Back in the early days of my pregnancy I interviewed every midwife practice in the city except for one (because I couldn’t get on the wait list there for an appointment). I knew right away that ONE practice was absolutely out of the question, because SHE was now working there, but I wanted to see what they were about anyway. Then I went to my old practice and mentioned the growth restriction and how I’d had to abandon my home birth. “That’s funny,” the midwife who was not at the practice 2 years ago said, “your records indicate the ultrasounds all came up fine.”
Cue Jim Carrey’s “re-he-he-heeeeelly” because that’s news to me. I was aware that Jules thought they were WRONG, but I didn’t know that they were all NORMAL. What the ever loving fuck?
Anyway, long story short, I went with a completely holistic practice also known as Midwife Interview #3. I then asked if I could see my pregnancy and birth records, because going to the hospital to request them seemed impossible for me at that point. I hadn’t gone through all my birth trauma counseling sessions yet, and I couldn’t even think about setting foot in that place just to REGISTER. So she photocopied them for me, handed them to my husband, and told him to read them first in case he felt there might be something that would upset me. She wanted me to have a stress-free pregnancy; totally understandable.
So for most of my pregnancy I was unaware (but very curious) of what was in those records.
Then a few weeks ago I finally saw them. Nothing triggered me because the trauma counseling helped me move past it all, but I DID get mad. Furious, actually.
BECAUSE FROM 37 WEEKS UNTIL 39 WEEKS, SHE KNEW THERE WAS NOTHING WRONG.
Was my son’s head larger than the rest of him? Yes. His head measured far ahead of the rest of his body, meaning that was the first part that was finished growing. His belly was obviously the last; he was still just putting on the weight at 35 weeks. But all the scans done over the course of that month, all FOUR additional scans, said GROWTH NORMAL.
GROWTH F***ING NORMAL!
Know what I heard at each appointment, every week, when SHE was on rotation and I inquired for the 100th time on how his growth was doing, and whether or not I could have a home birth because I REALLY didn’t want to be in the hospital?
“He won’t tolerate labor. He’s still in the 2nd percentile. He’s not big enough. Go for more tests if you don’t want to be induced. But you have to have him at the hospital so a pediatrician or another specialist can monitor him”.
And I f***ing believed her. I thought “she wouldn’t say this if there wasn’t a concern” and I went for more tests. I read up on c-sections and got overly anxious. I cried. I pleaded with my son to come out soon, because I just wanted this nightmare to end. I wanted it over and done with. And I was devastated that I had to be in the hospital.
I went through all that fear, all that pain, all that trauma, all that frustration and annoyance and irritation with the nurses and the hospital for not letting me leave right after the birth. I went through all that denial, the anger, the “well meaning” and “placating” comments of the family and friends who just didn’t get why I was so upset, because the hospital couldn’t have been “that bad” and “better safe than sorry” and “get over it already” FOR NOTHING.
Know what could have happened a WEEK after that follow up growth scan? At 37 WEEKS I could have learned that growth was normal; he was just really far down, and it messed with the fundal height, and his big head had thrown off the rest of the growth measurements, and he still had lots of time to put on weight. I could have learned that because there were NO issues with the cord or placenta that it was impossible for him to have a true growth restriction. At 37 weeks, I could have gone ahead and ordered the birth pool liner (the midwives had a pool for me to use) and gathered the last bit of supplies I needed. I could have gone ahead and had the beautiful home birth I’d envisioned. I could have pushed on my hands and knees, instead of semi-sitting (which I’ve since learned is JUST AS BAD as if I were flat on my back) and I likely would not have been stressed, fearful of being cut, and I certainly wouldn’t have suffered that tear. I would have spent the night home in my own bed, instead of lying in a semi-conscious state in that hospital bed while women down the hall screamed their babies out. I wouldn’t have re-lived the trauma of my birth in that “sleep”. I wouldn’t have had to fight nurses off in labor to just leave me alone because damn it, I already said NO three times to the blood draw and you’re STILL not leaving!
If I’d known what I know now, I could have spent those months enjoying my son, without constantly having that cloud of regret and anger hanging over his birth. I wouldn’t have had to recount every part that went “wrong”. I wouldn’t have become so obsessive over planning the next baby. I wouldn’t have approached two of my son’s birthdays with nightmares of the birth itself, and the anger and regret and despair wouldn’t have poisoned that month for me.
But she LIED.
I don’t know what her motivations for lying to me were and honestly I don’t care anymore. She had NO RIGHT to destroy that experience for me. NO REASON to tell me to keep going for tests when she KNEW we couldn’t afford to have my husband miss time from work. NO REASON to keep me in a constant state of anxiety (and she KNEW I was anxious) because I really, really, didn’t want to abandon my home birth. Hell, I planned to just not go into the hospital and just say I changed my mind; I didn’t know that policy would screw that up.
So I wrote a letter to the Registrar after I read the records. I filed a complaint, after two years, because I can no longer give her a pass. I used to wonder if maybe she didn’t know. Maybe the growth scans weren’t saying enough until 39 weeks when Jules called me?
Maybe there was that small chance they were right?
But no, the truth is in black and white, plain for me to see. My medical records are my proof that it wasn’t a “mistake”. It was a blatant lie, either to cover her ass or because she didn’t want to deal with a home birth first time mother, or for some other selfish reason that had nothing to do with actual necessity.
So I don’t care what trauma she’s dealing with. I don’t care one bit what this letter might mean for her professionally either. She screwed up, and it was deliberate. And you don’t f*** with me! You don’t put me through HELL for no good reason. You don’t LIE to me. You don’t ruin my ONE chance to have a beautiful first birth, my introduction to motherhood, unless there’s a legitimate medical reason.
I did not receive Respectful, Evidence Based Care from her. I did NOT have my right of Informed Consent. Instead I was told “this is what you have to do; just accept it. Don’t question it. I’m right, you’re wrong.” And because I didn’t know any better back then, I listened. And all I can say is that it’s not MY fault. It’s 100% on her, and I will NOT give her the benefit of the doubt anymore.
Here’s hoping the registrar gets back to me soon!