Positive Induction (side helping of Disability Discrimination)

Isla Erin Gordon 02/07/20 5lb 15oz Second baby Second elective induction. Warning : massive story!!!! Grab a cuppa and some cake! A positive? induction story! Although not great ante natal care via consultant led care. I am physically disabled with a condition called Perthes Disease, which is where my left hip bone didn’t form properly as a child (instead of a round ‘ball’ in my ball/socket I had a flat edge). I’ve had operations on both hips since age 13, bones broken and turned, pins in, pins out, constant monitoring since I was diagnosed at 18 months old. My right hip is now in worse shape than my original ‘diseased hip’ due to compensating for my whole life. I’ve never been able to do things such as exercise properly minus swimming. I really need a hip replacement but I’m ‘too young’ ? I am a frequent wheelchair user due to my condition, and have crutches and walking sticks also. I also have a condition called Functional Neurological Disorder, which a symptom of is non-epileptic blackouts (last blackout was April 2019, known triggers are high pain and stress). I also struggle with memory loss, inability to process information if too much given at once and numbness on the whole right side of my body with no warning. At one point I was on 40 different medications a day for all my various issues. Painkillers, nerve painkillers, muscle relaxants. You name it I had it! By last August, I was fed up of being a ‘space cadet’ on all the pills. My GP supported me in my decision to slowly wean myself off most of the medication, and only use if and when required, rather than constantly. Last October, me and my partner had actually been to our first fertility appointment. I’d spent the best part of 2 years bleeding since I’d came off the depo injection (never again!) and had not been using protection since. Due to the bleeding and nothing happening in 2 years we’d been referred to the fertility department. We were not planning for another baby but if it happened it happened! By the time we were seen at fertility, we’d both gotten to believe ‘my insides didn’t work’ and had thought with all the medication I had been on for 4/5 years probably hadn’t helped. A week later we went on holiday to a caravan park with some friends and spent the week drunk ?? well a few weeks later I realised I hadn’t had a ‘bleed’ for 2 whole weeks. I left it another week and tested. It was positive ❤️ we couldn’t believe it! During this pregnancy I really struggled. With my first daughter I had no symptoms minus a bump! My hips struggled badly by 29 weeks so I’d stopped working, but my health was not as bad then. This time round I felt I got everything I missed first time, the sickness from early on until 32/33 weeks constantly, I was losing so much weight my GP put me on those gross shakes to try and help. I had the worst constipation and piles. I was lucky if I went to the loo every 2 weeks! I tried everything over the counter and prescribed I could for being pregnant, nothing worked. My poor partner spent many a night rubbing my back and using heat packs etc to try and help me go bless him. My hips struggled so so badly, more so from around 30 weeks with the weight of my bump and I became reliant on my wheelchair when I left the house (which wasn’t often anyway due to Covid and me being on the shielding list). My midwife was a godsend. She didn’t question my choices, she sometimes wanted to know my reasoning but never tried to change my mind and respected my decisions. She fully listened when we explained about my own health at one of our early appointments. I had agreed to consultant led care due to my own health and my partner and I had already agreed I wouldn’t manage ‘full term’ of 40 weeks and that an induction would be good for us. I had been consultant led previously and I felt this had a positive impact. From 28 weeks the consultants had agreed to see me 2 weekly to see how my body was coping with pregnancy, my pain levels etc. I had to stop most medication when we realised I was pregnant due to risks for baby as the meds I was on are so strong and some had not been properly researched in pregnancy. It wasn’t worth the risk when I knew these pain levels would not be forever. We managed my pain with lots of heat, baths, some painkillers I was told were okay in small doses. I was put on blood thinning jabs from around 32 weeks due to my mobility. I’d never seen the same consultant or been scanned by the same person throughout. Every appointment I had to explain why I was in a wheelchair. From the start of Covid, I had to attend appointments alone as most did. I had to ring the department when I was in the car in the car park so they could send someone to get me in my wheelchair. I wasn’t allowed my partner with me (even though he is my recognised carer) 32+4 I’d had a growth scan, and was told baby was on the 10th centile. I had taken this with a pinch of salt anyway, and also told the hospital that they are using my first borns weight for this chart and this baby has a different dad too so it’s not going to be correct. No issues. At 33+5 I’d went in for monitoring as I had reduced movements. All okay! Baby had just moved herself round and due to my numbness I couldn’t feel her ? I’d been scanned just in case, different lady scanned me, different machine due to being in triage and not a normal scan appointment. This had shown growth compared to the week before, but again not worried at all and took with a pinch of salt. Baby sitting at around 60th centile. I’d realised at this point how unfit for a wheelchair/disabled person the hospital was. The toilets on the ward were too low with no rails, I couldn’t fit my wheelchair into a toilet so I had to struggle with my crutches myself as the midwifes were busy, amongst other issues. I kept a note as I’d realised I was going to have to make sure to get my partner with me for induction due to my care needs. 34+4. Consultant and scan appointment. New consultant and new sonographer again. Baby hadn’t grown since the week before, dropping to the 90th centile again. I was asked why I hadn’t chosen to have a section with my health. I told them I didn’t want 6 weeks of recovery from surgery on top of my own pain and why would I want surgery if I don’t need to. I had already chosen to be induced from 37 weeks if I needed it for my health. There was talk of induction at 36 weeks. I can’t remember everything that was said. I was given a steroid injection, and asked to come back the next day for another. It was said to come back the following week to compare the previous growth scan from triage so there was two weeks between the scans as they shouldn’t be done in a week. I’d went home and couldn’t remember anything they’d thrown so much information at me. They’d given me a leaflet about induction, the cook balloon and I was sent home. I phoned my midwife the next morning in tears as I couldn’t process what had been told to me, our notes here are on an app and we can’t see them all. I hadn’t slept due to panic and worry. During that evening I’d written a huge list of questions and queries about the whole situation. My midwife answered most of them, and listened to me and consoled me. She stated she was going to put a note on about my partner attending from now on for the appointments due to me struggling. I’d spoken to Samantha on the phone at this point! What an amazing lady! She gave me some things I should ask about the following week and I felt more confident and in control.

