Saturday, 18 September 2010

The day I fought and won - or did I?

I dunno what it is lately - I just haven't had the inclination to blog... Maybe seeing people tragically over-sharing on Facebook in bids for sympathy/jealousy/gratuity/acceptance has just about put me off the whole over-sharing malarkey - even if I am doing so under a pseudonym (and have ditched facebook for so many reasons). I guess like everything you fall in and out of love with things - but the other day when I thought of writing, it felt like a chore, when all I wanted to do was lie down, stuff myself with pancakes and indulge in yet another Tim Riggins bonanza.

Maybe I just haven't had anything to say... But that all changed on Tuesday when I had my 28 wks preggers appointment with a consultant at the hospital - where we'd talk about my 'birth plan' Now those who are no stranger to my blog will know I don't do birth - I should, I know, it is the ultimate experience in womanhood - but I watched a video in biology class in about 1985/6 and ever since I saw hairy Mary almost splayed in half squeezing out pure horror - I have had one hell of a phobia. To the point I saw my doc before I even got pregnant back in 2005 and said 'how can you help me?'

Anyway Sproglet came out through a blissful C section and I'm due another this time around. However, lucky me, at the appointment I'd just got a Dr straight from an NHS directive meeting encouraging women to have normal births - even after sections - so he had his little band wagon to jump on. Even though he seemed lovely - wide smile, caring voice, calm manner - the minute we got onto chatting about how this one would come out - he had an agenda. I explained in great detail - the video, my phobia, my long crusade during my last fretful pregnancy to secure a section - baby in breach, all that jazz. He nodded. He cared. I let out a long sigh. I knew the score - it was my choice and one I had already made.

Then he began - with his offers of therapy, chats with community midwife, to try the natural birth thang etc etc - and you know what, I just couldn't face the thought of having to justify myself - AGAIN. My body shook - an involuntary response to such chats - and all I could say as the tears poured down my face was 'don't do this to me, please don't do this to me.'

Clearly the Dr thought I was a basket case. He stopped all attempts to co-erce me into birth, gave me a tissue and then tried to suggest that my phobia would be something that I passed onto my own kids - what if I had a daughter and I passed it onto her? Shouldn't I get help, now, while I could? Later I felt completely enraged - how dare this man make assumptions about how I would choose to bring up this imaginary daughter if I had one? As I told him, I don't plan to have any more kids, I'm never giving birth so why should I resolve this long standing fear? It is my fear - I own it, I get it is irrational, but hey, it isn't harming anyone else. Hell, I am in awe - complete awe - of any woman who has ever gone through birth - something I could never get my head round in a million years. Perhaps my Mother's gynaecological problems when I was growing up - culminating in a hysterectomy - also played a part in my squeamish-ness when it comes to lady bits.

Anyway - I reminded the Doc that C sections cost £3,500 whereas normal births only £1800 on the NHS - so perhaps money could be at the route of all this 'let's have less sections' directive. I also pointed out that we are having bigger and bigger babies these days, with better diets - so no longer are 6lb babies the norm - 8lbs is more regular - rather than the 5lb/6lb ers in my mum's day. 10lb babies aren't that irregular. Yet skelatorially - if there is such a word - we haven't evolved enough yet as a species to push such big babies out - which is why there are more and more emergency sections. In an article I read a while back - 8 out of 10 obstetricians would elect to have an elective section rather than try natural birth. Dr coughed uncomfortably and told me I was well researched. Then I hit him with a government funded study by the college of midwives in 2006 that's directive was purely to prove that birth was best - in a bid to get costs down in maternity wards - the costs of so many sections.

At the heart of every directive, every initiative - is a money saving ethos.

Dr relented, realised there was no point in trying and booked in my section - 6th Dec 2010 baby arrives. I read back over his notes later in my maternity book - describing me as 'agitated' and 'weepy' - 'physically and emotionally distressed' etc and all his great suggestions that I had 'refused.' He had his ass well covered. He wasn't taking the wrap for my choice - clearly he had tried. Yet he had failed to note I am demanding stitches and not staples for the operation. Too busy ticking his boxes I imagine.

The thing that annoyed me most from this whole experience, wasn't the fact as a healthy person who takes care of myself and who has worked bloody hard since at Uni and has paid every tax bill on time - that the one time I need help - a section, I am made to beg for it - no, what angered me was this man's character assumptions about me - and what my phobia will do to my family in years to come. How dare he! When I had mentioned that had I not been able to get section first time around, I would have got a loan and gone privately - he suggested I took this money (which I explained I didn't have - I said 'loan' Doc, as you clearly weren't listening) and re-directed it into therapy for such an 'extreme and deep rooted phobia.' This from a man - who will never have to give birth, who is busy ticking his boxes and dotting his i's and making women like me feel shit about themselves.

I may have won my section, but it wasn't without humiliation and having to justify my choices. Why can't women just choose? Why have we lost the right to the births that we want? Where's the fucking directive that lets us decide what works for us - as people, individuals and not just numbers/boxes?


Liz said...

That is soo interesting, because here, God help you if you want to have a natural birth. I mean, NO ONE wants you to. You have to fight against having a c-section costs more. And the doctors make more. And have less risks and lawsuits. My state has the lowest natural birth rates in the country and it's a big deal. Malpractice insurance in NJ is the highest in the country, too!

So come to NJ, my friend. Your c-section is totally cool here. In fact, we will think you made the best possible choice.

(I had an emergency C and have no actual opinion on what is better, because "better" is bullshit term and only applies to that situation and that moment. And I am so sorry you weren't treated with compassion and kindness. Hugs.)

Chaos said...

I think perhaps that doctor needs a Specialist's attention to treat his megalomania.

And a giant serving of Humility with liberal lashings of How-Dare-You-Impose-Your-Own-Opinions-On-Someone-Else and drizzled with F***offBastard!

Rose said...

Just came across your blog from 'The Girl Who'. I love this post, I think you are damn right. I'd been wondering if elective c-sections were possible, as I have a huge fear of pain. So it is possible. When I have babies, I am going to do the same. Thanks for writing this! Sorry you had to go through such humiliation with that pompous arse.

amanda said...

i just realised i hadn't seen any fb updates from you in i went to your blog...and found not only have you left facebook, you're up the duff!!! (clearly still b then btw!)
holy eff!
that's fabulous! how can i get ahold of you?
love and miss you xxxxx

Caroline said...

Oh this takes me back to being pregnant in 2006 a la NHS. The smiley-smiley midwife said that I was ''being given'' the choice to ''achieve'' the ''right birth for me''.

Wonderful, I said, beaming, I'd like an elective c-section.

Smile dims a bit. ''Oh no. We mean the choice to achieve a natural birth''.

24 hours of what can only be described as terrifying, vomit-inducingly painful (for the un-epiduraled part - husband managed to trap the ONLY ANAESTHETIST ON DUTY IN A GIANT TEACHING HOSPITAL and threaten him) and completely unproductive labour, some bright spark gynae I'd never met suggested it ''might be time to consider a section''. Then we all had a good laugh because my lovely little boy was born at well over 10lbs and had been breech!

Well done you for fighting your corner and OF COURSE it's all about penny-pinching and that's all. Nothing more, nothing less.