Trigger Warning: This birth story contains details of vaginal birth, unintended home birth and PTSD. If you are triggered by these topics you may wish to skip this blog or read it once you have support available. If you are seeking support for your birth trauma, you may wish to contact our Peer Support Service.
It was two days after my due date. I had been experiencing contractions sporadically since 3:00 am on the 15th of September. From 6:00 pm the contractions became regular and stronger and were around 8 minutes apart. At 8:00 pm my waters broke and I called the hospital, I was told to stay home for another hour if I could.
From then the contractions became much stronger and were getting closer and closer together. They were around four minutes apart and the pain was too unbearable to continue to stay home so we called the hospital again and they said to come in.
I was in great pain during the twenty-minute journey to the hospital and very anxious to be in the safety of the hospital.
We arrived and were greeted by hospital staff. After some assessment, we were told I had two options to leave and labour further at home or we could stay. I told them very emphatically that I wanted to stay and that I wanted pain relief and they said that I could stay and they would bring me the gas. My partner parked the car and brought in my belongings.
I was hooked up to a machine which I assumed was to monitor my contractions, we noticed that the machine was not changing during my contractions and moments later a staff member entered and said ‘this must not be connected properly because I can see you are having contractions but they are not being picked up’
My contractions were unbearable and I was desperately hoping someone would come back to the room to bring me the pain relief as discussed.
Instead, someone came in and told me that I would have to go home. I was terrified and mortified by this as I was in true labour and was so relieved to be in the safety of the hospital.
I said to them “I don’t understand – I was told to be in hospital when my contractions were less than five minutes apart and lasting longer then 30 seconds (which they were) and I am already in so much pain so I don’t understand when I should come back?” They said, “yes I know we say that normally, but come back in if they last longer than a minute and are two minutes to a minute apart and you are screaming in pain.”
After they left, another hospital member could see that I was mortified and in tears at the thought of leaving and she said “you are not very happy about this are you?” and I said to her again “no I am not, I just don’t understand, I am in labour, I want to be here I don’t understand when to come back?” She said that “it was because if I stay in the hospital it will start the clock on doing medical interventions such as an induction, which is why it is better for my well-being to leave.”
I said to someone “but what about my pain relief?” As I was in desperate pain. Someone gave me a Panadine Forte and said we could talk more options in the morning.
At the time I thought that they had done all necessary assessment and with their best judgement believed that it was best for my well-being to go home.
I have since understood that this decision was due to a ‘bed deficit’ only and that my dilation had not been checked and I believe that my contractions were also not accurately monitored.
I felt pressured and I felt I had no choice, so we left. It was difficult to even walk back to the car I was in so much pain and terrified. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. As I walked out my water broke further which I was told would continue to happen.
Once I arrived home my contractions became excruciating and were around every 3 minutes but only lasted for a maximum of 40 seconds.
Because of the hospital workers advice we did not return to the hospital as we did not meet her requirements and it was made very clear that we couldn’t be there until they lasted a minute. I could not bear the pain of being turned away again.
Things continued like this for several hours. At this time I was experiencing extreme distress about the hospital’s decision, crying out. “How can they make me go through this without pain relief!” “How can this not be labour?!” “If I have to experience this pain for over for a minute I will die!”
For a while, I started to feel like I was pushing at the end of each contraction and so we called the hospital. My partner explained everything to her and she talked to me, I was shrieking in agony while on the phone to her and said: “I am feeling all this pressure, this isn’t right!” “I think I’m pooing, I think I am pooing!”. She wasn’t too worried and said to stay at home and that if the pressure continued then to come in and hung up.
I believe that as this stage we should have been told to call an Ambulance as I was clearly pushing and we might have given birth in the car if followed her advice.
One minute later he was crowning and my partner called back shouting “I can see the head, she is giving birth” she said “ who is this?” and then told us to call an Ambulance.
At this point, I felt a great dread at the realisation that he would be born at home with no medical supervision and I was worried about what could happen. I thought “first the hospital make me experience such horrendous pain and now my baby or I might die – how could they do this to us?”
The midwife stayed on the phone with me during birth, giving advice which I appreciated. She seemed a little frustrated by me if I was not answering her straight away, which was difficult as I was giving birth and also listening to my partner who was being directed by the paramedics.
After he was born, while we were still waiting for the ambulance I felt she was hurrying to get off the phone due to being busy, rather than being positive or reassuring. Her frustration was enough that I found myself apologising to her later about being distracted, which in hindsight seems a strange thing.
After my son was born we had to wait for the Ambulance and during this time my partner had a look of absolute terror and devastation on his face as I was bleeding a lot and we didn’t know if our baby was ok or what was going on.
I travelled back to the hospital in the Ambulance and my partner had to drive there separately. Being separated from each other at this point was also very difficult for us after the trauma we had just gone through.
The birth of your first baby is meant to be a joyous occasion and not one of agony, fear, and terror and this had been taken away from me.
After we returned a worker told us ‘ we could have let you stay but we were very busy tonight’. I was seeking answers after and was repeatedly told ‘September is a very busy time of year’.
The trauma I faced has come back to haunt me over and over until this day. It seriously affected my joyous early time with Xavier, leaving me in tears often remembering the fear, pain, and injustice I experienced and my partner’s expression after he was born. I was desperately trying to convince myself that the hospital sent me home after doing all the possible assessment they could and with their knowledge and experience believed that it was in my best interest. I was seeking answers about what checks had been performed and what my dilation was and to find out how outstanding my case and labour was that this happened.
At my birth review, I was told that my dilation was not checked and that the reason I was sent home was that they were busy. This was devastating news for me. I have been very traumatised by these events, but am coping well now due to getting help.
If you need support for a difficult birth experience and would like to connect with a mum who has experienced birth trauma, please contact our Peer2Peer Support service to connect with one of our Peer Mentors.