Disgraceful Discrimination

35+4/5. At +4 I’d rang the department to make sure they were aware of my partner coming for the appointment. I was told there was no notes on my file regarding this. I had the notes in front of me and could see the note my midwife put on. I was told that someone would ring me back as it was reception I spoke to. A midwife I’d never dealt with rang me back a few hours later, asking my reasoning for needing my partner. I stated I was physically disabled as well as having a neuro condition, which affected my ability to process information. I was told there was nothing on my notes about any of it. I was told my own midwife hadn’t put any information on. I could see she had! I was so angry I started crying at this random midwife. She had no compassion or empathy. She told me it was up to a consultant. I argued and asked why is it up to a constant who doesn’t know me or my disabilities to decided if I need my carer. I was compared to someone dying at the main hospital and how they weren’t allowed visitors so why do I need my carer. I tried to explain everything my partner helps me with daily but none of this was taken note of. I tried to explain that comparison is unfair due to the main hospital staff being trained to deal with certain conditions whereas the maternity staff are not trained, specifically in my disability and that’s what my carer is for. I was also compared to someone who does not have the mental capacity to make their own decisions by this midwife. I told her there was no need and that is disgraceful to compare anyone with a disability. I was then told someone would ring me the following morning. My appointment was the following day in the afternoon. I’d told the midwife I would attend for the scan myself but if my partner couldn’t come to the appointment I would not attend, and it could be a telephone appointment when I was home with my partner so he could make more sense of any information and explain to me. I was worried and panicking they were going to throw heaps of information at me and I’d be alone and unable to cope. I didn’t sleep that night. I spent the night making a list of arguments against early induction and for my partner to attend. I spoke to my own midwife in the morning. She was furious. My midwife had said she was in clinic that morning but will make sure she was at the community hub at my appointment time to be there if I needed her and she’d come see me if i wanted some support. She also rang the hospital and put extra notes on for me. I got a phone call a little bit later to say my partner could attend the appointment with me. I’d never felt such relief in my life. The appointment went well, growth had stayed on the same line. All my questions were answered. We weren’t rushed out the door. I was given time to process everything. I’d never felt so listened to or respected by a consultant. We’d asked if we could sort out a date for induction after 37 weeks due to childcare and my health as I was barely able to get about the house by this point without being in agony with my hips. It was agreed by the consultant for 37+3, the 1st July and we got booked in. I was told we’d get a call that morning and if there was space on the ward we’d be given a time to arrive, if there was no space, it would be the next day. The consultant explained the induction process from start to finish for us. The consultant rang the ward and made them aware of the booking, that I was disabled and that my partner would be with me throughout. He told them about my needs and that it would be best if we were in one of the private rooms rather than the main ward due to the loos in the private rooms being bigger for my chair and for my equipment I’d need to take with me for my health. We’d been asked to come back the following week to check fluid levels and cord which we agreed to. We were with the consultant nearly an hour. Bless my midwife she’d text me half way through the appointment to make sure we were doing okay and that she was just along the corridor if I wanted her. 36+5, scan and appointment. New consultant again, but this one had read all my notes!!! All well, fluids levels good, cord good, all set to go the following week! By this point I was struggling to even wipe myself on loo I was in so much pain. I couldn’t turn, I couldn’t reach past my knees while sitting, from under my boobs down to my toes I was in constant agony.

1/7/20 Induction day!

