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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!


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!