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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Post-Expo Recap
 
The Twin Cities Birth and Baby Expo for 2014 is over, and it was such a great day. We got to chat with some lovely mamas and presented our "5 Ways to Prevent a Cesarean" class. I promised to upload our power point slideshow for attendees and they are below.

Remember that ICAN of the Twin Cities meets every second Monday of each month from 6:30pm - 8:30pm at:
Holy Cross Lutheran Church,
1720 E Minnehaha Pkwy, Minneapolis, MN


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Celebrate Cesarean Awareness Month with ICAN of the Twin Cities!

We have a really exciting next couple of months planned, and hope to see a bunch of new faces, members, and friends.  April is Cesarean Awareness Month and we want to celebrate with everyone!  

This year, we are kicking off a huge new member drive.  Please consider supporting us, so we can continue to serve you and our community in making birth better for all.



What to know about ICAN


We are mom-to-mom support, meaning we are not professionals.  We are just women who have been on a very similar journey, sharing our experiences.  We are here to hear you tell your story for the first time, to tell you "it is OK, here is the box of Kleenex, we cried too, it gets easier."  We are here to share what we did, what we didn't, what worked, what didn't, and to hear all of this from you.  We are not here to judge, or tell you what you did wrong, or that you will succeed or won't.  We are just women supporting women.  We all know how powerful that is.  

We are free-you do not need to be a member.  No matter what, we promise to have regular meetings and to keep our Facebook group safe for sharing and support.  We also will try to have informative speakers regularly, and some fun parties as well.  We also pledge to do our best to help you find whatever resources you are looking for, and promise to keep it all safe and confidential.  

What you get by becoming a Personal Subscriber:

ICAN’s quarterly newsletter, The Clarion (emailed)
•10% discount at ICAN Store
•Discount to ICAN’s Conference
•Free/discounted webinars


During the month of April, a supporting membership costs just $25. Please consider joining!


Considerations for the Professional Subscriber:

We are really looking forward to growing our professional subscribers.  We are so lucky in the Twin Cities to have so many amazing professionals who are supporters of VBAC and of ICAN families.  By joining us, you will be listed prominently on our local and national website, and will be featured in the newsletter at least once annually.  In addition, we welcome you leaving your literature at our meetings as a resource as well.  

You also get: 

ICAN’s quarterly newsletter, The Clarion
•10% discount at ICAN Store
•Discount to ICAN’s Conference
•Free/discounted webinars
•Special recognition in The Clarion



During the month of April, a professional membership costs just $50!  Please join us!


More info HERE

Or sign up directly if it is not the month of April:

Subscription Type

If it is the month of April, sign up directly here:

Cesarean Awareness Month Special



So to say thanks for celebrating April with us, we are having a party!  

Please, save the date--you do not need to be a member to come-we want everyone to come, really!  We are having raffles and giveaways for gift certificates and great items donated to us, and will have food and drinks, and fun activities for the kids.  

Plan on stopping by at the 
Enlightened Mama studio in St. Paul 
Sunday, April 27, 4-6pm.
RSVP and more info HERE




Wednesday, February 26, 2014

First Time Cesarean Rates Decline in 2012

According to this article from Drugs.com, c-section rates declined 2% for first-time mothers from 2009-2012.

"Cesarean delivery rates in 19 states reporting to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention averaged 21.9 percent in 2012, the CDC said in a report released Thursday. This represented a return to the rate last recorded for those states in 2006."

Prior to this, cesarean rates had continued to increase every year.

But the reality of this small decrease hits full force in a quote from CDC statistician Michelle Osterman. "Because primary cesareans are starting to decline, the overall cesarean rate will be impacted because there is only a 10 percent chance that a woman who has had a cesarean is going to have a vaginal birth afterward," she said.

Ten percent. That means a full 90% of women who have had a cesarean section go on to have a repeat cesarean for their second birth. What a number. While it is encouraging that first-time cesareans are either stabilizing or declining, we still have a long way to go before cesareans are not an inevitability for a large percentage of women in America.

What do you think of these statistics? Is a 2% decline something to celebrate? How do we decrease repeat cesareans (and convince hospitals that this is the profitable thing to do)? Let us know in the comments.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Taking off our rose-colored glasses

Our closed Facebook group continues to grow and to be an incredible resource and support for more and more women.  I can hardly keep up with it all and am grateful my fellow board members, especially Katie Champ, have been doing an exceptional job at keeping it safe and relevant. 

I have been thinking about fear tactics, and the effect they have on all of us.  Let me remind you that I am speaking as a mom.  I am not a professional.  It seems to me every time I hear a birth professional in the hospital setting talk about VBAC and homebirth, they all seem to have been part of some horror story that involves the loss of the baby.  As the years have gone by, I have become suspicious of how many actually witnessed this, or if it is just stories passed around.  And they never report any horror stories that occur in the hospital, as though everything is just perfect there.  So I built up resentment over it and distrust. 

(start here if coming in from the Newsletter)

But something happened just recently to remind me, to remind many of us, that there are real people out there who do experience loss, and I don’t ever want to be a part of minimizing this.  I wonder what those families would think if they knew they were being used as horror stories to shame other moms for their birth choices.  It doesn’t seem to honor or respect either family, certainly not the baby, and really just seems to use them to suit their own needs and/or fears. 

So I do not presume to speak for all other women preparing to VBAC, but when I did, I learned a lot about what could go wrong, including that I could lose my baby.  I learned statistics, I learned about drugs, methods, risks, and on and on.  I made educated decisions that were best for me at the time.  With my first VBAC, I needed to be in the hospital.  I felt more secure knowing there was a “safety net.”  I don’t know what that safety net was exactly, in my mind, but it was important for me based on where I was in my journey.  With my HBAC, it was the opposite-I was more afraid to be in the hospital and all the risks that are there. That is where I was then in my journey.  Both were OK choices, and both should be made available to all women because we need to birth where we feel safe and are fully supported. 

This is completely opposite from my first birth-I had never heard of placental abruption, cord prolapse, uterine rupture, placenta accreta, nor had I ever heard of side effects from epidural, risks of Cytotec (I was never even told about Cytotec, even though it was used on me), risks of induction, risks of cesarean, etc.  The only thing I was ever told by my OB was that after 42 weeks there is a higher chance of stillbirth.  So there, that was it.  I was led to believe that everything would be just fine as long as we got the baby out before 42 weeks, and I did everything they told me.  “Thank God for modern medicine that saved my baby’s life,” was something I said regularly until I started preparing for my VBAC and the bombshell was dropped on me.  I was completely unprepared for anything bad happening, and if my baby had died I would have been bewildered, as I really didn’t think things went wrong to the baby when you had good prenatal care and did everything your doctor told you to do.

