I was supposed to have a home birth. My contractions started on the Tuesday at 1am, but they were far apart, at 5am I could no longer sleep and the contractions were coming at soft regular intervals. Gary left for work and I told him things might be happening but I’ll monitor for a while and let him know. I phoned the midwife and she insisted I go to see her. Gary and I got all excited and we travelled 2 hrs away to see the midwife even though she had said before that I won’t have to travel she will come to me – she insisted I must make the journey to her office, When we got there my contractions were more uncomfortable and I didn’t feel nice standing in the reception with people staring at me. She made us wait 2 hours before she saw us. then she said yes you’re in labour and proceeded to parade me in front of people and say look this is how you look when you are in labour, I was embarrassed, but just grinned and bore it, after all, I’m in labour my baby is coming soon. She said we must go for a walk on the beachfront. All I wanted to do was be at home in my private sanctuary, but the midwife must know best right? Eventually we went home and chatted and laughed and waited for her to come, she called ahead and said Gary should fill up the birth pool.
Later that evening she stopped by my house, she checked me and said I was 1cm and said I must rest and she will be nearby walking around a mall and to call when I’ve rested. I couldn’t sleep so I called her 45min later and she shouted at me to go to bed and she will see me the next day she’s in bed. I had been worried about her walking around in a shopping centre like she said she was going to and wouldn’t have called her if I knew she went home. So all night I’m stressed and Gary is stressing and making me stressed and I’m up all night getting very little rest. I dropped my phone in the toilet while I was having a contraction and I couldn’t use it (clever me had only saved her number to that phone) it wouldn’t work. Finally in the morning it had dried and was working again.
She phoned in the morning but wouldn’t let me speak she just said I’m coming to fetch my equipment I’ll be there later, I said but and got cut off. I wanted to tell her that I’d been up all night, I wanted some reassurance. She walked in the door and immediately presented an invoice for prodromal labour without checking me or talking to me. I didn’t understand what prodromal labour was. She loaded up her equipment and says the baby should be here by the weekend, I didn’t know what was going on, Gary was stressing out and didn’t know what was going on, she then as an afterthought checked me and said oh still 1cm. She told Gary to go to work, but he was worried so he stayed around and we took long walks, I climbed many stairs, I was still not tired though, but getting a bit tired from time to time. Contractions were on/off irregular and I’m in labour right, this isn’t supposed to take so long.
Thursday I still haven’t got sleep contractions are irregular but strong enough to keep me awake, Gary goes to work (I’m still feeling fine) gets crapped on by his bosses for not taking me to hospital and to get me inline so he goes off on me that I am going to the gynae TODAY and blablabla I said you know 9/10 women who give birth in hospital here have c/section so if we go in that is going to happen – yes he wants to go in. Stupid me relents and we get to gynae he shoves half his hand up my vag with gloves on but no lube nothing not gentle just fast shove and I felt like he was playing with my tonsils intense intense pain. He then puts the monitor on me for 5 seconds and says baby is in distress your fluids are low, go have lunch and you are having a c/section today. I argue. He says I have protein in my urine but won’t show me proof. Gary decides we are not leaving without a baby and he wants me under hospital contol so signs me in (-im so shocked and stressed and tired now and vulnerable)
so after lunch I’m still fighting that I want to go home I’m having a panic attack because of the hand shove up my vag incident and my bp starts to rise because of all the stress so now they refuse to let me go. I’m trying desperately to remain calm so I don’t stress the baby out. I don’t want the baby to be hurt. The doula texted me to ask if I want her there, but I didn’t know her so no I don’t want some stranger with me in this anxious time, she never knew what my birth plan was and I didn’t want to inconvenience her because when she came to my house to introduce herself the midwife was there and all they talked about was HER pregnancy and HER morning sickness and how SHE is coping and what SHE is doing, she never asked me any questions, or really talked to ME. So no I didn’t want her there, I didn’t want someone who I will feel sorry for because she is tired and sick, I had enough to worry about.
The nurse took a urine sample and I asked her if there was protein in it, she said no. Then she changed her mind when the gynae came in later and said oh no she never said there wasn’t protein in my urine, the gynae said there is protein in your urine, so I asked for my blood results, which they gave to me and left, nobody would explain it to me, so I didn’t know what the words or figures meant. The nurse said to ask the gynae, but the gynae said he is busy, and I have pre-eclampsia but could not show me proof of it.
So this nurse shaves me and I asked can I do it because I’m a private person and felt violated but she ignored me just did it, I was battling to keep my panic under control and asked if I can take my rescue and they said yes but nothing else. I slipped a sweet into my mouth too just as a chance to give my baby some sugar so that he would get some sugar and not be low on sugar when he arrived. They let us go walk around outside to catch our breath, I was terrified Gary was terrified but he was excited to be meeting our baby soon. I felt defeated and broken and empty. They made me strip off my bottom half naked for all those people to see, I am extremely private I felt utterly violated.
