The wonderful Katrina Hartman, Lydia (3) and Calvin (5 months). Katrina also had a chemical pregnancy between Lydia and Calvin.
"My journey hasn't been an easy one. My birth experience with Lydia was traumatic for me, and that left me feeling that maybe I had somehow made a mistake in my choice to become a mother. How could I raise this human, if I couldn't even get her out of my body?"
During her first pregnancy, Katrina sought out what she deemed standard medical care - an OBGYN she didn't particularly connect with, and hospital based birthing class which only really taught them the stages of labor and not any breathing or pain management techniques outside of opting for Stadol or epidural. Katrina was hoping for a vaginal delivery without interventions but wasn't against an epidural if she needed one.
She woke up early morning one morning with contractions and found them to be consistant - five minutes apart, lasting 1 minute, for an hour, so she woke her husband thinking it was go time. They arrived at the hospital, only to be sent home within a few hours. She labored at home for most of the day, and decided to head back to the hospital once contractions became a little more serious. She was admitted this time, and continued to work through the contractions but wasn't dilating. Stuck somewhere between 3 and 5 cms they decided to use Pitocin to get things moving. "I remember feeling like my body was being ripped apart, the contractions were so intense, I opted for Stadol when they offered it. The Stadol did nothing but make me loopy, and I lost all sense of control with my breathing. That's when I asked for an epidural" Katrina had a total of three epidurals before she was able to get some relief and rest.
Katrina woke up 4 hours after her last epidural, with the doctor between her legs telling her she was just about 10 cms, and would be starting to push in a half an hour. 10 minutes later she sent her husband running for the doctor, because she was feeling the urge to push and 40 minutes later she was holding Lydia. "That moment completely pushed out the last 36 hours of pain and fear".
Katrina and her husband originally wanted to have children close together, but the trauma of Lydia's birth stuck with her and they waited until Lydia was close to 2 .5 to conceive Calvin. They were able to get pregnant quickly and knew she needed things to be different this time. "I chose a midwife who worked at a small, community hospital that was known for their birthing center. I picked up a copy of Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, and it completely changed my mind about birth. Once I had opened that door, it was impossible to close it. I watched birth video after birth video, and I felt a connection to every woman I watched. *I* can do this too".
When Katrina was about 32 weeks, news hit that the hospital's parent company would be shutting down the birthing center, which was "hemorrhaging money". A local coalition was able to get the closure suspended while the Department of Health investigated the legality/need for the closure. "It was hard being 35 weeks pregnant and not knowing if the hospital you chose would be closed before you could birth there". She made it to 40w 2d with the hospital still open and her water broke as she was putting Lydia to bed for the evening. They called in family to watch Lydia and in the 20 minutes it took for them to arrive Katrina had progressed from being able to communicate to rocking on all fours through contractions.
"We got to the hospital and were rushed to a room where I immediately went back to all fours, it was the only position that felt right. My sister in law acted as my doula, and her and my husband were the best birth team. When I was sobbing that I couldn't do it and needed an epidural, my SIL would bring me back to the moment. My husband told me over and over that I was a goddess. In my head I was saying I couldn't do it, there was no possible way I could actually do this. But a small voice piped up and told me I was. I was doing it. And I was doing it with Calvin. I could feel him sinking lower with every contraction, and when I started to push, I felt him even more. I will never forget the sensation of him sinking lower and lower until I could feel his head, and then that great rush of relief as he entered this world. Calvin's birth was the healing birth I so desperately needed. It put me in touch with a woman I didn't know existed deep down inside. I feel that Calvin's unmedicated birth put me in touch with my wild woman inside, and has started me on the path to finding her and truly knowing her."
"I've always had issues with my body, and I've never truly felt comfortable in it. Then I had children, and it hit me; this body is amazing. How could I not love the very thing that brought my children into this world?! I also know that my children will look to me as an example, and I never want them to see anything but a woman who is truly happy in her own skin. It was time for me to stop hating myself, and participating in this movement is part of that."