Hi there, I’m Ashley Edmunds and I photograph weddings all over the world but my heart is in Virginia.
I grew up in Richmond, lived in the heart of Shenandoah for 7 years, and then found my way back to Richmond. Once you get to know me, you’ll see I’m a little Richmond obsessed. I can help you find the best restaurant, park, or brewery for any part of this wonderful city. I love photographing weddings here at home, in Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, DC, and beyond! When I’m not photographing weddings I’m most likely chasing River, my yellow lab trying to get a shoe out of his mouth, teaching my high school kiddos, or traveling with my amazing fiance Craig.
I wasn’t sure if writing Annie’s birth story was something I’d do but now 3.5 weeks into this mom gig, I realize it’s a story that I may forget and want it to be captured somewhere forever. So writing this down is more for me but I decided to share because I always enjoyed reading everyone else’s birth story blogs. Every birth is so so different, it’s crazy how much is unknown until the moment baby arrives.
I also want to say before diving in- if you are in a waiting stage or longing for a birth story to call your own, I am a listening ear, my prayers and heart are with you and fertility is something I’m ALWAYS open to talk about and would love to share our own personal journey if you’d like.
Before we even knew we were pregnant, Craig and I would talk about baby names and we never agreed on a boy name, but the girl name was easy! Ever since I was little, I had wanted a little girl and to name her after my two grandmother’s Julia and Anna-May. Julia, my dad’s mom, unfortunately passed before I was born and I never got the chance to meet her. She was a pediatrician, loved kids, and had four of her own! Anna-May, my mom’s mom, was my adored Mimi! We grew up going to her house in West Point. I told Craig how I loved their names and to my surprise he loved them as well!! It wasn’t until later in my pregnancy that we realized whenever we talked about baby girl, we already had a nickname we used, “Annie.” It seems classic and easy to spell and pronounce. That stuck and that’s what we’ve been calling her ever since. One day, she can decide on her own what she would like to be called.
Photo of me and Mimi (Anna-May)!
Annie’s birth story in my opinion starts at our 20 week anatomy scan when I found out my placenta was completely covering my cervix and we were told to prepare for a c-section at 37 weeks. In fact, we already picked out a date with the doctor (Sept. 19th) for this to happen and canceled all our summer travel plans in case I had a bleeding episode with the previa. This corrected itself at 28 weeks which we were not expecting at all and we were back on track for a 40 week pregnancy and c-section was off the table. It was exciting but I also had prepared myself to only be pregnant 37 weeks and for surgery so part of me was still nervous!
Some people have elaborate birth plans and requests and professionals involved and that is honestly admirable. I went into birth so incredibly blind, my birth plan was literally and I said this all 9 months “a healthy baby and as many drugs as possible.” In fact, I knew my own doctor who I absolutely adore wouldn’t even be able to deliver her because she only delivers at the hospital near our house and we chose to deliver at St. Mary’s because we heard amazing things about the nursing staff there. So as 40 weeks started approaching I was extremely nervous to say the least. I knew next to nothing about labor & delivery and had no clue who our doctor would be. Since I had this fear, I scheduled an induction for my due date because I also had a fear of going over term and something happening to baby (My mom lost a baby around this time so that was always in my head). Craig and I made the decision the day before to call the hospital and cancel that induction because we wanted to give her a little more time to come on her own. At this point, I had already had one unsuccessful membrane sweep and zero signs of labor. I had an OB appointment with my doctor on my due date (10/10) and my blood pressure was measuring high so she encouraged us to reschedule our induction for the end of the week. I felt great about this because I knew I’d be holding my baby soon and there was an end in sight.
I was off work this week which made the days drag on but funny story- my brother’s birthday is 10/13 so we were able to celebrate that and my dad’s 60th birthday was 10/15 and Ms. Annie decided she wanted her own birthday and came right in the middle of them on 10/14!
Our induction was scheduled and we were due to check in to St. Mary’s at 5pm at 10/13. It was so weird leaving our house with our suitcase knowing we were going to come home with a baby! We were told, I would get what’s called a foley balloon inserted to help me dilate Thursday night and Craig and I would have a chill night (in fact several nurses encouraged us to pick out a movie, order in a nice dinner, etc.) and the doctor would come in Friday morning and start pitocin to officially start the induction. Annie had other plans of her own!!
