Mama Bird Ashly has long been a part of our nest as a loss parent, but last summer, she took a leap into advocacy through Three Little Birds scholarship for our Perinatal Bereavement Training Program. Since receiving her certification, she has gone bedside to support families like hers, unwillingly thrust into the world of pregnancy and infant loss.
Her transition from loss parent to advocate was a natural one. So much so that she was named Bereavement Doula of the Year at our annual Wave of Light ceremony! Additionally, she has started a legacy project in memory of her second born daughter, Aubree Ann, who was stillborn in 2016. The goal of her legacy project, Aubree’s Adventures, is to provide a safe space for loss parents to socialize. Many times after these life-altering experiences, we become the “big pink elephant” in the room which can make socializing difficult. Throughout the year, Aubree’s Adventures will host our loss parents in fun social activities focused on supporting physical, emotional and spiritual healing. This month, she is hosting a Chocolate Tasting event as a fundraiser for Three Little Birds!
(left to right - Ashly Hannah, Bereavement Doula of the Year and Desiree Miller, Three Little Birds Co-Founder at the 2022 Wave of Light ceremony)
GET TO KNOW MAMABIRD ASHLY!
How did you feel when you found out you were going to be a parent? When I found out I was pregnant, I was excited happy and nervous. Going from a mom of one to a mom of two, I thought, would be a challenge. I waited until about 13ish weeks to announce my pregnancy to hit the "safe zone" and to get the NIPT test results back which also told me the gender. I announced that my oldest was going to be a big sister to a little sister. I saw maternal fetal medicine once a week. I went to an appointment around the end of September in 2017, then two weeks later I had a follow up appointment on October 11, 2017.
Tell us about when you learned Aubree would be stillborn. On October 11, 2017 I was at Maternal Fetal Medicine at the hospital. I went in for a quick ultrasound to do some checking of the cervix. I brought my (at the time) two year old with me, because I knew it was going to be a quick appointment and wanted to spend as much time with her as possible. Luckily for me she was sleeping when the ultrasound tech said she would be right back. That is when the doctor walks in and the ultrasound tech did not. The doctor said lets take a look at everything. I knew something was up because I couldn't see the screen and nobody was saying anything to me. The doctor put the thing on my stomach to get the heart beat and check the cervix and things like that. (or so I thought). He turns to me and says "I am sorry, but there is no heartbeat. Stay right here and I will call your OBGYN and see what they want to do." I was shocked all I could think about was why me why now. The doctor walks back in and says your OBGYN wants you to go right to the office. Luckily for me the office was like two minutes if that from maternal fetal medicine. So I go to the OBGYN office and the doctor there asks me what I wanted to do. I said I want to get the baby out asap. I personally did not want to wait to see what my body would do. I was induced the next day. October 12, 2017 my daughter Aubree was born.
Tell us about your daughter, Aubree.
Aubree Ann Tucker was born at 5:50pm on October 12, 2017 weighing exactly one pound and was 11 inches long. She was born at 22 week and three days. As someone with a first time loss, I did not know what I was allowed to do. I was a little skeptical at first on holding and seeing her because I did not know what to expect. Her father did not want to see her and that was that. During my induction process, I was talking with nurses and doctors and things I decided I wanted to see and hold her for as long as I could. I instantly fell in love with her once I saw her. She was perfect head to toe. I couldn't believe that she wasn't breathing or crying.
How did your "village" support you through your loss?
My mom was there from the time I got the news to delivery and even still almost six years later she is still there. Mamabird Nicole has been there for me since my induction day. Mamabird Nicole was actually my nurse through my ordeal and I followed her when she merged her support group with Three Little Birds. I am not sure I would of made it without either of these women/groups! Three Little Birds has helped me start a legacy project to remember Aubree several times throughout the year!
Which Three Little Birds services or events do you like the most?
I really enjoy all of them! One of my favorites are most definitely the launching of new legacy projects!
What does healing look or feel like to you? What has surprised you the most about this journey?
Healing for me is for me to be at peace knowing I am doing everything in my power to honor not just mine but all babies gone to soon. The thing that surprised me the most about this journey is becoming a certified bereavement doula. I never would of thought I would or even could do that! It brings me so much peace helping another parent like me on the worst day of their lives.
What inspired you to become a Certified Bereavement Doula?
To heal myself and to give families that comfort that they may not know is there!
What have you learned about yourself through all of this? If you could go back and be your own advocate, what would you tell yourself in those delicate moments of your loss? SPEND AS MUCH TIME WITH BABY AS I WANT! DO NOT LET SOMEONE ELSE DICTATE HOW LONG OR SHORT OF TIME I HAVE WITH THEM! Take lot of pictures and make memories with foot and hand prints! I did not get to do that. Luckily I had two wonderful nurses that made bracelets with her name and took pictures for me.
Now that you are certified, how do you want to advocate for others and honor your baby? By shattering the stigma! Letting other families know they are not alone and we are here no matter what. Whether your loss was at three weeks or 42 weeks it still matters and you are still allowed to grieve in your own time, in your own way.
Anything else you would like to share? You are not alone and I am so very sorry we are meeting this way! We are here when you are ready and we are not going anywhere!