I get so emotional thinking about the day Hayden was born.  Childbirth was painful and hard, but as time goes by, the day is filed in my mind as simply perfect.  In some ways, so perfect it could only be divine intervention.  

It seems like just yesterday. It’s hard to believe it was over a month ago.  As ready as I thought I was for Hayden to arrive, the truth is- I wasn’t prepared. I would venture to guess few people really are.  I hadn’t packed our hospital bags. I hadn’t finished the nursery. And most importantly, I hadn’t decided on some major concerns for the baby.  For instance, cord blood.  I did a decent amount of research and couldn’t decide.  Like many parents out there, so much was thrown at us in the last trimester; the decision making process can be daunting. We had already made many decisions regarding the baby, signing on many dotted lines. Suddenly, we’re registering at the hospital, debating what classes to take, what tours to go on, what books to read, which birth plan to follow?! Do we or don’t we hire a doula, etc.? Then, my OB asks if we are doing cord blood storage. I asked my friends and it’s still a relatively new endeavor… people either aren’t sure about it or they are 100% on board.  Were we bad parents if we didn’t store the blood?  We had been in limbo with our decision and truly thought we had a few more days to decide.  

I talked to a girlfriend from high school the day before Hayden was born. She was telling me about how another mutual friend’s son recently benefited from his cord blood storage. Something inside me clicked and I thought—- we need to do this. It wasn’t out of guilt for being a “bad parent” if I didn’t, I just decided if there were ever an opportunity for it to help Hayden or someone else, I should go for it.  I figured the next day I would work on the paperwork and order the cord blood kit.  

Then, later that night, the contractions went into full blown active “back labor.”  I kept getting in and out of bed, trying to relax. But, at 2:30am on May 24th while my husband was sound to sleep, I got up to pack our bags.  Just in case.  At 5:30am, as I was crying in the car on the way to the hospital, I contacted PacifiCord.  I had engaged in a conversation with the company previously about the possibility of using their services. My girlfriend Ali Fedotowsky had done quite a bit of research and highly recommended them.  If you are in a similar position, I’m sure you’ll do your own research, but I based my decision on a few factors.  I liked that the storage facilities were local.  And I learned they were the only local family cord blood bank to use both the FDA cleared AXP system and BioArchive systems.  And just in case a C-section was necessary, they use the only FDA approved sterile collection bag. These are things I would consider if you are looking into storing your child’s cord blood.  So, I literally emailed the contact person from PacifiCord from the car (remember, it’s 5:30am, too early to call) on the way to the hospital wondering if there were any way to finalize the paperwork and get a kit sent to the hospital.

Right after I emailed them, I called my parents in Texas to give them the heads up I was going into labor.  I asked for their prayers, then went back to focusing on breathing through the pain.  I went through a few minutes of being so angry at myself for not being more decisive earlier. I should have ordered the cord blood kit.  Why did I wait so long? Now, I had to accept the fact that I might have missed the opportunity to help my son if he ever needed it in the future.  Suddenly, it was so clear—- why would I NOT store his cord blood? 

This is where the divine intervention begins…and continues on throughout the day.  I get to the hospital and we get our delivery room.  I’m in so much pain with the “back labor” that I have let go of the notion of getting the cord blood stored.  Suddenly, all I’m concerned with is getting this little boy out of me! But, somewhere around 7:30am, the hospital delivery room phone rings.  It’s PacifiCord.  They received my email.  I told them my son was definitely arriving today.  They responded, “Well, so are we… we have someone ON ROUTE TO THE HOSPITAL to deliver a kit to Cedars Sinai.”  I was so overwhelmed I started crying. Then, I get a call from my parents and sister in Texas.  They are at the Houston airport—- about to get on a plane.  I had no idea when Hayden would decide to arrive, but my husband and I felt so much support surrounding us!

Sure enough, the kit cord blood kit arrives… the nurses took over and made the process seamless. My husband filled out the paperwork and was very impressed how this all worked out.  I couldn’t believe how attentive they were.  Checking on me during the day… and then promptly picking up the cord blood kit when it was ready.  The gentleman that picked up the kit even left in its place a gift for the baby. This is the kind of attention I would want for you all if and when you are in this position. 

My parents and sister arrived at the hospital around 6pm.  Hayden was born at 7:06pm.  Words cannot explain how wonderful it was to experience my son’s birthday with them.  And, of course, I’ll never forget the feeling of his little naked body resting against mine right after he was born. 