So with my VBAC’s I knew very well  that sometimes things go wrong, that not everything can be controlled, not everything explained, not every baby saved  no matter what you do, no matter who is attending.  I learned about all the things that can go wrong.  But in learning about it all, I wasn’t any more fearful, just realistic.  I learned that birth is as safe as life gets.  I saw this on a bumper sticker of my midwife, and soon understood what it meant.  So with all that knowledge, I made what I believed were the best decisions for both my baby and me and our health and our lives.  Now had I lost a baby, maybe I would feel differently, and I am grateful to not be in that position, but it would be hard to believe I would feel any differently, since I knew all the risks.  I was prepared and empowered, and it was important to my midwives that I knew all these things, as opposed to my OB who never mentioned one statistic, one negative, one drawback to being induced.


But one thing I never, ever want to do is try to guess what other families may be going through after a loss, other than supporting them and honoring their baby.  Because when we talk about loss, there really is a baby, and a mom, and a family, and the story is theirs to tell.  I think a hospital worker spewing out a horror story at a pregnant woman dishonors both families .  Women have the right to make their own decisions, no matter what others think.  And I believe they have a right to not have people spew horror at them.  I do encourage all women to learn about all the risks, and advantages, so they can make their own best decisions, and then please, let them gestate in peace!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Here's to eyes wide open!

Happy New Year!  I sincerely hope everyone has had a happy holiday.  I am having a little trouble snapping back into old routines, but I imagine that is pretty common. 

Tomorrow is my baby’s third birthday!  Gregory is my third and last child, and has been done breastfeeding for a year and can speak fairly well now, but I can see why the last child stays the baby.  As happy as I am to say goodbye forever to those troublesome two’s, I know that he will be a big kid soon, in the blink of an eye. 

I gave birth to him at home, in my dining room, with two midwives, my doula, my husband, my mother and my two older children (who were not impressed with the time or my vocals).  It was absolutely perfect and amazing and everything birth should be-intense, safe, supported, loving, almost intervention free.  I know how lucky I am.  But it was a pretty crazy road to get to this point, and the irony was not lost on me.

Before I became pregnant with my first son Earl, I was a self-described liberal feminist radical (though not as radical as I fancied myself). I remember having thoughts about c-sections as being undesirable, epidurals questionable in their usefulness and birth centers as a wonderful place to have a baby.  When I did become pregnant, I found myself seduced my by fancy Edina obstetrician that I had never met before that day I had come in to be fitted for a diaphragm (happy oops).  It never occurred to me that he may have a different agenda than I, or a different view on birth than a midwife.  IT NEVER OCCURRED TO ME. So when I decided to stay with him, I didn't realize I was walking right into a broken maternity system that would ultimately most likely be at fault for my cesarean section.  This is a hard pill to swallow, for sure. 



While pumping breast milk at my job for my VBAC baby, I read a book called Pushed by Jennifer Block.  It was eye opening and shocking to me, the supposed “radical feminist.”  Good heavens, what had I been thinking?  I was duped, blinded, seduced.  But then it all started to make sense.  Homebirth, OB’s, breastfeeding, working, staying home, cosleeping, vaccinations, and on and on and on. Things that seemed so crazy to me once now seemed understandable and respectable, and at the very least a choice any parent should be able to make.  There is nothing like having your own choices taken away to help you see how you may have done that yourself to others. 

The irony in my homebirth was that when I started preparing for my VBAC, our Bradley instructor was a homebirth midwife, and I will never forget how intensely crazy I thought that was.  My mind was so set in the belief that birth-is-a-medical-disaster-waiting-to-happen-that-must-be-attended-by-someone-who-went-to-medical-school-to-be-safe that I really had this air of intellectual superiority that these “crunchy “people were totally nuts.  I am so thankful I had my eyes opened.  What a gift. It is an incredible experience when your whole set of beliefs get shaken up and you find out you are wrong, and that you don’t know nearly as much as you think you do.  I am truly humbled by this.  Of course, this is something that informs me in everything I do.  If I could be trapped in a misguided belief about one thing, I surely can be about another, or all others, so I try to listen more, read more, understand more, and have faith that all things will become clear when my heart is sufficiently open to receive it. 

So it is in this light that this birth journey has made my life better.  I now see that I am a truth seeker, and a justice seeker, and more importantly I know what that really means and how it feels. And what is right for me is not necessarily right for the next person, nor should it be.  But they should be our informed choices to make. 


Happy Birthday to my baby, Gregory Patrick
_________________________________________________________________________
Don't forget tomorrow's (January 13th) special meeting focusing on birth trauma with Maureen Campion!  Partners are encouraged to attend and childcare will be available.  More details on our website.
_________________________________________________________________________

Sunday, December 8, 2013


Taking off our rose-colored glasses
Our closed Facebook group continues to grow and to be an incredible resource and support for more and more women.  I can hardly keep up with it all and am grateful my fellow board members, especially Katie Champ, have been doing an exceptional job at keeping it safe and relevant. 

I have been thinking about fear tactics, and the effect they have on all of us.  Let me remind you that I am speaking as a mom.  I am not a professional.  It seems to me every time I hear a birth professional in the hospital setting talk about VBAC and homebirth, they all seem to have been part of some horror story that involves the loss of the baby.  As the years have gone by, I have become suspicious of how many actually witnessed this, or if it is just stories passed around.  And they never report any horror stories that occur in the hospital, as though everything is just perfect there.  So I built up resentment over it and distrust. 


(start here if coming in from the Newsletter)

But something happened just recently to remind me, to remind many of us, that there are real people out there who do experience loss, and I don’t ever want to be a part of minimizing this.  I wonder what those families would think if they knew they were being used as horror stories to shame other moms for their birth choices.  It doesn’t seem to honor or respect either family, certainly not the baby, and really just seems to use them to suit their own needs and/or fears. 

So I do not presume to speak for all other women preparing to VBAC, but when I did, I learned a lot about what could go wrong, including that I could lose my baby.  I learned statistics, I learned about drugs, methods, risks, and on and on.  I made educated decisions that were best for me at the time.  With my first VBAC, I needed to be in the hospital.  I felt more secure knowing there was a “safety net.”  I don’t know what that safety net was exactly, in my mind, but it was important for me based on where I was in my journey.  With my HBAC, it was the opposite-I was more afraid to be in the hospital and all the risks that are there. That is where I was then in my journey.  Both were OK choices, and both should be made available to all women because we need to birth where we feel safe and are fully supported. 

This is completely opposite from my first birth-I had never heard of placental abruption, cord prolapse, uterine rupture, placenta accreta, nor had I ever heard of side effects from epidural, risks of Cytotec (I was never even told about Cytotec, even though it was used on me), risks of induction, risks of cesarean, etc.  The only thing I was ever told by my OB was that after 42 weeks there is a higher chance of stillbirth.  So there, that was it.  I was led to believe that everything would be just fine as long as we got the baby out before 42 weeks, and I did everything they told me.  “Thank God for modern medicine that saved my baby’s life,” was something I said regularly until I started preparing for my VBAC and the bombshell was dropped on me.  I was completely unprepared for anything bad happening, and if my baby had died I would have been bewildered, as I really didn’t think things went wrong to the baby when you had good prenatal care and did everything your doctor told you to do.

