My husband and I were married in Pakistan and after the wedding we waited a year before trying for a baby as well, we wanted to get to know each other, to enjoy ourselves. Unfortunately I had two miscarriages before I fell pregnant with Behram. The pregnancy was fine – my sugar levels would drop as I used to be alone at home till Ahmed come back from work so I would forget to eat which would make me dizzy but when I managed it properly I was fine.
I developed a cyst on my thyroid which needed a biopsy when I was five months pregnant. I had to have a local anaesthetic and when I had the second injection of local I blacked out, had difficulty breathing, my blood pressure dropped. They would not listen to me when I told them. Luckily my mum was outside and she heard that things weren’t right, she came in and argued with the doctors and I was then taken to the emergency room. The doctors said I was allergic to the lydocaine but mum teaches medicine so she knew what they were saying was wrong, that they had made a mistake and injected me in the wrong place but they still stapled a piece of paper in my file saying that I was allergic and that I should tell any other doctors so I don’t receive this drug again.
When I was seven months pregnant I moved in with my parents as Ahmed had a new job in Bahrain. At the end of the 36th week I suddenly had this weird pelvic pain and when I got up, I fell straight over as I couldn’t move my legs. I was so scared, I don’t know how but I managed to drag myself to the main door and get the attention of the neighbours who called my sister to take me to hospital. They examined me neurologically and I was sent home with painkillers. The next day I was bleeding so we went to hospital again. The obstetrician said that the pain I had had the day before was the baby head dropping into my pelvis to engage. I was starting to dilate and still bleeding – as it was still on my notes that I was allergic to lydocaine they moved me to another larger hospital where I wouldn’t know anyone, the same where I went for biopsy.
So I arrived at the new hospital at 3am – there was no bed, nothing ready. I was allowed to use the triage room but had to move every time they had to assess a patient. When the doctor came on shift in morning around 9 am she said that they would begin to induce me as I was still bleeding and no sign of more dilation. I had no idea how much it would hurt but the contractions began and I was 5 cms dilated by 4pm. We decided that I would have an epidural and who walks in? The anaesthetist who gave me the lydocaine – and she admitted that she had made a mistake! So I didn’t need to be in this hospital where I didn’t know anyone! Anyway – I had the epidural and although I felt small contractions I wasn’t in any pain. The contractions had stopped so they inserted a drip and they told me it would still be a few hours so just to keep on going.
Well I started to have a really bad pain – like someone was shredding, twisting and stabbing my back bone with a knife. I was on my own screaming for help as all the staff was in another labor room. I was in agony so even though I had dilated and my body was ready, mentally I was beside myself, I didn’t have the energy to push. No one had topped up the epidural and they refused to top it up as the baby would then not come! The doctor burst my waters and then cut some of Behrams hair to show me he was there and it was me not doing what I had to do! It didn’t matter I was beside myself with exhaustion and pain I had never screamed like this and I passed out waking three hours later. The baby was still not delivered and I could hear the panic in their voices, nurses were outside shouting for the consultant to come, the paediatrician to come Behram’s heart beat had dropped to 40 they needed help. I felt that I had failed as a mother, I was so scared. The consultant came in and started shouting at the staff ‘strap her legs – do this! do that!’ I tore, they cut me and he ended up being a ventouse delivery (this is where suction is applied to deliver the baby head).
Behram was born (3.6 kg at almost the start of 37th week) at 2:45 am in morning and I felt total calm like I was at the crest of a huge wave. I saw them slapping him to get him to draw breath and then we heard him cry and I was a mum! Ahmed had managed to make it back from Bahrain so he was outside waiting for us, mum was there so I had support who all advocated for me and spoke to the staff about my treatment.
The next morning the nurses brought Behram to me for feeding which did go well. I was so disappointed that I didn’t get the big wave of love when I saw him for the first time – I now realise that it was probably due to the drugs, pain and the trauma of the birth. I knew he was mine and that I would always care for him (and yes the love did come!) They wanted to discharge me quickly but I was still bleeding very heavily (I bled for 6 weeks after birth and delivered a portion of the placenta 2 months afterwards). They did not perform any of the baseline checks on Behram – neither his jaundice, blood type or thyroid levels were checked. When I stood up to go home from hospital after being discharged I could not feel the ground, the strength was there to hold me up but my feet couldn’t feel anything. The doctor told me it was the effects of the epidural, to keep hydrated and the feeling would come back.
That first week home I was exhausted. I still could not feel the ground with my feet – when I stood upright I felt something shaking so much like it was in an earthquake. I knew walking would be good for me but I was so scared as what if I fell, hurt myself or worse the baby? I tried really hard as I knew I was to live with Ahmed in Bahrain without the support network there that I have at home. Mum booked me massages to help but they could not touch my back without me screaming. I was so scared that I had a tumour that I saw a neurologist who didn’t find anything physically wrong with my head. He told my family I was having issues with moving to live with my husband, for them to ignore my pleas for help as I needed to toughen up. So they tried tough love and I struggled on my own.
Ahmed told me that he had booked an appointment for me to see a specialist about my back here in Bahrain. If there was nothing physically wrong then I had it planned to see a a psychiatrist to heal my mind. Ahmed was with me, supporting me every step of the way. His love was such a source of strength and validation for me. I went to see an orthopaedic doctor and he was the first person to examine my back and X-ray it. Straight away from that he sent me for an MRI as he could see there was an issue. I was so relieved – I wasn’t going crazy, it wasn’t in my head, I wasn’t weak minded or being manipulative. So I found out that the L4 and L5 had a slipped disc, I also had some small fractures which were pinching the nerves and it had all been caused by the labour by me not being properly supported and by Behrams sudden engagement.
So where are we now? Mentally I am still recovering – to say it has been draining is an understatement. I still have a lot of physical pain so I’m doing pilates and yoga to give me core strength and I’m working on getting myself fitter. I think that any future birth will be a caesarean just to avoid that pressure on my body. We do want more children as we both have siblings and I want Behram to have the joy of having one, but they will come when we are ready. As for the mental damage this has caused? My family has been devastated that they did not listen to me – mum has threatened to sue the hospital for their care of me. I felt so alone for the first few months of Behrams life like I was insane to be feeling this way. What do I want any reader to take from this? Speak for yourself! Be loud! Tell your story so that one day other women will not have to go through your bad experiences! Find that person who will support you when you cannot support yourself! Above everything else advocate for yourself and use your voice! I will never let myself get that low like that again!