About Christina Hodgen, Photojournalist
For as long as I can remember, I have always been interested in art and photography.
After receiving my first film camera as a teenager, photography quickly became a favorite medium. I attended The Cleveland Institute of Art and received a BFA in photography in 2003. While in school, my work evolved into an emphasis on a photojournalistic style of portraiture culminating with a thesis project documenting my sister’s fight with liver failure and utilizing self portraits to explore concepts of death.
During my final year in school, my sister was diagnosed with liver failure and needed to have a liver transplant immediately. I chose to be tested as a possible living donor. The same day I walked in my graduation ceremony at art school, I was rushed to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and prepped for emergency surgery to save her life the following day. The preferred method of pain relief given to living liver donors is an epidural in order to avoid taxing the liver with potentially harmful pain medication. My epidural was incorrectly placed which left being packed in ice as my only method of pain relief. Following the surgery, I developed other complications from the epidural.
After the surgery, I decided to move to Atlanta where I ended up meeting my husband and starting our life together.
When I found out I was pregnant with my first son in 2010, I knew nothing about childbirth. What I did know was that I had a extreme fear of epidurals and surgery. I figured I would tell my doctor of my preferences and have a baby vaginally without an epidural As I talked to women who were family and friends, I was told again and again I could not give birth without an epidural and there was nothing I could do to help prevent a surgical birth. Thankfully, I mentioned the practice I was using to a friend who happened to have given birth with the same practice for her first child. She encouraged me to look into the midwives she used for her second birth, a vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC). Halfway through my pregnancy, I was becoming educated about Hypnobirthing, doulas, midwives, and water birth as well as statistically how uncommon a completely unmedicated birth happened to be in the United States. Once I found a doula I wanted to work with and who encouraged me yet again to change practices, I decided to switch to Intown Midwifery in my third trimester.
My first son joined us earthside in a beautiful water birth in 2011.
He was caught by my husband and attended by an amazing team including a midwife and doula. My positive experience with childbirth truly changed my life. I knew I could make an impact for other parents if I could share my experience and help remove the fear I had heard in so many birth stories. I wanted to remain in the birth community in some way and I started to think about birth photography as a possible means to do so.
In 2015, I delivered my second son, also with Intown Midwifery and helped by the same doula. He was a whopping 4 pounds larger than his brother, tipping the scale at 10 pounds, 10 ounces. This birth was a land birth, in the middle of the night, and after having been awake all day long. It was a completely different experience from the first in almost every way but also without an epidural or surgery. The reactions to my second delivery of disbelief and surprise that I could deliver a large baby in such a manner led to an even stronger drive to help other people in some way with my experiences.
I was having lunch with my amazing doula and friend, Cynthya Dzialo, when I decided to finally take the leap of faith and combine my experiences into a career. My photography and birth experiences combined together could be used to support families. A background in portrait photography is the perfect foundation for birth photography and capturing the strength of people in such an integral time in their lives, as well as the beginning of a new life and growing family.