So with my VBAC’s I knew very well  that sometimes things go wrong, that not everything can be controlled, not everything explained, not every baby saved  no matter what you do, no matter who is attending.  I learned about all the things that can go wrong.  But in learning about it all, I wasn’t any more fearful, just realistic.  I learned that birth is as safe as life gets.  I saw this on a bumper sticker of my midwife, and soon understood what it meant.  So with all that knowledge, I made what I believed were the best decisions for both my baby and me and our health and our lives.  Now had I lost a baby, maybe I would feel differently, and I am grateful to not be in that position, but it would be hard to believe I would feel any differently, since I knew all the risks.  I was prepared and empowered, and it was important to my midwives that I knew all these things, as opposed to my OB who never mentioned one statistic, one negative, one drawback to being induced.


But one thing I never, ever want to do is try to guess what other families may be going through after a loss, other than supporting them and honoring their baby.  Because when we talk about loss, there really is a baby, and a mom, and a family, and the story is theirs to tell.  I think a hospital worker spewing out a horror story at a pregnant woman dishonors both families .  Women have the right to make their own decisions, no matter what others think.  And I believe they have a right to not have people spew horror at them.  I do encourage all women to learn about all the risks, and advantages, so they can make their own best decisions, and then please, let them gestate in peace!






















****************************************************8


Several years ago Sarah Shannon, former ICAN board member and fellow VBAC mom wrote a blog post about EBAC-Empowered Birth AfterCesarean.  It struck me like a lightning bolt.  I have always used the term since and feel it is vital in how we speak about TOLAC, or Trial of Labor After Cesarean.  VBAC doesn’t always happen, no matter how “right” we do everything.  And that should be OK. No, not because it is only important that baby is OK, and us too; that goes without saying.  But, because just like in life, it is the all about the journey. 

Nearing the end of a 36 hour labor,
many hours in this position, rocking.
  I did not exactly believe my TOLAC would end in VBAC.  I did not actually believe my body could birth a baby vaginally.  I did not actually believe my pelvis was big enough, my birth canal accommodating, my baby willing to make those turns.  But I DID believe in my ability to try to get through labor giving it all I could.  Doesn't mean I did it perfect.  I did make several concessions with interventions and I also ended up with an episiotomy.  But I didn't get an epidural, which I believed in my particular case would probably have guaranteed a trip to the OR.  I was still truly amazed when it happened vaginally-that my body actually “worked”. 


  
My life had changed in many more
ways than I knew.
  While that VBAC was incredible, I know now it was the icing on the cake.  My life had already seriously changed, even if it had ended in cesarean.  I was a different person, the difference being how much I prepared, how hard I worked, how much I turned over my fears, let it all go, and just “labored.”  How much thought I gave in to who I let catch my baby, who helped me labor.  And yes, I was amazed I really did it without an epidural!  I didn't know it would work.  I hoped.  And it did.  And it was hard.  But what I learned was that there were a lot of factors that made it work, and much of it is still a mystery.  I did the best I could and was prepared to be OK with the outcome.  It was all me making evidence-based decisions.



  If it had ended in cesarean I am sure I would still be at ICAN today, proud of my births, proud of my work, supporting other women and helping to get the word out about EBAC.  After all, a cesarean can be, and should be, an empowered birth too.  Birth should be about us making decisions, and trusting the providers to properly and honestly support us in this journey, so that baby is good, mama is good, and we get back to when cesareans are rare and safe and the maternal mortality rate is back to going down again, not up. 


  I was inspired to write this post after reading Grief AndGuilt {The Birth Trauma Experience}.  Also, please read the original post from Sarah, Empowered Birth After Cesarean(EBAC)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Midwife Giveaway!

ICAN of the Twin Cities is hosting a giveaway for tickets to see Midwife: The Documentary! Please fill out the Rafflecopter form below to enter! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 9, 2013

Midwife The Documentary

Join us September 24th for the premier screening of Midwife: The Documentary!


Friday, September 6, 2013

Meet Our Board: Jill VanderZiel

Second up in our ICAN Board bios is Jill VanderZiel. Here is her story in her own words.


Jill (and husband Christian) have two children, both born by cesarean. For the birth of our oldest, our son, we took the more traditional path of having a large obgyn group, taking hospital birth classes, and as many others do, doing more research on what stroller we were going to buy than how we were going to bring our first baby into the world! My water broke at 38+6 and I went to the hospital, where I was administered Pitocin immediately. The Pitocin caused fetal distress, and we were scared into agreeing to a cesarean shortly thereafter. I never really labored at all. What had been a very healthy, easy pregnancy had ended in a dramatic, and scary birth. Our son was allowed to get too cold in the OR, which affected his blood sugar, so he was given sugar water, and sent to the special care nursery. 
After we were home, I struggled with what had happened. It never occurred to me that my birth experience would/should matter, and I was upset with myself for being upset, if that makes any sense! I found ICAN several months later when I just wasn’t “getting over it” – I was amazed to find a community of women who felt similarly and had similar experiences and struggles! 
Two years later, we had our second child, our daughter. I planned a hospital vbac with her, and had prepared by hiring a doula, taking HypnoBirthing classes, and in general doing a lot of reading and research. We ended up being induced at 41+1 due to a sudden spike in high blood pressure. This time around though, I fully understood my options, was cognizant of the pros and cons of the available interventions, and made educated decisions in regards to them. Ultimately, I had just about all the interventions you could ever want to avoid (foley bulb, AROM, Pitocin, pressure catheter, epidural, and finally a cesarean). But my husband, doula, and caring, supportive providers and hospital staff made our daughter’s birth a positive, healing, and healthy experience. Making the call to return to the OR after a long, 27 hour induced labor (only 3 hours of which I had pain relief for), was tough, and admittedly a little heartbreaking, but it was the right decision for us.  
The birth of a child is a monumental, life-altering event in a mother’s life, and too often women’s feelings in regards to their births are belittled and ignored. ICAN provides a valuable service to women in the Twin Cities community. In want ICAN to be a safe place for mothers and mothers-to-be to come and find support, healing, acceptance, encouragement, and education. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Meet our Board: Heather Deatrick

As we usher in a new Board for the Twin Cities Chapter, we wanted to give you some insight into our backgrounds and experiences as ICAN mothers. First up is our leader, Heather Deatrick. Here is her short biography, in her own words.


