I’m just gone 34. I’ve a 12-year-old boy and four and a half-year-old girl.

[Childbirth Related Trigger Warning!] I’m just gone 34. I’ve a 12-year-old boy and four and a half-year-old girl. My first pregnancy was incredibly difficult and the delivery resulted in trauma. Whilst trying to deliver, my son had his shoulder trapped. I tuned out somewhat in delivery. There were so many people there and it was chaotic. He didn’t cry when he was born. He was resuscitated and then taken away. I don’t know exactly how long it was before I got to hold to him. He was dressed, washed and fed. It was so surreal. I felt so disconnected between the trauma of what I had just been through and this beautiful baby that I was now holding. Nothing was explained about what happened. I definitely think I was in shock for a long time. I never asked questions. I never queried why I was so ill during my pregnancy. Insomnia, restless leg syndrome, fatigue. When I say insomnia, I mean being awake for 80 hours. You can only imagine the consequences of that. I spent a lot of time in the hospital again. Except, this time, I knew there was something wrong. I felt like I had to shout about it in an attempt to have someone listen properly. I was pretty much told I was making it up. I spent a lot of time in the hospital. My memory would go. I was so tired. Not tired as in a bad night’s sleep – tired as in I had been tortured and hit by absolute exhaustion. My care in the hospital was sub-standard. I told them all these things but was told it was to be expected to be tired. I still wasn’t fully aware of the seriousness of what had happened when birthing my son. I was found on the floor beside my bed during one of my stays. My partner arrived at 4 am wondering what on earth was happening. They didn’t even know how long I had been there.”

“My second child was born after a pregnancy that can only be described as a car crash. Between ten midwives, eight told me that my baby had turned and two said she hadn’t. I was finally induced. It started calmly. I was being monitored regularly – the consultant had seen me before and told me that the baby had turned and all was well. She revisited me about a half-hour before I was due to be induced, to tell me she had read my notes and didn’t realise how difficult my first delivery was. Nine months later and she hadn’t even read my entire file. I was offered a C-section. I refused. It was all very casual and I genuinely didn’t sense I had anything to be worried about. Then I had some intense internal exams. That is the point I remember the atmosphere in the room changing. I remember her telling me: ‘I’m holding a foot. The baby was coming, foot first.’ It was questioned why I hadn’t been scanned again before induction and labour, given the baby had been breech. The answer was: ‘There was no scanning machine on that floor.’ I don’t know when I zoned out really… They knew mistakes had been made. The epidural had been pushed on me for so long before I realised why. I was down to the theatre for an emergency c-section within what felt like seconds. I remember shaking violently – not knowing that it can be a symptom of the epidural or the drugs given for the C-section. My daughter was born. She was flat. Her muscle tone was poor. I was kept in the hospital for a week after. The pain was through the roof. I was on the highest dose of morphine I could get, but no pain specialist saw me, despite me constantly requesting one. I was ignored again. I walked to the bathroom and collapsed in the corridor. Screamed. I’ve never experienced pain like it. They ignored my difficulty and concerns in walking or basic movement because of the pain. Was told, everyone is a bit sore after a C-section. It would eventually take over a year after that to find out I had a specific condition to do with pain and healing in the abdominal area.“

“My daughter missed lots of her milestones as a baby, we had regular physiotherapy. They told she may have cerebral palsy and would have to wait until she was two for her to get a formal diagnosis. It was strange, because one morning she woke and it was almost like a different child – and she has been healthy ever since. But there was that to deal with, along with trying to block out the whole event. I had to request my own medical files to try to figure out what had happened, almost two years after when I could finally deal with it. Some of what I read shocked me. They kept putting me down as depressed. Only later, it turned out that I was very ill during my pregnancy. My body was barely functioning. I got a diagnosis of some autoimmune diseases and told it was a wonder I even got through it all. I felt relieved. It was like I needed someone to tell me I hadn’t gone crazy, because it felt that was how I was treated. My relationship broke up. I think I’d be a fool to think that the pregnancy being so stressful didn’t contribute to that, you don’t just get over that kind of thing.  Even after I got home, I had to spend so much time sleeping out of absolute exhaustion, but had been repeatedly told I was fine. I’m a second-year law student now. I would like to specialise in medical negligence and family law. I feel like I was shouting, but no one would listen. I was dismissed to the point where I practically became mute. I’d like to be able to shout for other Mums and Dads who might go through something similar, because what happened to me could have been so easily avoided.”