Ignorance is a funny old thing. Sometimes we prefer to remain ignorant about things in order to protect ourselves. Sometimes we refuse to understand or to listen to another point of view because we think we’re right. I’ve come across both.
I was ignorant about the dangers that faced my son and I during his birth. I was blissfully unaware that my tiny son’s throat was invaded by a sterile plastic tube; his very first breaths in this world came via an intubation that nobody felt I needed to know about. Until I read through his notes with my midwife counsellor, I was ignorant of the first fight he faced in life.
At first, I was distraught. How could I have slept, whilst my baby was fighting to breathe? How could I have not known of his desperation to survive?
After that, I was angry. How could they have neglected to tell me they had put a tube down his throat to resuscitate him? Why did they feel that it was okay to write it in my notes, using medical jargon that I would never understand? Why didn’t anybody tell me? Why did it get to that point, where my precious baby needed assistance, when he should’ve been born healthy and screaming?
At the same time, I was confused. How was his apgar score 9 at first testing, then 10? How does a baby who needs a tube to help him to breathe his first breaths manage to score so highly on the apgar test? How does that happen? How do medical professionals manage to persuade me that everything is okay, before hurriedly sending me under and plucking my baby from my body in panic?
Ignorance is not bliss. Not knowing the answers to these questions will haunt me everyday.
Recently, someone asked me if I had ever considered what would’ve happened if I had not had an emergency c-section. My answer to that question, through tears, was that not a day has gone past without the realisation of what could have been. The ignorance of that question shocked me. Another has asked me why I felt my c-section was so traumatic, when all the surgeons were doing was saving the lives of my son and I. My c-section was not traumatic. My son’s birth was.
Ignorance towards birth trauma is sadly so rife that comments such as these are not unique. Yes, my son lived and YES I am so, so happy that he did. He does. He is alive. I know how lucky I am. Perhaps I know more than most how lucky I am. That does not mean that I am not allowed to feel.
Its okay for me to feel upset about what happened with my son. It doesn’t mean I love him any less. It doesn’t mean that I am feeling sorry for myself. It doesn’t mean that I am not aware of all the awful things that happen every day in every country around the world.
I am so lucky. I have taken a step towards a life that is full of pain and sadness and I have turned away to live my life with my family.