International Cesarean Awareness Network » http://www.ican-online.org Education. Support. Advocacy. Wed, 29 Jun 2016 09:37:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://www.ican-online.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/cropped-ICAN-bkgd-light-32x32.png » http://www.ican-online.org 32 32 Introducing Elizabeth Bloomquist, our newest chapter leader! http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2016/06/introducing-elizabeth-bloomquist-our-newest-chapter-leader/ http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2016/06/introducing-elizabeth-bloomquist-our-newest-chapter-leader/#comments Wed, 29 Jun 2016 09:37:08 +0000 http://www.ican-online.org/?p=5424 Continue reading →]]>
ICAN is excited to announce Elizabeth Bloomquist as our newest chapter leader! She has completed training and will be co-leading ICAN of Western North Carolina!
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What is the best thing about the birth climate in your area?
We serve Asheville, NC and the surrounding mountain area of Western NC. We have a wonderfully open and experienced birth community that is continually evolving.
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If you could change one thing about the birth climate in your area, what would it be?
I would like women to have more access to find out information about the resources available in our area.
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Welcome to ICAN, Elizabeth!

Welcome to ICAN, Elizabeth!

How did you find out about ICAN? What drew you to our organization?

Our chapter leader Stefani Mills and my desire for up-to-date continued education in my field drew me in. I’m excited to be there in person for families when they need me and to provide resources to our community. I wish others knew about the amount of resources ICAN provides free of charge.
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What are some of your strongest beliefs about cesarean/VBAC awareness?
Women are empowered by information. If you know you have the facts need to make educated decisions, you can avoid a lot of trauma and stress.
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How would someone describe you?
Devoted, approachable, honest and kind
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Please share a little about yourself!
I am a birth/postpartum doula, clinical herbalist, aromatherapist, farmer and mother. I enjoy being active and outdoors and have a obnoxious quest for knowledge and information.
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When is your chapter’s next meeting time, date, location, and topic?
Monday, August 1st at 6 pm. It will be a sharing circle.
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Welcome, Elizabeth! We can’t wait to see how you impact your community!
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Introducing Stacy Finnell, our newest chapter leader! http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2016/06/introducing-stacy-finnell-our-newest-chapter-leader/ http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2016/06/introducing-stacy-finnell-our-newest-chapter-leader/#comments Thu, 23 Jun 2016 09:03:10 +0000 http://www.ican-online.org/?p=5417 Continue reading →]]>
ICAN is excited to announce Stacy Finnell as our newest chapter leader! She has completed training and will be
co-leading ICAN of Lee County!
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If you could change one thing about the birth climate in your area, what would it be?
ICAN of Lee County is located in SW Florida. We serve Lee County as well as some women from Charlotte County to the north and Collier County to the south. If I could change anything about the local birth climate, I would increase VBAC access in the hospitals. Few providers support VBAC and mostly at only one of the three hospitals in Lee County.
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Welcome to ICAN, Stacy!

Welcome to ICAN, Stacy!

What is the best thing about the birth climate in your area?

The best thing about the birth climate in our area is the we do have options. Birth here happen in three different hospitals, one birth center, and at home. We have several home birth midwives and hospital based obstetricians who attend VBAC.
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How did you find out about ICAN? What drew you to our organization?
I found ICAN online. I was searching for information to understand what had happened during my first labor which ended in an emergency cesarean. I am most excited to help support women in my area. I wish more people knew that ICAN was an all volunteer organization.
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Please share a little about yourself!
My first child was born via emergency cesarean in February 2011. My second child was born via unmedicated hospital VBAC in September 2012. My third child was born via unmedicated home VBAC in January 2015. I am a married mother of three children age five and under. I am originally from California. I have a bachelor’s degree in Art from Florida Gulf Coast University. My hobbies include home improvement projects and sewing.
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Welcome, Stacy! We can’t wait to see how you impact your community!
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Kelli Cross named ICAN Volunteer of the Month for June! http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2016/06/kelli-cross-named-ican-volunteer-of-the-month-for-june/ http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2016/06/kelli-cross-named-ican-volunteer-of-the-month-for-june/#comments Tue, 14 Jun 2016 17:02:04 +0000 http://www.ican-online.org/?p=5402 Continue reading →]]>

Meet Kelli Cross, our June ICAN Volunteer of the Month!

