Wondering what else I've been up to? Well, as a PND diversion tactic, and also because it means so much to me, when our previous Chairmum of our local Netmums Meet-up group stepped down, myself, along with 2 of my good friends that I met at the group decided to take over the running of the group as the Chairmum and Right-Handmums.
I can't tell you how much my local Netmums Group helped me when I was so bad with PND. I have met some lovely, inspiring people and made some hopefully life long friendships, but it's not just about that. It's about supporting each other, and being there for others who are experiencing the same feelings you are. You can read my first blog about PND here.
Anyway, I'm jumping on C4's One Born Every Minute bandwagon and re-posting my birthing story for Netmums, which you can also read on Maternity Matters website.
If you decide to read my story, please make sure you read the comments from Lorraine Berry, as I wouldn't want to scare anyone regarding the ARM procedure or anyone who has had colposcopy treatment. Maya's head was no where near engaged, and my colposcopy treatment was over 12 years, so I have quite severe scarring - don't really understand how I fell pregnant in the first place!
Here it is:
Hospitals to me can be terrifying places, yet now I feel strangely comforted when I spend time in one – as long as I’m not the patient.
I spent most of my childhood and young adult life in various hospitals visiting my mum, who had an auto-immune disease and I will always be truly grateful to the NHS doctors and nurses who over the years treated my mum with compassion, dignity, and saved her life on many occasions. Unfortunately for me, the treatment my mum received leading up to her death- including a lack of basic care or pain relief; completely ignoring my pleas to call for a doctor when my mum was screaming in pain; not respecting the fact that I was her carer and that I knew my mum’s medical condition inside out; a lack of communication and consultation with me from the doctors to then being told in a corridor with other families passing by that my mum was dying. This left me completely traumatised, with a raw, gaping, angry wound in my heart, full of distrust for our NHS.
I was diagnosed with depression from the age of 15. When my mum died, my whole world fell apart and I think part of me died too. A few years later I had a nervous breakdown and it took me three long years of various counselling to get my life back together – it’s still an on-going battle.
When I discovered I was pregnant I was delighted but terrified at the same time. I did what I’m sure millions of other expectant mums did, skipped the “giving birth” part in my book and went straight to “coming home”. I spoke at length with my Community Midwife about my fears about going into hospital, my fears about Maya developing Lupus, my fears that giving birth would trigger the disease in me, and my worries about still being on anti-depressants and the possible side effects that Maya could suffer. I managed to cut down to one tablet a day, which, for me was monumental. At the beginning of my pregnancy, it was decided by a registrar that I should be Community Midwife led, and not Consultant lead (this would have been with the Consultant Psychiatrist at the Maternity Liaison clinic). Straight away I thought that this was a huge mistake – but who am I to argue? How can a registrar that you talk to for five minutes decide something so fundamentally important, and be allowed make such a mistake?
My midwife explained the importance of having a birthing plan, especially since my “issues” as she put it, were quite complex. My birthing plan turned into my voice, as sometimes I felt like I was wasting the midwife’s time with my “complex” fears. Everything I feared was detailed in my plan. It was so important to me that everyone dealing with me at the Maternity Unit was aware of my background and mental health problems – I think I was actually terrified that I would have some kind of mental breakdown because I was the patient. The most important part of my plan was to be kept informed and be consulted at all times before any intervention. I had planned to go to the Midwifery Lead Unit and use a birthing pool. This unit was very non-medical and non-threatening, perfect for someone with all my hospital phobias. After seeing the unit at our local maternity, some of my fears were put to rest and I felt ok about going there. Also detailed in my plan were the details of previous medical treatment for pre-cancerous cells.
My waters broke at 38 weeks. This meant I would be admitted to the Medical Unit. I literally wanted to run away; I was really scared and I remember phoning my dad to say goodbye. I honestly had an overwhelming feeling that I wouldn’t be coming out alive. I even considered writing my husband a last letter for him to find when he got home. Our first midwife was wonderful. We went over my birthing plan in detail and she assured me that at handover the next midwife would be aware of my anxieties. I was put on a drip, as I wasn’t having any contractions, and this was the first flashback for me. The smell of the adhesive used to hold the needle in place started to freak me out, it reminded me of when my mum was in ITU for 7 weeks, and I hadn’t smelt that smell for years. It opened up very painful memories for me and I could feel myself starting to freak out. I felt like an idiot, I wanted to cry my heart out. I did tell the midwife and she was very understanding. Then I remember saying to my husband “Oh isn’t that nice, you can hear the babies being born”.I was so naive, and when we realised it was a woman in the next room at the end stage of labour, I really started to get frightened.
