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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Porter's Birth Story

May 20th, I was 10 days “overdue” according to Porter’s guess date. This was the day of our biophysical profile. Within 10 seconds the ultrasound technician had 90% of the information she needed. Porter was a rockstar. When the measurements came through and the ultrasound machine measured him to be around 12 and a half pounds, we all laughed. I had a nice belly, but not one holding a 12 and a half pound baby. She also measured a lot of fluid. Porter continued to be positioned head down. I had been experiencing strong “contractions” for a few days now, but none that were productive or uncomfortable.
We went to our non-stress test next. As we sat in there, our midwife came in and had to go over things with us. She was concerned we were going to have a “big baby”.  Again, we laughed this off. We denied the cesarean option simply because he was “big”. She gave us the news we very much dreaded – we had to be induced before the weekend.
We were very resistant to being induced. VERY. Technically, I was to be 42 weeks pregnant on Saturday, May 24th. However, due to the hospital’s schedule, we were supposed to go in for our induction on Thursday, May 22nd. We fought long and hard to try and push the induction process back as far as we could. I went to acupuncture every day during the week. We looked at our ultrasound dating from his 8 week appointment. We called around to home birth midwives to see if there was someone who would take us on last minute. We debated not showing up and losing our midwife privileges and risking it to see whomever was on call when I would go in to labor. Ultimately, we went in on Thursday to begin the induction.
Nate was very protective and asked a lot of questions, which was a relief. I was terrified. Nate was terrified too. Every labor that I had been a part of with Pitocin made a lot of intense contractions for the mother. We learned so much in our birthing classes about the different interventions and how to be advocates for ourselves that that was exactly what we did. We asked them why each step was necessary and if it could be avoided or if there was an alternative. We weren’t trying to be rude, but protective over our birth.
Thursday night, Cervidil was inserted and I was to sleep with this in all night. First, I didn’t know that they do make a contraption to insert this with. However, my midwife used her fingers. How uncomfortable! I was to be continually monitored throughout the night and the day tomorrow. At some point in the night, Porter’s heart rate dropped and a few nurses came rushing in. I didn’t know this for a few minutes after they came in and I asked them what was going on numerous times. These monitors were horrible. Every little movement and Porter wouldn’t be on the monitor. I believe he moved and it picked up my heart beat. There were no other dips or accelerations in his heart beat since that one time throughout the time I had been monitored.
Friday morning comes, no change from the Cervidil. I was allowed to shower and eat breakfast before they got me started on “high dose Pitocin”. The nurses would increase the amount every hour. My contractions became very strong and very regular throughout the day, but these contractions weren’t becoming uncomfortable or productive. During the day, Nate worked from the hospital room. We watched movies, took a nap and ate as usual.
By Friday evening, I had reached the maximum dose of Pitocin I could. The midwife came in to give us two options: stay and continue this routine through the weekend or go home for the weekend and come back on Monday to start the process over. We got to go home! We did just that. My parents were in town. They went over to Nate’s parents and we had a lovely dinner outside on the deck. Over the weekend, I planted flowers. We even went on a few scooter rides around town. It was a gorgeous Memorial weekend. We tried everything to try and go in to labor – herbs, walking, yoga, you name it, we tried it. No such luck.
Monday evening, we went back to St John’s Hospital to start our second induction. We ended up in the same room even! We learned we became known around the hospital as the “very overdue, very big baby” couple. We weren’t thrilled to be there, but were much less resistant as the first time.
Monday night, May 26th, Cervidil inserted again – again, very uncomfortable! Tuesday morning, no change again. Tuesday, high dose Pitocin started. Again, I had very strong and regular contractions, but they were not productive or uncomfortable. The monitors around my baby belly were more uncomfortable than the contractions. By Tuesday evening, we discussed with our midwife about trying a different drug called Cytotec. I’ve heard SO many negative things regarding this drug, that I was very hesitant and declined it immediately. However, my midwife seemed so comfortable and confident with it that we ultimately decided to give it a try since Cervidil didn’t work the last two nights we tried it. This is when I found out about the contraption that they can use to insert it and it was MUCH more comfortable! This had to be inserted in 3 doses throughout the night. So future insertions, we would request this contraption. Wednesday morning, hoping for change this time, we had no such luck. No change. Lots of tears and conversing later, Nate and I decided that things were not going to happen on their own for whatever reason. Pregnant women very early along go in to labor from these procedures. Not us. Why? No one knows. We consented to a cesarean section for Wednesday night.
Throughout the day on Wednesday, I was able to get off of the monitor! We were able to go for a walk outside, but I had to be wheel chaired around. The bad – I couldn’t eat or drink (not even water!) for the whole day. I was able to speak with one of our educators from our childbirth classes, Nicole. She was so reassuring that the surgeon performing my surgery was a phenomenal doctor. Nicole also gave us things to remember to advocate for and we did – lowering drape during surgery, heart monitoring feed lines being placed on my back for better skin to skin contact, and having Nate advocate to get Porter on my chest as soon as possible following birth. We did ask for those things and we were even able to get a clear sheet for our surgery. It is in trial. We were the second surgery to use the clear sheet!
Our original doula was out of town. We had asked Robin to be our doula and she came about an hour before surgery. It was SO relieving to know that someone we knew was going to be in there with us. Our midwife was able to be in there with us as well. She was with me as they prepped me before Nate and Robin were able to come in.
The anesthesiologist gave me a spinal which numbed me from the rib cage and down. It was an injection rather than an epidural. I remember the room being very cold and shivering. I cried throughout most of the prepping and procedure. This was not how I saw my labor and birth going at all.
Robin took pictures for us. We didn’t know what our baby’s gender was before birth so I asked Nate a few times “What is it?” He says “It’s a boy!” At first, I didn’t know if I believed him, but I did. Nate kept asking if they were done to get him on my chest as fast as possible. Then they tell me he was 11 pounds 1 ounce. OK – Big baby! However, I'm still skeptical he wouldn't have been so big had I had been on fluids for days. I, myself, was swollen from the fluids, surely he was as well.
I went in for surgery at 5:30pmPorter was born at 6pm. I was back in my room about 6:30pm. What a quick process!
We were thrilled for our little boy! We had no idea what to name him though! We had a list of 30 names to choose from. We would talk about it on Thursday after things had settled down. Eventually, Porter David was chosen as his name.

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!