The International Cesarean Awareness Network is powered by the selfless efforts of our numerous volunteers. We cannot thank our dedicated volunteers enough for their cooperation and service in assisting ICAN with accomplishing its mission.

In an effort to acknowledge some of our amazing volunteers who work tirelessly behind the scenes to offer support, education, and advocacy for the mothers in their area, the International Cesarean Awareness Network is pleased to announce Kelli Cross as the June 2016 Volunteer of the Month.

Kelli Cross, this month’s honoree, is a dedicated volunteer out of ICAN of North Texas. Her passion, vision, and drive for our organization and her local birth community astonishes us and keeps us all incredibly motivated!

Get to know our Volunteer of the Month:

How long have you been an ICAN member?

I am in my second year of membership, but have been involved since 2008.
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How did you first find ICAN?

I found ICAN after the birth of my first son ended in an unexpected cesarean. They supported me through a traumatic CBAC, helped me find resources and a new provider, and encouraged me through two healing VBA2Cs.
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What motivates you as a volunteer?

Stories. Every story a woman tells is different, but we all have them. I have heard stories of abuse in childbirth, feeling alone, people refusing to validate feelings, neglect of providers, and more. But I’ve also heard women experience really beautiful and tough births and feel loved, encouraged, cared for, healed. I want every woman to feel those things when giving birth, no matter how it happens.
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Do you have a profession or any other passions outside of ICAN?

In addition to being a wife and homeschooling mom to four, I am a doula and student midwife. My life is crazy, but I love it!
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What was your proudest moment as an ICAN volunteer? What about your hardest?

My proudest moment as a volunteer so far was recently sitting around a table in a Starbucks surrounded by a group of powerful, passionate women discussing the future of our team and group. It seems like a really simple thing, a team leadership meeting, but I was so proud to be a part of something bigger than just one of us. We have huge plans here in DFW and these women are dedicating so much time and effort to make it happen. I’d say it’s even sweeter since a year ago, we were feeling like we may never gain traction on re-starting our chapter. That was probably my hardest moment, but I can say without a doubt, perseverance is paying off.
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We appreciate you so much, Kelli! Thank you for all that you do to support birthing women!

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A Dr. George Birth Story: Patience with a rocky pregnancy http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2016/05/a-dr-george-birth-story-patience-with-a-rocky-pregnancy/ http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2016/05/a-dr-george-birth-story-patience-with-a-rocky-pregnancy/#comments Sun, 22 May 2016 07:46:31 +0000 http://www.ican-online.org/?p=5357 Continue reading →]]> Dr. George was my OB/Gyn for my second pregnancy. My first one end up with unnecessary C-section due to my lack of knowledge and too much trust in doctors.