Now that I’ve had some time to reflect on the delivery day and experience, I wanted to share.You may have been in my shoes: completely undecided about cord blood storage. Please know that is normal.  In the past few weeks, I’ve spoken to a handful of new moms and it’s a common feeling…. to store blood, or not store blood.  And on top of every other expense, it’s not insignificant, but I did my research and they are more than reasonable. I was so impressed with the services at PacifiCord, I asked the good folks there if I could spread the joy with a discount for you all... mention Ashley200 for $200 off.  But educate yourselves. I’m so grateful I did. I pray to God it’s never needed, but the fact that science has progressed to help humanity if it ever is needed, I’m beyond grateful.  

For more information, go to www.PacifiCord.com.  Mention Ashley200 for a discount!




I received the sweetest early delivery gift from my family: a stunning silver and diamond Miracle Links necklace "linking" my unborn child to my stepson, Huck. It's so sweet how excited Huck is about his little brother. What a precious, meaningful way to show how much I love our "blended family" (read more on my blog at People.com). I love the symbolism of the necklace. I've always thought of life as a miracle, but not until I've had this baby growing inside me did I completely understand how miraculous it is. 

And the best part is... I can add to it as our family grows. (If we ever have a little girl, I would incorporate the rose gold link into the existing circles to celebrate a new miracle all over again!). It's one of those staple pieces of jewelry that becomes part of you and your everyday wardrobe. 


Somewhere along the pregnancy journey, things that could have driven me crazy started making me laugh. I can only imagine most women have their own list of funny tidbits, too. 

Oscar in the car on the way home from the unnecessary vet visit! 

Oscar in the car on the way home from the unnecessary vet visit! 

1) You smell everything. Literally. They could replace drug dogs with pregnant women in the TSA lines. I feel like I have a superpower! But, the novelty of it quickly fades. I'm left smelling the dirty clothes in the laundry. Or what the neighbors are having for dinner.  Matter-of-fact, I took Oscar to the vet because I was convinced I could smell a strange odor... They literally told me it was because I was pregnant, I was smelling odors that no one else would/could ever smell. For real?? Not fun. My husband is over the constant commentary. And it only gets stronger for me as the weeks go by. 

2) Speaking of weeks, that's how we talk. We speak in weeks. "Oh, how many weeks are you?" Or, " I'm almost 34 weeks." I'm used to it now, but so strange at first.  I'm constantly doing the math when people ask how far along I am. If you say 34 weeks to someone that has never been pregnant, you can see the calculator popping up in their heads dividing by 4. Then and only then do you get a reaction. OHHHH. You're 8 months. But, amongst the pregnant community and mothers (which is basically my girl squad minus two), we use week speak. 

3) ANGLES AND OUTFITS. I definitely look ready to pop in some pictures, but from certain angles, it's not as shocking. Clothing can trick the eye, too

4) I spent the majority of my life believing babies are formed in 9 months. That's wishful thinking. That would make the incubation time only 36 weeks. Full total term is 10 months. 40 weeks. Why the lies all these years? I don't know. The doctors go by the menstrual cycle, and that adds extra weeks, I guess. I can't tell you how many people on social media think they need to correct me when I've hashtagged #38weeks, or #39weekspregnant. Pretty funny.

5) Not every women gets "the line" down the middle of their belly. I don't have it. I feel cheated. I keep looking for my line! Will it come the last few days? I thought I saw it today, but it was just the indention my leggings left.

6) The body is miraculous. The uterus expands and stretches in ways that's hard to comprehend. With it comes these beautiful little lines for us to always remember this time...stretch marks. I've managed to keep them at bay for the most part, but they are starting to pop in in strange places... I thought they would just be on the tummy, but nooooo, they can creep up anywhere! 


7) You might look like a MMA fighter (I Do) after flossing your tender gums. Who knew?? I discuss this in the People.com blog, too.  I was incredibly worried during my first trimester from the intensity of the sensitivity. But, everyone will assure you it's fine. See your dentist often (insurance usually covers more than one visit during pregnancy) and smile through the blood. It's creepy. Note: it subsided in my second trimester, only to recently return toward the end of my pregnancy. Oh, joy.

8) I am currently discovering something I've never heard of before: back labor!? These intense back spasms!? How have I gone through life with my best friends having kids and I never heard of this. Lemme tell you how fun these are! 