My name is Heather Deatrick and I have 3 boys.  I found ICAN through my Bradley instructor when I was attempting a VBAC with my 2nd child.  I remember thinking at the time I didn’t feel “traumatized” by my c-section, and I was quite sure modern medicine had saved his life, so wasn’t sure why I needed to go.  But she kept urging me so I finally went to a meeting.  I had no idea how much my life was going to change!My first birth ended in a cesarean after a failed induction for being post-dates.  It never occurred to me to question the induction as I still had not entertained the thought that it would not be medically necessary.  Now I know that the only reason for the induction was for being 41w3d, not for any fetal distress or condition on my part.  I was given Cyctotec without my knowledge, necessitating an epidural, followed by Pitocen, then regular heart decels sending us off to the OR.  The Cytotec was given at 7PM, the c-section at noon the next day.  I was devastated but grateful he was OK and I lived through he surgery.  Thankfully, breastfeeding went OK and I had no complications.  I never thought I would have any more children, so when I found myself pregnant 3 years later, I was very excited to try for a VBAC.  While I didn’t know a lot about the politics of birth, I DID know I didn’t want another c-section.  I also knew my OB had a different agenda when he patted my knee at my 6 week checkup and told me that next time I can just schedule the birth, as though that were a plus.  So with this child, I went back to trusting my instincts, and found a midwife and took a comprehensive childbirth education class.  It was on my VBAC journey that I not only had to learn so much, but more importantly, I had to UN-learn so much.  The biggest thing I found I had to unlearn was that childbirth is a disaster waiting to happen and we need someone to save us.  That was a massive indoctrination to unlearn.  My VBAC was a success and after a long labor that involved a lot of movement and rocking and moaning and a little yelling, I was able to push my 2nd son out.  It was incredibly empowering to do what women have been doing for thousands and thousands of years.  I felt honored to be totally present at his birth. I felt strong, making my own decisions, rather than turning my body over to a doctor.  My midwife was there for me, and I felt that power.  My baby latched immediately and we went home from the hospital the next day.  Fast forward 4 more years and I was lucky enough to give birth one more time, in my dining room, into water, with my partner, my kids, my mother, my midwives and my doula.  Not everyone should give birth at home, but for me, it was truly the best experience.  Going from the tub to bed where I stayed for two weeks nursing my newest son, was perfect, for the whole family.  The care we received from our midwives was like none other too. They spent so much time with us, before, during and after the birth that I felt I was truly in the best hands possible.  (Both of my VBAC birth stories can be found on the ICAN Twin Cities website)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Message from the Chapter Leader

Hello Birth Warriors!

I think it is time to officially unveil the new face of ICAN of the Twin Cities, as we have had three major changes in our board this year.

The first is to say with a heavy heart goodbye to Sarah Shannon.  She has been part of ICAN of the Twin Cities for 6+ years and has really been the one who knew how to get all our ideas more than just talk.  She is extremely high energy and organized and excellent at setting goals and following up so we all stayed on track.  She just received her Ph.D in Sociology from the U of M, so how she put so much time into our chapter, while working on that, along with being mom to two boys and wife still amazes me.  She has inspired me to act on what I believe in, and she has given me the tools to know how to do it.  Besides all that, I consider her a true friend, so it shouldn't have surprised me when I burst into tears the day I said goodbye to her before they drove to Georgia.  I guess I should add that she and her husband (also a new doctor-congrats to you too, Jerry) have both accepted positions at the University of Georgia in Athens.  ICAN of the Twin Cities owes a debt of gratitude to the Shannon family and we have grown so much together-our boys, our bellies (pregnant ones, I mean), our VBAC journeys.  It is hard to say goodbye to such a momentous part of my life, but Sarah was definitely that and I say Thank you and Onward!  I know they will bring many great things to Athens.

The second big change is that Kara stepped back from her Chapter Leader duties to focus on her career and her family a little more.  She is still on the board, thank goodness, so it isn't sad, but a little scary as I have assumed her position.  Kara has fearlessly led our chapter for 6 years and these are big shoes to fill.  Under her direction, we attended ICAN conferences, held several huge fundraising events, and yes, started the Twin Cities Birth and Baby Expo, not to mention keeping the monthly meetings running and growing.  She has always been the brains of our group-knowing when to put the brakes on something too big, and when to say "go for it."  She is an accountant in her regular life and very organized and good with details, and I have tried to learn as much as I can from her.  I am nervous about running our chapter, but as long as she is still with us, I will always have her knowledge base.  She was also an officer for ICAN International, so is a wealth of insider information.  Not to mention, she is a great person and her family too has grown right along with us.

The third is that we grew our board.  Our "old" board had been Sarah, Kara and me for a long time.  We then invited Jill a year ago, which gave us some much needed new energy and woman-power.  But with the loss of Sarah, we were facing a pretty big hole so we put out a call and received several impressive applications.  And now we are so excited to have Katie (congrats on your HBAC!), Alexis and Kelly as new ICAN of the Twin Cities board members.  We also had a wonderful lady named Ruth, but she suddenly moved back to Chicago so we had only a short time together.  I believe that Chicago has some VBAC challenges, so I have encouraged her to get involved there, as I am sure they need all the help they can get.  We will certainly miss her and appreciate her stepping up to the call.  So now, our "new" board has just the right mix of creativity and high energy and more woman-power we were looking for, as each woman brings fabulous and unique skills.  I know we are on track to grow our chapter in a way that will continue to be on track with the ICAN mission, by reaching more and more women.  Thank you, ladies, for joining!

So from here, we are working on adding to our chapter and getting more visible and organized and accessible.  The addition of the Facebook Group has already added a huge jump in online help-so thank you Katie for managing that.  We are looking to grow our library, our website, our presence in the hospitals and other communities we haven’t been very visible in yet.  Our top priority will always be our meetings and the mother-to –mother support that is critical to healing and learning, so look out for some really great meetings coming up.  And of course the Twin CitiesBirth and Baby Expo is coming Saturday, October 12.  Finally, Kelly will be managing the Blog, so look for upcoming interesting and helpful posts.

We are truly lucky to live in an area that has many options for first time and VBAC moms to have the birth they deserve and should have. We have choices here, and it isn’t like that everywhere.  Little by little, one VBAC at a time, one prevented cesarean at a time, birth gets safer and better.  I feel very rewarded being a part of this and look forward to doing more. 

Rock you birth and your life ladies-there is no one who knows your baby, your body and your needs better than you!

Heather


Monday, August 5, 2013

Farewell, Sarah!

Change is almost always bittersweet. While we've been thrilled to announce the arrival of our new board members, we've also had to say goodbye to one of our existing board members. Sarah Shannon has been around since the beginning, and it's hard to say goodbye! Sarah wanted to share this post with you.

Hello and Goodbye!

By Sarah Shannon

When my oldest son was just over two years old, I realized I wasn’t “getting over” his cesarean birth the way that I was “supposed to.” During my pregnancy, I largely ignored everything about c-sections, assuming that that kind of “rare,” “emergency” birth wouldn’t happen to me. But I did remember that someone at some point had given me a sheet with tips on how to avoid a cesarean from some group called ICAN. I decided to Google around and see if this ICAN had anything that could help me.

Lo and behold, a new ICAN chapter was just forming in the Twin Cities. I contacted the new leaders Chandra Fischer and Julie Maas. They invited me to their first meeting in the spring on 2005. At that time, I swore I would never have another child because who needed to go through all of that terrible business again?

