Monday, October 19, 2009

Listening Skills

Since we have already somewhat touched upon the subject of pregnancy rage, I will simply begin with this thought in mind and leave it up to you, dear reader, to imagine what I may or may not be feeling at this moment.

The Rock Star has been working his pants off on a particular work project with a deadline of 2 pm today for some time. Unfortunately, other projects got in the way and he spent this weekend feeling a bit like a small thundercloud and having to work mornings before the Prawn woke up and evenings after she'd gone to bed. (Of course, on Saturday night, she staged an "I don't want to go to bed" type protest, depriving him of further working time.) All things being what they were, The Rock Star was one big ball of stress come this morning.

And now we rewind briefly to a midwife appointment that I attended last Wednesday.

Perhaps when we were first married, The Rock Star and I might have toyed around with the idea of a bigger family. I liked the idea of three children. However, as it became apparent that we wouldn't be able to start our family for some time due to fiscal concerns, we decided that two was probably a more reasonable number. This has been our thinking for at least 6 or 7 years now. So, one of the questions I had prepared for my midwife was the question of a tubal ligation, since I will most likely be having an elective caesarian this time around due to the manner of the Prawn's arrival. This is a decision that I don't really feel like debating with anybody. Do I wish they hadn't cut me open the first time? Yes. Do I want them to cut me open again? No. Do I think it's the best option for the baby? No. But do I need someone who lives on the other side of the ocean to come and look after my daughter during the birth? Yes. Do I trust my body to do something that it BLATANTLY wasn't going to do the first time around despite three days of labor? No way. So, as far as I'm concerned, that's the end of my debate.

She let me know that yes, that is an option, but that I needed to bring my husband to the consultant's appointment today so that they could be sure that both of us were on the same page.

This was one of those statements that completely went in one ear and out the other until I set foot outside the surgery when Pregnancy Rage caused an enormous mental pile up causing me to go, "HANG ON JUST ONE DAMN MINUTE HERE....if I want to be in control of my fertility, I have to ASK PERMISSION from my partner?"

Self Control sits in a much smaller office since Pregnancy Rage took over the company. It nervously put it's finger on the little buzzer.

"Erm....really? It's not that big a deal. A, but probably not worth getting...erm...too worked up about since we know that our partner is totally on board the no more babies train?"


"Yep, yep, okay, that's fine..." Self Control conceded.


"Yep, that's cool, I'm going...."

So, the situation this morning stood this way. The Rock Star desperately needed to work but I was of the equal belief (as was he) that he needed to accompany me to the appointment to validate a choice that I'm OBVIOUSLY NOT QUALIFIED TO MAKE ON MY OWN. Our only consolation, the 11am appointment wouldn't last long and we'd be back to the office so that he could get on with things.

Around about the time the little hand was between the 11 and the 12 the big hand was on the everloving 9, both of us were starting to get a little stressed out. By the time the traitorous clock informed us that it was in fact 12.40, I kind of thought about calling the nearby Psych ward for the Rock Star, who looked like he might ACTUALLY burst into tears at any moment.

Of course, spending all of that quality time in the waiting room, we got to observe all kinds of domestic and familial drama, the chiefest being a 16 year old who'd come in for an early emergency scan who's mother loudly informed the entire waiting room (on the pretext of informing her daughter) that if anyone gave her the eye for being the youngest person in the waiting room that we could all "just shove it." and then proceeded to use extremely colorful language while leafing through a redecorating magazine (who would have thought that different kinds of wall paper would have required so many different uses of the F word?) despite the presence of a good number of children. Stroppy daughter then began complaining loudly about having to pee (despite the necessity of a full bladder for a scan) and I spent a good 15 minutes watching the rolling of eyeballs around the room as well as the sigh of relief that went up when she was finally called back. I then got the giggles inappropriately thinking of Mom from Futurama, the supposedly sweet industrialist, zipping up her old lady suit and informing her advisers, "I'm off to some charity BS for knocked-up teenage sluts!" (I'm terribly sorry. It was a very, very difficult morning and my brain doesn't know from appropriate anymore. I'm listening to Rage Against the Machine at the moment, so all is lost.)

For any of you not acquainted with my previous experience of baby birthing at this particular hospital, let's just wrap up a whole week into a neat little parcel; it blew. It both blew and sucked, making a mockery of physics. (If anyone is bound and determined to read at least the sanitized version of events, it's in the archives under March 2007) At the time, when I wrote my "birth story", I think I put it this way:

To say that my birth plan went out the window is a colossal understatement. My birth plan tied sheets together, went out the window, caught a cab to the airport and spent the weekend losing money at The Sahara and getting hammered on free cocktails.

With the benefit of sober reflection nearly 2.5 years later, I can honest say that probably 60% of all that went wrong was just bad luck and couldn't have been avoided. However, the remaining 40% comprised a significant portion of the stuff that was the MOST mentally scarring. It was because of this 40% that have made me think long and hard about the birth of the Squid and exactly want I DO and DON'T want to happen. I am not the 17 year old girl in the waiting room. I am a woman and a mother who knows what's best for her and her family based on past experience, research and circumstances. To be treated as such is not, I think, an unreasonable expectation.