My second pregnancy was pretty “rocky”. I started bleeding at 6 weeks and experienced a couple of severe bleeding episodes at 12 and 16 weeks of pregnancy. Dr. George diagnosed me with placental abruption. It was very scary because I had a miscarriage 3 months prior to that conception. Dr. George was always very supportive and positive. He explained to me that it was only 5% of placenta that was detached and the 95% was functional and was more than enough for my baby to grow healthy. Dr. George was always available to see me whenever I felt worried and needed reassurance. His peaceful presence gave me hope that everything would be ok. I knew there was always more chance that I would have a preterm labor due to the bleeding… The weeks were passing by and my baby was growing well no matter the condition of my pregnancy.
 Julija Cartelli - hubby and baby
At 30 weeks of my pregnancy I was diagnosed with polyhydramnios which increased my chances for preterm labor which did happen. My waters broke at 34 weeks and 4 days. Dr. George admitted me to hospital and said that we just needed to wait for a baby to come with no rushing anywhere. I was being monitored every day for 11 days. Dr. George would always come after his office hours to check on me. At the beginning we were hoping for my VBAC. He even joked that it should be pretty easy because the baby wasn’t too big at that time. However, my little guy decided to flip and stay in a breech position. There was no chance rotating him because I had literally no amniotic fluid left (0.2-0.4 cm). So slowly I accepted that I’ll have another C-section. Dr. George never rushed me into it. He believed that my body was the best “incubator” for my son to grow. During my stay at hospital there were other doctors including fetal maternal medicine doctors coming in and trying to pressure me going for c-section right away because the baby was big enough and there wouldn’t be any health issues. I trusted Dr. George and when he said that maybe we should plan to set the date at 36 weeks of pregnancy, I agreed with him because my veins were collapsing from 24/7 IV and my blood work started showing slight infection.
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The morning of scheduled c-section May 31, 2013, a nurse came in and explained to me how everything was going to be and that my baby would have to go to a nursery for a day because I was technically 1 day short of 36 weeks and by hospital protocol babies need to stay at the nursery if they were born before 36 weeks. I started crying and panicking because I had given up on my dream of having my VBAC, I stayed in bed for 11 days waiting to have my gentle cesarean and be there for my baby right away, being able to nurse him and now this lady tells me that I’m short of 1 day of being able to do it. I told her through my tears that I will wait that one day and have the baby tomorrow. She told me that the OR was already set up for me and everyone was scrubbed in. At that moment Dr.George came in all scrubbed in and as soon as he saw me all teared up and not able to talk he asked the nurse what the issue was. After she explained it to him, he told me calmly that it was ok and he’d reschedule the surgery for tomorrow 1st thing in the morning (Saturday morning). He gave me a hug and told me to rest.
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Julija Cartelli - post c snugglesI guess that day all the emotions triggered my labor. I started feeling the contractions pretty strong. I started timing them on my cell phone app and they were 3-4 minutes apart. I thought I’d just take a nap and told no one. After 1.5 hour nap I felt a bit uncomfortable and decided to use a bathroom. On the way to the bathroom I felt something moving deep inside my vagina. I used a bathroom and went back to the bed and I still felt that sensation. I called a nurse. Two of them came in and decided to check me. It was around 6 pm on Friday evening. When the nurse checked me she said that it was the baby’s foot :) The other nurse called Dr. George right away. He told them to have OR ready and that he was on his way. It was happening very quickly. Neither my husband nor my doula could make it on time for my surgery. I ended getting a general anesthesia (for the second time) because epidural wasn’t possible in that situation. I remember being in OR and seeing Dr. George rushing in. I thought to myself that I had never seen him so intense. He was rushing everyone and stopped nurses and me from giggling about my boy’s foot that was all the way sticking out of my vagina (which they even took a picture of). Then he came to me and asked how I was doing. I remember asking him if we were in any danger and he said “not yet” but we had to hurry. My boy was delivered at 7:14 pm with the umbilical cord that had double knot and was rapped around his neck and whole body. He was a healthy little guy that was born preterm but not a preemie. My husband was there when the baby was brought out of OR. Nurses right away told my husband to open up his shirt and have our boy on his chest skin to skin which I was so grateful for. I recovered after couple of hours and my baby never left my sight and stayed with us in a room even though we were 5 hours short of 36 weeks. :)
 .Julija Cartelli - mom and doc
I came to see Dr. George for my 6 weeks appointment and brought my son with. We had a lovely chat. He told me that there was no reason why I couldn’t still have my  VBA2C because I progressed nicely and my uterus was in a good condition. Even though my second pregnancy ended up with a c-section as well as my 1st one, my experience and emotional recovery was totally different because I had Dr. George with me who always believed in me, who always was so patient and understanding. Only because of him I still have that hope that one day I’ll have a chance to experience the most powerful sensation of giving birth naturally and being there for my baby right away.
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Read more about Dr. George here
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In lieu of flowers the family has asked for donations to be made to the International Cesarean Awareness Network in Dr. George’s name.
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Introducing Talia Haynes, our newest chapter leader! http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2016/05/introducing-talia-haynes-our-newest-chapter-leader/ http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2016/05/introducing-talia-haynes-our-newest-chapter-leader/#comments Fri, 20 May 2016 05:21:39 +0000 http://www.ican-online.org/?p=5366 Continue reading →]]>
ICAN is excited to announce Talia Haynes as our newest chapter leader! She has completed training and will be leading ICAN of Tucson!
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If you could change one thing about the birth climate in your area, what would it be?
I would love for Tucson to have more home birth options. There are very few home birth midwives, and I would love for women to have that option, if they so wish.
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What is the best thing about the birth climate in your area?
The best thing about the birth climate in Tucson is the birth tribe. Women are so supportive of one another here. There is also so many doulas down here that are always willing to help out a momma and answer any questions she might have about birth. Our doula network is magical.
Introducing Talia! 1 cesarean for "failure to progress" 1 CBAC for failed NST