Since then, I’ve not only had another child (a healthy, wonderful VBAC at home – read my story here), I also helped give birth to the Twin Cities Birth and Baby Expo. Aside from the personal transformation I experienced by becoming reeducated and empowered as a mother, I’m most proud of and grateful for the experience of helping start and run the Expo through its first four years. I believe that our ICAN chapter has given this great gift to the Twin Cities – that out of our grief and pain from our own difficult birth experiences we’ve brought into our community a new and beautiful way to show other moms and families that medicalized birth is not the only, or even always the best way to give birth. It started off as a far-fetched (ok, I called it crazy) idea, but somehow, we’ve pulled it off every year on a shoestring budget with all volunteers and more businesses and organizations jumping at the chance to participate.

This year will be the Expo’s 5
th anniversary. Amazing!
 
So, it’s with a full but heavy heart that I am saying goodbye. My husband and I recently finished our PhDs at the University of Minnesota and have moved our family all the way to Athens, Georgia to be professors at the University of Georgia. I will miss the sacred space of our monthly support meetings, the incredible partnership and camaraderie I’ve had as a member of the Board for the past five years, and the amazing adrenaline rush of planning and pulling off the Expo every year. Thanks to all of you for a great eight years of healing and giving back, but especially thanks to present and former board members Kara Wurden, Heather Deatrick, Jill Vanderziel, Chandra Fischer, and Julie Maas for being such supportive friends and unsurpassable co-conspirators in bringing better birth to Minnesota.

I look forward to seeing what ICAN Twin Cities does next through the new board members that have joined. I feel a little bit better leaving now knowing that fantastic new ideas and energy are already at work!
Farewell, Sarah! We will miss you!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Welcome back! Meet our new Board Members

It's been awhile since we posted here on the ICAN Twin Cities blog, but we are excited to be back in action! A lot has happened in the past few months. We continue to have our monthly support meetings, have opened a great Facebook group, and have made some appearances at local conventions. We also have added a few new Board Members to our Board! Here are the new members:

Katie Champ has been active in ICAN for awhile now, and brings great energy to the board with her new ideas! We are all anxiously awaiting her VBAC birth of her son any day now!

Alexis Scott is a mama of two, including a VBAC baby! She will be helping with social media, as well as connecting with the Latino community in the Twin Cities.

Kelly Lillibridge is a licensed therapist and active in the social service community. She will be heading up the blog and managing the lending library.

Katie, Alexis and Kelly are joining Heather Deatrick (president), Jill VanderZiel, and Kara Wurden on the Board. The Board is excited to have new members to bring fresh ideas to our organization!

Check back in the next few weeks for more detailed bios of each board member, including birth stories and how we all got involved with ICAN!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Cesarean rates in rural Minnesota

A story on MPR appeared last week regarding the rate of cesareans in rural Minnesota. A report by the Minnesota Department of Health purported that the lack of physicians in rural Minnesota leads to increased rates of cesareans in rural counties as compared to more urban locations. Part of the explanation included:

Health providers can't count on being able to mobilize a team of doctors and nurses quickly enough for a more spontaneous natural birth, according to the work group.”

A very interesting statement I think, considering the recent report from the National Institutes of Health earlier this year showing that women today are actually taking longer to labor than in the past. As we know, most “spontaneous” natural births are in reality, not all that spontaneous. This statement definitely typifies the modern attitude that many have towards birth and labor as always being an “emergency” and a disaster waiting to happen. No doubt complications occur in labor and birth – many of us involved in ICAN have experienced them firsthand, whether naturally occurring, or created by unnecessary (or necessary) interventions. But personally, I feel like it is a little overkill to assume that all labors require the “mobilization” of a “team” of doctors and nurses at a moments notice.

Another statement that struck me in the article was:

The problem is that with an aging rural Minnesota population, there aren't enough births in some parts of the state to support full time obstetricians.”

The lack of physicians in rural Minnesota is a problem, with that I agree. Physician shortages in rural areas of the state are cause for legitimate concernBut the above statement again typifies the assumption in our society, that pregnancy, even a healthy, normal pregnancy, mandates the care of an obstetrician. In reality, many women could, and would benefit from a less medicalized model of care. The article touches on a promising idea: increasing the use of mid-level providers.” The article specifically mentions nurse-practitioners, which I think is a promising start, but the next logical step might be to support and encourage the acceptance and utilization of midwives in rural Minnesota. The use of midwives has seen growth in popularity in recent years, particularly in urban areas, even leading to an article proclaiming their “trendiness” recently in the New York Times. 

But when we look beyond the “trendiness” of the midwifery model of care, what we often find are professionally trained providers who endeavor to provide holistic, evidence-based health care to women. Midwives are the go-to in many European countries for women experiencing healthy, normal pregnancies.  Midwifery is expanding into the mainstream here in the United States – it holds a lot of potential for decreasing the cost of care for pregnancy and birth in the United States, and I think, would allow for obstetricians to focus on the cases that truly require their care and technical expertise.

This article was admittedly a bit disheartening. It highlighted some of the real problems that our maternity care system is experiencing in the United States, and obviously, even more so in rural areas. Some of the assumptions it is based on (that every birth and labor is an “emergency” and that obstetricians are the default care providers for all pregnant women) are flawed and problematic. But I wanted to share a glimmer of hope to round out my post. It was fitting that a couple of days after this article came out, that my close friend, a registered nurse in practicing in rural Minnesota happened to mention a lovely story about the doctors in her practice, who had recently attended the natural, vaginal birth of twins, one breech, in their tiny rural Minnesota hospital. She described it as complication-free, and “no big deal.” So there doom and gloom!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

What has ICAN done for me?

Almost 6 years ago I found ICAN via my childbirth educator, in my attempt to have a VBAC. I had no idea I needed ICAN. After all, my cesarean was quite necessary and all I needed THIS time was a midwife who didn’t want me to schedule a second one. It was truly astounding, to think of the pre-ICAN Heather and the post-ICAN Heather.

It took a couple of meetings at most when suddenly my world shifted, titled, spun a little faster, became wobbly and almost rolled away into oblivion. To find out my cesarean was not only probably not necessary (well, the induction anyway), but more likely instead of saving my baby and me really almost killed us was quite a shock, even to a suspicious liberal feminist type like me. I had NO IDEA. No idea. Medical model vs. Midwifery model. Cytotec. Inductions. Unnecessary c-sections. Homebirths. Doulas. I could go on and on.

So much changed. I learned so much. I wanted to shout it from the roof top. I wanted to call the dean of the Women’s Studies department at my women’s college and let her know what was going on! I wanted to tell every woman I knew--OUR BODIES KNOW HOW TO HAVE A BABY, and birth is not a medical emergency waiting to happen, and I am the one doing this, not a doctor, or a midwife, or a nurse or a doula, but me. And I CAN!!! So ICAN, thank you. You made my life better, for me, my children, my husband and countless others around me.

So what can I do for ICAN? Become a subscriber! For the month of April, the rate is only $25 for individuals and $50 for professionals. Please, let us know what ICAN has done for you, and become a subscriber! Help us keep on doing this life changing and lifesaving work!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Babies

Every New Year's Day I brace myself for the onslaught of stories about the year's first newborns. It so often seems that most are born by cesarean just after the clock strikes midnight. But this year, two stories stand out and give me hope.

