The amazing Ashlea Beers, Anna (4) and Nicholas (2). Ashlea was obese prior to becoming a mother and always hated her body. Motherhood however, has taught her to love her body and appreciate all that it can do. She's lost 60 lbs since and hopes to lose a bit more weight, not because of the number on the scale but because her health is so important to her now and she's so proud of herself.
Ashlea chose an OB for her first pregnancy and really trusted his advice. She knew that she didn't want to have a natural delivery but wanted to have the option to labor on her own and wait for an epidural until she knew she was ready. Her doctor started pushing for an induction but she told him she wouldn't consider it until she was at least 40 weeks. When she got to 40 weeks she agreed to induction provided he wouldn't give her pitocin and would just break her water. Yet, when she went to hospital at 40 weeks 3 days they told her they were going to start pitocin right away because her doctor was worried about infection should they break her water. Ashlea's labor progressed quickly but she stalled at 9cms with a cervical lip and was told she needed to deliver via cesarean. She had already received an epidural but they pushed more medication which led to her shivering uncontrollably. Ashlea was told there was no way she could deliver vaginally but also that she was a great VBAC candidate. Anna was born without complication and her dad was able to stay with her but Ashlea says being left there alone was the single most isolating time of her life. She felt so alone, she asked the anesthesiologist to hold her hand.
Ashlea struggled to connect with her daughter and fought to establish breastfeeding. They tried for 6 hours before they were able to finally get her latch by putting sugar water on her nipple. Anna was about 4 months old before Ashlea felt bonded to her and says it wasn't postpartum depression simply the negative feelings from her birth that caused the gap for her and her baby.
When Ashlea got pregnant again she knew she'd want to pursue a VBAC and saw the same doctor. While he said he was supportive she began to notice that many of his comments didn't line up with her wishes. She started to think about switching providers and began calling hospitals to ask about their policies with VBAC's. Could she eat, would she need to be continuously monitored, were they supportive? In the midst of her phone calls a nurse at one hospital told her that if she wanted to have a successful VBAC she should wait in the hospital parking lot until she was ready to push because once she was pushing they couldn't intervene. That's when it hit her that they didn't have a lot of interest in supporting her. Ashlea had also hired a doula who had encouraged her to read the book "Pushed" in doing so, she realized that the book could have been about her experience and the cascade of interventions that led to her unnecessary cesarean.
Halfway through her pregnancy she decided to hire a midwife and prepare for a homebirth. Ashlea was grateful that in Colorado, homebirth VBAC is legal provided there is a hospital within 30 minutes. Ashlea went into labor again at 40 weeks 3 days and things progressed quite well until she was about 9.5 centimeters and developed a cervical lip and stalled. There was also meconium present in her fluid so they decided to transfer to the hospital. Once there, she pushed for an hour and Nicholas was born without any further complication. Ashlea was treated very poorly by the staff at the hospital she delivered at and she later learned that it was likely because they don't allow VBAC's there. One nurse went so far as to tell her that she could have killed her baby and they were grateful to be released for home just a few hours after her son was born. Breastfeeding and bonding were much easier this time and Ashlea says that if she has another baby she'll be confident enough in her body and her baby to deliver at home.