9) I've been told I will still look pregnant AFTER having the baby as the body transitions back to normal. I've learned the hard way not to ask women when they are due, just in case THEY JUST HAD THE BABY. I've also learned not to ask women if they are pregnant at all! Dylan Dreyer broke the pregnancy rule! On the TODAY show this morning she said to June Diane Raphael (from Netflix's GRACE AND FRANKIE), "You are clearly pregnant in real life." And June responded, "Noooo. I had dessert last night, but no! That's a little rude.... "  Then said,  "I choose to not ask people until there's a baby coming out of them."  

June Diane RAphael 

June Diane RAphael 

I went through a long stage where I knew people wanted to ask if I were pregnant, but refrained. Sometimes I'd volunteer the info... but I have learned to not ask anyone until it is SO obvious, or until they volunteer the information. The funniest part was that June went on with the rest of the interview and never came clean! 






Funny Tidbits...When the baby is constantly moving, you can see the hands, the feet and butt pressing against you and you happen to be in a meeting and your colleagues notice from across the room.  -RACHEL O.


Don't try to any hanky panky after your water breaks. You can get an infection and give it to the baby.  Within 24 hours after water breaking, you will go into labor or the doctor will induce.  - Alison J

(that last one is HILARIOUS to me. If I am seriously contemplating anything intimate after my water breaks...wow. I guess it happens?)


Email us or leave a comment with YOUR funny stories/thoughts. We'll add them here!



STEP UP 2016 INSPIRATION AWARDS with a few contractions thrown in!

This morning was a bit stressful trying to get my act together and get to an event on time being so pregnant and not sleeping well, but Step Up is worth it. I've been working with them for so many years, I wanted to attend their biggest event of the year, as long as I wasn't in labor.  It's fun to see the young ladies all grown up now that I knew in the mentoring program when they were teens in high school years ago. And, it's a great excuse to get our girl squad together- and see other ladies I haven't seen in a while.  Maybe it's just because I am pregnant, but it seemed like a good amount of women were styling their baby bumps today.  And also maybe because I'm pregnant, it was an emotional day. But, I don't think so- the stories of these inspiring young women would be touching to anyone. There are several chapters of Step Up around the country. If you've been looking for an excellent way to give back, look no further. You'll meet intelligent, fabulous women in their mentoring program and be rewarded from the interactions with the Step Up girls. 

i stayed comfortable in   this tank dress   that i absolutely love (comes in many colors)- Pictured at step up women's inspiration awards with fellow pregnant ladies Lacey Chabert and Lisa Ling (due in two weeks!). I love Lisa's flowy white NON-maternity dress      from another awesome supporter and sponsor of this year's event,    MICHAEL STARS  -  take a look at some of their newer pieces. Great for maternity and non-maternity. 

i stayed comfortable in this tank dress that i absolutely love (comes in many colors)- Pictured at step up women's inspiration awards with fellow pregnant ladies Lacey Chabert and Lisa Ling (due in two weeks!). I love Lisa's flowy white NON-maternity dress  from another awesome supporter and sponsor of this year's event, MICHAEL STARS -take a look at some of their newer pieces. Great for maternity and non-maternity. 

Amy Davidson, me, Beverley mitchell, and Ali Fedotowsky at the awards show,

Amy Davidson, me, Beverley mitchell, and Ali Fedotowsky at the awards show,


So, now, I'm on my way home from the STEP UP Inspiration Awards timing my contractions in the car.  Amy Davidson and Ali Fedotowsky (driving) start noticing my wincing.  

"It's been fourteen minutes since your last one, Ash," Amy says calmly, but pointedly. I must totally be in denial.  He can't come TODAY. RIGHT??  There's still too much to do! I don't think he's coming right now. I'm just over 39 weeks. How is it ALREADY TIME to TIME contractions?

I haven't packed my hospital bag.  And we don't have a name set. And I still want to finish the nursery! And make sure the laundry is done. But, I also know no one is ever completely prepared. So, ready or not, he's coming soon! Of course, "soon" could be days away....

UPDATE: I went into full blown labor 3 days later!




MILK + BOOKIES anyone?

How life changes quickly! I used to run into other actresses at auditions or events and we would swear to schedule a time to grab "lunch" or get "a drink soon."  Now, we make plans to catch up over cookies and milk at a kid's event. Not even joking. 

