In the blur of days following the birth of my twins I was given a leaflet with details about someone I could contact to discuss my birthing experience. It didn’t seem relevant at the time as I was trying to look after two new beings whilst slowly (and painfully) emerging from a drug-induced fog.
Whilst I knew that I had nearly died in childbirth; I buried that piece of information and instead focused on surviving those first gruelling months of motherhood. As I became more capable in my role I had more headspace for thought; and when I thought about “the birth” I usually found myself crying. I assumed it was hormones and tiredness; and that it would pass.
When the twins were 6 months old I took them to see a Cranial Osteopath to help with their sleep issues. Whilst there, the Osteo asked me if I’d been administered many drugs during the birth. I said I didn’t know and explained the length and difficulty of the birth, resulting in an emergency c-section. He suggested that I had probably been given quite a lot of drugs and that it would be pertinent to get my notes to know exactly what they had pumped into my body; particularly since it could have impacted the twins. I hadn’t even considered this…and so I set about the mammoth task of getting my medical notes from the birth.
I phoned the hospital and asked how I should go about obtaining my medical notes. I was transferred a couple of times; quizzed on why I wanted the notes and then advised that a form would be sent to me. The form itself was reasonably straightforward; however, there was a section about whether or not I intended to take legal action against the hospital. I duly completed the form and sent it off registered delivery. After a few weeks I called the hospital to ascertain when I might receive my notes; and they advised me that they had not received my request. I provided them with the registered delivery details and suggested they look into it. A week later I called again; and again; and again. Eventually I lost my patience and suggested to the last lady I spoke to that perhaps they were deliberately avoiding dispatching my notes to me because they had something to hide. Interestingly she called me within the hour; advising me that they had tracked down my request and that my notes would be copied and sent to me within the week. A week later I called again – apparently they were short staffed and my notes hadn’t been copied; after another of my outraged rants I was advised that someone would do it that day.
I received a large bundle of notes a few days later which I read; and using Google, partially translated into comprehensive chunks. I was indeed administered a shit-load of drugs over a 48 hour period; all of which I copied down to share with medical professionals in the future regarding my health and the health of my twins.
For about a year after giving birth; any discussion or thoughts about it resulted in tears. I am pleased to say I can now talk about it like a rational person; however I do bear a bit of a grudge against the hospital….for two reasons. 1) the idea of talking through your birthing experience with someone post event is a really good one. It would probably be better for a health visitor to provide the contact details once you are home and settled, with an explanation about how it could help; rather than pushing one of many documents into the hands of a scared and exhausted new parent. 2) we are all entitled to access our personal data and should be able to do so without hurdles or hindrance; particularly if that information we are seeking to obtain is pertinent to our well-being!