My husband and I decided it was time to give our daughter a little brother or sister. We both felt it was good to have siblings; it teaches us how to share, compromise and gives us someone we can lean on for support as we grow into adults.
We had managed very well with our first child and thought it would be the same with our second.
We couldn’t have been more wrong. The pregnancy started with the normal symptoms of morning sickness and tiredness. I looked for books to share wisdom, on how to cope with pregnancy while still looking after your other child or children. There weren’t any.
You can’t sleep as much as you need when you have to take care of your other child. Feeling sick and vomiting all the time, doesn’t excuse you of your duties as mother and wife.
Oh well, you think. It is just for the first three months, and then everything will be fine.
Then things start to get worse, not better: the pain starts. I go to the hospital that is meant to be there for women’s health and births, only to be ignored. I say I am feeling a great deal of pain. I am told that is because I am pregnant. I explain that I have been pregnant before and this is the first time I have experienced this level of discomfort; could they please check if everything is okay. The answer is no, they are sure everything is fine and just go home and rest.
Well this continues for the rest of the pregnancy. I am so ill. I ask my family if they can come over and watch my daughter so I can get some rest. The answer is no. I ask my husband to stay home, but of course he needs to work. I am lucky on a couple of occasions with my mother in law, who makes time for me, but she also works fulltime.
I go back again and again to the hospital and they won’t even take my temperature. They check that the baby’s heart is beating, which it is, and that is good enough for them. I know that the baby is important but I would expect that the mother has some value to offer.
I call on all of my friends that I have helped many times in the past. To my shock they are all too busy to help. I become so depressed, so angry and a little hysterical. I am so sick and no one is listening.
I begin begging my husband to stay home and help me. I go to the hospital again and when the doctor won’t take my temperature, I just break down and cry. The doctor turns to my 3years old and asks her to tell her mother to calm down!
I have lost all faith; I genuinely fear that if something goes wrong with the birth, this hospital won’t help me.
I have become so angry that I yell at my husband, when he has his friends over for his band rehearsal. They don’t ask if I am okay. They go off and say bad things about me, and think of how hard it is for their friend with the crazy wife.
I have become invisible. The hospital says I am fine, so to everyone I must be fine.
I am not fine.
Out of desperation I ring a different hospital. I say I am due in eight days can I please have my baby with you. I am so afraid I will die if I have my baby at the hospital that is meant to specialise in births.
The wonderful midwife says of course, we will try and get you an appointment with the doctor. If you go into labour before the appointments just come on in, we won’t send you away.
I am so relieved and so lucky to have my baby at the new hospital. Of course I am right, there are complications. I was indeed sick through my pregnancy with a bladder infection that was never treated, so I ended up with bladder reflux. My bladder was so big and swollen that my uterus couldn’t contract down after giving birth.
I would like to add that giving birth didn’t hurt anything like the pain I was experiencing during pregnancy. Giving birth was the easiest thing I had done in the last ten months. After giving birth the pain returned, and I lost a lot of blood because the uterus couldn’t contract down. They realised I had bladder reflux. They very quickly took care of this for me.
Unfortunately, because of this complication, a bacterium was able to enter my uterus and I became dangerously ill. This would not have happened if the previous hospital had just taken some tests. They would have realised I had an infection; given me antibiotics and none of this would ever have happened, including my very real mental breakdown.
But because of this gross lack of care, my husband and my mother-in-law raised my beautiful baby girl for her first three months, while I was in and out of hospital on intravenous antibiotics. It all resulted in my having to have a curette and exploratory surgery to make sure this hadn’t left me with pelvic inflammatory disease. This was a very risky procedure after having recently given birth.
During the procedure they found I hadn’t contracted pelvic inflammatory disease. I did however have a growth behind my left ovary, which they removed.
One of the things I lament most was not being able to breast feed my second daughter, especially when I had breast-fed my oldest girl until she was two and a half years old. This, including the original separation from my baby caused me to feel disconnected with her.
I knew I loved her and would do anything to keep her safe. But when I looked at her I felt like I was doing so through a sheet of glass. I would look at my oldest and feel that instant bond and connection, but when I looked at my baby, I felt disconnected.
Eight years have passed now, and I am glad to say my baby and I have bridged that original gap. But I still feel robbed of what should have been a beautiful beginning to her life.