An Experience of Surgery


I have a 19 month old boy and a 3 month old girl. Both were born on a midwife led unit.

I feel that I had a really positive experience both times, the midwives and the care they gave was outstanding!

However, with my daughter, I had a retained placenta and had to go into theatre to have it manually removed. I was positive, or at least matter of fact about the situation....thinking: they will do what they need to and in the interest of my well being. My mindset was the same as it was for birth.....stay relaxed, calm and focussed on the fact I'd be back with my baby and partner before I knew was part of the process.

Sadly the experience left me shell shocked. I had a spinal anaesthetic but the strange sensation of the procedure felt brutal. The surgeon was audibly struggling, my body was being jolted around so much, well brutal is the only word I can think of. He was only doing his best but hearing him say things like "it's piece meal" made me feel physically sick and challenged my positive focus beyond my expectations and ability.

Because of my awareness during the procedure, perhaps a general anaesthetic would have helped? Although, I'm sure that would then have presented me with a different set of issues to overcome.

Looking back at the circumstances, they needed to act quickly and were not to know how severely my placenta was bonded.

At one point the anaesthetist gave me some morphine like drug which spaced me out....removed my mind from what was happening to my body. I feel this happened too late. I had already been groaning with the discomfort of it and said that I felt sick, (they placed a sick bowl next to my face) but it wasn't until I said that I felt really dizzy that I was given this other drug.

The other element of it all that left me perplexed was that looking at my notes there was nothing saying explicitly the extent of the procedure, (in fact I'm not 100% certain it was noted?? Although, I wasn't in a great way to remember rightly!) even my blood loss seemed to vary (which I do appreciate cannot be accurately measured). I felt very confused.

So, perhaps earlier administration of additional drugs followed by the opportunity to talk through the experience with a person who was involved and ask any questions; and detailed notes.

I may be expecting too much of a team who at the end of the day save lives and are exceptionally stretched.

I feel bad about sharing the details. I feel bad for anyone who has the misfortune of hearing my description of theatre (I only share when asked!) because no one wants to hear a bad story do they? I went on to the Birth Trauma Association website. They hit the nail in the head with so many of their descriptions of how women can feel unsupported and alienated. I have found myself saying countless times, "oh but I have a happy healthy baby and that's the main thing" and "but the birth was great so I'm thankful for that" I suppose to ease the awkward feeling when kind, lovely people just don't know how to respond to a story of a bad experience.

My post natal midwife was so understanding when I described how this had left me feeling, she offered me a therapy whereby I can go back to theatre, see the people again and talk through my experience. I initially thought that I could work through the feelings without revisiting the hospital, but now, 3 months on and particularly now that I'm writing this (lump in throat, holding back the tears), I realise that I do need some help to overcome it. Perhaps understanding more about what actually happened would help? Or maybe not? Maybe, speaking to other women who had a similar experience would help? I'm not sure yet, but I'm determined to find something that will work for me.

I do feel a bit like we put a huge amount of pressure on ourselves (without even realising) to keep going and to muster all our power and energy to stay positive and to recover and get by. Sometimes I guess it takes time to realise that it's not always that straight forward.

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