Just before the operation the gynae blackmailed Gary to give him R3000 cash – he said to ensure the operation goes smoothly and everyone is happy, but we didn’t have R3000 cash so said we will give it to him the next day, when he came the next day I requested a proper tax invoice – he then brought back a handwritten invoice (the first page out of a bought invoice book) it had no details on, no practice number, nothing, I have kept it. I asked for a proper tax invoice with all details on, which he could not provide so we didn’t pay it). I tried reporting him for this but the Netcare helpline would not take my statement, they said Drs can charge whatever they want to, however they want to.
When I was taken to the surgery the anesthetist is in a foul mood and screams and shouts at the nurse for giving him the wrong drip bag but it wasn’t the wrong drip bag, the hospital standard drips had changed and he refused to believe her throwing the drip down on the ground and calling her stupid and ignorant and she is in tears because he is so vindictive and his arms are raised and his whole demeanor was so violent then he does my epidural and I am terrified because a man in a horrible mood is sticking a needle into my back, he gives too much anaesthetic so I can’t breathe I can’t feel my lungs, I am trying so hard to hold it together for my baby, don’t stress the baby, and then the nurse put the catheter in pushing my legs so wide open, I’m left open for the world to see. I can’t breathe, I can’t see what is happening, I just need to be calm the baby can’t be born under stress. I try hold it together but I burst into tears and they scold me for crying because I should be happy, I am about to become a mother. Inside I am dying. They cut me open, They dig and yank and tug and pull and I feel like my whole being is being abused. I strain my ears and try breathe, I want to hear his first cry, but all I hear is the suction machine. I didn’t hear his cry.
They let me kiss my son’s forehead and I shielded his eyes from the unnatural glare so that he could see me. Then they ask his name and I say Caden. His name is Caden (we weren’t sure if we wanted to name him Caden or Ethan) and then they whisked him away to be put in the warmer. I asked how long before I can see him and they said 2 hours. I don’t remember being stitched up I just remember feeling empty, like my life had been ripped out of me. When the nurses moved me onto the bed to go to recovery the anesthetist said to me ‘the nurses dropped the last patient on the floor’ he said some other stuff, but it was all belittling the nurses and humiliating them. The one nurse was in tears and I reached out and squeezed her arm and the anesthetist saw that and then said ‘oh I was just joking’ I needed oxygen for an hour because I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t feel my lungs. I lay there paralyzed I couldn’t move my toes, I willed them to move I willed the feeling back, I was so badly petrified and so scared. I was also badly worried about my baby, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t rest, I just kept asking how much longer. Gary went with to keep an eye on Caden but he would come back to check on me so he was running between us all the time.
When 2 hours was finished they wouldn’t bring him, they kept him for 2 and a half hours, Gary had to plead with them to let me see him. I was finally allowed to have him back I was so drugged up but refused to sleep because I was so worried about him I don’t remember the first breastfeed, all I know is he took to it like a champ and we did well.
Gary needed to leave and get the house cleaned and get some food and rest. They took my baby boy to the nursery and said they will bring him for feeds. The first night I wasn’t allowed to get up because of the catheter and I could hear my baby screaming his head off (they wouldn’t let me keep him) two hours I kept pressing the buzzer dingdong dingdingdong (that was in my head for weeks after) then finally they came and I demanded to get him I said I can HEAR my baby crying – he was so hysterical. The nurse then grabbed my boob because he was so anxiously hungry he was battling to latch and she yanked my boob and his head together. I told her to back off and I have it under control. She would not listen and I had to tell her several times. She eventually backed off. Then came back as soon as he had eaten and took him away. They brought him to me again when I asked for him and he wasn’t interested in feeding and spit up some white liquid, so I said to the nurse if I find out they have formula fed him I will take it further, he never spat up white again and was good at nursing. He nursed every hour and they tried to persuade me to give him formula and get some rest but I refused and said if he wants to feed every half hour I will feed him every half hour.
The next morning the nurse came to take the catheter out and clean me and check my bleeding. The nurse who had to wash my vag and check for bleeding had the most disgusted look on her face she looked gagworthy and I begged her to let me clean myself because I was so mortified and humiliated at her disgust, she just gave me a dirty look and carried on
Then Gary came and said his mom and Roy were coming soon to see Caden, I needed to pee for the first time since the catheter was out and I got up and blood gushed out of me in a huge puddle on the floor and Gary freaked out and was so worried about them seeing a bloody mess he was just getting paper towels and cleaning while I went into the shower and peed there because I was covered in blood and couldn’t sit on the toilet with blood everywhere, then I passed out in the shower and then the nurse got irritated that she had to clean the blood and when I came to the nurse was looking at me lying in the shower and just told me to get up and get myself to bed and try not to bleed all over the place. She didn’t help me.
