Monday, 18 September 2017

If you haven't had kids and you have a vagina you probably shouldn't read this

My Labour and Delivery 

Today, for the first time, I am going to discuss my labour and delivery with my second child. This is just my story, most births are not like this and indeed, my first was much better. Here goes...

I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes when I was 18 weeks pregnant. I had this when I was pregnant the first time and so I knew what to expect. In my case my risk factors were family history and my ethnic background but I had been hoping to escape it this time around. C'est la vie, shit happens, I got on with it. I did know, once I had to start injecting insulin as my sugar levels became more and more out of control, that I would have to be induced because, unfortunately, there was a slight risk my child could be still born. Induction hadn't worked the first time and had ended up in a c section and I knew in my heart this would happen again but we do anything for our kids and so I happily agreed to be induced again.

I was already having pains by the time induction day arrived and I was hopeful that it would work this time. I had my birth plan in place, to avoid a three day labour like the first time I would try for 24 hours and if the same problems started I would go for surgery to avoid this baby becoming distressed the way my son had. Fantastic, agreed with my consultants and all written clearly in my notes, I felt confident that this would go smoothly.

24 hours passed and I was in agony, I had thrown up from the pain, gas and air was no longer helping and I was stuck at 5cm. The doctor came in at 11pm and said he recommended I have a c section as baby was at risk of having similar issues to my first and I found myself signing the consent form while shaking from another contraction. Having more intimacy with the gas and air than I had had in months, I fell into a disturbed sleep to try to get together some energy for the surgery I was about to have.

At 6am the next day a midwife came in and told me that I was to be nil by mouth as I would be going in soon, I let her know that I hadn't eaten since last night at 6 and I only had a drink after I threw up at 11 so I was good to go whenever. 'Great', she said, 'call your husband it could be any minute'. My poor husband, who I had sent home so that at least one of us would be half human after the surgery, rushed over and was there by 7am.

At 6pm I was still contracting and, being pregnant and diabetic, I was starving. But, given that I was a sweaty mess, the biggest issue i was having whats that I was THIRSTY. I had a shower to try to cool myself down (it's super fun trying not to fall in a soapy wet room when your centre of gravity has moved and every contraction makes you jump). We asked when we might be going down since I was high risk and things were still happening in terms of contractions. 'Soon', they said. Ok, we waited. 11pm rolled around and it had been 24hours since I had anything to drink and even longer since some food. I think I started seeing things to be honest and I was so weak but I told myself that my high risk status would mean that, surely, they would see me soon. So we went to sleep.

The next day at around 4pm I couldn't take it anymore, I was shaking constantly and I could barely raise my head so I was given a glucose gel type thing and put on a drip. They finally told me it was my turn at around 6. 30 hours, give or take, nil by mouth, though the drip and glucose did help a bit.

In the theatre I smiled, happy this would almost be over. I held still through contractions while they put in the epidural, I laid down, the surgeons introduced themselves and laughed and chatted away as they got started with bringing my baby into the world. And then, with no warning other than a little nausea, I stopped breathing. I was very aware that I wasn't breathing anymore, I couldn't do anything about it but I felt fine. There was no chest pain, nothing to say that this wasn't going well other than the fact that I could no longer breathe. Now, looking back, I think it may have been a panic attack because there were no alarms, no one knew anything was wrong but I thought I was dying. In the space of seconds I went from looking forward to meeting my baby to hoping they got the baby out before I died. Maybe dramatic, but I truly believed and accepted that that was it.

When my husband saw the panic on my face and asked me what was wrong, they realised I wasn't breathing and an oxygen mask was slammed on my face, drips were adjusted as the anaesthetist told my husband I was just dehydrated and not worry. I'm not sure how long it took me to feel normal again, but this happened two more time during the operation and wasn't helped by the fact that I could see the contents of my body splayed out on the table in the reflection of the lights above me. That alone was bad enough to be honest.

Nyla was born at 20.17, 8lbs 4oz and honest to God beautiful from the very start. During my surgery there was a shift change and my lovely midwife was replaced by a woman who just shouldn't be allowed to work with vulnerable women. She told my husband that our baby was diabetic and wouldn't allow him to dress her, we had lovingly chosen an outfit and bought it in 2 sizes. She chose the wrong size which was too small and didn't bother with the other one, so wrapped my baby in a towel and gave her to us. Oh well, I thought, more skin to skin for us then. Never mind, not ideal but every cloud.

There were no beds in recovery for us so we spent to first couple of hours with our baby girl in theatre. We were taken back up into the room we had been in before my surgery and when the porters had anchored my bed and I was trying to breastfeed my daughter the midwife grabbed her and pulled. I didn't understand what was happening, no one had ever stopped me from nursing my first child so I held on to her and asked what she was doing.

'This baby is diabetic!', she shouted at me. I'm not exaggerating, she was yelling at me. 'She needs formula, now'.

'OK, I don't have any formula'.

'I have it, let me do my job'. She tried, again, to take my baby from me. She was so rough and I finally lost my cool.

'I will feed her, don't touch her like that again’.

She gave me the formula and stormed out of the room. I couldn't believe it but my husband and I tried to just get on and enjoy our daughter. She came back with the oversized machine to measure her blood sugar and I expected that, they had done it with my son as well. And then, with what I expected to be a normal procedure, my world came crashing down.

'You didn't let me do my job, her blood is far too low for so long. Now you have given her brain damage'.

It was as though someone had ripped my stomach through my arsehole, the sinking feeling I felt. Weak from surgery and two days without food or water, I asked her to clarify and she told us that leaving her with such low blood sugar would undoubtedly result in permanent brain damage, and that it was my fault. I remember her voice as though she were speaking those words to me right now. I looked at my beautiful girl and I just couldn't register that she wasn't perfect. That my body had failed by having diabetes and destroyed her chance of a healthy life.

To cut an incredibly long story short, Nyla is fine. No brain damage. But to this day those words destroy me. One day I will dedicate a post to how that affected me, but believe it or not, there is a point to me sharing this story and it's not for attention. My point is, how is that woman working with vulnerable women? Was it a bad day? Is she routinely emotionally scarring her patients? Is she so incompetent that she believed what she had said? I am positive that there was no day during her training where she was told that she should forcibly remove a newborn attempting a latch at her mother's breast, so what the hell happened?

I haven't complained yet, I don't have the strength to face her. I will one day, but for today I am trying to achieve my goal of going an entire day without reliving that god awful experience.

One day, I might even sleep.

I hope this post finds you well and, if it doesn't, I hope it leaves you better.

m_ak x

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