One Size Fits All (or How I Nearly Had a Disastrous Home Birth) (Huffington Post)

When I went into labour with Squidge it took me several hours to work out that it wasn’t just really bad Braxton-Hicks and that I wasn’t going to make it to my c-section date (booked for various health reasons).

So when the contractions suddenly started coming thick and fast and the pain in my back hit me like a train, I was doubled over in agony, vomiting in pain and screaming through each contraction because it hurt so much and I was absolutely terrified.

I had never known pain like it.

I had no idea what to do.

The Northern One recognised that my labour was far more advanced than we’d initially thought and so called an ambulance.

The first paramedic arrived in a fast response car and marched into the house leaving the front door wide open. Our bathroom is downstairs and the hall is quite short so anyone who walked past the front door had an unobstructed view of me in full blown labour.

Even through the cloud of pain and fear I could see that he was completely unimpressed at having been called out to an non-imminent delivery or ‘maternataxi’ even though it was fairly obvious that I was not in the very early stages.

He asked how long my contractions were lasting, how far apart they were and whether my waters had broken. On being told that my contractions were lasting about a minute, were approximately three minutes apart but that this had only been the pattern for the last 30 minutes and that my waters hadn’t broken he pronounced that I would be in labour for hours yet and that I was only in the early stages.

I also appreciate that paramedics aren’t given in-depth training into how to care for a woman in labour and that they are given algorithms to advise their decision making process. However, any properly trained medical professional knows that algorithms are not applicable in all situations and are not designed to replace independent thought and practice.

He reluctantly handed over the cannister of Entonox and the relief was so instantaneous that I sank to the floor, thanking a God that I don’t believe in for the respite from the pain. I could hear him asking the Northern One whether he was sure that I couldn’t travel to hospital in the car, despite having witnessed me simultaneously screaming, vomiting and sobbing minutes before.

Up until this point the Northern One had been incredibly calm and polite but he lost his temper, pointed to me hanging over the side of the bath trying to use the Entonox to breathe through a contraction instead of screaming and angrily asked whether it looked like I was capable of getting in the car.

He was nearly as scared as I was; finding himself in a situation far out of his control.

If Squidge’s arrival had been imminent he could have delivered him safely but apart from that his experience of child birth was limited to being medical student stood in the corner of the delivery room after the labouring woman had reluctantly agreed for him to be present.

At no point did this paramedic attempt to be at all calming or reassuring and was still incredibly reluctant to call for an actual ambulance to take me to the hospital. Instead he decided to tell the Northern One that he knew I was only in early labour and that I wouldn’t deliver for hours yet because his partner was 14 weeks pregnant with their first and so he knew what he was talking about.

After stating that his partner would never make so much fuss about being in labour and watching me scream for another few minutes he decided that he would actually call for an ambulance so I could get to hospital.

When the ambulance and two new paramedics arrived things didn’t get an awful lot better. I was now either contracting or vomiting and still sobbing as I was in almost constant pain but instead of being treated with the smallest scrap of empathy I was instead told to ‘Stop that silly screaming’.

The entire way to the hospital the paramedic sat in the back with me did not say a word. I may not have looked particularly approachable with my eyes screwed shut and a death grip on the Entonox but I was alone and terrified. The Northern One wasn’t with me as he was driving the car with my hospital bags packed into the boot.

When we got to the hospital still neither of the paramedics spoke to me apart from to berate me from using up the entire cannister of Entonox. Instead of demonstrating to them that I was in a huge amount of pain they told me that I was being ridiculous and that having used up the cannister was completely excessive.

It was probably only a few minutes until we got to the labour ward and I was given more Entonox but it felt like hours and I bit the mouthpiece so hard to deal with the pain and not scream that I could feel my jaw grinding.

What those three paramedics probably don’t know was that Squidge arrived within half an hour of my arrival on labour ward and that he was born with the umbilical cord wrapped tightly around his neck. I had to stop pushing so that the midwife could release the cord but he was still born completely blue, the paediatric emergecy team were called and Squidge didn’t make any effort to breathe for several minutes.

If the paramedics had waited any longer to take me to the hospital or if we’d become caught in traffic I could well have delivered him in the ambulance and the outcome could have been very different. I couldn’t have told them that I needed to push or how dilated I was; I had no idea I was pushing or that I was fully dilated until the midwife told me so.

Instead of the bright, cheeky, healthy little boy he is today Squidge could well have suffered from oxygen deprivation and developed cerebral palsy or any number of disabilities.

He may even have died; in an ambulance parked the side of the road before his Daddy even got to meet him.

One size does not fit all.

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Louise is a full time mum and a part time neonatal nurse who has battled depression for many years but particularly during her pregnancy. She lives with her husband (the Northern One) their little boy (Squidge) and their three guinea pigs who live in the kitchen.

Louise blogs at 23weeksocks (http://23weeksocks.com) about lots of different (and seemingly unconnected) topics that she’s passionate about, including mental health, antenatal depression, neonatal care and baby loss.

