The stunning Tracy Squillace with her son Sully (5) and daughter Aven (2). Tracy is also a bonus mom to Maryam (22), Jacob (20) and a child who would now be 2. Tracy jumped into motherhood full speed ahead after moving in with her now husband and his children. Their biological mother lost her life to breast cancer so Tracy embraced them as her own. She and her husband eventually decided they wanted a child together and though they were warned that conception could take a while due to her husband having a vasectomy reversal, they got pregnant right away. Her pregnancy was wonderful, her care with her chosen OBs wasn’t as much. Knowing she wanted a natural birth, she searched for a long time for the right midwifery practice and switched care at 26 weeks. She also opted to travel quite a long distance to utilize a birth center attached to a traditional hospital, one of the only in Michigan at the time. She went into labor at 39 weeks and had a very difficult start. Her son became stuck with his cord compressed between his shoulder and face and her cervix spasmed so she felt like she was having one continuous contraction. She says she felt like a rabid animal, scared and panicked and things weren’t progressing. They opted to transfer her to labor and delivery within the hospital so that she could get an epidural. Even with some relief, things continued to go downhill. She was at a teaching hospital and felt that she was on display with so many people coming in and out to check her. The doctors were also extremely rude to her midwife and doula and she felt she was in the midst of a “turf war”. She was eventually able to get him out on her own but it wasn’t at all what she desired and processing that is still difficult today. About two years later they decided to add to their family and Tracy was elated and quite surprised to find out she was pregnant when her eldest daughter was visiting over the holidays. Sadly, she lost the baby at 8 weeks and had a very hard time with it. It was an early loss and many acted as though she should just move on quickly because it was so early. She found herself terrified of trying again and distrusting of her body for the first time in her life. Just weeks after her loss and trying to avoid pregnancy, she discovered she was pregnant with Aven. She was so worried they told no one until after the first trimester and she felt she couldn’t celebrate this new life growing inside of her for some time. Because of Sully’s birth, she knew she would seek a very different experience with Aven. She was able to give birth naturally to Aven in the water, in a candlelit room surrounded by strong women and it was a beautiful, healing experience. Tracy has postpartum anxiety after Aven (and realizes she had it with Sully too) but it took a great friend to hold up the mirror and force her to see she was struggling. It’s been a journey to get the anxiety under control and while its better, it has never fully gone away. On Aven’s first birthday, her son was diagnosed with autism which was completely unexpected and she realized she needed to be healthy for the both of them. She continues to focus on her health, mentally and physically, as a means to be a better mother to her children. Tracy says that this a big year for her, Aven just weaned, she’s turning 40, Sully will be starting school as a mainstream student, and Aven is starting preschool. She wanted to take this moment to capture who she is at this time. She also wanted to be a part of a movement where women are celebrated and loved for who they are and their journey no matter where they have come from or our being led.