I've heard about this great charity, Milk and Bookies, since 2010 and wanted to get involved. Now that I'm a step-mom to Huck, the charity takes on a whole new meaning.  He is almost four and really loves reading. (One of the requests the hostesses gave each guest at my shower was to bring a book as the "card"-- Huck has really been enjoying this creative, thoughtful idea.) This event inspires children to read as well as give back to those who may not have a library of cool, new books. You can purchase a book, sign a card to stick inside, and donate the book to less fortunate children. The organization inspires philanthropy at a very early age. 

As we took in the story time space (well known faces and voices were scheduled to read books throughout the day- so cool of them to donate their time and creative energy), Huck got to meet literary characters roaming around. He was not clear on Where's Waldo (we will be reading the book soon!), but flipped out about meeting Captain Hook. Somehow, even wearing this dress, (which also comes in amazing colors for fall) I got roped into quite a few activities. Check out the website & get involved if you can. I'm only touching on a small tidbit of what this national organization accomplishes throughout the year. Happy Reading!


I've briefly talked about having an insta-family (and them having me!) on the blog here. It's everything I have prayed about for a long time: finding the right person for life and starting a family.  And it's happening!! One prayer right after the other is being answered.  I wouldn't have it any other way, but I must remind myself when there are kinks in the road... they were bound to happen.  

For all intents and purposes, Joel and I are newlyweds. Most couples relish this time to ease into life together as one unit. Most couples take that first year or two of marriage to find out their spouses secret quirks...  Most couples- well, I guess we're just not most couples. We're going through this phase on top of also being parents to Huck and this little baby that will arrive very soon. We take as much time for our relationship as we possibly can, but, as we all know, time is limited.  Joel is wonderful. One thing I need to remember? All this change isn't just happening to me.  It's a huge transition for the male counterpart. I try to see things from his perspective (when I remember to do so!), and not just from my 8 and a half months pregnant perspective.  And, not to be outdone, this is a transition for Huck.  

Huck keeps asking when the baby will get here. Last night, he approached me and touched my belly.  

     "Can you take him out of your tummy tomorrow? I want him to come see me play soccer this weekend," he requested.                         

    "No, sweetheart, he probably won't come tomorrow. But, he'll be here soon." 

    “Do you know there will be three penises in this house?” he said matter-of-factly, almost as a warning, then continued, “and only one vagina.” 

    “Thank you for that information, Huckie.”

    “You will be the only vagina,” he clarified.

So, we're all processing this transition. 

Picture from our baby shower. Read more on PEOPLE.COM  and HERE on blog.

I can only imagine how bringing a child into the world is a lot for any marriage, not to mention a new one.  So, I'm trying to prepare for this newborn as best I can now in hopes of dodging some chaos once he arrives. 

One thing I am trying to do beforehand to help the household run smoothly is get organized.  I guess this is nothing new. Nesting is the age old concept.  It comes instinctively at this stage of pregnancy, I would assume.  I've never had a stronger urge to declutter and get organized.  There is a good amount of baby gear coming in right now. What are your tips for preparation? And any sage advise for this transition? Luckily, I have a whole girl squad going through this stage of life, too, but love hearing a wide range of opinions.

and PS- We are compiling a list of funny tidbits during pregnancy: things I never knew. We have quite a few already, but if you have something to add, your comment could be featured in a post (with a picture, if you choose!). Email on the contact page or leave a comment below! If you wish not to be included, that's fine! Leave a comment anyway and let us know not to feature. xx website team


I'll never be able to express my gratitude for this day. Thank you to the hostesses, Kaley Cuoco and Marisa Coughlan. I was in shock from the get-go. Walking in, I wanted to cry-- it was like entering a safari-themed paradise. There are moments of life you just know you will never forget. This was one of mine.

Every woman's experience with pregnancy is different. I've had specific landmarks that transformed me emotionally along the way. There are the obvious brilliant moments: hearing the heartbeat for the first time, feeling the baby kick and seeing the 20 week ultrasound.  Naturally, there are the moments that set you back emotionally, too. It's not all easy. Then, there's a landmark that ties it all together: the baby shower. Suddenly, you grasp this is happening. I'm really going to need nipple cream and gripe water and diapers and wipes! And here surrounding you are a village of loved ones that want to help celebrate that baby inside you and share their own tips with you.