Introducing Talia!
1 cesarean for “failure to progress”
1 CBAC for failed NST

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How did you find out about ICAN? What drew you to our organization?
I first found out about ICAN shortly after I became pregnancy with my second baby. I was planning a VBAC and looking for support. A close friend of mine sent me a link to ICAN. Unfortunately there was no meetings in Tucson, so I started to make the trek up to Phoenix for their monthly meetings. I fell in love with these women and their beautiful stories, and felt so relieved when I found out that my feelings about my past birth were not uncommon.
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What part of being an ICAN Chapter Leader are you most excited about and why?
I am most excited for Tucson to acquire such a strong support system. I think that there are too many women down here that are unaware of their options after cesarean, or are looking for support after a traumatic birth, that don’t actually have any support, or a way to gain the education they need to, in order to make the decisions they want, during childbirth and after.
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What do you wish other people knew about ICAN?
I wish other people knew that ICAN is not anti cesarean! I have had a few people suggest that, during our conversations, at which I quickly corrected them. I think people hear “cesarean awareness” and automatically assume it means that we think cesareans are bad.
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What would you say are some of your strongest beliefs about cesarean/VBAC awareness?
My strongest belief is that education is key. I think a lot of times our providers are not the best at educating us on all of our options and what might happen with each decision we make. It’s so important for women to get educated and know that they have a say in every aspect of their maternity care.
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How would someone describe you?
I think someone might describe me as hard-working, but fun. Maybe funny, but that might be my own opinion.
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Please share a little about yourself!
I am a mother of two sweet, little boys. My first just turned 4, and my second is 7 months. I just received my Associates Degree for Elementary Education and will be attending Northern Arizona University for Elementary and Special Education, in the fall. I moved to Tucson from Western Washington in October of 2008, and fell in love with the Sonoran Desert. There’s just something so special about a desert rain.
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Welcome, Talia! We can’t wait to see how ICAN of Tucson impacts your community!
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A Dr. George Birth Story: VBAC! http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2016/05/a-dr-george-birth-story-vbac/ http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2016/05/a-dr-george-birth-story-vbac/#comments Sun, 15 May 2016 07:00:20 +0000 http://www.ican-online.org/?p=5346 Continue reading →]]> My first child was born via emergency cesarean in February 2011 after a cascade of routine hospital interventions. The experience was very traumatic. I did not get to see my baby until three hours after he was born. I had nightmares for weeks. I had postpartum depression. I felt like I was in a fog and have very little memory of the first weeks of my son’s life.

I immediately knew there was no way I could go through that again. Once the fog lifted, a friend told me about VBAC. I found ICAN, and my planning and research began. Around 10.5 months postpartum, I was pregnant again. Around halfway into my pregnancy, I decided my current provider (though VBAC tolerant) was not the right fit for the birth I wanted. On recommendation from my chiropractor, I met with Dr. George Kovacevic. During my initial consultation, I sat with him talking about my first birth experience and cried telling him I just couldn’t go through that again. He was kind and caring and warm that day and through my pregnancy, birth, and beyond. His attitudes towards birth and interventions were more in line with mine, and I felt like I had the support I needed.

My due date, Friday September 21, 2012, came and went but I wasn’t worried and neither was my doctor. On Monday September 24, I went for a long walk with my mom in the evening. At 1 a.m. I started having contractions that were somewhat painful and 6-7 minutes apart. It was great that I was in labor but also unfortunate that I had not yet fallen asleep for the night and had been awake since 8 a.m! As much as it seemed like I was very suddenly in labor, I was not 100% convinced that contractions would continue. I tried my best to get some sleep, but the contractions were very painful when I was laying down on my side. I tried to take a bath to just rest and that was painful too. The contractions stayed steady so I sat on my yoga ball in the dark. Once I got tired of sitting in the dark, I put the tv on quietly and alternated leaning over the yoga ball and sitting on the yoga ball. I took a shower and just tried to stay mellow with my labor secret. My contractions grew closer together so I called my mom and she came to take me to the hospital. My husband James woke up. My step-dad Jeff came and stayed with my son who was still asleep.

Stacy Finnell - new babyI arrived at the hospital around 7 a.m. and was 4cm dilated. Since things seemed to be progressing swiftly, I was admitted. In hindsight I should have gone home because I still had hours and hours to go. I got settled into my room and declined IV fluid, the hospital gown, and informed them not to offer me any drugs. The nurses were very supportive and I labored kneeling over a yoga ball. I walked the halls. I took several showers. Sipped my coconut water. I was mainly just left alone by the hospital staff. The nurses and Dr. George checked on me and encouraged me periodically. Thankfully I had my mom and James to walk the halls with me and apply counter-pressure to my lower back.

