Abigael Gordon Tirona born to Annie and DT Tirona
8 lbs 7oz
After 3 days of start and stop labor, finally VBAC'd with Dr. Rashid an hour after arriving at hospital.

With my first pregnancy I wanted to have an unmedicated birth and to prepare myself, took the Bradley classes. Coming from a more traditional approach, I had in my mind that I could easily have the birth experience I wanted with a doctor in a hospital. It never crossed my mind that I'd end up in a c-section because that happens to other women, not me. Not to me, who had prepared for 12 weeks with the Bradley class. Not to me, who although had practiced relaxation techniques and had a list of labor pain relief methods on hand, never felt the need to do the other things that the Bradley instructor strongly suggested doing. For example, I did not ask my doctors what their c-section rate was. I did not read any of the suggested readings which would have helped me to understand the whole "overmedicalization" of the obstetrics field. In short, I thought I was prepared, but was gravely mistaken.

After having had a wake up call after the birth of my son, who was an unnecessary c-section, I was determined to give myself the best odds of having a successful VBAC this time around. I read everything, interviewed docs and midwives and began attending ICAN meetings which gave me a network of support.

I'd say that the two most important factors in my having a successful VBAC were changing practices (I switched to Dr. Rashid) and acquiring a doula. Having a truly supportive, non-invasive doctor was such a great experience. And the support and encouragement from my doula was an essential element in the birth of my daughter.

I am a "putterer". I have lots of pre-labor before active labor begins. Just like with my son, this time around I had lots of pre-labor. A pattern developed wherein a three day period each night around midnight I'd begin having pretty painful contractions. They'd last for over a minute, and would be about 3-7 minutes apart. But then like clockwork by 9:30 a.m. the next morning they'd slow down and stop. After a couple nights of this I was getting pretty discouraged. I was several days past my due date and Dr. Rashid was beginning to prepare me for the idea of scheduling an induction. I was starting to get pretty down when my doula made a crucial suggestion. She gave me the name of a hypnotherapist, Francesca, who was willing to spend some time with me over the phone that evening, in hopes of helping me overcome some anxiety that was probably halting my labor.

The call lasted about an hour and a half. Francesca spent the first 45 minutes of the call getting to know me: asking me questions about myself, my previous birth experience, as well as my expectations and fears surrounding this birth. This question and answer period was followed by another 30-45 minute guided imagery session. Francesca walked me through my previous birth experience and in doing so, helped me to let go of some guilt and feelings of failure I had regarding the experience. She then guided me through the upcoming birth experience, helping me to connect with my baby in-utero and helping me to visualize the actual labor and birth. She also gave me some coping strategies to use when labor actually began and my resulting worried thoughts ensued. The whole conversation and experience was very cathartic and when it was over, I felt as if a weight had been lifted. I was ready.

Three hours later I was back in labor. This time, however, it gradually intesified. My poor husband, who had had no sleep for 3 days, started to fall asleep while applying counter pressure during my contractions. I sent him to bed and called my doula for help. She was great! She gave me the physical and emotional support I needed to labor at home. Her encouraging words and ability to give me an idea of where I was in the laboring process really helped me to stay focused and positive. Not to mention her various methods of pain relief was an enormous help, too!

My husband woke up just in time to prepare to leave for the hospital. The ride, although very short, was not fun. I leaned over the back seat during contractions, but it was so uncomfortable. When we arrived at the hospital I was immediately taken to a Labor and Delivery room. Of course, because I was a VBACer, they had rules. For instance, while I labored standing up next to the bed, a nurse held a fetal monitor to my tummy the whole time (even after my water broke all over her!). Also, even though I was near pushing, a nurse insisted on putting a heparin lock in my hand, just in case it was needed (only because I was a VBACer, though). All were hospital policies for a VBACers. What was nice, though, was that I was encouraged to position myself as I pleased to push.

When I began to push, I started to get scared. I thought the contractions would not be painful anymore, but they were. That is when my doula told me to push through the contraction and the pain will lesson and disappear. It did. I remember thinking how wierd that was. I was offered a mirror to see the crowning, and even though I had thought I'd want to see it, I did not! I really did not. For some reason that made me really nervous. So I just stayed focused and pushed. I pushed for all of 15 minutes and Abigael was born, just as God had intended. She looked so beautiful as they helped me pull her up onto my chest. It was all so surreal. I couldn't believe that everything had gone so smoothly, so perfectly.

I want to thank Dr. Rashid for his support and willingness to work with me to have the birth experience that I desired. And I'd like to thank my doula, Lori, to whom I owe a debt of gratitude for making this not only a successful VBAC, but an enjoyable experience. And I'd like to thank all those at ICAN who gave me the courage, knowledge and support that I needed to have a positive birth.

Annie, VBAC, Leesburg, VA

About ICAN

The International Cesarean Awareness Network, Inc. (ICAN) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve maternal-child health by reducing preventable cesareans through education, supporting cesarean recovery, and advocating for vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC). Learn More About ICAN