In 2015 she was shortlisted in the ‘Fresh Voice’ category for the BIB (Brilliance in Blogging) Awards and the ‘Bereavement Worker’ category for the Butterfly Awards. She was also one of the keynote speakers at BritMums Live reading’Twinkle Twinkle’ which was her account of caring for a premature baby on the day that he died.

23 thoughts on “One Size Fits All (or How I Nearly Had a Disastrous Home Birth) (Huffington Post)

  1. Tara says:

    What awful treatment. I can certainly relate. I try not to think about it too much as it’s so upsetting to think what might have been but I now realise that only by bringing it out in the open can we hope to change it. Great post, as usual.

    Like

    • blopmamma2014 says:

      In all honestly I should have made a complaint at the time but I was so wrapped up in trying to be a mum that I just didn’t do it. Hopefully by sharing other women will feel able to stand up for themselves and their partners will feel more confident in being their advocates.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Caroline (Becoming a SAHM) says:

    Oh my goodness!!! I was on he edge of my seat reading, I can’t believe they treated you like that _ I am sure there are some women who are OTT or who don’t need an ambulance but thank goodness you and the northern one persisted and that all turned out so well. As you say, it could eaily have been a very different story! thanls for linking with #MaternityMondays

    Like

    • blopmamma2014 says:

      The Northern One doesn’t like to talk about it because he knows how different it could have been. Any well trained HCP should know that one size doesn’t fit all but sometimes it seems that they don’t.

      Like

  3. Mummy Tries says:

    Holy mozers that is a truly terrifying story. I’m in shock that the first paramedic was so unhelpful and said his partner would not be making a fuss (because as we all know 14 weeks of pregnancy is *just* like giving birth!!)

    Really pleased that you got to the hospital in time, and Squidge was born safely xx #thetruthabout

    Like

    • blopmamma2014 says:

      It was terrifying at the time and but I was concentrating so hard on getting through each contraction as it came that I didn’t really know what was happening. I do sometimes wonder how he and his partner got on and whether he remembers us at all.

      Like

  4. Tim says:

    What a horrendous experience – glad to hear it ended up with a healthy Squidge. It reminds me of how lucky we were that our three births – one planned home birth, another planned home birth delivered successfully by me when it all kicked off before the midwife could get to us and a planned home birth that turned into an unplanned hospital birth – all went off without any major hitches.

    Like

  5. laurababykicks says:

    What a horrific experience and awful care. I am so glad that squidge is OK. It makes me thankful that although both my births were dramatic as could be the hospital staff were sympathetic, kind, understanding and CALM! #MBPW

    Like

  6. carry on katy says:

    Wowsers!!! Your labour sounds similar to mine…like the speed of light! I had the same deal too where the midwife didn’t believe how much pain I was in and told me to ‘go for a walk’ for a while. I ignored her and the baby was out in 20 minutes. If I had listened, my baby would have been born in the Cost Cutters next door to wormwood scrubs prison!…and who knows who’d have delivered him!!!
    #twinklytuesdays

    Like

    • blopmamma2014 says:

      Lordy me and I thought my delivery was quick 🙂
      My Mum always told me that the women of out family deliver babies ‘small, early and quickly’ but I didn’t really believe her until I was faced with my own baby. Thanks for reading.

      Like

  7. Not A Frumpy Mum says:

    What a shocking story and so sad that the paramedics treated you so badly. I think there are a few medical staff who sometimes view women in labour as being “overdramatic” but it is such a scary time, especially when things aren’t going according to plan. xx

    Like

    • blopmamma2014 says:

      Labour is indeed terrifying and I don’t think you can truly understand unless you’ve been there. I have never been less than empathetic towards the women I’ve met whilst they’re been in labour, even before I went through it myself.

      Like

  8. thenthefunbegan says:

    It’s so different for everyone – I guess that is why we find each other’s birth stories so compelling and why One Born Every Minute is so popular. It’s dreadful that you were treated with practical contempt – just because giving birth is a part of ordinary life, it’s certainly not ordinary when it’s happening to you for the first time and can be absolutely terrifying. People should learn to be a little more sensitive to others at times like this. #thetruthabout X

    Like

    • blopmamma2014 says:

      I do think that some healthcare professionals could do with a bit more ‘compassion training’, especially when it comes to pregnancy and birth.
      I wouldn’t have dreamed of treating one of my patients the way I was treated by those paramedics.

      Like

    • blopmamma2014 says:

      It does make you wonder sometimes. I did consider putting in a complaint but I was so worn out with newborn Squidge that I just never managed to get round to it. Thanks for reading.

      Like

  9. Caro | The Twinkles Mama says:

    Wow — so glad that this tale had a happy ending. It just goes to show that gut instinct is sometimes better than medical ‘knowledge’ — good job your husband was on the ball enough to see that your labour was fairly advanced. Unbelievable that you were told to ‘stop that silly screaming’. I would have lodged a complaint — that kind of treatment is appalling. Thanks so much for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday x

    Caro | http://www.thetwinklediaries.co.uk

    Like

    • blopmamma2014 says:

      I did consider lodging a complaint but I was so worn out with having a newborn that I just never managed to get round to it. I wonder now whether I should have tried harder to get it done. Thanks for reading.

      Like

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