I was fully dilated sometime around 4 p.m. but did not have any urge to push so I told the nurses I just wanted to rest and wait to push. It was actually the first time I laid on the bed. After resting for a bit, they encouraged me to push periodically and to try different things to get baby to move down such as pulling on a sheet tied to the squat bar and laboring on the toilet. Dr. George believed in me during labor when no other doctor would have. After a couple hours at full dilation and trying to labor the baby down and push, most other doctors would have pressed me to consent to a cesarean. Dr. George did a cervical check and could tell my baby had plenty of room and was in no way stuck, so he gave me more time. The anesthesiologist came by my room several times because he wanted Dr. George to section me so he could go home. Dr. George told him I was going to have a vaginal birth and sent him away. He also made sure I didn’t know about that. (My husband told me later.)

A few more hours later and I was totally exhausted. My hope was waning. Dr. George offered me IV fluids to help me past the hump of exhaustion since I had been awake for over 36 hours and hadn’t eaten much in about 24 hours. Dr. George was surely tired too. He had been at the hospital late the night before and all day since the early morning with me, but he put me first. He sent me to labor in the bathroom thinking some privacy would do me good. After a while I felt so unsure. My mom came in briefly to give me a pep talk. I still felt unsure and needed some sort of additional support. I asked out loud, “Where’s the doctor?” He leaned forward so I could see his face and said, “I’m right here.” He had just been sitting patiently right outside the bathroom in case I needed him. That support was a turning point. Soon after I had the grunty, pushy, “this baby is coming feeling”. I pushed for a while on the toilet before being asked to move to the bed. Despite not having any drugs, I was having a difficult time getting the hang of pushing. Dr. George helped me get the hang of pushing. Once baby came a bit lower, I was able to get a better feel for pushing. I felt so much pressure but never felt the tearing as it happened or the ring of fire so many women describe. Suddenly there was my baby handed up between my legs with the cord still attached.

At 40w4d after 20+ hours of labor (and 37 hours of me being awake), my vbac baby was born! I did it! She was born Stacy Finnell - new mamainto a dimly lit and quiet room. Everyone was so proud of me. She came straight to my arms.  She promptly pooped all over me which I didn’t even notice because I was just so ecstatic and exhausted. I delivered the placenta on my own. My baby was not ready latch. Dr. George asked consent to administer a shot of pitocin to slow the excessive bleeding I was having from some tearing. My baby stayed with me for a while until they decided she needed a bit of suctioning. My two third-degree tears were repaired at this point and that was somewhat painful despite local anesthetic where the doctor would be stitching. Once my baby girl was suctioned, she was returned back to me. She did not want to nurse at all and we were soon both asleep. She was as exhausted as I was!

Despite being there all day and into the night with me, Dr. George came to check on me early the next morning. He was so happy and proud. I felt like super woman in the days after my VBAC. My body was sore like I had done a grueling workout session, but aside from that, I felt amazing. I was not wheeled out the hospital broken. I walked (albeit slowly since my bottom was sore) out of the hospital on cloud nine. I didn’t have nightmares and I didn’t have PPD. The first days at home with my baby were a joy instead of a blur. I was well physically and emotionally to take care of my newborn and my toddler. And the elation lasted for weeks.

In my first birth I wasn’t really given a true opportunity at either a vaginal birth or even an empowered birth. Having a VBAC was transformative. When given an opportunity and having the right support team, I had both a vaginal birth and an empowered birth. I am forever grateful for the fantastic support from Dr. George Kovacevic, the nurses of Cape Coral Hospital, my mom, my husband and ICAN.

In lieu of flowers the family has asked for donations to be made to the International Cesarean Awareness Network in Dr. George’s name.

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Dana Patterson named ICAN Volunteer of the Month for May! http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2016/05/dana-patterson-named-ican-volunteer-of-the-month-for-may/ http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2016/05/dana-patterson-named-ican-volunteer-of-the-month-for-may/#comments Fri, 13 May 2016 07:42:40 +0000 http://www.ican-online.org/?p=5334 Continue reading →]]> Meet Dana Patterson from ICAN of Upstate South Carolina!

Meet Dana Patterson from ICAN of Upstate South Carolina!

The International Cesarean Awareness Network is powered by the selfless efforts of our numerous volunteers. We cannot thank our dedicated volunteers enough for their cooperation and service in assisting ICAN with accomplishing its mission.

