We all remember the moment of shock when our pregnancy test was positive, but imagine being in another country and to take 4 expired pregnancy tests to then find out the amazing surprise is real. Meet Mama Ashley, she talks about her motherhood journey, and her natural child birth.
Read her journey in her words:
They call it the Island of the Gods. Like many islands, this one has white and black sand beaches, fresh roadside coconuts, ragged cliffs and towering palm trees. In the center of the island theres a little village known for it’s monkeys, spiraling rice paddies, and hoards of spiritual tourists. It’s all very Eat, Pray, Love over there. Yes, just as you read in the book. But Bali really is a special place, and Ubud (the village in the middle) is truly the epicenter to it all.
My husband and I spent 6 weeks there this time. I, being a yoga practitioner for many years, spent my days at the shala. My husband spent his on the back of a motorbike touring the island’s coffee shacks and beach bars. It was in our fourth week there that I noticed something strange in my morning practice. While initiating each backbend or inversion throughout my practice, i would quickly back out as if I had forgotten how to proceed. There was a block between my mental and physical self. I knew I could do these things, but my body would retreat last minute. I fought my frustration through my 1.5 hour class, crediting my imbalance to that papaya I ate prior to class. A long time girlfriend, and Bali resident looked me up and down after my practice and said “theres something different about you, do you feel alright?” I told her about my papaya, of course. She promptly said “you should take a pregnancy test”
“humina whhhhaaat?” Sure I had been a little too talkative about my infatuation with babies at the moment. Every pregnant woman that crossed my path had an ethereal glow and seemed to float, not walk. Every baby, toddler and child put on an extra special show for me of good behavior and sweet smiles. I was 28 years old, I had found my soul’s match, and I caught myself ruminating about my future offspring.
I rode my motorbike home from class full of nervous excitement. My husband and I were ready to begin this next chapter in our lives where we welcomed the addition of family. We had decided to release all control and allow our family the space to start when ready, but we had only had those conversations 3 weeks prior. My mind began to spin.
We took a test at home. Then, naturally, we went out and bought 5 more tests from various kiosks, super markets, and a natural birthing center.
Seeing that 4 of these Indonesian pregnancy tests were years past the expiration date when purchased, one could never be too sure. All were positive. I entered my first stage of the Motherhood Journey.
Months later and we are in California, my home state. My husband and I work hard to gather a life and home for ourselves while we await the baking baby. He is from Switzerland originally, so we have lots of immigration paperwork and interviews to address while nesting and awaiting our Bali Souvenir. Part of the reason we chose to come back to CA is because I had always planned to have a home birth with Midwives whom I have known for years. My mother had a water birth in the early nineties with one of my brothers, had doula’d for friends, and the conversation around the process of birth was always a comfortable topic in our home growing up.
My husband and my approach with pregnancy and birth was to allow everything to unfold naturally, and without fear. It is simply what felt instinctual to both of us. If our midwives advised something then we did it, otherwise, we just let our baby grow and develop as needed.
I never had an ultrasound. People frequently displayed surprise with this, and some look at me as if I neglected proper attention to my growing child. It had nothing to do with a disbelief in Ultrasounds, or an idea that they were unhealthy, not at all! We simply, did not want to know the gender until birth, and the midwives had no concerns regarding size, amount of liquid, or placement of the baby. as I was presenting normal. Besides, I never really felt a desire for the tiny black and white alien photo on my fridge. My pregnancy went along fairly uncomplicated.
My water broke at 2 am, 5 days after my due date. It was March. I labored all day in the backyard, the living room, bedroom, bathroom, garden, constantly changing my surroundings. I found that while I was outdoors, bare feet on the soil or grass, that my contractions came like clockwork and I could prepare and expect them with regularity. Indoors they were chaotic and changing.
At 4:30 pm our baby was born. I can’t say that my experience was everything I expected it to be, because I had never been in this situation before, and therefore I had no idea what to expect. This was my first time, and even though part of me thought I would hang from a backyard tree branch like some native American woman, allowing gravity to pull my baby down into the arms of Mother Earth… yada yada yada, I ended up in the classic pose, on my back, knees bent, on a bed. There were moments where I thought, if someone were to offer me drugs right now- I’d take em!! Because it’s bloody painful, exhausting and unknown! When my mind would spin out of control, i would reel it back in through meditation, talking to the baby on his/her big first adventure, or think about all the women who have come before me, from all over the world, drugs or no drugs, hospital or home, tree branch or rice patty. We are not reinventing the wheel here, we are women who are built to give birth to babies, and I really did want to feel it all.
The midwives guided the baby into my arms. My husband sat behind me, supporting me through the 45 minutes of pushing. It was at least 10 minutes before our midwife asked if we wanted to know the gender. To our surprise, we hadn’t even checked, because there were eyelashes, tiny ears, little fingernails, and soft peach fuzz all over. And too many tears to wipe away in order to see clearly. It was a girl. We named her Mila. As soon as the warm love filled my body, the trauma of the delivery ebbed and slipped away.
It has been 18 months since Mila arrived and I look back and know that I would have a home birth again for my next. The experience was truly amazing. I am positively in awe of every woman that grows, births and raises a child, regardless of our choices or situations we are all the while becoming parents.
I am so deeply honored to be in this elite club of warrior women who are Mothers.
My biggest worry at the time when I found out I was pregnant was that I was advised to not eat the street food in Bangkok. One of my favorite and best street food cities IN THE WORLD!I was crushed.
If someone is contemplating natural child birth, what advice would you give them?
Go with your gut, and remember that your body knows what to do, even if you don’t. Also, consider getting regular prenatal chiropractic care. I believe that this was a beneficial factor to keeping my bones in place and allowing the baby to stay deep in position. One of the main reasons women are
transferred is because of breech babies.
What has surprised you about motherhood?
Simply how hard it is. Everyone tells you over and over again, but it will never make sense until you experience it first hand. That and how horrible of a person I am with such little sleep. I had never met this side of me before.
I’m dying to take her everywhere that I love so that I can see these places through her eyes. But to go alone! I’d return to India alone. Or I’d have my husband take me to the Patagonia and Antarctica that he knows so well. Both places that I want Mila to be a .
Now that you have told the Mother Effin Truth, who do you want to nominate to tell their story as a mother? And why?
An inspiring mama whom I have admired for years before I could even envision myself on the path to Motherhood is who I nominate to tell her story- Ashley Rak Naves.