meds with my 10 year old daughter. I did the same for my 15 month old son, but was not progressing (though I had to have pitocin for him, water broke, nothing else happened) I stayed at a 4 for hours and finally said to give me the epidural. I had him 45 minutes later and could have pushed him out within 30 minutes, but had sent my husband to get dinner, figuring it would be awhile. Anyway, my point is that sometimes that epidural is what it takes to relax your tired body and get the baby here! I hope your sis isn’t too upset for veering off her plan!

    Congrats to all!

  25. What an absolutely precious birth story! Congratulations to your sister and your entire family — the love you have for each other SHOUTS! in every word you type…so beautiful!

  26. Awe! The tears…I love love love this post. Your sister is lucky to have you and you her!

  27. Wonderful story, my friend. I loved it.

  28. Why must you make me cry???!!! That was the sweetest love note to a sister I have ever read. Welcome to the world Baby Tayden!

  29. Love, love, love! Love you. Love Sissy. She is amazing. You can just see all she went through, what beautiful captures and memories for her to have forever. I want to see you…life here has been less that amazing. I am near tears all the days…so forgive me for missing out on Saturday loving? Let’s lunch asap? xoxo

  30. Congratulations to you and your sis!

  31. Congratulations to your sister! I bet your girls (well at least Addie) is excited about her new cousin. :)

  32. You made me cry!

  33. Totally tearing up here, too. I always wanted a sister. Adopt me? :)

    Congrats to your entire family on the beautiful new addition!

  34. You’re the best sister, another reason I want my daughter to have a sister.

  35. This has me sobbing. So beautiful. How amazing that your daughters have the opportunity to have such a relationship too <3

  36. sister love makes me cry every time.

    your photos gave me chills.

    Welcome to the world little (big)boy!

  37. My first VBAC required an epidural and I ended up pushing for 2.5 hours too.

    My second VBAC, on the other hand, was a whole different animal!

    Congrats to your sister!!!

  38. So lovely! So glad you were there and that you have each other. Love the pictures and congratulations to your sister and her little family!!

  39. I FINALLY got over here to comment and say HAPPY BIRTHDAY TAYDEN!! A huge congrats to Sissy, and her hubs, and to you, Auntie Casey & Uncle Cody and wee girly cousins! WOWnies all around!
    (I read everything on my phone but couldn’t comment til now. Darn school gets in the way of everything.)
    SO much love to you all!!

  40. You are so blessed to have each other and she is blessed to have these amazing photos you took as well. Congratulations to your family and welcome to the world “big” guy!! ;-)

  41. So very lovely. Congrats to all!

  42. Tiffany says:

    beautiful. And ouch to the 10lb baby!

    Such a good sister you are!

  43. Susan A says:

    What a beautiful post! I really felt every emotion through your words & pictures. Beautiful. Congrats to your sister and your whole family!!

  44. That birth story sounds very much like my own first birth story. My boy was 9.5 too, except I’m way bigger than she is.

    What a wonderful blessing to have a boy in your family! Congrats to you all!

  45. So beautifully told! Aw, hooray for sisters, and babies. Congrats to all the family, and welcome Tayden!

  46. Congrats on the new baby! I was touched by how close you are to your sister. It made me missed my sisters back home.

  47. Congratulations to your sister and your family! And kudos to your sister – I was a 9lb 6oz baby as well, and my younger brother came along 4 years later at 9lb 8 oz!! My poor mother – I really should thank her more often.

  48. Best birth story ever. I dream of the day my 3 girls are there for each other at big moments like this. xo

  49. What an amazing story! You brought me to tears. Your family it’s so blessed to have such strong relationships with one another. Congratulations to all of you on a BIG, beautiful baby boy!

  50. I met your sister for all of an hour those few weeks ago, but this story made me cry like we were best friends.

    Babies man.

    I love ‘em.


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