In an effort to acknowledge some of our amazing volunteers who work tirelessly behind the scenes to offer support, education, and advocacy for the mothers in their area, the International Cesarean Awareness Network is pleased to announce Dana Patterson as the May 2016 Volunteer of the Month.

Dana Patterson, this month’s honoree, is a dedicated volunteer out of ICAN of Upstate South Carolina. Her dedication to making the conference happen was above and beyond, and she worked the conference the whole weekend. Couldn’t have done it without you!

Get to know our Volunteer of the Month:

How long have you been an ICAN member?

I first became a part of ICAN in 2007 when I hoped to have a VBA2C. I joined and became a Chapter Leader in 2014 when the current leader needed someone to take over the chapter. A few months before I took over our chapter, I had a 3VBA3C, so I felt like I understood both the struggles of finding a supportive care provider and the triumph that comes having a VBAC.

How did you first find ICAN?

I first found ICAN by searching online for VBAC information. I had a j-incision with my first cesarean and was told that I could never VBAC. It wasn’t until I was faced with the prospect of a third cesarean, and the desire to have a large family, that I began to question at what point the next cesarean would be riskier than a VBAC with a special scar. I found the YAHOO! group and attended meetings. The leader gave me a shoulder to cry on and the support that I craved.

What motivates you as a volunteer?

My desire to help others is what motivates me. I understand how important it is to have people in your life who believe in you and will be an encouragement, especially when feels that very few are truly giving you support.

Do you have a profession or any other passions outside of ICAN?

My hardest and favorite job is being a wife to my husband (19 years!) and homeschooling mother to 7 amazing children . I love being a birth and bereavement doula and find that it is a great outlet for me to serve birthing women. I am also a board member of the South Carolina Home Educators Association, member of Greenville for Life, and advocate within SC to help improve birth options for mothers.

What was your proudest moment as an ICAN volunteer? What about your hardest?

Wow, that is a hard one. I guess I always feel the proudest when I get a message from a mom who has had a great birth (whether VBAC or CBAC) thanking me for giving her support because it helped her to be in control of her birth experience and she has been able to begin healing from a prior traumatic birth. I think my hardest moment is having a desire to do MORE, but having limited resources (people and funds). I am a solo Leader, so it can feel a bit overwhelming at times, but I push on because I know there is always one more momma who needs support and encouragement.

We appreciate you so much, Dana! Thank you for all that you do to support birthing women!

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A Dr. George Birth Story: The Birth of Chloe http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2016/05/a-dr-george-birth-story-the-birth-of-chloe-valdez/ http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2016/05/a-dr-george-birth-story-the-birth-of-chloe-valdez/#comments Sun, 08 May 2016 06:43:45 +0000 http://www.ican-online.org/?p=5337 Continue reading →]]> I was a mother of four boys. My three oldest were born naturally but after my third I received a hard diagnosis. I was diagnosed with Intercranial Hypertension, a rear brain disease with no cure and honestly not much treatment at the moment. I had my first brain surgery in 2010 to place a vp shunt and that is when my dream of having any more natural births vanished. In 2011 I had my fourth boy born by a very traumatic emergency cesarean where doctors had no choice but to use general anesthesia. It was scary and traumatic. After that I thought that my dream of a natural birth was crushed and that is when this incredible, loving, and caring unicorn of a doctor came into my life. I met Dr. George and Samantha (his lovely wife and amazing midwife) when I was working as a breastfeeding peer counselor for Lee County Health Department, when I participated in my first labor day rally with ICAN.
“The plan from the start was a VBAC.”

In 2012 two positive lines showed up, and the plan from the start was a VBAC. At 15 weeks I miscarried. Dr. George did an ultrasound, he held my hand, but it was gone. Just two months later I was blessed with my rainbow baby. Dr. George worked very close with all my specialists. He fought very hard for making my VBAC a possibility. As the day came closer, we faced many challenges. My health give us a very hard time, my husband left me when I was 12 weeks, I was now adding the stress of being a single mom of five but again in each visit Dr. George cared for us. At 18 weeks he give the most amazing news: “It’s a girl.” “Are you are kidding me?!” I said to him as I almost fell off of the table, and we both giggled and giggled.

