Exactly one week ago today at 9:17pm Andrew and I welcomed our son, Asher Jordan Vreeland into the world on Christmas Eve. We are so grateful of all the love and congratulations that have been poured over us from our friends, families and co-workers this past week and wanted to share a bit of our experience and photos with everyone. It was a life changing expereince and as I told Andrew the other night as we sat and watched him. I don't know how I've lived 33 years without him. We are changed for the better. My Birth Experience... I set out to have the most natural birth possible. The way the good Lord intended it. At first I was neither here nor there on which option I'd go with because I hadn't really thought about it. But after I watched the documentary "The Business of Being Born" I was pumped to deliver naturally. Thus the prepping began. I read every blog, book and watched every natural labor video on Youtube to prep myself. People. Nothing can prepare you for labor. All I have to say is Eve and that damn fruit. On the day of, I woke up at 3:08am with my first real contraction and labored at our house with our Doula, Christi Martinez, until about 3pm. During this time I discovered that I could only labor in one position and that was sitting on an exercise ball. Christi was an amazing asset during my entire labor. My labor pains were all throughout my lower back so with every single contraction Christi massaged my lower back while also applying a heating pad to help me bare the pain. I seriously could not have stuck it out naturally without her. I would have been heading to the hospital at 3am rather than 3pm that day. I highly recommend hiring a doula! Once the contractions got so intense it was time to bring this boy home and transition to Flagler Hospital. I have always been so weirded out by hospitals so I had been poo-pooing the whole hospital part of delivery leading up to this day because... again in my mind I could do this... God made me to bare children... who needs hospitals. Wrong. I now love hospitals. Not only for the peace of mind, but the men and women who work in the Labor and Delivery department are amazing. They were all so comforting, mother-like, reassuring and encouraging through the whole process. I was sad each day when the nurses shift would change and I didn't get a chance to say goodbye to my nurse! When I arrived at the hospital I was 9cm dialated and my bag was "buldging" as they say. My midwife said okay, it's time once I break your water, just a few pushes and this guy is going to be here. At this point I was in so much pain that I had to prep myself through a few more contractions to be able to grasp the idea that the pain was probably going to get worse. And it did. Once I began pushing I became paralyzed with pain. Not literally, but it certainly felt like it. Whatever position he was in, it was preventing me from being able to be in any type of ideal labor position... let alone move at all. Not to mention, I could no longer sit on the ball. Even for my doula to raise my legs, it was excruciating. I'm a tough girl, but I knew that after 12 hours of labor so far, exhaustion was going to get the best of me. I didn't have an ounce of energy left in me to find my focus and push through the toughest parts. And I was okay with that realization. So I threw out my code word "Bazinga" which Andrew knew to be my signal that I'm not kidding... I'll take the epidural now. I'm so glad I opted for this instead of letting my pride get the best of me because now I could actually calm down a bit, breath and live in the moment of what was happening. Two hours later after pushing a lot, Baby Vreeland made his arrival at 9:17pm as Asher Jordan Vreeland. Merry Christmas to us. Andrew was photographer for the day and he captured these moments beautifully. When we relocated to St. Augustine I had to find a new OBGYN. My friend Vanessa highly recommended Missy Rogero of Ancient City Midwives and I'm so glad she did. Being treated by Missy is like having your best friend be your healthcare practitioner. She is so vested in each of every one of her patients (which I'm quite positive might be every woman in St. Augustine because every where I go people tell me.. "Oh she delivered my baby!"). When I met with her, I learned more about my pregnancy in the 30 minutes during my first appointment than I previously had at a regular OBGYN office for 6 months leading up to the time. I don't have one ounce of regret from my birth experience. All throughout my pregnancy I met two different kinds of woman. Those were adamantly against intervention and believed only in natural birth.... and those who were deathly afraid of birth and wanted the drugs. I never met an in between woman who wanted to experience birth but also knew it was okay to have modern medicine intervene when necessary. So, I'd say to my friends who will have kids in the future. Try it out, experience what nature intends your body to do and if you can't handle it, that's okay. The experience will be equally as beautiful. Mine certainly was. Thank you just does not feel adequate enough for all the words of advice and encouragement from our friends and family as we awaited Asher's arrival. We are surrounded by some of the very best people in the world and feel incredibly blessed because of this. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.