“An incredibly beautiful, sacred experience”

I was 41 weeks pregnant with zero sign that labor was on its way. I was getting a little worried but anytime I started to panic, I called MaryAnne and Becca and they “talked me off the ledge” and helped me feel peace about everything.

At 41.5 weeks pregnant I chose to use MaryAnne’s castor oil smoothie recipe to get labor moving. Mary Anne was on call and was vigilant in checking on me and my progress. I was having regular contractions by the late afternoon and felt bad asking MaryAnne to come because I didn’t think I was very far along, but MaryAnne listened to me go through a couple contractions over the phone and she said, “You’re farther along than you think you are. I’m coming over.” She got to the house and checked on me and I was so glad she was there because I was very much in labor and couldn’t move or talk during contractions. She and Josh (my husband) went to work with the birthing pool – Josh and I had already fixed the bed with the birthing sheets.

The rest of the team arrived about 6:00 and I was able to get in the pool. I melted as soon as I got in and felt so much relief. This was a really intense labor – I was more aware of my body in this labor than I was with any of the other labors. I could feel my body changing and after about two hours and 20 minutes, I felt things shift and felt like I needed to poop so bad. I even yelped out, “Oh no I’m pooping!” MaryAnne and Maggie all got down and checked but said, “Nope! No poop! You’re body is getting ready…not long now strong mama!” Hearing that was a breath of fresh air. I was ready. Josh wouldn’t leave my side except to get more liquids for me to drink, and if he was doing that, either MaryAnne, Maggie, or Jessica immediately took his place so I wasn’t alone. He and the midwives got along so incredibly well and they were so supportive of each other. MaryAnne was so calm. They all were. They let me do my thing but supported me in ways I didn’t realize I needed. MaryAnne was very strong, which I needed – “You got this Ashley! You’re doing it!” Maggie was soft spoken and prayed over me and rubbed my hands gently, which I needed. They all kept reminding me to take deep cleansing breaths after each contraction, keep my shoulders down and relaxed, and keep my hands and jaw relaxed. They were just amazing. Transition hit at 8:20 and for the next 25 minutes I pushed/breathed baby down. Josh was Hercules and was leaning over the edge of the pool to squeeze my hips. If he let go for even a second I let out a little whimper and said, “No! No! Go back!” It brought so much relief for him to squeeze my hips. Van’s head was born and I kind of just let my body do the rest – I gave one more half-hearted push and his body just slipped out. The greatest relief in the world. Literally.

They put him on my chest and I just laid my head back and closed my eyes. I looked at him for a little bit and took him in then closed my eyes and laid back. I just couldn’t keep my eyes open. He wiggled and started crying and turned his head and looked up at Josh and me. Sweet Josh was crying and kissing both of us. He was such a rock. I sat in the pool for a little bit and then they got me onto the bed and started trying to expel the placenta – it came out just fine…all intact. They said my placenta was absolutely beautiful and very robust – that made me happy. I created a good home for my baby. I just laid there with Van on my chest with my head back and eyes closed – it felt so good to finally be on my back just closing my eyes. I couldn’t believe it was done.

The midwives went around cleaning up and getting things organized again. I was so quiet Mary Anne finally said, “Ashley – you’re pretty quiet and you’re not smiling. Are you okay honey?” I told her I was great and was grinning on the inside – I was just so exhausted and relieved. Josh brought me some avocado toast and some of my healthy rice pudding to devour. I was so hungry. Then Van was ready to nurse and we started a beautiful nursing relationship right there. He figured it out so quickly. Nursing with Van has been the easiest of the four kids. They took Van to lay next to me for his check up and then we just sat and talked for a little bit. Josh and I thanked them for such a beautiful, perfect experience.

MaryAnne asked if they could leave us with a prayer and asked Josh if he would say it. Josh gave a beautiful prayer of gratitude for these amazing women – it was SUCH a perfect way to close such a sacred experience, and I’m so grateful to MaryAnne for suggesting it. We named my son after my brother who passed away two years ago, and I know my brother was there supporting me and making sure his little namesake made it earth side okay. It truly was an incredibly beautiful, sacred experience, and MaryAnne and her team helped me, and Josh, create that in more ways than one. If, IF, I get pregnant again, I hope it is while we are still living in Tennessee so I can use MaryAnne and her team again. Wouldn’t want anyone else helping me bring my babies into this world.

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