“We set a goal for 39 weeks.”
At 31 weeks I started having contractions. The pressure in my head was putting too much pressure on my body so then the plan had to change. Now the goal was a healthy baby and a healthy mama that didn’t go blind due to the pressure in her head. We set a goal for 39 weeks at that point. After my neurologist and neurosurgeon had a two hour conference call with Dr. George, he came back to me and I knew by the look on his face he was about the deliver the news to me about my VBAC not being possible. At that moment I was in so much pain that I just wanted my baby healthy and in my arms but I was disappointed, not at him but my own body which was failing me. I broke up crying. I was in so much pain. (If you can, imagine the worst migraine headache plus holding your head upside down underwater, letting water get into your nose, while drinking a slushy fast and getting a brain freeze. That is how headaches for Intercranial Hypertension are and, still being pregnant, I refused any kind of pain killer.) Dr. George gave me a comforting hug. 
“It was a hard decision.”

The week of thanksgiving I was in so much pain, I called the office and he saw me right way. I was 37 weeks, and my head was swollen. He agreed to move the cesarean to the following Monday, right when I turned 38 weeks. It was a hard decision, but I already had a black spot in my vision and my neurologist was not happy. Dr. George asked me that day what questions or wishes I had for my gentle cesarean. A week earlier I had been researching cord clamping and had been messaging Samantha about my research. Dr. George said he knew where I was coming from, that Sam had showed him the articles and videos the other day. He said he would see what he could do.

“He respected my wishes.”

He did it! My daughter Chloe Vivian Valdez was the first delayed cord clamped baby born by gentle Noelia Valdez - chloe borncesarean at Cape Coral Hospital. It was just three minutes and the nurses fought him. They were all surprised in the OR. He was a unicorn of a doctor, always going out of his way. He gave me the best gentle cesarean I could imagine. When my daughter’s cord was clear, she was placed on my chest, no delays. She latched right there. He as a doctor respected my wishes, helped me make the decision but ultimately he respected my decisions and made everyone in the hospital follow them, even the specialists who were pushing general anesthesia again. I cry tears of joy for what he gave to us, to this community and hopefully to generations of new doctors like him. They are tears of sadness for a great man, a friend and doctor who left us too soon. 
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Elise Schultz named ICAN Volunteer of the Month for April! http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2016/04/elise-schultz-named-ican-volunteer-of-the-month-for-april/ http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2016/04/elise-schultz-named-ican-volunteer-of-the-month-for-april/#comments Fri, 22 Apr 2016 02:15:49 +0000 http://www.ican-online.org/?p=5290 Continue reading →]]> Thank you for all your hard work, Elise!

Thank you for all your hard work, Elise!

The International Cesarean Awareness Network is powered by the selfless efforts of our numerous volunteers. We cannot thank our dedicated volunteers enough for their cooperation and service in assisting ICAN with accomplishing its mission.

In an effort to acknowledge some of our amazing volunteers who work tirelessly behind the scenes to offer support, education, and advocacy for the mothers in their area, the International Cesarean Awareness Network is pleased to announce Elise Schultz as the April 2016 Volunteer of the Month.

Elise Schultz, this month’s honoree, is a dedicated volunteer out of ICAN of Huntsville in Alabama. She’s done great things for her community!

Get to know our Volunteer of the Month:

How long have you been an ICAN member?

I joined ICAN in September 2013, a month after I attended my first meeting. Due to other commitments I first said no to becoming more involved in our local chapter. However, less than a year later I saw how much ICAN had helped others and was helping me on my emotional recovery and was convinced to join the chapter leadership team as a co-leader and Treasurer in July 2014.

How did you first find ICAN?

I first heard of ICAN right after my cesarean with my first child when a friend mentioned it as a resource for my recovery. I emailed the contact for the local chapter listed on the main website but got no response and realized the chapter was no longer active. So I followed the main ICAN FB page. When my son was 10 months old, several moms started chatting about their cesareans in a local FB group. They took the plunge and formed a local chapter. I remember going to the first meeting and being so thankful that I had found other women who had similar emotions with their cesarean. I have been forever grateful for the support ICAN has provided me through my miscarriages and my recent VBAC.

What motivates you as a volunteer?

I want women to feel empowered with knowledge to make the best decision they can for their situation. I remember what it felt like to be overwhelmed by emotions during my first pregnancy and afterwards. I want to give back for the support I received on my journey towards healing. I joke I’m not a words person which makes finding the right thing to say to a mom challenging for me. Instead, I’m a numbers person. This has helped provide a wonderful balance when birth statistics or chapter finances are involved.