Last photo with our only child, River! Also, looking at this photo I miss our clean kitchen, ugh!
When we walked into St. Mary’s we were greeted by a nurse that I had met before at my neighbor’s house and instant relief came over me because I knew how amazing she was! It was so great to see a familiar face to walk us through everything. The balloon was inserted by 6pm (Ouch) and Craig decided to go out and get us some subs while I hung back and picked out a movie. While Craig was gone, I felt and heard a pop and thought huh, I wonder if my water broke, no way. I called the nurse in and told her my water may have broke and she said no most likely not but she had me stand up anyway to make sure. When I stood up, water went everywhere and it was confirmed, this was happening a lot faster than expected. Craig came back with a sub in hand to us cleaning up my water everywhere and let’s just say that sub never got eaten.
Once my water broke, they had to take out the balloon to see if I was dilated and to our shock, I was already at a 6!!! Now- here is where I knew to start begging for the epidural because I knew it was about to get real. At this point I was having contractions but they were manageable. They called in for the epidural and I had about an hour wait where I cursed through each contraction. I honestly didn’t even feel the epidural going in but did feel my legs go partially numb and some relief. At this point, I could feel the contractions but they weren’t as bad. I really only had 2 hours of intense contractions with full feeling, not bad!
From about 9pm-2am I was monitored to see if I was progressing and with every check, I was very much progressing!! At 2am, I was told “It’s time to push.” We thought this would be happening a full 24 hours later so we were shocked!!! Our nurse at this time (shift change had happened) was equally amazing and she got a run for her money this night, phew just wait! She told me I could push anywhere from probably 20 minutes – 2 hours (average amount of time for a new mom). We were all once again shocked, when I push for 4.5 full hours!!!!
These 4.5 hours were HARD. I was constantly watching the clock, drenched in sweat. Our sweet nurse had one leg and Craig had the other and baby girl was NOT moving. We tried everything and she was essentially stuck because she was diagonal. Everyone was so encouraging during this time but at around hour 4, the idea of a c-section was on the table. The nurse called in the midwife who was working and when the midwife came in she agreed a c-section was the best option at this point. I broke down crying because I felt that I had gone through so much over night to be wheeled in for surgery but everyone convinced me it was the best option. The midwife had to page the doctor who was on call to do the surgery and honestly, thankfully it took him almost a hour to show up. The nurses made me keep pushing this full hour and I kid you not, when the doctor was standing in the doorway with a wheel chair to wheel me in for surgery, Julianna made her appearance at that minute (6:36am) and I did not have to get a c-section!! She was immediately placed on my chest and I heard the doctor and midwife discussing my recovery but I was oblivious to how bad it actually was at this point because we had our baby girl!!
Once she was taken to be weighed and checked out, I was informed I had a hematoma, third degree tear, and lost a LOT of blood. This was all probably due to pushing for so long. I got stitched up while I was still numb so again, I didn’t seem to care at this point, I was just enjoying watching Craig hold her for the first time!
One thing we were shocked at was the amount of dark hair she has, we love it so much and wonder if it will change to blonde as she gets older. Around this time, another nurse that I know through a friend clocked in and came straight to us which was a godsend. All of these familiar faces were so comforting to me. She took excellent care of me and Annie for 3 hours before we were transferred to the mother infant unit.
We ended up staying at St. Mary’s for two more nights due to my recovery and were in newborn bliss (except for the SCREAMS from her because she wasn’t getting enough milk during our stay and we were oblivious)! We brought her home on Sunday and she was welcomed in the driveway by her grandparents, 4 cousins, aunt, and uncle.
We are so thankful for a healthy baby girl, born at 8lbs 1oz and 21 inches long!
Since we’ve been home, we realized my recovery has been a little more serious than we thought. I’ve had some complications but am trying to take time to heal. Annie also gave us a scare one night and we ended up in the PEDS ER but I’ll save all that for her one month post! Thank you so much to every person who has sent us a text, a visit, a meal- Annie has the best family and friends!
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What a wonderful recap of your journey! It was informative and will be a great help to many upcoming ‘moms’. I cannot wait to meet my great niece. I already love her and will spoil her for years to come. After all, my name is Anne, often called ‘Annie’. Ashley, I am so happy for you and Craig as you have welcomed Julianna into your lives.