Rachel's birth to Lochlan struck a personal cord with me. Let me give you some background.
In the first few weeks after Lacey was brought into the world through my c-section, I felt sad, and I felt guilty for feeling sad. Having an unexpected and unwanted c-section can be isolating. During those early postpartum days, the only person I felt that could truly understand me was my husband since he had been there by my side during our entire stay at the hospital. I felt that way until I discovered an organization called ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network). My husband and I had confided in our birth instructor and friend who was one of the few people that validated our feelings. She mentioned that ICAN offered support groups for mothers, especially c-section moms, who had experienced a traumatic birth. After reaching out to another friend who's first birth story was similar to mine and having another person that I respect recommend ICAN, my husband and I decided to go to a meeting.
It was in that small group circle at my first ICAN meeting that I met Rachel. Five of us sat in a circle and introduced ourselves before telling our birth stories. As I listened, I was relieved that I wasn't alone in the feelings I was going through. Rachel's story struck me especially because I related to hers so much. We both had been striving for a natural birth, we both pushed for over 2 hours, and we both had baby girls over 9 pounds by c-section. Her story also stood out to me because she seemed at a place of peace in her healing journey and sounded hopeful for the future. At that meeting, Rachel shared that she was pregnant with her 2nd baby and that she was going to go for a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean). Attempting a VBAC is a surprisingly polarizing topic in the birth world. I am disappointed in how many providers discourage all women from having VBACs because even the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states that, "VBAC is a safe and appropriate choice for most women who have had a prior cesarean delivery, including some women who have had two previous cesareans." Rachel was brave in making an evidence-based decision to swim against the current and societal norms that ignorantly proclaim, "Once a c-section, always a c-section".
Rachel had an incredible team of people supporting her. Her OB is not just VBAC tolerant, but a VBAC advocate. Her doula, Amy, knew exactly what to say to keep the experience peaceful and encouraging. Her friends stepped in to provide childcare for their little girl in the middle of the night. Don't even get me started on her husband, Nate, who was there for Rachel at every single step. They have such an incredible relationship that you will be able to see a little glimpse of in these photos.
I know that every birth is special and important in its own way and the same would ring true for their boy no matter how he was born, but I was rooting for Rachel to get her VBAC so hard. I was rooting for a leader who's example I was ready to follow. I was rooting for her to be able to meet her baby boy in a way that she could be fully present with all of her senses. I have heard several VBAC birth stories on podcasts which usually bring me to the verge of tears, but witnessing Rachel achieve hers was on a totally new emotional level for me. Seeing the joy on her and her husband's faces when she got to pull in little Lochlan to her chest for their first snuggle was something I will never forget.
I am so proud of my friend. She has encouraged and inspired me in such deep ways. I feel so honored that they welcomed me into this sacred space. I could write paragraphs on what happened that day or about how precious Lochlan is, but I think these images will do a better job than my writing can. :) For any fans of emotional photo montages, watching the video right below is one you don't want to miss. If you'd rather just keep scrolling for photos, that works too ;)