In Louisville, KY:

“I didn’t plan it that way,” Ashbaugh said from her bed at the downtown hospital. “I was paying attention to pushing and getting her out.” 
Norton officials could not recall the last time a birth other than a cesarean section delivery took place so close to the start of a new year, spokesman Steve Menaugh said. 
In 27 years at the hospital downtown, labor and delivery nurse Lynne Young said Sophia’s arrival was the first she could recall taking place just after midnight.

And even more amazing, a couple refuses a cesarean for their twins in Middletown, CT:

Bredwood delivered twins at 7:39 Sunday morning — a boy and a girl. Technincally, the couple’s newborn son M’ale was first, followed six minutes later by his sister, M’layah. 
Aadil did most of the talking during the interview, as Faith was exhausted—the couple agreed to go natural for the births—no epidural or any other painkillers, and no Cesarean section, as doctors recommended. 

Congratulations to all new mamas, papas, and babes this New Year! To any women recovering from cesarean, whether planned or not: thoughts of healing and peace to you. We are here if you need us!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Twin Cities Hospital Cesarean Rates, 2010

Jill at The Unnecesarean recently posted a listing of Minnesota cesarean rates by hospital for 2010. This list is long, so below are the rates just for Twin Cities metro area hospitals.

Abbott: 37.1%
United: 34.9%
Fairview Southdale: 33%
Fairview University: 32.1%
Fairview Ridges: 31.5%
Maple Grove: 27.6%
Mercy: 27.2%
Unity: 25.4%
Woodwinds: 24.9%
St. Francis: 24.0%
Methodist: 24.0%
Regions: 23.5%
HCMC: 21.9%
North Memorial: 21.6%
St. John's: 20.9%
St. Joseph's: 13%

As these numbers show, only one hospital in the metro area has a cesarean rate that is within the World Health Organization's recommended safe range of 10-15% - St. Joseph's in St. Paul.  All other metro hospitals are well above that range.There are no real surprises in the hospitals that rank highest in cesarean births. Abbott, United, and Fairview Southdale have long vied with each other for the top three spots.

Evidence shows that choice of birthplace is a key factor in determining the kind of maternity care you get. These numbers should give you one piece of information to weigh when considering where you would choose to give birth in the metro, which should also shape who you choose as a care provider. For more information on choosing a birthplace, see ICAN's excellent white paper on the topic.

Also important to consider is whether or not the hospital(s) in your area support VBAC. Go to our local chapter's website for information on hospital VBAC policies in Minnesota.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Follow us on Twitter!


Ok. We admit it! As busy moms, it's hard for us to post on this blog frequently. So, we've joined the Twitterverse to keep you updated more regularly on important cesarean, VBAC and other birth topics. So, if you tweet, be sure to look us up and give us a follow: http://twitter.com/#!/ICANTwinCities

Thursday, November 10, 2011

VBA2C twins-in the hospital!

It always makes my day when I run across a Birth Warrior in an unexpected environment. This one came via my son’s preschool teacher. I love amazing birth stories, and then VBAC birth stories are really fun to hear, but TWIN VBA2C? And she didn’t go through ICAN? I was beside myself.

I will share the link to her blog at the end of this post, but want to say that what I find amazing about us women is we all come in different shapes and sizes and wear different armor. Meaning this is one of those women who just did it, she just did it! She wanted it and it happened. There are women like that, and there are women like me who share and talk and preach and then put up photos and would even post a video. There are those who are so quiet, and those that are loud. Those that do it all alone, and those that are surrounded by people. What matters is that we do it the way we feel the safest and most supported, no matter where that is, and who is there. And that everyone around us believes in us.

This is how it should be here in the US. It isn’t though, without alot of fighting, demanding and preparing. In the meantime, we will keep working, and of course women will keep having babies.

So enjoy this birth story-and if you are a mama out there wanting a VBAC, or vaginal birth of twins or a breech baby, or don't want to end in cesarean unless truly necessary, it can happen!

Jessica's amazing birth story:

http://followart.blogspot.com/2011/10/buzz-that-never-fades.html


~Heather


Saturday, July 9, 2011

WHAT TO EXPECT when you are a good little patient.....

Babble has a nice little "10 things every expecting woman should know" post, and the first one was to throw out your What to Expect book. I know I don’t need to say the whole name of the book because I am sure every one of you have it, probably from a baby shower, or coworker, or sister in law or whatever. It is like the Baby-Book-Bible. In fact, I received two copies-one from my sister and one from a free new-baby care package through my insurance company!


Looking back, it is no wonder I walked into my medicalized birth that ended in a failed induction/c-section and never questioned it. It was, after all, all in The Book! Nowhere in that book does it say to get away from your OB and see midwife, do not get induced unless absolutely necessary (and what absolutely necessary even is or how to find out), question your OB, say no, believe in your body, and so on. Right? Or did I miss that? Maybe there were little things like explaining what a midwife is (thought I cannot remember reading this), or even avoiding an unnecessary induction. Maybe. But they didn’t tell me that the OB would order an unnecessary induction. They did not tell me that my body could birth and intervention should only be rarely used. They never, ever said to question any medical protocol at all, so it never occurred to me. They never mentioned any sort of difference between the medical model and midwifery model. If they did and I missed it, my apologies, but I certainly do not remember any. That book helped to support my basic unquestioning belief that there was one right way to have a baby-in a hospital with lots of machines and ORs, and that birth is scary and dangerous and thank goodness for modern medicine!! The only good thing I can say about it was there was a little paragraph about childbirth prep classes and they mentioned Bradley. I ended up buying a Bradley book in my ninth month (too late), and then took a Bradley class for my next birth, my VBAC.


So anyway, Babble has a funny post about the book, and also the 10 tips for first time moms. The tips are good, though I would also add DO NOT WATCH A BABY STORY or any of those TV shows, and to take a long, comprehensive birth class like Lamaze or Bradley. And to ask someone from ICAN if they were to do it all over again, who would they have catch their first baby…..



The Babble posts:



Pregnancy Tips for First-Time Moms



This title is my favorite and sums it all up perfectly:


What To Expect When You’re Expecting AKA Call The Doctor, Your Whole Family Is Dying





I always tell people to throw that book out too, and get one or all of the many other fabulous books out there—Ina Mays Guide to Childbirth, Henci Goer’s The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth, and so on. I have often complained to the bookstore when I see their huge section devoted to the What to Expect franchise and really nothing of any quality otherwise (they look at me like I am insane). Helping women to have an empowered birth is still a steep uphill battle, but well-worth the fight!

Monday, April 25, 2011

My Journey to Homebirth




Birth story of Gregory Patrick
HBAC (Home Birth After Cesarean) on 01/13/2011
by Heather Deatrick


How I ended up having a homebirth is truly amazing, as it is nothing I ever would have considered before, before I knew things about birth. Homebirth was something I had never even HEARD of, much less considered. Homebirth was something you had accidentally, when you couldn't get to the hospital in time, because after all, the hospital is THE SAFEST place to have a baby.

