On August 2nd, 2016 I achieved the unimaginable. I had such a low probability of success that my decision to attempt a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) sounded pretty crazy. But something stubborn, calm, and unwavering inside of me kept me focused, and to my (and everyone else’s) utter surprise, I delivered my daughter without surgical interventions.
The first time I felt betrayed by my body was a warm Friday morning in July of 2012. I was ten weeks pregnant, walking through the aisles of the grocery store talking happily to my baby belly like a crazy person. The next thing I knew, I was at the doctor’s office bleeding and being told that they couldn’t find the heartbeat. I was miscarrying. Eight months later my body betrayed me again. I was sixteen weeks pregnant, and went from feeling the baby’s first movements to being admitted to the ER for bleeding and waiting four hours for an ultrasound to show that my second baby was curled up in the fetal position not moving and with no heartbeat.
It took thirteen months, six medicated cycles, and two intrauterine insemination (IUI) fertility treatments after our second loss before we threw in the towel and started imagining our lives without biological children. I was in complete shock (and horror) when I semi-intoxicately took a pregnancy test and saw two pink lines show up. It was the first time I drank without worry, and of course I was pregnant! It was June of 2014, almost two years since my first miscarriage.
My third pregnancy was fraught with worry and stress and littered with complications, but the cherry on top was the C-section delivery after 26 hours of active labor. My son was such a fighter! He beat all the odds to be here, and his delivery was just as dramatic as the road to his conception. He is my sweet little ball of energy, and we are thankful for him every single day. Our sweet rainbow baby. However amazing it felt to be holding my first baby, I struggled coming to terms with how the delivery went down. It was yet another time I felt like my body failed to do what it was supposed to do to protect my babies.
When I became pregnant with my daughter just a few short months after having my son, saying I was shocked would be the understatement of the century. We made it to twenty weeks with very little drama, and it dawned on me that I might get another shot at a vaginal delivery. I wanted a do-over so badly and, as crazy as it sounds, I was excited to feel labor again, hopeful I could attempt a VBAC. It’s such a privilege to go into labor, and I couldn’t wait to go through it again.
I did my homework and sat down with my provider to discuss the pros and cons and risks involved in attempting a VBAC and we came up with a plan together. My due date was July 26, 2016; four years almost to the exact day, since my first miscarriage.
This labor was yet another long, arduous process. Apparently labor for me is a two-day event where everyone at the hospital becomes our BFF’s and I swell up like a giant flesh balloon like I’ve been stung by a million bees from the IV fluid. So when I got word that I was finally fully dilated, I cried big, fat, swollen tears and mentally prepared to push. I barely remember anything as I delivered my daughter VBAC. I went to some primal place in my head and all I remember is my doctor saying something about anointing my baby with magical oils (she was joking about making my uterine canal a slip-n-slide with mineral oil). I watched my daughter’s head crown through the mirror they gave me, and when she came out, I grabbed that giant baby, pulled her up on my tummy and bawled.
The birth of my daughter is the beautiful ending to the chapter of my childbearing years; full of both immeasurable joy as well as crushing grief. I stopped trusting my body the moment I learned of our first miscarriage back in 2012, and regarded it as an enemy to my unborn babies. To have achieved a physical triumph like this four years later almost to the exact day, is beyond description. I am immensely proud of the births of my children. Both experiences were humbling, exhausting, and beautiful, but my VBAC was healing.
Allison Newton is a native Oregonian, originally from the beautiful, sunny land of Bend, who now resides in the ‘burbs outside Portland. She is the mother of two kids, a SAHM for the past two years while on leave from teaching in the Portland Public School District, and a proud minivan owner. Together with her handsome husband of seven years, Allison is finding her groove as a new mom of two kids who are only sixteen months apart, the oldest of which just turned two.
Their family loves going on walks around the neighborhood with their big black lab, Obi-Wan Kenobi to gaze at all the giant excavators and bulldozers around every corner. Allison finds her sanity through overlapping naptimes, Baby Boot Camp workouts, relationships with other moms, coffee, copious amounts of chocolate, and wine. Lots of wine. Please, send wine.