We expected a call between 9.30-10.30 to discuss arrival time etc. I got a call at 8.30 and was asked what time would be suitable, they’d kept a room free for us on purpose after checking all my notes and after the consultant ringing previously. What a positive start! We agreed I’d head down for 10am (I only live 5 minutes away by car). I’d stopped my blood thinners on the right day, I was all packed, I couldn’t feel better about this. I was excited to meet our wee girl. We got settled into our room with no issues, the midwifes on ward were all lovely. The midwife who was inserting the cook balloon came and explained how it worked to me again, asked if I wanted to see the actual balloon so I understood what she was going to do. She explained everything in such detail but also simply for me. She explained the balloon would be in until it fell out or however long they leave them in for (I can’t remember ?). I’d declined to have a sweep done while they were going to be inserting the balloon. The midwife said if I was too sore let her know and she’d stop so I could move positions, or if I wanted gas and air to let her know. She was so lovely. While getting the balloon in she said I was 1cm dilated and my cervix was super soft so she had high hopes of the balloon working no bother. We got the balloon in, no pain relief, super easy and at most uncomfortable but not as bad as a smear (minus my own hip pain!). The balloon was much better than the pessary I’d had with my previous induction. It was about 11.30am the balloon was put in. I was monitored for a little while and was asked to be monitored every 6 hours for 20 mins which I agreed to. I was bed bound anyway what’s some wires ? We spent the day in our wee room, and the midwifes came in every 30 mins or so to check in. They were all so amazing. My partner spent the day making sure I was comfortable and helping me the way he usually would at home with the loo and getting changed etc. At 7.20pm the balloon fell out itself when I went to the loo! I rang for the midwifes and they came along and said it’s now just waiting for a space on the labour ward, the balloon had done its job and I’d be around 3cm dilated. They were happy not to do a VE to check! The waiting game started. I’d remembered this part from the last induction, as I’d waited a couple of days for a space. I’d tried to nap as much as I could. Made sure I’d kept eating to keep my energy up for labour. I made my partner nap too as I thought he better have energy to help me ? I’d been woken up around 12.30 by a new midwife for monitoring, the monitors were not picking up the baby properly but the way my pain was I couldn’t lie how she wanted me to. She started getting snippy so I informed her I was going out for a walk in my wheelchair with my partner and I’d buzz when I was back to redo the monitor. She wasn’t happy but tough! We came back, the monitor worked and that was that. We had some snooze till about 5am and I’d been woken by some very slight surges. We went for a walk outside again just to get some fresh air. At 7.30am ish midwife (M) and student midwife (S) arrived from the labour ward! It was my turn!!!! But I hadn’t had breakfast. I told them I wasn’t going anywhere until I was fed (previous induction I was taken through just before lunch then told I wasn’t allowed to eat until baby was born. Baby was born at 2.28am I was bloody starving) they laughed and said that was okay they’d come back in a bit for us. My partner packed all my things up and my equipment and we had some breakfast. When the midwifes returned the student had said to me I think we went to school together, I hadn’t realised as they were wearing masks!!! I was asked if I was okay with someone I knew being my midwife. I didn’t mind at all! It wasn’t someone I was friendly with at school (not even friends on Facebook!), and I figured they have to be professional at the end of the day. In all honesty, I think it made me feel more relaxed overall. We went though to the ward with some help carrying my things. When we got to the labour ward room M explained what everything was in the room, the monitors etc. She went over what I would like pain relief wise and said I am welcome to change my mind at any time. I stated I wanted just gas and air as my previous birth. She mentioned epidural etc and I said no although I may change my mind. She was happy and wrote it down. She asked about a section if need be, I just said we’d cross that bridge if we come to it but I really do not want a section. She’d written down what I’d consented to and what I hadn’t. We’d said we wanted skin to skin, and to dad if I was struggling. Dad has been asked about the cord and he said no but I’d said to them to ask him when baby was born in case he changed his mind (he didn’t). We’d stated we were using cloth nappies and they were excited and got our nappy choice looked out ready! S had never seen or used a reusable so we showed her how our ones worked and how to put on etc. By the time everything was explained to me, we’d talked about