It was fun to "show the bump.". I haven't been wearing super tight pieces during this pregnancy, so this was a shift in thinking for me. My dress definitely enhances the baby bump, but it is a baby shower, so no better time to do it. And although I went through several choicesI decided on blue by Seraphine Maternity.

Not only did I have my local friends' support, but friends and family flew in, too.  



My Aunt Evie, Aunt Toni and Mom flew in from Texas.  How amazing is this giraffe?

courtesy of steven jang

courtesy of steven jang

That cake pictured behind Steven Jang and me was zebra print inside when we cut it! The details!! 

Mom and I flanked by the wild animals! Kaley's whimsical imagination never ceases to amaze me. And her party planner, Lauren Tatum Events, never fails to execute. So happy you were there to capture these moments in time, too, Claudia Craig Photography.

From left: Michele Bell (high school bestie), Kara Holden (friend for over 20 years!), Dylan Parker (another high school bestie), Alisa Brownlow Absmeier (another friend for over 20 years), new mom Amy Davidson, and fellow pregnant ladies Ali Fedotowsky and Lacey Chabert!

I tried hard to relish every moment... there were so many details to take in! As I enjoyed my favorite mocktail (hilariously, auto-correct keeps telling me that is not a real word) of Sprite, soda water and lime juice, I got to say hello to everyone that attended under a glorious tent sheltering us from the Southern California sun that afternoon. And when I say everyone, I'm including the giraffe and zebra that roamed the grounds on stilts.  Even after we moved inside for High Tea, we got to watch them perform through the windows. 

And no stone was left unturned. There were sentimental surprises throughout the day. Each guest was asked to write the baby a birthday message on custom notecards numbered with years of his life.  The humorous tidbits or words of wisdom were sealed for him to open each year (and momma to cry, I'm sure!).  Also, guests were asked to bring a book to start Baby Henricks's  library collection, which his older brother, Huck, is already enjoying. 

Also, I have to thank Michele Bell for organizing a pair of Rothy's flats for everyone to take home as a nod to my "seamless transition" into motherhood. How adorable! Not to mention comfortable. 

The morning after the shower, I woke up wishing I could go back and freeze time. Even for just fifteen minutes! It went by so fast. That's when it hit me that this pregnancy is almost over. I pray everyday this baby will be healthy entering the world to start his own journey. But, God has given me this last bit of time to indulge in the process of taking care of him inside me. He is with me where ever I go. Never again will it be this way.  I didn't understand when other women tried to tell me to enjoy the pregnancy. Embrace the changes. But, now I do. It's a miracle happening. And that morning after the shower, I realized I am going to miss it. I want to cherish these last weeks of carrying him. All the little frustrations of body aches and exhaustion... they will all be over soon. And he will be here.

What are you tips or notes of wisdom you would pass on to a friend at a baby shower? I would love to read them, so leave your comments.


If I ever worried starting a family later in life would be lonely, last weekend took those thoughts away completely. On Saturday, my sweet girlfriends, Kaley Cuoco and Marisa Coughlan, hosted a safari- themed high tea baby shower for me. (It was a wonderland- read post HERE) I'll be writing and posting about not only what an emotionally charged and memorable day it was, but also how this past weekend transformed my perspective on this stage in pregnancy. 

Then, on Sunday, we celebrated Ali Fedotowsky's little BabyManno.  


There is truly a baby boom going on around me.  On top of Amy Davidson just welcoming little Lennox Sawyer Lockwood to the world, Marisa is pregnant and due the same day that I am! It seems like Haylie Duff just had Ryan (although she's almost a year old!). My girlfriend Kara Holden's son just recently turned one. And longtime friends Bill Horn and Scout Masterson (aka "The Guncles") still have a kiddo in diapers. My former castmate, Adrienne Frantz, welcomed Amelie just four months ago... Kaley's longtime bestie, Katie Diaz, has three little ones, the youngest under one. I'm telling you- there's something in the water.  And this is just the LA tribe. I've got cousins having babies, friends from high school who still have kids in diapers.... 

Yesterday, Kaley texted Lacey and me a pictures of the three of us saying "flanked by preggers."  Lacey jokingly responded,, "watch out- it's contagious."  Kaley and Bri- what incredible troopers you have both been to be surrounded by so much baby talk! Thank you for your patience with us!!

ps- I'll be posting about the tricks I've figured out with #maternitystyle, but one of them is ruching... this dress I'm wearing has it in the front and subtly in the back. Helps me feel much more comfortable.