So the birth of GP starts with the birth of Earl, in March 2003, who was born by “emergency cesarean section.” A day that changed my life in more ways than I could ever had guessed! When I unexpectedly became pregnant with him, I stayed with the OB I had just seen for the 1st time, thinking he is a fancy Edina OB and I will be in the best of hands. I had absolutely no idea about the birth culture in the US. I had heard of midwives and had always planned on using them, but there was something very seductive about a fancy, busy OB clinic in Edina. Ok, I lost all my common sense. It happens to the best of us!

Even though I had a regular OB, I still wanted a natural birth. I came across Bradley (too late-in my 9th month) and had some ideas about things. I had heard to avoid an induction, but how was I to say no for being overdue? My OB said the baby could die after 42 weeks and there was no choice. It never crossed my mind to look further into it. I was induced at 41.3 weeks (why wait for 42 weeks when my OB is on his rotation at the hospital that day!), with Cytotec the night before (without my knowledge or consent-I was only told it was a cervix ripener), and then after a horrendous night of what I believed to be labor coincidentally starting on its own (and the subsequent epidural that I really didn’t want but I just couldn't handle the labor anymore without), Pitocin at 7am. I went to the OR for the section at 12.45 PM. There was no doubt it was needed at that point as Earl was having pretty major decels with each contraction. I remember so clearly my OB demonstrating how the heart rate went down when the Pit went up, and how he hadn't descended at all and yadda yadda yadda. I was just glad it was almost over and couldn't wait to meet my sweet little boy, provided I survived the surgery. I still remember so well when they took him out, showed him to me (after wrapping him and suctioning etc) and then putting him in the warmer and wheeling him off, with my husband in tow, leaving me to think about things like bleeding to death and my baby not being held. It would be at least two hours until I finally got to hold him, but to be honest I don’t think I could have much earlier.

Fast forward 4 years and husband #2. I knew I wanted a VBAC, and I knew it wouldn't be with my former OB who was not so interested in my baby, my birth or me when I asked about VBAC and he patted my knee condescendingly and said “of course not--you will just have another c-section now,” as though it were a bonus. Not to mention how he never even bothered to meet the baby he delivered that was in the waiting room with my sister. It was sad, but it was enlightening. I knew I had been so stupid then, but I didn't know just how stupid. I still didn’t know it was en entire system, the whole medical model that was failing us, not just an OB here and there.

So this time we went to Bradley classes, and it was there I really started to learn about birth. The instructor was a homebirth midwife and I remember thinking that was CRAZY, but by the end I was starting to feel the effects of the deconstruction and subsequent reconstruction of my knowledge and beliefs about birth (and she directed me to ICAN, so I will be eternally grateful to her for that).

In May, 2007, after 36 hours of labor (only eight of them in the hospital), and no epidural, I triumphantly gave birth vaginally with the assistance of a doula and hospital midwives, and my vigilant and amazing husband. The labor itself was long and hard, but compared to the Cytotec labor it was manageable. I just stayed focused on each contraction individually and knew it would end, and knew an epidural would lead me straight to the operating room. While it was truly so amazing, there were some things I didn't love, like no tub, continuous EFM, the hovering OB, the episiotomy that I wonder about sometimes. But since I never thought I would be so blessed to have this second child, I basked in the glory of this moment, thinking we were done.

Fast forward again three more years (two of those spent trying to conceive), and we are blessed once again with one more child! This time I knew what I wanted-a homebirth. I told my husband this, but that I also really wanted to take this journey with him and that we would both agree on where he was born. He agreed to consider all options and to do his own research and homework. We started with a certain OB in Hudson. I knew that if we were to have another hospital birth, it would only be with him. I assume his reputation is well known, but in a nutshell he believes in birth like no other OB, and has the power to let a VBACer have a water birth that a hospital CNM doesn't usually. My husband really liked him as well and we saw him until halfway through the pregnancy. We also toured one of the birth centers here. It was really nice, but my husband agreed with me--that if we do it there, we may as well do it at home. We then met with the homebirth midwives. I knew I wanted them all along, and when DH met them, he really liked them too. Also, the OB was so supportive and actually told them we were coming to meet them before we had! We are very lucky here in the Twin Cities to have so many options for birth.

So by week 24 we were set on having the baby at home. We did have an ultrasound and found out it would be another sweet little boy. It was a relief to know that there weren't any major abnormalities, but I was conflicted about doing it. I realize now that my journey to homebirth has been one of really understanding that there are no guarantees in birth, and that there can be things wrong with the baby, and I was OK growing a baby in a perfect state and then finding out and accepting whatever may be at the end. I had heard from a fellow ICAN member that maybe people who have homebirths are more accepting of death, not because it is more dangerous, but because we really do know all the real risks with birth. The risks they don’t tell you about with the OB’s (unless you want a VBAC, of course). I totally get now the saying “birth is as safe as life gets.” So we chose homebirth, because to me it was the safest and gentlest thing I could do for my baby and me. I found that I had no fear whatsoever of anything catastrophic happening-I do know it is a rare possibility, but I knew what we would do (we live 5 minutes from a hospital, where my first two were born), and what the odds were with different things. More importantly, we had our more realistic plan of what to do if labor stalls or stops progressing. In that case we would transfer to Hudson. To know that there was an OB and a hospital out there that wouldn't shame us for having a homebirth was a tremendous relief. Most important of them all was the relief I felt knowing that if the baby got stuck or something of that sort, I had the most skilled people I could have at a vaginal birth. There is no one I could trust more to get the baby out safely than my midwives!

With my second child, my VBAC, I went into labor just after 38 weeks. This was a great relief to me since I was “overdue” with my first. So when I hit 38 weeks with this baby (GP), I thought for sure I would go into labor at any time. I had such a feeling of all-knowing, of assurednss, that I should have KNOWN it wouldn't happen like that! Sure enough, week 39 and still no labor. Then week 40! I really started to psyche myself out in anticipation. I had alot of prodromal labor that last week, and each night I would think this would be the night. I really love how labor is so unpredictable and so its own thing. I love that it is bigger than I, than what we all know. That it is its own amazing mysterious thing in perfect harmony with the baby. Too bad the mama was tyring to outsmart it!

Finally, on a cold Tuesday night, I had fairly strong (but very manageable) contractions all night long. I awoke my husband at some point and told him to blow up the pool, but not fill it yet. I figured I was doing the work just to get to a 3cm, like last time, and had a day to go. So we prepared, but made no phone calls. We did keep Earl home from school. The contractions stopped in the morning, but this happened just like this with William so I was not alarmed, I sat on the birth ball all day. I did become alarmed when they didn't come back. AT ALL. I couldn't believe it. I was so confused. Was this another false start? I assumed my labor this time would be about half as long and at least half as intense. I even held out hope for an “orgasmic birth!”

