In my attempt to go over 42 weeks (despite UCLH hospital protocols and the likes), we went to have a check and the 3rd sweep at the post dates clinic on Monday, 6th. This is when they found out that the amniotic fluid had diminished. The consultant admitted that one of the sweeps could have caused a little whole and a leakage. Well, thanks for that! After a whole day of sitting around and waiting for scan appointments etc., I had to stay and finally agreed to be induced. The cost of a natural water birth seemed to be too high when paid for with a health threat for our unborn daughter.
Big M went to get my bag from home while Jemima, our doula, arrived at the hospital. Unfortunately, being 42 weeks + and because of the planned induction, I had to go to the labour ward, instead of going to the birth centre. I remember looking around the delivery suit, fighting against tears of fear and frustration. This suit contained everything I didn’t want for little L’s birth: belt monitors, the hospital bed with stirrups, cupboards and drawers full of medical instruments.
They monitored me and to me delight saw that I had contractions, 3-4 in ten minutes. But I didn’t feel anything. The midwife – to my surprise male and super gentle – suggested to give me some time and see what happens. Unfortunately, his shift ended shortly after that. A new midwife came in, and this is where my nightmare started. Despite the agreement we had made earlier on, she insisted on examining me (again…!) and said she would break my waters now. She already had everything ready, i.e. the hook placed next to her. I am still surprised by how surprised she looked when I said ‘No!’.
We started a pointless discussion, the three of us against her. And all our questions were answered with ‘because it is hospital protocol’ or ‘because you are here to be delivered, so we deliver you’. In the end, she couldn’t argue against us and sent the consultant in. Surprisingly, the consultant did not have any problem giving me more time as long as there was any progress made and was very understanding. We agreed on two more hours to see what happens.
The three of us went for a walk outside and came back to have a nap. I was hugging big M on the hospital bed, just wanting to go home. And that is when my waters broke, all by themselves, on the day I was supposed to be induced. I was so relieved. My contractions got very recognisable and much stronger.
The witch of a midwife came in and examined me (again!! and although we had agreed on another 6 hours for me to progress without intervention) and again placed all her instruments on a tray next to me to be ready to do whatever she thought was right. She said there were still membranes and that not all waters would have gone. Which was basically complete nonsense, as another midwife and the consultant confirmed later on. By that time I had totally lost trust in her and simply didn’t believe her any more.
Although I had made further progress (cervix went from posterior to anterior), she said she had to rupture those membranes. We were again starting a discussion, us stating that we agreed with her and the consultant on another 6 hours without intervention and her, that I would be in hospital for induction and to be delivered and that the protocol states… blah blah. At all that time, she had her fingers in me and my cervix in a tight grip. I got really upset and only got rid of her when I jumped back.
I never felt as abused, humiliated or vulnerable as I felt in that very moment. What a witch. She just ignored everything that was agreed on and wanted to do what she thought was best, totally ignoring my individual needs or wishes.
When the contractions got very intense and I could hardly catch my breath in between, Jemima wanted to organise for me to have a bath. She looked for the midwife (who wasn’t too impressed) and only managed to get me in the bath because she was very persistent.
In the bath, the pain was more bearable, I was far from slowing down, but also I had in the back of my head ‘have to make progress, have to make progress’. The witch continued to interrupt us, wanting me to get out to examine me again, but meanwhile all the three of us shouted NOOO! as soon as she peeked into the room. Jemima offered to ask for the midwife to be replaced, but in the state I was in, I just wasn’t up for any confrontation or hard feelings.
After 6 hours of very intense contractions, I decided to be examined, but asked for a 2nd opinion. There was no way I would let her touch me again. Another midwife came in and I was devastated when she told me, I still was only 2 cm. All of a sudden, I couldn’t handle the pain anymore and asked for an epidural. The thought of going on like that without progress, no way… I was hoping to get some sleep and be able to relax, i.e. dilate further. And also, the witch had only 2 hours left on her shift, so I would have got rid of her by the time next steps would have been needed to discuss.
When the epidural kicked in, I felt the tension coming off me. And as I just wanted to surrender to a good, proper cry, the consultant came in and said, she was sorry, but the baby’s heart rate dropped with every contraction, and she would strongly recommend a c-section. We agreed without hesitation. Apparently we still had a little time and they topped up the epidural to prepare me for the section.
As we arrived in the theatre the senior consultant came in and said the baby’s heart rate did not seem to come up again after contractions. So they put me to sleep with a GA. Nobody was allowed in the theatre, because they said it would be too traumatising for Big M. They basically kicked him out without any pleasantries.
Little L was born at 07:57AM on Tuesday, 07 April 2009. 57 cm and 7.5 lbs. Although 42 weeks plus 1, she was far form being overcooked. No curled nails, no meconium. She even had a little bit of lanugo and vernix left. She cried her first cry without any help and did not need any suction. Apparently, I am a slow cooker and she needed all that time in my womb.
As soon as I stop feeling so terribly emotional about the event, I am going to hand in a formal complaint about that midwife. If I wouldn’t have had Big M and Jemima with me, and if I wouldn’t have had all that information about child birth, I would have been intimidated by her authority and most likely agreed on things I would have regretted later on.
Looking at little L makes it all worth it. But still, I believe that I – and every other woman to give birth – have more rights than holding a healthy baby in my arms. After I cared for and nurtured this little creature inside my womb for more than 9 months, a healthy baby is mainly MY achievement. I expected more than getting her out safely from my birth experience.
I want to be treated with respect and dignity. As an individual with rights and a brain, not like a piece of unresponsive meat that can be poked into without consequences.
The shock, the frustration and the feeling of violation slowly give way to anger and enragement. This woman definitely messed with the wrong one.