The amazing Ashley Perez and her daughter Ella (2). The ability to be a mother was always an unknown for Ashley. She was born with spina bifida and had her first surgery at 4 months old, then one surgery a year from 11 to 17. She met her husband in high school just after her final surgery and he was able to see her recovery. They moved in together at 18 and even though they weren't ready to have a family she finally worked up the courage to ask her doctor if she be able to carry children. He told her, "I've seen girls in worse shape than you carry many children." She was relieved and they started trying after a few years of marriage. She was monitored by a high risk OB due to her history and they had extra genetic testing done due to neural tube defects in her family. She was healthy throughout her pregnancy and was amazed by the lack of back pain and issues. She went a week post dates and was scheduled for an induction that evening. She had been having contractions throughout the day and lost her mucous plug but she hadn't really been tracking since she knew she was going in anyway. Labor wasn't progressing very quickly so they started cervadil and pitocin. Her neurosurgeon had advised she couldn't get an epidural due to her spina bifida so she had planned to do things medication free. She labored for about 25 hours and got to about 9.5cms but her cervix started swelling and Ella started having issues. They decided to deliver via cesarean and Ashley had to be put under general anesthesia. She was really looking forward to her first moments with her daughter and is sad that she missed out on those. Ashley says she was very quiet through her entire labor but as they strapped her on the table for surgery she felt like she was having a panic attack.
Ella was brought to Ashley's husband for skin to skin as soon as she was born and the nurses supported her decision to breastfeed by getting Ella to breast as soon as Ashley was out of recovery even though she wasn't aware enough to position her, even photographing the moment. They had about 6 weeks of nursing issues and needed to use a nipple shield. Ashley was pumping and bottle feeding in public rather then fumbling with the nipple shield and wasn't happy with it. She spent a long weekend latching constantly and was able to get her to nurse without the shield. They were able to nurse until 17 months and Ashley responded so well to the pump she was able to donate 1,800 oz of breastmilk to one special little girl who had been adopted by her grandmother. Ashley lost all of her baby weight but says that everything is in a different place now and she wants to learn how to embrace that and teach her daughter how to be happy with who she is.