Ashlee Dean Wells, mother to the 4th Trimester Bodies Project, Xavier (7), and identical twin daughters, Nova Emery and Aurora Eisley (8 months). Ashlee’s first pregnancy was textbook perfection and a planned homebirth until she went into the late stages of labor at 28 weeks. Within an hour of realizing labor had started, Ashlee rushed to the hospital, checked in at 11:15pm and Xavier arrived at 11:51pm. Within minutes of the midwife breaking her waters, she was able to push him out vaginally with no medication or intervention. Xavier was rushed to the NICU where he spent the next 46 days, but came home healthy and was breastfed until age 3. Ashlee’s second pregnancy was also a planned homebirth until she learned she was expecting identical twin girls at 17 weeks, the morning of her wedding day! The next two weeks were bliss until she learned her daughters were dying of Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS). Within days of diagnosis, Ashlee traveled from Chicago to St. Louis for an emergency surgery. While it was successful, she learned the next morning her daughter Aurora’s heart had stopped beating. She was reassured Nova would remain healthy and underwent extensive weekly monitoring to check on her daughters. At week 24, on a Monday, she had her first worry free ultrasound and was relieved, but unexpectedly went into labor that Wednesday. After hours of trying to stop labor her daughters were delivered via emergency cesarean. Ashlee was able to spend time with her daughter Aurora while Nova was rushed to NICU. It was determined labor started due to an extensive E. Coli infection acquired during her first surgery that ultimately led to a cesarean revision in which she had to be reopened and heal open for the next 10 weeks. Nova spent 100 days in NICU, and underwent two brain surgeries and many interventions. She came home on an Ng tube but transitioned to breastfeeding within the next weeks and is still going strong today. 5 months after Nova came home from NICU Ashlee took this photograph and officially launched The 4th Trimester Bodies Project.
You can read about Ashlee's story and Nova's struggle here: Saving Super Nova.