This is a question I have asked myself many times and each time I tend to get a different answer, depending on my mood. At first, and on many other occasions since, I blamed the hospital. I must stress here that ‘the hospital’ is not the staff (not all of them anyway) but more the red tape, rules and lack of funds leading to bad decisions and busy midwives. Naturally, I moved on to blaming myself- if I had stamped my foot harder I would’ve got my elective section when it mattered and the whole trauma would not have occurred. But that only leads me back to blaming the hospital because they should’ve been in a position to offer counselling/ serious thought to the vulnerable pregnant woman.
The more I look at it, the more I am forced to just accept it. Yes, lots of things went wrong, mistakes were made and hearts were broken. I can’t change that. I never made a complaint, believing- wrongly, I am told- that if I was to be awarded compensation, that would only make the problem worse for a hospital that is already struggling to provide adequate care. But then I am told that my complaint could help others… could stop the same thing happening again. Whether it would or not, I think its too late.
I never wanted monetary compensation. I would’ve swapped all the money in the world for some understanding. For an apology. For someone to tell me they cared about what happened. For someone to explain, truthfully, what went wrong. For someone to take away the nightmares and the anxiety and that cold, hard ball of fear that rested in my stomach day in and day out. That would’ve been priceless.
So who do I blame? When I was interviewed by the BBC I stated that I blame the hospital for what happened but what I really meant what I blame the system. The NHS, I suppose. I’m entitled to quality care and I just didn’t get it. Not because anyone was particularly negligent, more because they just couldn’t give it to me.
They were forced to deny me an elective section because they cost a lot of money. They were forced to leave me alone for hours because there was nobody available to help me- it was a Sunday and they didn’t have enough staff on duty. They were forced to send me home with a broken body and no pain relief because budgets would not allow them to do otherwise. Never mind I was in agony…
I never really blamed the midwives- in fact, my interview was part of a Royal College of Midwive’s appeal for more midwives in the NHS. There is a severe shortage and it is affecting people like me, families like mine.
But mistakes were made. For which no apology has been given. For which, no apology has been sought.
Am I right or wrong? Am I now in a position to seek out that apology, or explanation? Next week myself and another birth trauma survivor are hosting the Birth Trauma Association’s first support group in Manchester. Caroline’s story was printed in the Manchester Evening News yesterday and today Deanna Delamotta has written a piece about it. It’s interesting that she chose to comment on the fact that Caroline has never sought compensation for what happened.
For so many women who have been through a traumatic birth (and its estimated that around 7,000 women in the UK feel traumatised by birth each year) it is hardly ever about the money. It is always about being listened to. Somebody accepting that mistakes were made and things need to be done differently again. It’s about hospitals improving their care for other women.
So who do I blame? I blame the hospital for the things they did wrong. I blame myself for not standing firm and insisting on the birth I wanted. I blame the consultant for not recognising I needed support when I asked for a c-section. I blame the hospital for changing the surgery dates and not explaining why. I blame the midwives for not listening to me, or taking me seriously. I blame the hospital for cutting budgets which meant I was discharged too early and with no pain relief after labouring and enduring a horrific c-section. Mostly, I blame fate. Childbirth is such a tricky thing you see. Nobody can predict what will happen. And what will be, will be.
* If you are local to Manchester and would like to come along to the Birth Trauma Association’s support group, our first meeting is taking place next week, Wed 25th April at 3.30-5 pm. Location: Pannone Solicitors Manchester 123 Deansgate, Manchester M3 2BU