I was painfully examined and scanned over the course of the next five hours by a few different people, and eventually it was decided that my waters had partially broken. I didn’t understand, as there had been so much water I couldn’t believe there was more to come. The consultant was called in, as I was only 2cm dilated, with poor contractions. Up until this point we had been kept well informed, and everything had been discussed with us, exactly as I had detailed in my BP. The consultant examined me, and I have never experienced pain like it in my life. I had to use gas and air. I was gripping onto the bed, shaking after it. She then proceeded to say that they would have to break my bottom waters in theatre, someone would have to hold Maya tightly so that she didn’t move in case the cord prolapsed; it was too dangerous to do it where I was in case I needed an emergency section there and then, as the baby could be in shock. Meanwhile it was decided that they would turn the drip up to see if I would contract further within the next hour. To try and explain to you how terrified I felt at this point is impossible. I don’t really remember what happened next but I know I was crying and my husband and the midwife were trying to calm me down.
The consultant came back in a short time later and asked to examine me again. I remember thinking, oh god, please don’t hurt me, and I had already said to my husband that I didn’t want her coming anywhere near me. Again, I had to use gas and air; the pain was even worse than before. I remember trying not to panic, but when I saw the look on my husbands face, it made me panic more. Then I felt a huge gush, and the consultant stepped back, completely ignored my husband and myself and turned to the midwife and instructed her to turn the drip up to the maximum dose. Then she left the room. I was still gripping onto the bed in shock, and my husband was saying to me, “it’s ok, it’s over now – you can let go of the bed”. When I looked at him he looked as shocked as I was. We asked the midwife what had happened, and she said the Consultant had decided to break my waters there and then. My husband and I were horrified, and I asked what had changed. The consultant had said the procedure had to be performed in theatre because it was too dangerous. She hadn’t even discussed with us what she was about to do, how I felt about it or, more importantly, asked my permission. The consultant completely ignored us, and my birthing plan. I cannot tell you how humiliated, powerless and violated I felt. She had taken away my right to have a voice, the very thing that scared me the most about being in hospital. Her manner was brisk, uncaring and unsympathetic towards my feelings and wishes. I was frightened that something was wrong with Maya because the consultant had said it was dangerous to perform the procedure outside theatre.
After a while the contractions changed and I immediately knew something wasn’t right, that impending doom feeling was getting worse. The midwife kept saying that Maya was beginning to be distressed and she wasn’t happy with the way things were progressing. The contractions didn’t feel right to me and Maya’s heart rate was starting to slow down quite dramatically. She took the decision to stop the drip immediately and call the doctor in. By this time I didn’t want anyone coming anywhere near me again and performing another internal. I was crying and I said to my husband and midwife that I was starting to hyperventilate and mentally I couldn’t take anymore. I was literally hanging on by an eyelash, and completely petrified. The midwife told me not to worry, that she would deal with it and insist that I should be having a section. She explained to the registrar how terrified I was and that she had some major concerns about my mental health and well-being, and the health of our unborn baby. By this time, I had been there for 18 hours and was still 2cm dilated. A new registrar came in a while later and asked if he could examine me and would try his best to be very gentle. He confirmed I was still only 2cm dilated and then started to ask me questions about the pre-cancerous treatment that was detailed in my birthing plan. Nobody else had asked me any questions so I thought this was quite strange. He then told me that he would have to check with the Senior Consultant, but he thought that I would never dilate past 2cm because of the cone biopsy and laser treatment I had at that time.
20 minutes later, I was in theatre having an emergency section to get Maya out as she was distressed, I was distressed and my husband was distressed. We had asked questions right from the start of my pregnancy about the fact that I had treatment for pre-cancerous cells and would this affect my ability to dilate – we were told no.
Although the midwives that were with us every second throughout this time did their best to fight for my rights and wishes, the Consultant was completely ignorant to their observations. The Consultant showed a blatant disregard for my birthing plan, my mental health and my wellbeing. I should have been booked in for a c-section right from the start, and I could have been spared what was an extremely distressing event for me. If someone had just paid a little bit of attention to my birthing plan at the start and picked up on the fact that I had treatment for pre-cancerous cells…
I now have post-natal depression, and I do think that the events of those two days are among others, contributing factors. I only asked for a few simple things in my birthing plan – to be treated with respect and dignity, and to be consulted and kept informed.
These were the very things taken away from me by a consultant.
I have to stress that everyone else at the hospital in question, including the three midwives and especially the theatre team, were fantastic; they followed my wishes to the letter and with respect. The registrar who took the time to read my birthing plan performed my caesarean section with a very amusing running commentary and delivered our beautiful baby girl with healthy Apgar scores.
I have researched what I will call the inappropriate management of Maya’s birth and found out that artificial rupture of the membranes should only take place in a theatre setting when a woman is dilated 5cm or more. There is also plenty of research out there to say that colposcopy treatment has a profound effect on women being able to dilate.
So, you have to ask the following questions:
If I can find this information on the Internet, why was my consultant not aware of this research?
What gave her the right to decide to perform a dangerous procedure out-with a theatre setting, and not even consult me about it or ask my permission?
What is the point of filling out a birthing plan if the very people that make all the decisions can’t be bothered to read it, are too busy or just don’t care?