This isn’t a birth story…but it is graphic, and you may not fancy reading it. That’s cool, scroll on by-it’s not always helpful to read everything or to hear every story. It doesn’t necessarily mean you are missing out on something vital…this is where I bleurgh out my thoughts and process all my crap-some of this will not be interesting or relevant.
But on the 70th Birthday of the NHS, I wanted to share the moment I encountered all that is wonderful about the National Health Service. When the NHS stood by me, cared for me, held my dignity and personhood together when I felt just a bit broken.
It is not the moment I gave birth to my daughter, although the midwives, surgeons, anaesthetists, nurses, ODPs, porters, HCA’s, consultants and paediatricians were all incredible and did life saving work-but it was not that moment.
I don’t have a lot of emotional memory from the day my daughter was born…I was so pumped full of drugs that the whole thing seems a bit detached from me (and sometimes that makes me sad and most the time I am mainly just grateful). I was a bit of a space cadet, flying high on morphine and all of her friends that I was very relaxed.
Fast forward 9 hours, when I realised I had a baby and I saw her properly for the first time-and then I became a bit of a mess-those photos are not pretty and that experience though sacred because that was when I met my daughter were also savage.
An hour later, when feelings were flooding through me with relentless speed and I could now just about walk…I went to the loo to wash my face and as I was shuffling back I felt liquid just pour out of me which was unexpected because I had a catheter in (sorry its not pretty but these are the joys of a postpartum body).
I stopped, paralysed by the sight of this pool of blood on the floor and for the first time in this whole 24 hour process I was scared. Bleeding after birth is completely normal but with the section, baby in neo-natal care, expressing milk out of me like I was cow and the many drugs I hadn’t really thought about what the ‘normal’ trajectory for my body was.
It was 1am I was standing in a corridor, really scared and unsure what to do and calling for my husband to get someone. He came back seconds later with this incredible Filipino woman who was about half my height and a quarter of my width. She guided me back to bed and cleaned me up. She held my hand and reassured me it was normal and treated me with such kindness, talked to me about my baby. Her words and actions reminding me that however nervous and confused I was about all that was happening and would happen, I was a mum now and I could do it. She encapsulated care in my time of need. I will never forget that moment in the middle of the night, where I was physically the biggest I hope I will ever be but also the most vulnerable and overwhelmed.
That lady restored some sense of dignity (mainly in the form of a giant adult nappy-gosh who’d have thought that would bring dignity!!)
This is the NHS it isn’t ideal and there are mistakes that have huge consequence and damage but there are also many more little moments that equally have life transforming effects. That listening ear, that surgeons skill, the patience and perseverance and the love.
I have needed to see women’s physios (thank the Lord for these sweet angels who are helping me save my pelvic floor) and gynaecologists since having my daughter. It is not the ‘bounce back’ story that some people desire for but its my story of reconnecting my body and mind…of keeping my marriage together and my identity restored.
I am forever grateful for their talent and their kindness which are needed in equal measure. That is what makes the NHS beautiful, that is what we are paying an fighting for.