The beautiful Christina Berlett, Benjamin (5), and Naomi (3).
Christina didn't give much thought to a birth plan when she was pregnant. She thought she'd deliver vaginally and assumed breastfeeding would go well. Her water broke at 38 weeks with Ben, and contractions started shortly thereafter. They went to the hospital, she progressed well and started pushing when complete. Christina pushed for hours and the doctor tried several times to turn Benjamin's head but he was stuck "sunny side up" and never made it past 0 station. Her doctor tried forceps, but eventually needed to deliver via cesarean.
Recovery went well and Christina was quickly at peace with Ben's delivery, knowing they'd made the best decision. She struggled with breastfeeding, however, and looking back, that was likely exacerbated by a tongue tie that made latching miserable. He was such a fussy baby, with terrible reflux so she started supplementing a few months in and didn't reach her goal of nursing of his first birthday. She also had postpartum depression, which she didn't realize until he was about 6 months old. She kept telling herself that "once he sleeps more I'll feel better" or "when he doesn't cry so much, I'll feel better". Thankfully, her doctor was very helpful and compassionate in helping diagnose the PPD.
When Christina was pregnant with Naomi, she knew she wanted a VBAC. Her first OB had retired, and she found someone new that was supportive. The first 16 weeks of pregnancy, Christina was very sick and she developed terrible hip pain from 24 weeks on. Acupuncture helped a great deal with the pain but at 33 weeks, she felt some cramping and learned she was already 3cm dilated. She was told to take it easy, stop working, and was reassured her VBAC was possible.
At 38 weeks, labor started and Christina was already 7 cms when she arrived at the hospital. She decided to get an epidural, to avoid general anesthesia should she need to deliver via cesarean again. Unfortunately, her anesthesiologist was not good to her and by the time she got the epidural she was 9cm dilated and in terrible pain. Minutes went by with no pain control and he told her she was just being a baby and left the room. When her doctor arrived a few moments later they were concerned she was rupturing, because her pain was so severe. Suddenly everyone was in the room, and a few minutes later she was so numb she couldn't feel her fingers. When she told her doctor he looked at the anesthesiologist and yelled "She's supposed to be a VBAC!"
An internal monitor determined that Christina's uterus was fine, and her contractions were very strong so they had her try to push but she was so numb she couldn't. Shortly after, she started vomiting and was wheeled back for a repeat cesarean. Christina threw up from 11pm that evening until 8am the next day which happened to be Mother's Day. She wishes she had a doula for that birth, and delivered in a different hospital and doesn't think she will ever be at peace with her delivery.
Lactation support was helpful, but the hospital pediatrician didn't want to fix Naomi's tongue tie. She asked every nurse on every shift what she needed to do to have the tie clipped and the ENT finally "fixed" it the last day they were there. The following week, Christina went to a breastfeeding support group at a local hospital and the lactation consultant discovered her tongue tie was not fully corrected and found that she had a lip tie as well. A new ENT was able to correct the issues and Naomi nursed until she weaned at 23 months. Christina credit's the support she received from La Leche League and their local lactation consultant for helping her make it that far. She is now a LLL leader and is working on her hours to become a lactation consultant.
Christina remembers being in the 5th grade and thinking that her legs were too fat and she needed to lose weight. She's so troubled that was a concern of hers at that time and understands that our children need to see actual depictions of bodies in order to normalize them. Her body has changed greatly having had two big babies and she has a Diastasis she's had to adjust too but she absolutely loves her body and is enjoying celebrating it. "We deserve to be able to embrace ourselves and our bodies"