Every time I tried to change his nappy the nurse would come running into the room and elbow/shove me out the way forcefully I said I have changed many nappies in my life and know how but she ignored me and pushed me away then would bundle him up and take him away. The nurses refused to let me have him longer than for him to eat unless Gary was there then they would let him stay a little bit longer. I stopped trying to ring the nurses when I would hear his cry because they wouldn’t come, so I would just get up and go fetch him. Eventually when they would take him away I would follow him to the nursery and sit there as much as possible to be with him. I lost a lot of blood. They refused to give me clean sheets and left me with bloody sheets from Thu till Tue.
I walked in on one nurse in the nursery pinching a prem baby’s cheeks to make it scream. She had it sitting on the table and holding its neck with one hand and pinching its cheek really hard with the other. she looked up at me with an evil smile on her face and then walked over to my baby and looked at me in an I dare you fashion.
I hardly slept. I was terrified for my baby every waking hour. I was weak and sick and had no support whatsoever..they stole my sweets that my family had sent me.
They bathed him in scalding water – I said I want to bath my baby but as soon as I would get in the shower or get a nap in they would bath him and bring him to me red as a lobster and looking traumatized and distant. He would shut down and sleep for hours after his bath. The last day the pediatrician noticed that he was sniffly, so he said not to bath him that day, they bathed him and brought him to me red, then they said they need to bath him again in front of me so that I can see how to do it, I said he already got a bath and the pediatrician said not to bath him again, they then changed their statement and said he had not been bathed yet and they will not release us without showing me how to bath him. They let me watch them bath him and he was screaming so bad I reached in the water to soothe him and burned my hand.
The gynae stitched me with nylon stitching he told me in recovery that I would need to get the stitch removed after 10 days. On the last day in hospital the nurse came to ‘clean’ my wound, she took the dressing off cut off the stitch at the skin and put a new dressing on and told me not to remove the dressing for a week. She didn’t wash or clean it so it got infection after infection until my body eventually pushed it out enough for me to pull it out in the shower months later. He also stitched my uterus with nylon, so 1.5 years later a bundle of nylon stitches worked it’s way out of my vag.
the doctor and paediatrician released me at 10am on the tuesday but the nurses refused to give me my baby until 3pm. The stood over me while I filled in the form and they had my baby, so I had to put that it was a good experience because they were ‘helping’ me fill it in.
When I told Netcare all this they didn’t believe me because my card said that the hospital stay was fine they said I could have called the matron or filled in the form saying unsatisfactory, but I said the matron was standing there she was covering for the nurses.. they all covered for each other
All they did to me is nothing, nothing compared to burning a brand new little baby. how could they do that.
My midwife hadn’t even bothered to see how I was doing, she didn’t help, nobody helped. Everyone failed me and my baby boy. She didn’t even come herself to fetch the last of her equipment but sent her husband instead. I was angry at being betrayed and let down so badly.
I focused on my baby, I focused on trying desperately to recover, I was ill and exhausted.
When I got home there was a house full of people, they ooh’d and aaah’d over Caden and then left. I took some pain medication which the gynae had prescribed which was not the same as the medication I had been receiving in the hospital and it was too strong, I didn’t even wake to hear my baby and when I did wake I was in shock and didn’t know where I was or who I was. I panicked and sobbed. I didn’t take anything other than panado after that.
My baby then screamed not cried, screamed in pain for 9 months, I took him to see 6 pediatricians, 3 doctors, they didn’t believe me until I took video evidence and they were forced to start looking for what was causing him pain. He slept 3 hours every 24 hours for 9 months and not solid sleep, the most was 15 min stretches. He had MRI/CT scans, Blood tests, X-rays, reflux meds, all manner of tests and trials. We were at the end of our coping ability, I lost half my hair and Gary and I had no support anywhere. Finally a specialist pediatrician in Johannesburg discovered that he had ear problems and we had grommits put in and for the first time he actually cried like a normal baby and has been getting better since (although we had to have the grommits put in again and have his tongue tie cut)
I had severe PTSD and PPD because of it now I just have PTSD but without the 30 min long 3 x a day flashbacks. I had to go to therapy because I was not coping. I tried so hard to protect myself by getting as much knowledge as possible and trying for a home birth, but my worst fear happened and not only that but the level of abuse has left me emotionally absent, I was let down by myself, and everyone who I trusted.
It has been nearly two years and this is the first time I’ve been able to write it all down. I will never be able to forgive myself for what those nurses did to my baby boy, I will never be able to forgive myself for trusting the medical profession. I now do not trust any medical person, I question everything, I get 6th/7th/8th opinions if it doesn’t sit right with me. I will never ever trust a medical person again. And I would rather die than be put through a c/section again and re-live this. I have re-lived this enough times.
I will never trust my ‘support system’ again. I trust only God and myself now.
Everyone (Doctors, pediatricians, husband) tried to blame his crying on my breastfeeding but I refused to give up breastfeeding. I knew it was not me causing his pain. I was just worried that the nurses at that hospital had done something to him causing the screaming. The breastfeeding was his only comfort and I was not going to take that away from my baby boy who was in pain.