Do you have a profession or any other passions outside of ICAN?

I have always had a passion for the weather. I work as a research meteorologist at a local university in addition to being the Chief Technology Officer of a weather analytics startup. There are many parallels between the weather and birth/medical world which has allowed me to bring different perspectives to serve each area better.

What was your proudest moment as an ICAN volunteer? What about your hardest?

One of my proudest moments as an ICAN volunteer has been seeing our chapters hard work towards establishing the ICAN of Huntsville Doula Grant for Expectant Mothers pay off through the stories of empowerment our grant winners have shared. The hardest moments are knowing there are limited or no options when women ask if there are care providers locally that support VBACs.

We appreciate you so much, Elise! Thank you for all that you do to support birthing women!

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Introducing Alexis Appleton, our newest chapter leader! http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2016/04/introducing-alexis-appleton-our-newest-chapter-leader/ http://www.ican-online.org/blog/2016/04/introducing-alexis-appleton-our-newest-chapter-leader/#comments Sun, 17 Apr 2016 01:34:25 +0000 http://www.ican-online.org/?p=5268 Continue reading →]]>
ICAN is excited to announce Alexis Appleton as our newest chapter leader! She has completed training and will be with ICAN of Northwest Louisiana!
 
How did you find out about ICAN? What drew you to our organization?
After my first baby was born by Cesarean in 2002, I had a pretty good recovery, but sadly, I was devastated by the feeling that my body was broken. A few weeks later, I called my friend to congratulate her on the birth of her second baby. During our chat, she mentioned she had a VBAC! I can’t really put into words the sense of relief and hope I felt when she told me that. At that point, I knew it was definitely something I wanted to look into, so I began to search the Internet for information not long afterwards. Back in the “early days” of the net, ICAN was probably one of the first resources I came across. The site was definitely a goldmine of information. Fast forward 17 months later, and I had my first (of five!) very healing VBAC! I am so thankful that ICAN and the website were there to provide the information I needed to educate myself!

 

Alexis, her husband, and five beautiful children!

Alexis, her husband, and six beautiful children!

What part of being an ICAN Chapter Leader are you most excited about and why?
I am most excited about being able to support and educate moms who are recovering physically and emotionally from a section. I don’t want anyone to feel like I did! I also want to continue to get the word out in my community that VBAC is a viable option. Anyone who knows me well knows this is something I’ve been passionate about for over thirteen years!
 
What do you wish other people knew about ICAN?
I wish people knew that ICAN does promote VBAC and discourage unnecessary Cesareans, but that does not mean that ICAN wants to minimize the occasional necessity of a Cesarean delivery or dismiss it as an inferior way to give birth. ICAN just wants women to be educated on their options and empowered with the knowledge to be able to make the informed choice that is best for them!
 
What would you say are some of your strongest beliefs about cesarean/VBAC awareness?
Cesarean delivery is MAJOR abdominal surgery and is not to be taken lightly! ACOG clearly states that VBAC is a reasonable and safe option for most women. The risk for uterine rupture in a low risk mom attempting a trial of labor is about the same as the risk for other emergent complications that can suddenly occur during any labor and delivery and that is not a reason for a hospital or physician to deny access to VBAC. Also, two of my favorite rules of thumb are that a) your EDD is NOT an expiration date and b) your cervix is NOT a crystal ball….just be patient and let baby cook as long as s/he wants.
 
Alexis Appleton, MidSouth's newest ICAN Chapter Leader!

Alexis Appleton, MidSouth’s newest ICAN Chapter Leader!

How would someone describe you?

Passionate, practical, knowledgeable, quirky, and BUSY! I have been referred to many times as “the short hyper one” and maybe even a non-conformist, go against the flow type a time or two. 

 

Please share a little about yourself.

I am a mom of six married 17 years to my college sweetheart. My BS is in Clinical Laboratory Science because I love all things science, but I went on to get a Masters in Education so I could teach elementary school because I love kids. I taught for a few years until I “retired” to have my kids and be a stay at home mom, although I did get my real estate license and work from home for several years to help out with extra expenses. I have four sons and two daughters. I have an amazingly supportive and patient husband who is an engineer.  I love to read just about anything. Currently, I am taking a few courses to meet prerequisite requirements for applying to PA school. I hope to eventually be a PA in pediatrics or family medicine. I can’t wait to get to know and work more with our growing local birth community!

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