Updated: Jul 8, 2021
My story doesn't just begin here. It starts after I had my son, Fletch. About 10 days after he was born, I ended up in the hospital for over 2 weeks and was very close to dying. It was the scariest thing I have ever been through and very depressing. I had open surgery and lost my spleen. You can see my huge scar down my abdomen in the photos below. I thought for sure I would never be able to have another baby. At the time, I didn't know if I wanted another one but if I did, I wasn't sure it would be safe or even possible. (to read the whole story, click here.)
I spent 2 years changing my lifestyle and working on my health. Without a spleen, you are considered immune compromised. I was determined to be as healthy as I could. This involved removing all toxins, harsh chemicals, fragrances and more from our home. I have also improved my diet although it is not prefect. I love me some Chic Fil A y'all! I started to feel healthier than I have ever been and knew in my heart I wanted another baby. My next step in my health journey was to remove my breast implants before I have another baby. I have very subtle signs of breast implant illness and without a spleen, I want to be able to give my body the best chance possible.
A week after my appointment with my plastic surgeon, I found out I was pregnant. SURPRISE! Dang nuvaring didn't do it's job! HA! I was so excited!! My husband was a little unsure but we knew that no matter what, we were gonna love this baby just as much as our other kids. We announced to our immediate family and fell in love very quickly with our little one. At about 5.5 weeks pregnant, I miscarried. And my heart just BROKE. I had no idea I would feel that loss so deeply. After losing the life inside me, we decided to try again. And very quickly I was pregnant with Miss Lottie.
Knowing this was my last pregnancy, I was determined to have a home birth. It had always been my dream to have a water birth. I went ahead and met with a midwife but also saw an OB. I wanted to make sure it was safe for me to have a baby at home and that I wouldn't be considered high risk. And turns out, I wasn't high risk! I was thrilled. It came time to break up with my OB. This ended up being way harder than I imagined. My OB is hands down THE BEST you can get. He was so supported of my decision and the last thing he said to me was 'Ash, you can do this and you will be great.'
Breaking up with him was hard but it made it so much easier knowing I had the best midwives in town! Shout out to Modern Village Midwifery for being amazing at what y'all do! From start to finish, they made sure I had the best pregnancy I could have! In my health journey, I have become more reliant on homeopathic remedies and utilizing the medicine that God gave us on this earth to heal our bodies and my midwives supported that! I have always hated taking pharmaceutical meds but more so even now. If I can heal my body or relieve whatever ailment I am dealing with using natural medicine... I'm all about it. And it works. Thank God for my midwives in helping me deal with blood sugar issues, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, cramping, constipation and more. This pregnancy was my healthiest of all!
Ok...now to my birth story. Before I start, I just want to say that no matter how you gave birth, you are so strong and a bad ass woman! We are not just a birthing person... we are STRONG AND POWERFUL WOMEN! We are mothers.
I have delivered all my babies early. My water broke at 37 with my first, 38 with my 2nd and 10 days early with my son. So of course, I fully expected to deliver early with my 4th. NOPE. I made it all the way to my due date. Perks of being super healthy during pregnancy. My friend Bre was telling me to do some curb walking to kick start labor. This is where you walk with one foot on the curb and the other on the street. Well I don't have sidewalks in my neighborhood so she told me to come to her house and we'll walk together. And then she offered me breakfast casserole. Lord knows I CAN'T PASS UP FOOD.
When I got up that morning, on my due date btw, it was a beautiful day. After what seemed like 2 weeks of RAIN and GLOOM, it was sunny. I knew I wanted to have my baby during the day with the sun shining so I told my body that today was the day. I said 'line up body. It's a great day to have a baby." I'm sure I sounded so crazy!
We started our walk around 10:30 and within 10 minutes I thought I peed my pants. We walked back to the house and I went to the bathroom hoping for a gush of amniotic fluid. No gushes.
We sat down to eat and I started sweating and having some braxton hicks. (so I thought) I felt a huge gush and just knew I soaked her bar stool! Thankfully I didn't!
"I think my water broke so I should probably go home!" Excitement was in the air! 11:45am: I rushed home making all the phone calls. As soon as I got home I went to the bathroom to make sure it was my waters. My birth kit came with a swab so with permission from my midwives, I swabbed. And it was purple. YES!
I was laboring pretty steadily. Not intense. My midwives came around 1:30pm and the contractions started picking up. They were really close together and I was having to breathe through them. They picked up very quickly and I started having to hum through them. I knew I wanted a short labor so I grabbed my labor roller that I made with essential oils. I honestly wasn't sure if it would work or not but I knew it couldn't hurt to try. After a couple of applications my contractions really picked up! But then I wasn't having a solid break in between. I would have the normal surges that start small, peak and then come down but in between those surges, I was having a steady contraction. And a lot of labor in my back. I couldn't get any relief and the more I moved to find a more comfortable position, the quicker the contractions came.
