The amazing Alison Hightower, June (3) and Lily (1 next week). We had the joy of photographing Alison and June twice during her pregnancy with Lily and are thrilled to have them back! You can view the first part of her story here.
Alison was planning a home birth VBAC with Lily and her pregnancy went very well. She had never experienced labor with June and was very much looking forward to the experience with her second. At 42 weeks and 6 days labor finally began and she labored at home for about 24 hours with her midwife and doula as support. After 24 hours her labor stopped without explanation and she remained stalled for the next three days. Alison realized she couldn't make it through another day without sleep, and without a baby to show for it so she made the tough decision to transfer to the hospital.
Once she arrived at hospital her labor started again on it's own and they decided to begin Pitocin. Alison continued to labor over the next 12 hours, but Lily's heart rate began to decell and they had the conversation about considering a cesarean before it became an emergency. As they were mulling it over, everyone rushed in and said it now was emergent, Lily's heart rate had dropped and wasn't coming back up. She was wheeled into surgery sobbing and the delivery was much more difficult than her first. There was a lot of meconium present in her waters and so they had hoped to keep Lily from crying to avoid aspiration. She did let out a big cry when she was born and Alison only got a glimpse of her before she was whisked away.
Lily had aspirated so much meconium that she developed pulmonary hypertension and had to stay in NICU for her first 7 weeks of life. To go from planning a home birth VBAC to having a repeat cesarean and a NICU stay, Alison says she felt broken. She has begun seeing a therapist and knows that in time it will hopefully be behind her but she is still very much struggling with her experiences and feelings of failure. Lily came home with a G tube for feeding but Alison knew that teaching her to feed by mouth at home would be much easier than in the hospital and with the help of their pediatrician who was willing to be more aggressive. Lily quickly transitioned to fully breastfeeding alongside her sister which has also helped the sibling transition, and she was able to have her feeding tube removed.
In sharing this next chapter of her story with us, Alison wanted to acknowledge that there other women out there wanting to VBAC who may not be able to for a variety of reasons. She wants them to know that it is okay. She doesn't feel okay herself just yet, but does know she'll get there some day. And while her body has been the source of some of her struggles in not always doing what she hoped, she is also able to see that it has provided for her amazingly in others and she has two amazing girls to show for it.