Sunday, April 14, 2013

Happy Cesarean Awareness Month!

In honor of Cesarean Awareness Month we are introducing our new Inland Empire ICAN Co-Leaders, Andie Geyer and Autumn McClees, by sharing their birth stories with you.

 If you are not familiar with ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) these stories will help to reveal the importance of having a place for women to receive support in recovering from a Cesarean, assisting those who are seeking a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) and educating women about avoiding an unnecessary Cesarean Birth.  Today's post features Autumn's story.

Over the past 5 years, I’ve gone from knowing nothing about birth to working at knowing everything I can.  I long to help educate, inform, and be an advocate for pregnant mommies all around. 

Hi!  My name is Autumn, I am currently a stay at home mom of two little ones ages 5 and 20 months, and this is my story . . .

It all started back in April 2008 when my son was due to be born.  I was approaching my due date, and since I wanted a natural birth I knew I had to start labor before they threatened induction.  Around my due date I sought out a local acupuncturist (who was known to have success with her inductions) and sure enough within 48hrs of my treatment, labor began!  It was two days after my due date and contractions came out of nowhere at 4:00 am, 4 min apart, and consistent.  I had some water leakage and not knowing otherwise I followed instructions to go to the hospital immediately, all to find I was only 1cm dilated and barely 50% effaced.  I was now on the hospital time clock to get this baby out otherwise a c-section was imminent.  To make a long story short, after 12 hours of labor, and a bit of pitocin (to help me dilate) they STILL found me at 1cm and maybe 60% effaced.  By that time I was tired, hungry, and had been bed bound in a horrible semi sitting position. (They would not let me stand or walk due to a risk they call cord prolapse.) Because I didn’t know any better at the time I had no clue I had any other choice!  I just followed what they said and assumed they were doing what was best for me and my baby.

At the13th hour I accepted a c-section, and they noted in my records: “Reason for c-section: failure to progress.” 

At 8:31pm that night we welcomed our baby boy, Blake, into the world! It quickly became the happiest most memorable day of our lives and marriage!

Weeks and months passed, and after s-l-o-w-l-y recovering from my abdominal surgery, I started to feel a loss of the birth experience with my son.  I felt “broken” because my cervix didn’t dilate; I felt like a wimp because I had to have my baby cut out of me, and I missed what I believed to be the most precious moment of a mother's life... my baby’s first breath!

When Blake was born they didn’t hold him up over the curtain, so I didn’t see him till what felt like 20 minutes later.  Over the months and years my feelings only seemed to grow and fuel the desire to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) with our next child. I had no clue how I would accomplish it, but I knew I would get all the info, knowledge, and expertise I could, and make it happen.
Many months before I was even pregnant with our second, I was gathering my hospital reports, I attended a VBAC seminar, and I was talking to doctors, labor and delivery nurses, midwives, and doulas. I got opinions, views, and advice that helped me try and figure out a game plan for the next baby.  Once we got the positive pregnancy test the count down was on and the time clock was ticking!  I originally thought my plan would be to wait till the very last minute then rush to the hospital just in time to deliver, so they couldn’t give me another c-section.  My only concern was that I’d have no clue how progressed or dilated I was, and I felt nervous not having someone monitor my baby during labor in case something went wrong.  The concept of a home birth had been in the back of my mind but it seemed too risky and scary. Yet I couldn’t help but think “at least someone would be monitoring me and my baby!”, so technically, it would be a lot safer then staying home alone.  Plus I figured midwives certainly couldn't still be in business if babies and moms were dying all over the place!?  It truly intrigued me how in the midwife world, birth could (more often then not) take place at home with little to no complications, but yet when you’d talk to a hospital doctor or nurse they’d practically say you were asking for a death sentence if it wasn’t in a hospital!

By roughly 15 weeks I hired my doula, Andrea Shutt, CD(DONA), and had decided to meet up and interview some midwives in person.  My OBGYN informed me that my birth would have to go “perfect” for them to not give me another c-section.  At this point a home birth was sounding better all the time.  One evening my husband and I went to meet with a midwife named Karen Baker to learn more about birthing.  She looked over my hospital reports and we talked for two hours.  All I can say is, when we left, both of us were more confident in her abilities, judgements, knowledge and expertise, then we were my own doctor!  We decided shortly after that this was our path we were going to take!  So I started my prenatal visits with Karen and I began a wonderful journey where I finally had peace, because I knew this would be my only chance and best bet for a VBAC.
My due date of August 1st came and went, early labor had started but nothing was progressing.  I went 9 days in early labor and had contractions that never let up but only spaced out.  As tired as I was, I was so relieved and grateful to know I had dodged a second Cesarean.  (I would have ABSOLUTELY wound up with one being so far past my due date.)  

On August 9th I woke up to find my contractions did not space out! They stayed close and consistent, and later that evening my midwife stated I was dilated to 2 and assumed I would be having this baby tonight or tomorrow morning.  I only dreamed she would be right! Though if not, I was completely satisfied to know I wasn’t “broken” and my cervix had made it to a 2!!  That same night labor progressed and I dilated beautifully, a new number every one to two hours.  I was amazed; I was DOING IT!  As long as everything continued, I would accomplish my VBAC and have a baby in our arms in no time.  From the start of active labor till when she was born was only 12 hours, (the same amount of time I sat in that hospital bed with my son stuck at 1cm.) 

So on August 10th, that next morning, my daughter was born into the hands of her daddy and our midwife in a beautiful water birth, and handed to me for the very first time!  I was the first face she saw out of the water, and I will NEVER forget that moment.

My dream had come true!  I was so thankful to our good Lord for this outcome.  Our daughter stared at me as though I was her first love.  How I longed for that moment!  We held her, listened to that precious cry, and took pictures until the cord stopped pulsating.  Then we moved to our bed where the midwives did the newborn exam, they got me started with nursing, then tucked us all in bed for a good afternoon nap.  What an amazing experience that I will treasure forever and NEVER forget! 

Our daughter Chloe ended up being Karen Baker’s 880th home birth

Giving birth to my babies has been life’s ultimate highlight for me. And as you can see i’ve had two extreme births, one from each side of the spectrum. Though my births are so different in nature, I am truly thankful for each experience, for I would not be the person I am today and not be able to relate and help moms in both birthing scenarios. I’m honored to be one of the new leaders of ICAN Inland Empire, and my hopes are that we can educate and advocate for as many moms out there as possible! 

ANNOUNCING! During the month of APRIL in honor of Cesarean Awareness Month, you can join ICAN for a reduced rate. Don't miss out. Our parent group, Temecula Valley ICAN site, will make sure that you can take advantage of this once-a-year opportunity to save some money until the "change-over" banking details are worked out. Be sure to note that you are in the Inland Empire and they will forward your payment to ICAN of the Inland Empire! JOIN NOW!

Today's blog was brought to you by Autumn McClees, mother of Blake and Chloe. With Andie Geyer, Autumn is co-leader for ICAN of the Inland Empire. Thank you for sharing your precious story with us, Autumn!

Find ICAN of the Inland Empire on Facebook to keep up on the latest events!

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