This was really hard to write but it was something that I needed to do. And I’d just like to add in a little disclaimer; I am very thankful for the NHS and the care I received. I know that labour and delivery can be complicated and some times things need to be done that are not nice for the mother or the baby. I think midwives are amazing. I just need to come to terms with my experience. Thank you for understanding x
10th May 2019
Immediately after my appointment at the Breast Clinic (everything is fine!), I took a walk to a familiar building at the hospital. A building that serves as a bittersweet reminder. A place, and a time, that I need to find peace with.
The Gledhow Wing at St James Hospital, Leeds, houses a maternity ward. I ended up giving birth to my son in there. I still don’t understand why the Leeds General Infirmary sent me there after being in there for two days, but never the less, that’s where my waters were broken and that’s where I pushed my baby into the world.
So, here’s the thing, if you don’t already know. There are parts of my labour I found quite traumatic (not the Midwives fault), and there are parts of my experience in the post natal ward that I found really, really upsetting. There was some things that happened in there that triggered my PTSD and I still think if it wasn’t for the lovely Scottish Midwife who consoled me on the day we went home, I would have developed Post Natal Depression. I felt trapped, fearful I was failing, in a lot of pain, I had a midwife be quite nasty to me on a few occasions and as childish at that sounds, it was incredibly upsetting.
The thing about labour is that I knew that it is an unpredictable experience and as long as you and your baby are safe and well at the end of it, then that’s what really matters. But here’s the thing; even if you’re prepared for anything to happen, I don’t think you can even anticipate how it will feel when things go wrong. And I’m not sure why my experience in the post natal ward was so awful, maybe I was so oversensitive, but it affected me greatly. But I won’t delve into retelling that story here.
This is about me making peace with the past.
When I look at the Gledhow Wing building, it fills me with longing and heartache, for what might have been or could have been. Granted things could have been worse, but in many respects, things could have been better.
I would love to get those days back, those first days of my son’s life, but they have gone. And when I think about them, I could cry my heart out. I feel anguish and… I don’t know how to articulate it… I feel like something was stolen. An experience I should have had. The way it was meant to be. The heartache that it was so very miserable and painful. I am different now; I am more fierce and educated. I would be able to stand up for myself, but then, I was beyond vulnerable and I could not. Things just weren’t right and one of the midwives, in the post natal ward, was so horrible to me.
I’d like to forgive her.
I don’t know her name. I just remember her face, what she did, and how it made me feel. I don’t know anything about her. I don’t know why she was the way she was with me. I don’t know if she was like that with anyone else. It isn’t right. I don’t know if she was going through things that made her the way she was. I won’t condone what she did even if she was, but I forgive her anyway.
She was just one of them in there. Everyone else I came across was at least trying to help, was nice, was doing the best they could despite being overworked in an understaffed environment. I cannot only focus on what she did. I must focus more on what they did. They tried and that matters.
And recalling that morning that lovely Scottish midwife came and sat with me, as I was sobbing, and said everything right. She made me realise I wasn’t already failing at motherhood, that breastfeeding isn’t everything, that I would feel better when I got home, and if not, there was help out there. She consoled me. She gave me the permission I needed. It sounds daft but there was some shaming going on in there about the fact that I wasn’t producing anything as they insisted I was (trust me, I’d been expressing colostrum since I was 37 weeks pregnant), and my hungry child and I were in so much distress because of it. It was so hard. It was heartbreaking for me. But she made me feel better. I sent her a card with a very long note inside thanking her for what she did. As well as the midwife who was with me through the majority of my labour, she was awesome. She only slightly laughed at my worry that I might close back up if they turned off the syntocinon drip (when I was fully dilated) and I respect her for that. I would have laughed at me HARD.
But the midwife who was accusatory, who was mean on several occasions, who took my child from me in such a passive aggressive manner that I cried myself to sleep that night, who awoke me by thrusting my newborn onto my breast whilst I was sleeping with a sharp “he needs feeding” despite me wanting to give him formula. She who triggered my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to flare up. I forgive you. I hope you’re better now.
But as I sit outside the building, and appreciate that many people were currently getting precious glimpses at their unborn child, that many people were listening to their babies heartbeats, that many people were in labour, about to meet their babies, or soaking up that new baby feeling. That’s beautiful. On the flip side, others were meeting heartbreak and that is far worse than what I went through. All the Hyperemesis Gravidarum, all the breadline struggles, all the labour trauma, and the experience on that ward… it was all worth it. I would much rather experience that stuff than that heartbreak. I knew the moment that they placed my son in my arms, that everything was worth it and I’d go through it again for him. He was worth it.
If I’m lucky. If I’m blessed. If I am, I’ll get another chance. I’ll have another baby. I hope it goes better than it did with Reuben. But I have to be thankful and adjust my perspective.
At the end of my pregnancy, I held a healthy baby in my arms. His face wasn’t wrinkled up like the babies I have seen on One Born Every Minute and he was beautiful. I was expecting a ten pounder, so a 8lb 6oz baby seemed very small. He was perfect. I felt the rush of love for him immediately. I breastfed him whilst the sunrise broke light over a brand new world. It felt like a new world. My son had been born, but I had been reborn as a mother. Life was changed forever and I was thankful and felt euphoria.
Despite regretting going ahead with an induction I knew I didn’t truly need, I need to let it go. It’s okay. I’d have gone through anything to have had my son born safely into this world and things could have been worse. So I am letting that go. I forgive myself for that. I’ve been so angry at myself knowing I MIGHT have avoided that trauma, but ultimately, it’s a might. There’s no good in focusing on ‘what ifs’. There’s no good in blaming. So secondly, I forgive myself for it. At the time, it was the decision that was right for me. I didn’t want to be pregnant a moment more with all the sickness and acid reflux, the pains and the endless discharge… all the fun stuff, you know. It was right at the time.
Forgiving, is hard, and sometimes, it’s something you don’t have to do. But for me, in this instance, I forgive. Myself and those who let me down. Because there’s no point in harbouring such negative emotion and focusing on what went wrong. For a good few months after his birth, my experience with Reuben’s birth was so painful to look back on, that I’d cry. I couldn’t even attempt to breastfeed without the memories rushing back and I couldn’t handle it. But that’s okay. Reuben’s thriving. I am doing my best as a mother. So nearly 18 months later, it’s time to let it go.
And this is how I have found peace with Reuben’s birth.
Thank you for reading my post,
Love, Rebecca xo