Owlet Blog

Pride Month: Spotlight On Maven’s Movement

Pride Month: Spotlight On Maven’s Movement

Owlet Cares is our advocacy initiative that is dedicated to making a positive impact in the lives of babies and parents. One way we do this is by partnering with nonprofits all over the world who share our mission. These groups participate in our 3:1 match program. When they purchase one Owlet product, we match it with two, meaning three families are reached.

Each month, we shine a spotlight on one of our foundation partners and the important work they are doing. This month, in honor of Pride Month and our continued support of Family Equality, we’d like to introduce you to Maven’s Movement. The organization was founded by moms Ashley and MacKensi in honor of their son, Maven, who passed away from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). In their words, here is their story of love and legacy. 

By: Ashley Brion

What Being an LGBTQIA+ Family Means to Us

Being an LGBTQIA+ family is being a union of love between two people who fought to be together and to be recognized with equal rights. To grow our love into tangible beings by welcoming children was another mountain to scale with numerous obstacles and financial hurdles. Each time we expand our family, we cross bridges that challenge us and question our authenticity. 

Existing as a same-sex couple is not just as simple as loving one another; although it absolutely should be. Within the dynamic of our family and home, we facilitate an environment of inclusivity, equality, and freedom.

Our children are raised in a space where everyone is accepted for who they are and everyone is free to change who they are and evolve or explore as they see fit (however many times they see fit) free of judgment.

Our family works through emotions and difficult situations as a team and with unconditional support within our family unit.

Being LGBTQIA+ means we are a part of a beautiful community of like-minded individuals and families. We feel honored and privileged to share this title.

Our Baby Journey

In 2011, we decided we wanted to have children together and at the time LGBTQIA rights were not like they are today. There were only two states at the time that made “gay-marriage” legal and the pathways to having a family were challenging. 

At first, we explored a sperm bank but we were informed that we would need to prove our infertility before being able to purchase sperm. Feeling a bit frustrated with the path, we decided that maybe we would be able to explore an alternate route of obtaining a sperm donor. 

One day, we visited a local farmer’s market and during our walkthrough, we spotted a vendor selling art & we both said to one another “He’d make adorable babies”. We visited his booth and purchased some of his art. 

Over the next several months, we continued to visit the same booth at the same market and over conversation, we slowly became friends with this vendor. At some point in our friendship, the conversation of us beginning a family and our trials in the journey came up and in a round-about way, our new-found friend offered to be our sperm donor. We happily accepted and began the journey to creating our children. 

We were fortunate enough to be able to eliminate a sperm bank and the formality of a medical insemination; instead, we were able to obtain a sample from our friend and then inseminate at home, making the process more intimate and inclusive of both of us.

We have since welcomed 7 of our 9 children (our 2 oldest boys we came into our relationship with) from our same friend. He has volunteered to be the donor to our final child also!! We know how fortunate we are that our paths collided and we were able to form this beautiful family with the help of our friend! He remains our best friend to this day and is open to being a part of the children’s lives should they ever have the desire! 

Our children are also aware of their story - we refer to it as “The Seed Guy” story. We are beyond blessed with our family and the story of its creation.

In addition, I have been a surrogate 3 times and am currently embarking on a 4th and final journey. We have helped to create two families and if this final journey is successful, will help a third family. My first surrogacy, I carried twin boys born in 2017 for a heterosexual family from New Jersey. My second journey, I was matched with a same-sex couple from Paris and carried two boys for them - a first son born in 2020 and a second born in 2022. 

This final surrogacy journey, I have been matched with a beautiful heterosexual couple out of California and this will be the couple’s first child/children. We are so excited to be on this journey with them!

Maven’s Story

On October 12, 2016, we welcomed our fifth child, our fourth son, Maven Ever Brion. He was a tad bit early at 35 weeks, 5 days and he weighed in at 5 lbs 8 oz and measured 18 inches long.

In every possible way, he was pure perfection. We were smitten.

Eagerly, his siblings one-by-one came to meet him and each fell instantly in love with him. His hair was luscious and dark black - something none of our other children have ever had.

Bringing him home felt as if we were completing our family. Everything was perfect.