our wishes and such, it was nearly 10am! Honestly, the amount of effort put in by the midwifes to listen to us was amazing. I got my waters broken and it was said in about 2 hours we’d chat about the drip and getting it started. Waters seemed so much more than I remembered from my first ? I was using the birthing ball and was wondering around the room with my crutches to try and help things along. I had a few small surges again but nothing interesting. Just about an hour and a half in I was told once the drips in then I’ll be monitored for baby’s heartbeat constantly so if we wanted to pop outside for a bit to go then. We packed my wheelchair up with the big pads and off we went for a bit, I was excited. The next time I’d be outside our baby would be here! Drip started about 12, surges came and went. Nothing exciting happened. I spent the next 3 hours chatting rubbish with my partner, bouncing on the ball, in and out of bed. My partner was helping through the surges with heat packs and his warm hands on the bottom of my back. Both midwifes were lovely but it was even better with S as we were chatting about what we’d been doing since school, my first born, who we still spoke to etc. It really kept my mind off my own pain. By 3ish the surges were 3 in 10 minutes and much stronger although not quite there yet. We focused on my breathing. We were struggling to keep an eye on baby properly and we were worrying about her heartbeat as she had been dropping quite a bit during contractions. We agreed to the ‘clip/screw’ after much discussion about benefits risks and it being shown to us and explained how it works properly, as well as how it attaches. After it was explained I asked for it not to be brought up unless I asked for more information or had made a decision on it. Me and my partner were given privacy time to chat about it and we agreed to the clip as it meant I could move more freely to help with the hip pain I was struggling with as it was because of this pain more than the surges I was really suffering with. I still had not used any pain relief by this point. By 4pm I’d asked for gas and air because my hip pain was becoming unbearable. I’d agreed to a VE and was told I was still at 4cm. I don’t remember much between 4 and 5 but my partner has said I kept breathing in time with what my body was saying. I remember all my surges were in my bottom back, and M saying it may be caused by babies position. M didn’t mention anything other than this regarding baby’s position as I’d asked her not to at that time. At 5.13 I told them I felt I needed to push, M asked if she could give me a VE to check to make sure just in case my FND was starting to send wrong signals to my brain (common symptom for me!) she checked and I was 10cm! 3/4 pushes and baby was out. I listened to my body, pushed when it told me to. I breathed the way id learned. I used gas and air during as my hips felt like they were crumbling. Isla was born at 5.20pm. She was given to me for skin to skin for a little bit but I was so sleepy I needed to nap. I was checked over and I had no tears needed no stitches! I couldn’t believe it! My partner took her for skin to skin for the next hour while I snoozed and he gave Isla her first feed. The midwifes were perfect, leaving us to enjoy this time and let me snooze ? they finished up their notes in the reception of the ward when they’d done all their checks to give us that time as a new family. We FaceTimed my 5 year old first and told her she had the big job of ringing her granny to tell her about the baby! She was so happy. We didn’t get asked to move to the ward until 8.30ish. We stayed overnight and was home by 10am the next morning. I was told baby needed checked by a doctor before I left. I told them I was leaving at 9.30am. I was told baby had to be checked. I asked what they do for home births then…Funnily enough the doctor came in at 9.30 while we were packing up to go. Although I had issues with the consultant care and ante natal side of this pregnancy, my birth was wonderful. I felt listened to, respected, my choices were adhered to, I was not forced into anything I didn’t want. Everything was explained to me in terms I could understand. I was given time to process all information given to me and time to come to a decision without being rushed into anything. I feel so positive about my birth story and I am also relieved it went as well as it did. It also felt a bit more special having S be my midwife as we had a slight personal connection (although a long time ago!). S is going to make a wonderful midwife when she’d qualified and I told her this as I was so happy with the way she cared for me and my family during the birth. I will be putting in a formal complaint regarding the midwife I spoke to about my carer attending appointments with me when I feel ready to. I do feel overall from the consultant side I was seen as physically disabled in a wheelchair but my neuro condition was ignored as it’s not obvious looking at me, and with this my extra needs were not looked into.

