This was a pregnancy full of ups and downs, highs and lows, but ultimately every prayer was answered, and sweet Marielli came earthside the way her momma had always wanted. We'll never be sure why Marlia's first delivery resulted in a c-section, and I tell all my c-section mammas it's never a good idea to dwell on the "why's" and "what if's", but also to allow themselves to grieve the birth that didn't happen. Sometimes the worst thing you can tell a c-section mom is the phrase "All that matters is the baby is healthy!". That's kind of like saying, the sky is blue. Of course ultimately that is the main objective of the greater picture. But what also matters, is that these mom's have very tangible, very real feelings of sadness, guilt, and grief, and we need to allow them to feel these feelings as part of their healing. I hugged Marlia, prayed over her, followed up with her after her c-section, and just like the 7 stages of grief, her support team including her amazingly supportive husband, collectively picked her up by the bootstraps and began encouraging her to find beauty and strength in the delivery of her first born. And she has. She came full circle.
The second time around she educated herself, found a care provider that supported her desires, made her feel 100% comfortable, and one that she TRUSTED. Trust in your provider is so incredibly important. Her OB is simply phenomenal! Watching her in action is something to witness! She makes things very clear, that all the right pieces have to fall into place for a VBAC and if at any time she's not comfortable, baby's not tolerating, etc. then the game plan shifts. Marlia trusted her decisions whole-heartedly. There would be no doubt, no wondering, no what if's.... Marlia trusted her provider, and ultimately got the VBAC we had all been praying for.
Here is Marlia's story in her own words:
I never doubted my body’s ability to give birth. During the pregnancy with our first daughter we prepared our LIVES for her arrival, but not for her BIRTH. I relied on the fact that from the beginning of time woman have given birth naturally, so I was going to do the same. But after 24 hours+ of laboring, with pains that were only brought on by an induction, Madilyn was born via c-section.
I have never truly understood why my first delivery resulted in a c-section, but what was most important was that we both were alive and healthy. That’s the statement that I had to repeat to myself over and over again for about a year. I could not wrap my head around how I ended up having a c-section. I dwelled on the “why’s” and “what if’s”, and I grieved the birth plan that didn’t happen. What made things worse was that I didn’t feel comfortable enough to really express what I was thinking for fear of being judged. In my head my battle, my struggle was way less in comparison to others. So I just bottled my feelings up and hid them away. But I had a physical scar to remind me everyday of the emotional scar that I wore.
Fast forward 7 months and we are expecting again!! Feelings of excitement and fear rushed over me. I didn’t want to have to be in a position of caring for a newborn and a busy toddler while recovering from major abdominal surgery. So this time around I started educating and preparing myself for Marelli’s BIRTH. I was determined to have a VBAC. Step one was to find an OB that was legally able and willing to conduct a VBAC in a Columbus hospital. And that’s just what I found. She made things very clear from the beginning that the stars had to align for a VBAC to happen. But from the moment I met her she made me feel 100% confident that she was going to do everything in her power to stick to our birth plan.
At the 20 weeks anatomy scan a white circle in Marielli’s heart was found and my OB wanted me to see a MFM specialist to make sure that everything was okay. The white circle turned out to be of no concern but another issue arose. My extensive ultrasound revealed signs of having placenta accreta. As the specialist explained her findings she bluntly spoke of how serious this condition could be. Hemorrhaging to death was the worst possible outcome, and needing a hysterectomy would be one of the worst possible interventions. In our specialist’s eyes the option of a VBAC was definitely thrown out. Then to hear that placenta accrete was a possible result of my c-section caused my bottle of emotions that I had tucked away open right back up. It was at this point that I knew I had to truly come to peace with how Madilyn was born. I didn’t want my family to suffer again with the emotional grieving process that I went through after my csection.It was at this point were I had to accept that there is no way to change the past but accept and understand that the means in which a child enters our lives is only a miniscule part of the grander journey of our lives as parents.
Through this process with the MFM specialist my OB was there to listen, to stand with me, and advocate for me. Most importantly she never shut down the idea of a VBAC. I TRUSTED her. I trusted her decisions whole-heartedly and knew that at any point we had to end up with a csection that she was making the best decision to keep us both alive. And if I did require to have a csection it would be a family centered one. There would be no doubt, no wondering, no what if’s. An MRI was ordered at 28 weeks, and found that the connected tissue was incredibly minimal, barely detectable. So we were back on track to having a VBAC. AT 39 weeks and 5 days I had my membranes stripped, which caused my body to naturally start the labor process!!! This moment was monumental for me because a scheduled induction, like my first birth, was not needed. I was able to shift my focus on to my desired birth plan as a very good possibility and not just an optimistic hope. From the time my mucus plug came out to when my cramps turned into contractions and then when my water broke at home I was literally thanking God for every moment. Every contraction as painful as they became got me closer and closer to delivering my baby via VBAC. Every contraction was a prayer answered to allow my child to enter this world through my birth canal. This wonderful change in momentum allowed my mind to relax and reflect on my experiences and to consider all of my family and friends who supported me.
My husband was my rock through this journey. At no point did he ever push me to get over my feelings. Instead he was always my shoulder to cry on and the main person to understand the gravity of the emotional state my csection left me. I highly recommend Neely as a birth photographer for her obvious talent and reputation. However Neely was more than just a birth photographer. Her experiences through several births has allowed her to grow and become a seasoned veteran in the delivery room. As well as acquire a wealth of knowledge and understanding of the birthing process.
On September 11, 2015, her due date, Marielli welcomed this world via VBAC. The journey to get to that one moment was long and very emotional. But most importantly what I had to come to realize was that even though the emotional wreck that my csection left me in was small in comparison to others, it was my mountain, my struggle which I was able to overcome. Now I see my physical scar as a sign of strength and beauty that reminds me daily of my spiritual growth with God.