I just read my lovely friend Emma’s latest post on one of the most recent #MatExp campaigns, #NobodysPatient and felt compelled to write. I can feel months and months of frustration and anger and sadness bubbling under my skin as I sit here and I think WHY did I not see it? WHY did I not speak up? WHY did I allow myself to fall through the cracks? I am nobody’s patient. You could be nobody’s patient. Our daughters could be nobody’s patient. Changes are needed and that starts now.
During my fourth pregnancy, I battled with some demons. I started out so positive, so determined to make this pregnancy count. My last chance. I needed to get it right. I needed to settle a score. I needed to trust in my body and my abilities and I needed to see it through to the end. For me, that end was a vaginal birth. I can’t say ‘normal’ or ‘natural’ but I can say vaginal. I did not want to end up on an operating table, and I have so many reasons for that. Control. Choice. Power. I needed it all this time.
I was floored by HG, and I never really realised just how much it affected me. A friend recently commented that she barely saw me during my pregnancy and that is all down to the fear that seeped into my bones. I was literally terrified of being stranded somewhere, vomiting around strangers and wanting to curl into a ball far from home. I suffered anxiety attacks and all I wanted to do was hide away. I wasn’t poorly enough for hospital admission once the anti sickness meds kicked in, so I was nobody’s patient. Nobody’s concern. Nobody’s priority.
But what they couldn’t see was that inside, I was slowly grinding to a halt.
I wasn’t coming at this with three previously positive pregnancies under my belt. I was coming at this with the spectre of birth trauma ever looming over my head. Like a creeping monster it is always there. Always ready. Always willing. It will take me at any time and there is nothing I can do. It’s in my notes, but it’s invisible. I was nobody’s patient. A very weak VABC patient with shaky mental health suffering a HG pregnancy. Nobody’s patient.
And then IUGR. Then my baby was at risk. Then our world came tumbling down. This baby that I had fought to keep, fought to carry. This baby with whom I was already fiercely in love with. This baby. This baby might not make it. So many questions. So few answers. Would she make it out alive? Would she have special needs? Would she be in hospital for some time? Would she be transferred to the hospital where my son’s horrendous birth occurred? Would we be able to take her home? So many fears and doubts and tears.
I wasn’t put in touch with people like the Pregnancy Sickness Support charity. I had to find them myself.
I wasn’t referred to the VBAC clinic. I was turned away instead.
I wasn’t referred to the perinatal mental health team. I was ignored.
I wasn’t given any information or guidance on IUGR, or the neonatal unit, or SCBU. I was forced to google for the answers I needed.
I was nobody’s patient.
And people ask me why I share my story. Mainly, for me. So that I can look back and I can remember the small moments, the big moments. The things that are making me the person I am. But also because I was so alone. I was so scared. I was so so isolated. And I don’t want others to feel the same way. Because if there are more of us standing up and saying ‘I am nobody’s patient’ then surely change will have to happen. And we must fight to make sure that it does.
Please follow the #MatExp campaign on Twitter and see how you can get involved.