Samantha Says

I was absolutely thrilled to be able to support L, not that she needed much, as a member of my The Village and The Village Holistic Pregnancy Support  L was able to access a lot of online support as well as 121 support from me on the telephone. The discrimination she was subjected to in her pregnancy, alongside lack of continuity was disgraceful, constantly explaining, being lied to and having to attend appointments without her partner, who understood her needs and was properly able to support her, to birth their baby. For women and birthing people who use a wheelchair, core muscles are really, vital to day to day living and a caesarean and recovery are massive undertakings. The midwives in the birth room on the day, were respectful, gave excellent care and ensured L was supported in the way she wanted to be – as it should be. I did have a little giggle when I read about the doctor arriving as the family was leaving, I do so love a family who know their rights. A wonderfully positive induction and a huge congratulations and welcome to the world, Isla Erin Gordon.
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Samantha Gadsden walks with women on their life’s journeys. She is an experienced Doula, based close to Cardiff in South Wales, mother to 4 children and wife to Eddie, more information can be found on her facebook page, Samantha Gadsden Doula and her website, Caerphilly Doula. Virtual, SOS Doula, Virtual Telephone and online support is always available. If you are interested in writing a guest blog or sharing a life or birth story please feel free to contact Samantha HERE. “Your Journey, Your Body, Your Baby, Your Birth

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About Samantha

Samantha Gadsden walks with women on their life’s journeys. She is an experienced Doula, based close to Cardiff in South Wales, mother to 4 children and wife to Eddie, more information can be found on her facebook page, Samantha Gadsden Doula and her website, Caerphilly DoulaSOS DoulaTelephone and online support is always available.

You can also join one of her network of supportive GROUPS.