Dear Body, from the Head

Dear body,

It’s me again.

I owe you an apology.

Pregnancy was supposed to be healing for us.  It was supposed to be about how you and I had experienced a dreadful relationship when we were younger, and we were making amends.  It was supposed to be about how I was treating you with courtesy and kindness and you were doing your best.

You did do your best.

Gosh, body.  You were amazing.

Since discovering that the fruit of my womb was not in fact one person but twins, I’ve joined many online twin pregnancy groups on the internet.  I watched many of my peers give up work toward the end of the second trimester, become housebound, deliver early.  Not you.  You were a champ as you walked me a mile to the station every morning, commuted me into London daily until my thirty-seventh week.

Yes, it was uncomfortable but we did it, didn’t we?  I was proud of you.

Everybody was convinced that I would deliver early.  People who didn’t understand the implications of what they were saying assured me as early as twenty-three weeks that I looked like I could go at any time.  I watched this happen to many of my friends and I was terrified.

But it didn’t happen for us.  We trudged on.

The boys always measured well on the scans in spite of there being two.  Watching them on the screen made me beam with pride; I was good at twin pregnancy.

Thirty-seven weeks came around and professionals stopped being so encouraging, so admiring.  They stopped behaving as though you were doing something right in continuing to gestate your children and started to talk as though you were doing something wrong.  As though you were harming them.

The ‘I’ word was brought up at every appointment.  Eyebrows shot up when it was declined.  I knew what was best for you and for our babies.  You weren’t ready, they weren’t ready.  If you were all ready they would have been worn, wouldn’t they?  We were fine.

So we declined an induction and agreed to twice-weekly foetal monitoring.

At thirty-eight weeks your bile acids showed a slight increase.  A level of 0-14 was considered normal and ours was 15.  They brought a junior obstetrician downstairs to speak with me.  She couldn’t explain what level was dangerous, “Over fourteen is obstetric cholestasis.  We don’t measure levels.”  She was adamant that the twins needed to be induced there and then, that night.  She played the dead baby card, the IVF-babies-are-more-precious card.

I declined an induction for you that night and booked one in for two days time.

I’m sorry that I had no faith in you.  If our babies were meant to be born you would have delivered them.

They weren’t ready.  Neither were you.

I’m sorry that the induction ended with a caesarean section.  I’m sorry that I allowed that, that I chose it.  The hospital wasn’t a safe environment for us.

It wasn’t just the horror of watching a woman scream, cry and vomit in the induction bay, listening to her plead for help for hours, help that she didn’t receive.  It wasn’t just listening to a passing consultant, a stranger, bark at her to keep still as he checked her dilation, whilst she screamed for him to stop, watching her be wheeled away for an emergency caesarean as she haemorrhaged.  It wasn’t just the dehydration during the induction, when the midwives were too busy to bring water for hours and I was too freaked out to send Kirsty halfway across the hospital to buy some.  It wasn’t just the many misplaced attempts at placing the cannula to rehydrate me by IVF, that left my gown splattered with blood and the soaked sheets on my bed needing to be changed.

It was the attitude there.  The broken-down busyness of the midwives, who had no time to stop and breathe, never mind monitor the children who were apparently so high risk that they needed daily monitoring until the induction.  It was the uncertainty, the what-ifs.  The knowledge that if something did go wrong, there was no guarantee that we would even be able to flag down a professional.

You were treated with kindness during the caesarean.  With dignity.  The surgical team talked to us; the anaesthesiologist held your hand.

But it wasn’t supposed to be like this.  It wasn’t supposed to be about more mutilation.  I could have walked out of that induction but I didn’t.  I just wanted it to be over.  To go home.

I should have gone home.  I should have changed the plan, demanded a home birth.  I didn’t even think of it.

You will always have a scar.  Another scar.  You will always be at higher risk of uterine rupture, placenta accreta.  Your first breastfeeding experience will forever have been ruined.

It could have all ended in tears.  But it might not.

I’m sorry that I took the quick way out.  I’m sorry that one minute you had a much-loved pregnancy and the next minute you had twins and both of us were blindsided by how that came about.

I’m just sorry.

It’s all a bit of a mess, really.

With – not love, not yet, but something approaching fondness, and a sense of responsibility,

The head

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5 Comments

  1. June 14, 2015 / 3:43 pm

    and how does the body reply? You were put in a horrible situation throughout which you made the best decision from a very bad bunch for the safety and well being of your boys and your body. Whilst I’d dearly love to rail against whatever administrative and funding nightmare left midwives stretched far beyond breaking point that meant that you had such a bad time of it I can’t imagine that if we gave your body a separate personality they would have anything to begrudge you for. You were failed, you did not fail.

  2. June 14, 2015 / 3:45 pm

    What an amazing and powerful post. I too felt as though I would never ‘make’ the end of my twin pregnancy. I have no idea how my small, petite body managed to get to 36 weeks. I was convinced something was going to go wrong. Your babies are beautiful and I can relate to this so much xx

  3. June 14, 2015 / 8:42 pm

    Oh gosh, I’m sorry that this has been so raw for you. overworked midwives and maternity wards is a real issue, especially in London and other city hospitals – the posts you’ve written on the subject highlight this very well. I think you did your best to take control when you were put in a scary, unknown situation and left to your own devices for a long time during your induction.

  4. June 15, 2015 / 3:05 pm

    Oh, I don’t really know what to say, but *hugs*

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