I was feeling incredibly empowered by a long post that i had just written.
I pressed Control and W by accident and it went. It was the first time i’d vented my spleen in a long time. I felt so much better for writing it, i wanted it out there, on my blog so that one day, when i’m finally healed and all this birth crap floating around in my head doesn’t sting anymore, i’ll look back in awe at the pain i felt and be glad that it had gone.
I don’t know if i can do it again, but i am going to try, because i want to write it, i want to have a record of these feelings. I was on the last sentence. I only went back to insert a rant warning. I am so pissed off. So anyway, here is the rant warning. Read on at your peril and look away if you hate the f word, or think i’m an idiot not to have had 3 nice simple elective caesareans. Don’t, ANYONE, dare tell me that how they get here doesn’t count or all that matters is we are both safe.
Anyway, it starts with a nightmare, the first in a while, and a realisation. The nightmare was yesterday night, then again this morning. It’s been a good while since i woke up with my throat clenched and hurting from dream tears. And the realisation came on Friday, while i was musing about breastfeeding.
I consider myself a failed breastfeeder, an odd thing, even i know that. The pain of not being able to feed Fran and of giving up feeding Maddy is still there. I don’t count successes. I ‘ve always thought that if i’d asked just one more person, got one more lot of help, tried a bit harder, for a bit longer, in one more position, with a little more fortitude, i’d have got there with her. I know now, in retrospect, that she has a high and narrow palate, i know too looking back, that i tried every trick in the book. So why has it taken all this time for this to suddenly click? I didn’t learn anything new between Maddy and Amelie – no new positions, no better technique, i didn’t read any books, or have any demos. Yet Amelie and Josie have been a dream to feed, easy as anything. It has taken me all this time to realise that just knowing a few more breastfeeders is not the reason i succeeded third time round, or fourth time round. The simple fact is, i always knew how to breastfeed, but no matter what i tried, feeding Maddy was always going to be utterly and unbearably painful, with blood, with bits of me being rubbed away. There is no way i magically learned anything new between her and Amelie – Amelie and Josie were feedable and Fran and Maddy were not. No one, not even an earth mother, can feed a baby forever that rubs her to bleeding rawness with every feed, no matter what you do.
And this is all part and parcel of the desperate damage that has been done. I don’t believe in myself at all. I can over analyse everything, imagine there is always a way through, or a cure if only you look hard enough. But sometimes there isn’t. It wasn’t me. This is the trouble with email lists – i see women succeed where i once succeeded and where latterly my courage has failed and i compare myself and find myself wanting.
I’ve raged this year, inside myself, about Josie’s birth. I’m so angry. I’m angry with myself, angry with Max, angry with the people who bullied and cadjoled and undermined me. I’ve blamed myself, i’ve been numb, shocked, hurt, bewildered, in denial, tried to put it behind me. I’ve shielded Max, my daughters, my mum and even my friends, or shielded myself from them. I’ve been a walking zombie this year, trying to keep myself sane. i dread to think what effect it has had. I’ve not been able to bear to think about it. If i try to talk about it, all that happens is that i get so angry at the weakness that makes me cry, that i choke up completely. I’ve got nowhere near dealing with this yet. I don’t even know where to start. Everything in my life is so utterly changed by that day, i’ve had all my rights cut away at the same time as i had my baby cut away. They stole the feeling in my bladder and they stole the feeling in my soul at the same time. Where i used to have thoughts and emotions, all i have now is a blackhole of rage and damage.
I’ve tried so hard to get to the root of what makes me so furious but what it comes down to is that i FUCKING HATE Peterborough Maternity Unit – they are a mechanised, litigation based bunch of fuckwits who care no more for the PEOPLE they process than if we were cows. Go and work on a farm, fucking bullying “I know best and you’ll do as you are told” registrar, go and boil your instrument in a shed Mrs “I’ll send my decision from another room without bothering to come and see you” consultant. Thanks to you i’ll probably never have another period that isn’t unbearably painful, or feel my bladder again. So much for your safe caesarean. We couldn’t have been much less safe if you’d chucked us out into the carpark. That safe caesarean nearly left Josie without a mother.
You are a bunch of total and utter fuckwits without the sense you were born with. You didn’t save my life, or my baby’s – but you’d like to think you did, with your smug “you were quite poorly there for a while” banter after you’d been reduced to injecting stuff directly in my arm to try and fix me. Two nice steady heartbeats in a labour room that ended up with me losing consciousness and pushing my baby away in an operating theatre. I fucking hate you. So much for safe – i’d have been better off rupturing in the labour room than bleeding all over the floor thanks to your nice, safe procedure. At least then you’d have rushed me in asleep and i wouldn’t remember it all; at least i wouldn’t remember hearing my husband leaving the room because he thought i’d gone. You didn’t save my life, you put it in danger.
So long as i live, i’ll never forgive myself for the danger i put myself in going to that place. I was so frightened, so tired, so anxious about another baby in the danger that Amelie was in at birth. I wanted to have another homebirth but Max was too afraid and i was too kind to push him. I don’t think he’d have had a worse experience at home if we’d tried. I was overdue, i’d been bullied for 2 weeks, i was worn out. I didn’t believe in myself anymore. Thanks to the meddling of that place, i don’t get any say in whether i ever get to have another child; thanks to protocol and procedure it’s 6 years since my husband looked at me in awe and told me how proud he was of me, and i’ll never get another chance now. Thanks to people who don’t believe that a woman can give birth without their help, i’ll never look back and consider i gave birth to my children, i’ve lost even what i gained from Maddy’s birth. And if i ever do have another, i’d rather do it in a cave. No one will ever persuade me that hospital is a safe place to have a baby. Even the slim belief i had that a caesarean is safer when all else fails is so far gone now that i’d laugh in the face of anyone who suggested it. Actually, were it not for the people who need me alive, i’d rather die than try it. And i don’t say that lightly, i’ve been here before. If there were only me, i’d have another and if no one needed me to survive, i’d take every risk rather than take the “safe option.”
So i’d lost the belief in my body to birth, but i think that through the fog i’m realising that i haven’t lost that so much as i’ve lost faith. I see myself as a failure, yet i can’t look back at that day and see where i failed, other than not do what i was told. I know we were both in good health, i know i’d been dilating fine but stopped for a while, i know i felt pushy but was only 6cm. I know i didn’t stand up because i was so exhausted – i should have moved. I was given the choice to. But why did no one say “You must!!!!” Why was it easier to let me fail? Why was it acceptable to say that as i hadn’t dialated anymore in a couple of hours, while asleep on my side and on pethidine, that i had to have a section, despite otherwise good progress and no signs of distress?
I did fail that day. I do know that i did. But it is so unbearably hard to know that my greatest failing was to trust a health professional and put myself in their hands. It nearly cost me everything. It’s cost me all my self-respect.