This beautiful little girl is Mila, she was born on 8/8/14 and weighed 8 pounds, 13 ounces. Of course she is beautiful, and the magical way these photos capture her beauty requires no fancy explanation. But there is another story behind these photos. It’s a story similar to several I have written, with an interesting twist…
This is a story about Mila’s Mom and her drive to experience the birth she envisioned. Her first labor ended in a cesarean section, an experience that left her feeling cheated and empty. She and her husband felt the circumstances leading up to the surgery were confusing, if not suspect. Like so many women following a cesarean section, she felt like something was missing. There was an unyielding sense of emptiness that haunted her about that labor and birth; the decision-making process had been less than transparent and she didn’t feel included. Could the surgery have been avoided? Was it actually necessary? Was there something that she could have or should have done to prevent it?
So in their second pregnancy Mila’s Mom and Dad set their minds to a different experience. They passionately learned all they could about vaginal birth after cesarean section (VBAC) and found a provider who supported their views on VBAC. Her pregnancy proceeded perfectly and they were on their way to the experience they so wanted with their first child. And then, late in the pregnancy they learned that their baby had a genetic abnormality. Shortly thereafter, their baby died. Weeks later, Mila’s Mom achieved a successful VBAC; the vaginal birth of another son, yet a son she would never hold alive. Her VBAC success didn’t warrant the celebration and elation about which I often write. Her VBAC was a means to an end, a painful end, and nothing more.
This, her third pregnancy, began in a new country, in a community in which she had few friends, with a new physician, and with considerable trepidation, as one might expect. Moreover, it required nearly four years to conceive Mila after the loss of their son. Her initial visit was followed by a painful, agonizing wait for the ultrasound visit to learn that her baby appeared healthy in every way. More long days waiting for the results of a special blood test that would reveal the absence of the genetic abnormality that took the life of her second child. With all of that behind them, the remainder of the pregnancy was spent once again planning a VBAC. She could plan this birth with the knowledge that she had, in fact, successfully delivered vaginally, but calling on that experience would force her to recall painful memories better left untouched. The road leading to this labor and birth would be an unusual one.
The best part of this story, from my perspective, began later in the pregnancy, as her due date came and passed. When most would be demanding to have their labor induced, Mila’s Mom was content to wait for labor to begin naturally. Both she and her husband knew that Mila was well and that labor would begin when it should. She was confident that she was masterfully and perfectly created to carry and give birth to this child. Her confidence allowed her to wait for labor to begin…and so it did. Her labor was what I would describe as nothing less than remarkable. She managed the discomforts of contractions as though they were gifts in preparation for Mila’s arrival. In the final stages of labor, when it was time to push, she did so with tremendous focus and stamina. But make no mistake; it was not an easy labor. She was 9 centimeters dilated for many hours and then pushed for many more hours than is the norm. It would have been common, if not expected, for her to have simply given up, abandoning her vision of a VBAC in favor of a repeat cesarean section, yet she didn’t. Somehow she found the strength to keep trying; to keep pushing hour, after hour for her VBAC. And then, finally, there was Mila, this beautiful little girl whose parents and older brother had waited so long to meet.
In my practice I have the privilege of participating in many successful VBAC stories and in their unique way each are wonderfully inspiring. Mila’s birth, and the perseverance and grace her mother and father exhibited, will stay with me for some time. Her birth represented victory over so many obstacles that transcended the actual route of delivery.
In this picture of Mila, swaddled in the handmade blanket brought to her by her Grandmother from Australia, I think you can see something special in her eyes. I think if you look closely into her eyes you can see clearly that she is a gift from God; a reminder that through the storms of life, in the roughest of seas, He is with us and there is hope. Whether your storm is a previous cesarean section, the loss of a child, or both, there is always hope.