Whenever I hear the news that a friend, or family member, is pregnant my first response is fear! I know I'm supposed to be delighted for the lady / couple but I'm not initially - I'm frightened .... will this be the one who does not survive??
I guess you could say I had a pretty smooth pregnancy. I had the expected niggles but honestly nothing too bad. I continued to work full time and socialise until nearly full term - then when I did stop working I pulled down a dividing wall in my lounge and upgraded the kitchen!
Therefore I had quite a relaxed view of what was to come. I had attended the ante natal classes and duly made the birth plan (or as I now call it "the totally irrelevant plan"), and thought I was prepared .... how wrong could one naive soon to be mummy be?
My due date was early April and all seemed fine. My waters broke at home and I called the hospital to let them know and they said to only come up once my contractions were regular and quite close together. Ok, so I waited for that to happen. Nothing. No contractions that I could feel? So I pottered around all day and then went to bed. The next day I received a call from the hospital - where was I? And I was to attend without delay. Its now the nightmare begins for me.
After some very brisk words about not being in hospital overnight I was examined, then sent out walking, then put in a cubicle and given a sweep. Still nothing. I didn't seem to be having any contractions. Next they put me in a bathroom and told me to have a hot bath. The bath had the last persons blood in it! They just rinsed it down and ran the water for me to get in. After I got out of that they put me in Midwives unit. I was introduced to my (first) midwife. Then I started to run a temperature. Not much was done about this. I was convinced it was the nasty bath that had caused it but the midwife said it was probably because my waters had been broken for so long. By now they had been broken for 30+ hours. Then I started to vomit. Not good. They gave me a little gas and air but made matters worse for me. I became quite ill and felt like I was hallucinating and tried to get up and go home, saying I'd had enough of this!
I lost the care of this particular midwife somewhere between being moved from the midwife unit to a labour ward/room. This is where they administered a contraction inducing drug. They were only allowing me to suck water from a sponge and I was thirsty. The drug didn't have much effect so another person came in and administered what seemed to me like A LOT more! Next thing I know I'm doubling up, I'm no longer in control of my body and the contractions were now so strong I was actually folding in half!! Way too much of the drug I feared? Or perhaps that's what was meant to happen? I now only had a junior midwife for support and she was more interested in having a laugh with my husband at the time and I felt very scared and isolated. I wanted my mum! This went on for - what seemed to me - hours! It was probably between 3-4 hours. I'm screaming now as the pain is unbearable. Please help me I'm saying over and over again. No one seemed to be doing anything and more time was passing. I still didn't have a fully qualified midwife in attendance as they were "very busy" with lots of births that night!! Errrm, I think that was supposed to be me too?!?
At last the door opened and a woman in a white coat appeared ... I'm begging her for help ... she looks in and says "is this woman still here? Get her prepped for surgery"..... then everyone mobilises.
I'm now moved into an operating theatre. They say they want to give me an epidural but I have to stay still to allow them to get the needle in my back - so how exactly am I supposed to stay still with that drug cursing round my system making me fold up every 45 seconds! I was completely wiped out by now. I was very distressed. Luckily for me through out all of this my baby was remaining calm and quite unaffected by all the outside craziness ..... They say he is out of position and I would never have given birth to him naturally and they were going to perform a C section.
No luck there either ..... after they got the epidural into me they tested to see if I could feel ice cubes being dripped on to me - and I could! So they said they couldn't cut me open as I'd feel it -- I'd gone too long for the epidural to work effectively. I have no energy at all now. Fading in and out of consciousness, and now my baby is reacting too. His heart rate is getting erratic. My heart is now struggling too. This is the famous moment where they say we must sign that if things go any worse -- who do we choose to save? Ok, this is some kind of nightmare! Choose the baby!
As I mentioned they no longer felt they could safely give me a C Section to get my baby out so they went for, what I can only describe as veterinarian approach. They slit me open from vagina to my back passage and pulled my baby out with forceps ..... hallelujah he is alive. I pass out. I wake up in a recovery ward.
I'm quickly moved to a regular ward with all the other new Mummy's - presumably the ones that meant I got no continuity of care, as their need was obviously greater? No one explained to me anything about what had happened. It was all a big blur all I tried to concentrate on was looking at my baby. I REALLY wanted my mum! I fell asleep with my baby in a plastic crib beside me and was awoken and told to get up and feed my baby I hadn't been on my feet for nearly 48 hours and I didn't think about this I just tried to get up completely disorientated and promptly fell over - I was attached to a catheter machine - I didn't even know this? It's the middle of the night, I'm bleeding, I'm on the floor and I've no idea where to get milk for my boy?!
We both survived the night. When I awoke the next morning the first "guest" I had was a hospital staff member asking if I needed a lawyer? This is when I totally lost it and said if they didn't get me my Mum I would call my Lawyer!
My stay in the filthy hospital was made bearable by the wonderful nurses and one in particular was so kind and helpful.
Once I got out of there I nearly had a nervous breakdown - the relief to be out of there was palpable. I just broke down in the car and sobbed and sobbed. We had made it out alive.
We had various meeting with the hospital after that where I was promised First Class care if I ever wished to have another child and a scheduled section would be given and performed by their "best". But they would not apologise. For if they apologised they would be admitting to their mistakes. They repeatedly asked if I wished to sue via the Ombudsman but I refused to go down this road as I felt that what happened to me happened because of an accountant. If they had not put caps on women being allowed scheduled sections and if they had allowed for enough staff to take care of the births that were happened then someone would have noticed that things were not going as planned and I would have been helped and not had to endure the birth I did endure. I would not be responsible for taking money out of an already struggling machine and possibly be the reason a future mummy died.
Needless to say I never allowed myself to become pregnant again. My son is an (much loved) only child due to the fact that I could not face the thought of going back into that hospital and putting myself, and any potential new life, back into their hands and care. No way. It wasn't just my life anymore. I had my son. I would not leave him orphaned.
They offered me counselling after I was back on my feet and I went along to the first two sessions but refused to go back after the counsellor asked if I felt "my body had let me down?" NO, I felt the NHS had let me down and I pray to god that I don't have to go back there any time soon.