I tucked in the boys and went to sleep. I was now hoping it didn't start again until I had some sleep since I had been up all night before. Once again, my brain messing it all up. But no, no good night sleep when it was time for the baby! At about midnight I was literally thrown out of bed by what was absolutely no doubt a very strong contraction. I had no time to feel tired or crabby as its strength overrode any of that! I stumbled down the stairs and told my husband to fill the pool as this was it! I then headed straight to the big bathtub. Once there I laid on my stomach, sort of on my hands and knees. I remember thinking I must tell my husband not to call anyone yet because we will have a long way to go, as it takes my babies a long time to descend down, and I hadn't even lost my plug or dropped or anything (hah). But instead all I could do was moan loudly through each contraction as he called my doula, the midwives and my mother. Oh well, I thought, they will know what to do and when to come.

Much to my relief, in less than an hour my doula was there. I vomited just as she arrived. This really surprised me because it was still so early and I only vomited last time when in transition! It was only afterward that she told me she thought I must be in transition-I had no idea! The pool was about ready then so we moved there. I wasn't in it very long before the midwives and the apprentice all showed up, and my mother to watch the kids. I was not able to pay too much notice to any of them however, as I really needed my doula and my husband to help me through each contraction. I seemed to be much louder this time, and each moan was very deep. I finally said that maybe I felt like I wanted to push, but it was so early (at this point I had been in labor for about two hours)! The midwives said they thought it sounded like maybe I was already and to do it if I felt I needed to! Wow, I was really caught off guard at this--at their trust in me, in my body knowing what it needed. I asked if they needed to check me and they said only if I wanted them to. I did not and started pushing.

With William I thought I was a pretty good pusher. I pushed him out in about 45 minutes. I assumed, once again wrongly, that this would be the case again. Instead I just couldn't seem to get a good position. I was in the water and couldn't seem to move from the position I was in due to the strength of the contractions. While it was a good position to get through them, it wasn't great for pushing. We tried this for a while-an hour maybe, and it was suggested that maybe I move to the bathroom and sit on the toilet. I did agree (though I did not want to) and we went in there. I did one contraction facing forward that was very very intense, and then another facing the wall. With that one the baby seemed to move to where he needed to be and we decided to head back to the water.

Once back in, I still felt as though I couldn't quite get him out and we talked about my bulging bag of waters. While I loved the idea of birthing him in his bag, I just didn't think I had the strength and I asked them to break it. They agreed but this is just not standard protocol for them, bless their hearts. Once it was broken they noted it was very thick and strong, and that the water was clear. It was at that point that I felt him start to crown. For some, the ring of fire may be scary or painful, but for me I love it-it means the best part is so so so close. I pushed with everything I had left and little by little he made his way down. Finally I felt his head come out and I so wanted to just finish it right there and push his body out, but the midwives told me to wait for the next contraction. Funny how until then they seemed on top of each other, then suddenly I had to wait for what seemed to be minutes!

Finally it came and I pushed him out. I remember trying to savor that moment, there is nothing like it--all that work, the intensity, the preparation and with a big swoosh he is free and there is this moment in time that is just magic. It is almost as though God is there with us, like I have felt the hand of God, of what a miracle life is and how amazing my body is to do this. Indescribable, really. I then heard the midwife tell us to pick him up because she couldn't reach him!! Both my husband and I reached down to pick him up from the bottom of the pool and he was fine of course, not having yet taken his first breath. I held him and he looked at me so calmly. I waited for the midwives to suction him, but they don’t do that! Instead they tickled his foot and helped us rub him and he started to make some sounds. He was so peaceful, even as he picked up steam and let out some good cries. He was perfect and handsome and peaceful. I wanted to just stay in that tub forever and hold him, still attached to me.

But it was time to get out, so we moved to the bed. Birthing the placenta was more painful than I had remembered with William, but I think I just wanted so much to be cozy in my own bed that I had little patience for any more pain. The midwives and doula took such good care of us all, and my oldest son cut the cord. I tore only a tiny bit, which was impressive since I had had a prior episiotomy and this baby was almost a pound bigger. I am sure that is because of the midwives skill. The care and attention I received from them was incredible-so much more than in the hospital. They were so gentle and attentive and made me eat and drink and pee and made sure my mother and husband and kids were all OK too. The midwives and doula did all this. An incredible experience, so unlike the hospital. It made it really easy for me to snuggle and bond with the brand new little baby that just made a really amazing journey. My doula managed to help him latch on within 15 minutes. What a joy, all in my own bed!

My closing thoughts are how natural this all seemed. It is very unfortunate that women don’t feel and are told they can't do this without assistance from modern technology, when in fact the technology just makes it worse, and even more painful in many cases, unless truly needed. Not to mention what a truly successful species we are, thanks to childbirth! I had no idea my body was so amazing and powerful. At one point in the labor I swear I could feel with me all the laboring women over thousands of years, telling me I can do this! Though I will admit It definitely was not orgasmic in any way, and while it was only 5 hours or so in length, it was much more intense than Williams. GP was also a pound bigger (though still just a peanut at 7lbs 6oz compared to so many women I know), so that may account for some of the intensity, not to mention one hour to transition, which maybe didn't give my body quite the time it could have used to prepare... maybe, maybe not. It is amazing how in such short time afterward I think I could do it again! Also, the midwives really hated breaking the water, being such non-interventionists, but I am very glad they did as I really think it moved things right along. It is pretty amazing to watch the video and see his head out, eyes open, mouth moving!

Birth is so primal, so incredible, so powerful, beautiful and scary too. I feel very fortunate to have been able to find out that my body works just fine and that I can even have a baby in my dining room! I wish that more women could experience this, as it truly is the most empowering thing I have ever done in my life, by far. I dream of a day when C-sections are once again only the amazing life-saving procedure they should be, and all women will get to experience their full and natural power, for them and their baby. If only women could be taught that birth is not a disaster waiting to happen while at the same time promising a perfect baby-it is all so unrealistic and wrong. Birth is normal but there are no guarantees, in anything of course. For me, having the baby at home was safest, for me and the baby. And to have my boys there, and even my mother (poor mom), and of course my husband, was a dream. It is really hard to believe that just over four years ago I truly believed my OB had saved my first baby’s life and “thank goodness for modern medicine and hospitals to make it all so safe;” to today when I know the studies and the mortality and morbidity rates for both moms and babies in the US say exactly the opposite.

Today GP is the happiest, calmest, most content child. People ask me if they think it was because of his birth and I say maybe, or maybe it is just being the third boy, or maybe it is just that sperm and egg combination, but I do think the birth has something to with it.

My fabulous labor team-DH and doula
I was a little loud for William

Moments after birth

Amazing midwives!

Earl cutting the cord

A very happy family!




Thank you ICAN and my ICAN sisters Sarah, Kara and Chandra, midwives Emme and Clare, apprentice Janine, doula Veronica, Mom, DH Greg, kids Earl and William, and of course Gregory Patrick.

I am truly blessed.