On November 4th, 2016, we visited MacKensi’s parents home for the weekend to attend a family reunion. That Friday evening, we went out to dinner to celebrate Ashley’s birthday and Maven spent time with grandma. Everything was beautiful and when we returned after dinner, we had our normal nighttime routine. MacKensi changed and nursed Maven and we went to bed. The next morning, on. November 5, 2016, around 4:20 am, MacKensi woke to feed Maven and realized he was unresponsive. The screams that left her body have scarred us all. 

Ashley quickly came to assist her with confidence that it was an easy situation to rectify and when she realized that was not so, her scream mimicked MacKensi’s and quickly MacKensi’s entire family came to assist. We began lifesaving measures on him as he was still warm and limp. MacKensi’s father called 911 and within 4 minutes we had emergency medical personnel on scene to assist. They evaluated him, scooped him up, and ran to the ambulance and immediately left for the hospital. The EMTs explained they believed they could revive him.

MacKensi’s father drove us in his car following the ambulance to the hospital and our two younger children (out of 4) that were with us stayed with family at the house. Upon arrival to the hospital, we were ushered into a private room and met with a Champlain. For 3 hours they worked on our baby, endless CPR, rounds of Epinephrine, and all other measures to save his life. We eventually made the difficult decision to cease all measures as we knew that at that point, even if they got a rhythm back, that our baby had left us.

There is no hole like the grief of losing a child. Returning to explain to your children that their sibling was no longer with us was an element to the grief we did not ever expect. The entire experience is one that never heals. MacKensi blames herself for his death because she fed him around 3 am and believes she fell asleep feeding him. The autopsy stated that there were no signs of asphyxiation and that he was in perfect health. They ruled his death SIDS - Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

We had an Owlet device at the time of Maven’s passing but it was too big for his tiny foot. In the wake of his passing, we reached out to Owlet and the founders were amazing. They heard our story and as they work towards their vision of every baby, they put Maven’s name on the sensor of each and every sock that’s made today. 

We are proud to partner with Owlet in many ways and we know we are helping so many families in Maven’s honor. 

Our Owlet Partnership: Pride and Beyond

A brand like Owlet is one-of-a-kind and a mission that is so near and dear to our hearts.

The mission to save babies is unmatched. A parent should feel the safety and security that the Owlet provides and being able to walk hand-in-hand with Owlet on this journey is beautiful.

Maven is a child of LGBTQIA+ parents and a little being that we fought so hard to create- in fact, he is the first of our children that Ashley as the non-biological parent was able to sign the birth certificate. A magical moment that only members of the LGBTQIA+ community can understand.

We are committed to this path with Owlet and on a mission to zero SIDS deaths! What a beautiful world if we could all live in equality, harmony, and safety! It starts with babies!

As parents, an Owlet is a must-have and the gift we will continue to give to all parents we meet! Thank you, Owlet. 

Advice for Other LGBTQ+ Parents

Our advice for new parents would be to allow yourself grace. 

Be patient with yourselves.

Parenting is an endless evolution, we are all constantly learning. It is ok to adjust your practices, thinking, rules, and to adapt as you encounter new things. Take each day as it is; it will never be the same again. There will be good days and bad days, easy days and hard days, and even hard minutes versus easy minutes. It is all part of a beautiful element of the human experience and as parents we are privileged to be on this path!

Take a deep breath, everything will be ok.

Author Bio: 

Ashley is a 38 year old mom of 9 from Wisconsin. She and her wife lost their son, Maven, to SIDS in 2016. They happily run a small business together while they raise their growing family.  

*The quotes, stories, and experiences included here are those of the individuals and are not representative of Owlet's views or claims about our products. Individuals were not paid and did not submit their information as part of any paid promotion by Owlet.

Disclaimer: Dream Sock is intended to track babies' heart rate and oxygen level and keep parents informed. BabySat is a prescription-only device. Dream Sock and BabySat are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or other condition, including but not limited to, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and/or Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). Medical decisions should never be made solely using Dream Duo and Dream Sock data. BabySat (prescription-only), Dream Duo and Dream Sock should not substitute for the care and oversight of an adult or consultation with medical professionals.