Bless my midwives because they were trying to help me and I ignored a lot of what they said. They gave me the peanut, I kicked it out. They told me to get into a position on the floor, I moved back to the bed. And so on...
I was back on my bed in the position that was the most comfortable for me which was on my back and on my right side. I kept feeling the urge to push but I thought maybe I just needed to poop because surely it couldn't already be time!
Something shifted after that. I was losing my mind just a bit. I was having back to back contractions that were getting stronger and stronger. At one point I was literally trying to escape my own body. I had forgotten all breathing techniques. I looked at my mom and said 'I need your help. I'm not in the right headspace.' She started telling me that my body was made for this. I can do it. God will help me. I'm almost there. Lottie is worth it.' She was the best support! And a prayer warrior!
Shortly after my midwife, Charis, held up some of my birth affirmations and read them to me.
Ok. I CAN do this. Something changed in me. My mind got right, I relaxed my face, lowered my humming (lower tones help open you up.) and thought about the beach. And then something incredible happened. My body took over and began pushing on it's own. It was a stronger push than I have ever done on my own with my other babies. I looked at my midwife and she said, I think it's time to take off your panties.
WOW! It was time. My birth pool was still being filled with water but there was just enough in there that I could go ahead and get in. My body pushed one more time before I got up and got into the pool. At that point, she was already crowning. (I didn't know this at the time but I saw it in my photos!)
Once I was in the pool, I felt my whole body relax. That water took away the pain I was having in my back. Instant relief. My body gave one hard push. I reached down and felt her little head! That was the encouragement I needed to give it everything I had!
I turned over and my body pushed hard a couple of more times. My midwives tried to get me to slow down. But I couldn't. My body was on a roll and I didn't want to stop it. I fully intended on being calm and quiet as I pushed since my girls (6 and 5) were there but that wasn't happening. I let out a roar and man did it help! I felt so empowered and strong in that moment and I roared Lottie out in just a few more pushes!
Lottie arrived at 3:22pm!
Her cord was wrapped very tightly around her neck so she did a few flips in the water before being placed on my chest. She was perfect. The rush of emotions is not like anything I have ever experienced. I had the same feelings with each of my babies but without pitocin, pain meds and an epidural... it was intensified x100! I highly recommend it. ;)
Lottie was in perfect health and weighed 8lbs. She was a little bruised but healed up within a day. My girls loved being able to see her 'be born' as they say.
My husband is the best father you could ask for your children but when it comes to birth, he's support in the background. He will hold my hand, rub my back, tell me I'm doing great but he doesn't want to see anything up close and personal. I'm guessing he's a little squeamish but would never admit it. ;) My mom is the up close and personal... let me see all things kind of gal so she has cut the cord for all my babies! And with Lottie Diane being named after her... it was only fitting that she cut the cord for my last baby. Isn't that sweet?
Every part of my birth was amazing. I will never forget it and it changed me for life. I knew it was what I needed to heal from the trauma I experienced after having my son. I felt so weak and helpless. This experience has shown me the strength I had all along. The first thing I said after Lottie came out was 'I DID IT.' I birthed the way God intended a woman's body to do it. No interventions, no meds, no pharmaceuticals. Not to say there is not a time and place for these things. I needed pit and an epidural for my first born to come out in a timely manner and without risk. So there is nothing wrong with these things but one intervention typically leads to another and your risk for complications goes up with each one. I wanted to experience birth without any interventions; to see how God truly designed it and I had that experience! And I will encourage anyone (in good health and not a risk) to do the same. Do your research and trust your body to do what God made it to do. It's the most amazing thing you will ever do!
I wanted my girls in the room when Lottie was born to show them what women are capable of. What our bodies can do. I love the quote, 'we have a secret in our culture, and it's not that birth is painful. It's that women are strong.' Our culture suggests that birth has to take place in a hospital. That if it takes place anywhere else, it's dangerous. That is simply not true. I wanted my girls to have their first experience of birth to be one that was natural and empowering. They will remember this experience forever and I pray that when they have children, they will also consider birthing at home in the most comfortable and natural way possible.
My oldest daughter, Blakely was a little bit scared when I 'roared.' We have had many talks and very open and informative conversations about pregnancy and birth. After some reassurance from McCoy during the birth and me after, she was at ease and so happy she was there.
One of my best friends missed the whole thing! She showed up right after Lottie arrived! We had no idea I would labor so quickly.
My other bestie was my doula! She lives a couple of hours away and we knew she might not make the birth. And she missed the whole thing too! She was the best doula during my pregnancy and helped me so much! She was a constant encourager and hosted the most beautiful mother blessing for me.
My son napped through the entire birth! Imagine going to bed and waking up to a brand new baby sister. He was very unsure of her at first but now he loves her and tries to take care of her.
Sweet sister holding Lottie's hand.
Our first photo as a family of 6!
My birth film!
Midwives: Modern Village Midwifery
Doula: Kalee Kunkel