Two days ago I attended a debrief with my partner, this was recommended to me by my women’s health physiotherapist after I disclosed to her that I was suffering from nightmares following the birth of my second child.
I dream that my arms give way and she falls multiple times on her head, my arms are heavy like led, they are weighted down and I’m unable to pick her up. She just lays there and all I can do is stand there hopeless, crying down at her.
My partner told me that my daughter had to be given rescue breaths when she was born, when he first saw her, she was blue; he saw it all and I doubt he’ll never un-see it.
My eyes were shielded by pain; I was unable to deliver my placenta. I lay there, silently haemorrhaging, I was petrified. I had no idea what was going on, my eyes felt glazed and I suddenly felt very insular as my two loves were being taken out the door to NICU.
Four months earlier it was bought to my midwife’s attention that I should be seen by a consultant obstetrician as my previous delivery resulted in a post-partum haemorrhage of 4.5 litres. At the time of my daughters’ birth I was declined a blood transfusion, given poor hospital care which consequently manifested into disabling post-natal anxiety; to top that off I was then diagnosed with having post –traumatic stress disorder following the birth.
It’s fair to say that I don’t carry babies well; I don’t bloom, I don’t beam from ear to ear, I just throw up. My body is consumed by an overwhelming desire to heave and vomit. So in the midst of my ‘morning’ sickness I attended my consultation. Unfortunately the assigned consultant was not in clinic, and I was greeted by who we now know was a locum.
We were back in our car, driving home within 10 minutes. Our appointment was made to feel non-essential, a box to tick. I spoke of my hyperemesis gravidum which was dismissed as soon as it was said, and was merely brushed off with, that’s a shame. When I then attempted to explain my previous birth (notes in hand) we were told there was a very small chance; in fact 1 in 10 that it could happen, I was low risk and there was no reason to tarnish this birth with the same brush.
I tried to voice my concerns, I asked about a caesarean and how I feel it would be an option that I wanted to discuss. I was told it wouldn’t be necessary; I could go in a birthing pool, have an ‘active’ labour, but to have a c-section would be highly unnecessary as I was low risk.
I left feeling silly, not stupid, just silly like I’d asked for something that was completely unnecessary and that I was wasting time.
After I was wheeled back from theatre I felt alone and vulnerable, my partner was by our daughter’s side in NICU and I wasn’t. I lay there with a deflated tummy, an internal pack, I was attached to a drip, a catheter and an infusion yet no baby was attached to me. I felt the tears pool in my eyes, and the anger consumed me. I was so unbelievably angry. It wasn’t with the lead midwife who looked into my eyes, held my hand and told me that she wasn’t leaving my side, it wasn’t with the nurse who looked down at me on the way to theatre to tell me that they would take the pain away; nor how my partner found out that I had gone to theatre when a student nurse ran out of the labour ward to go to the blood bank. It was with the consultant, the consultant who dismissed me, who disregarded me as an individual, and saw me as the ten past three appointment in his clinic.
He had ignored me as a person who had suffered with PTSD post-partum, who couldn’t leave the house and carry out ‘normal’ duties till 12 months after my first born.
He didn’t look at me sat opposite him whilst I was telling him that the anxiety was so severe after the post part haemorrhage I lost myself for a year, a year with my baby girl.
He didn’t look at me, the hyperemesis gravidum and the debilitating effect it was having on my social and personal life and how it was affecting my daily activities, my daughter, my partner but most of all me.
He didn’t see me that as an individual I needed a safe, structured birth plan; I didn’t/couldn’t want to feel out of control; he didn’t acknowledge that all I wanted from that 20 minute appointment was to be listened to and for my needs to be taken into consideration.
The debrief acknowledged that the consultant in question was an excellent clinician and colleague; and in acute situations he was outstanding; but they were aware that he is ‘too fast paced’ at appointments.
Unfortunately for me I didn’t stand out, wasn’t pushed through; my case wasn’t strong enough.
Over the past 20 weeks I have questioned myself why didn’t I push more? Why didn’t I make more of a fuss? And if I had, would I have been seen for the right reasons? Would I have been categorised as an ‘expert’ patient, a patient labelled with heightened anxiety or a patient with a previous traumatic birth.
I will carry the two deliveries of my girls forever, knowing that I won’t be able to un-see the veil of red seep through onto the bed and feel my heart beat that little bit faster; feeling the curtain pull in around me as I reflect on the feeling five years prior where I felt so frightened and weak and pull my knees in closer as I wonder if this is my fate five years on.
We are all entitled to it, entitled to the acknowledgement of our individualities, our bodies, our birth plans and our babies.
We are all entitled to make an informed decision on the safe delivery of our babies and do what is right ultimately for us the mother of our child; mentally, physically and emotionally.
We are all entitled to be listened to.
Lucie, 34 years of age living next to the sea with my partner Bob and our two beautiful daughters
I am currently on maternity leave from my job, where I work as a bladder and bowel specialist nurse; I love my job and all it entails. Women’s health post-natal, urinary incontinence, pelvic floor and bowels.
I am really passionate about mental health and do not believe it should be shushed under the carpet.
My Instagram mama just breathe has been set up to voice my journey and be an open forum to discuss such issues – grow a network and ultimately help women feel that we are all on the same path, we are just going at our own pace.
I have to have a coffee in the morning, I have an insane addiction to mini eggs but it’s slowly being phased out by GU cheesecakes and I’m a sucker for a zara boho blouse.
Bob and my girls are my everything x