But, my NHS trust always has ways of surprising me. "However low the bar is, don't worry, WE'LL SET IT LOWER!"

I like to be fair to people. My consultant was not a bad person. Nor was she a bad doctor. But she clearly had the idea that I needed hand holding or coddling and that I probably hadn't really thought anything through very carefully.

Exhibit A: The c-section I had three major points.

a. I have had a previous caesarian.

b. We need my parents to look after our daughter and obviously they need to know WHEN to come.

c. Being 12 days past my due date and after 3 days in hospital with more drugs pumping through my body than were found in Janis Joplin's autopsy, my body did NOT want to give birth naturally. If you think I'm going through that again, I could do with whatever you're smoking.

What she responded with: "I understand that you might have had a difficult time last time around, but we don't like to do Caeserians for purely social reasons."

Pregnancy Rage was in the middle of taking an axe to the door "Shining" style when Self Control pressed the panic button.

"EXCUSE ME, LADY?" Rage screamed through the now splintered door. "WERE YOU EVEN LISTENING TO WHAT I JUST SAID? SOCIAL REASONS? SERIOUSLY?" Luckily, the watertight door between offices slammed to the ground and Self Control breathed a small squeak of relief to hear only muffled thumps coming from the other side.

Exhibit B: The tubal ligation I had only one major point.

a. WE DON'T WANT ANY MORE CHILDREN. EVER. PERIOD. We've been married for 10 years and this has always been our plan since we began to think about a family seriously. I'm not 24. I'm 34. This is my fifth pregnancy. I'm done. Finito. Finished. Two kids.

What she responded with: "Well, tubal ligation is very PERMANENT and not easily reversible. I appreciate that this is your plan, but circumstances can change. I don't want to comment on your social situation in any way, but there are much less invasive forms of birth control."

A faint blowtorch line was beginning to appear on the watertight door and Self Control reached into her desk drawer, hands trembling, for the tranquilizer darts as she could just begin to hear,


At this point, I made one last ditch effort to impress NICELY upon this well meaning woman how indescribably awful my previous birth experience had been and how I needed some form of control over my situation this time around, but as I feared, I became a blubbering mess, as I always do when I try to talk about The Prawn's birth, thereby eliminating any credibility I may have had as a mother-to-be not to be messed with.

I could almost hear Rage calling me the most awful names.

One of the worst features of the antenatal unit at our hospital is that it's in a port-a-cabin outside, so nothing is really designed for privacy, thereby forcing me to endure listening to the phone call that she placed in her next door office to the hospital's "Afterthought" service, politely explaining to them in nice terms that she had a very nice, but confused lady who needed to "talk to someone" in order to "process previous birth issues". The Rock Star (who suddenly realized that his presence at this appointment was, in fact, entirely unnecessary) and I contented ourselves by waving middle fingers at the closed door and giggling with insane disbelief.

So, the upshot of the interview- Sorry we gave you a c-section the first time, but no, you probably can't have another one because you don't have a good enough reason. Neither can you have a tubal ligation because you obviously haven't grasped what "never having any more kids" means. Oh, and finding care for your existing kid? Well, that's your problem.

Self Control is sleeping with one eye open.


Hopeful Mother said...

What the ??!#$#$?#?

That makes absolutely no sense. I hope you can find a way to convince them of their ridiculousness in some way.

Hayley said...

I'm surprised your consultant has taken that stance with regards to the c-section. Where I live, patients who have previously have sections are usually offered the choice of a vbac trial of labour or an elective section. There are valid medical reasons for this, which I am sure you know and so I will not expound on.

I would consider contacting the hospitals PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service) and voice your concerns to them; maybe you could askfor a 2nd opinion?) I work in an NHS hospital, and PALS can work wonders, because they don't want it to get to the stage where you make a formal complaint.

Sorry to butt in unannounced, but I thought this might help!


rockmama said...

Thank you, Hayley! I know that all NHS trusts are a little bit different, but I was awfully surprised at this consultant's lack of flexibility to discuss an elective option. I've been offered an appointment with the "Afterthoughts" service a the hospital, where I hope I'll be able to offer my thoughts on the matter. If that fails, I shall definitely contact PALS!

PiquantMolly said...


I guess 34 isn't old enough to be a grown up and make your own decisions.


This puts a kink in my plans.

docgrumbles said...

People just loooove to assume we just don't comprehend any decision involving our girly bits! Grrrrr...

Kath said...

Dear Rockmama, I am so sorry your appointment was so frustrating. I hope and trust your doctor's pigheadedness will abate, but in the meantime, is it any consolation to hear that this is one of the funniest posts I have read all year? Because it is.

rockmama said...

Well, you gotta laugh.

Cause if you don't, you'll stab someone. ;)

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