Friday, January 11, 2013

Forging Ahead While Looking Behind

My son's birth proved to me that birth could be an enjoyable, relatively pain free experience that affirms a woman of her ability to make medical decisions and to expect those decisions to be respected. For that I am thankful. He is healthy, I am healthy, I do not dwell on his birth and when I think about it or see pictures from it my emotional response is positive.

However, because I have been working on the litigation associated with my daughter's birth - I have been thinking about what happened then, a lot. Even when I am not wanting to. To say that it is emotionally difficult work is putting it mildly. Reading my medical file. Reading the statements of defense. Thinking about it all. The only thing positive about my daughter's birth - is my daughter. I survived the experience, I did the best I could at the time and it was enough (my daughter is fine) but it is abundantly clear that what happened did not need to happen and that my doctor's and the hospital failed me and failed my daughter.

It is trite to say that in preparing for birth, a mother should prepare not only for the birth experience that she wants, but also for the birth experience she doesn't want. I did not do antenatal classes - but I did educate myself on vaginal delivery (which was part of the reason why I wanted to avoid it), and when it was clear I did not have a choice in the matter, I did as best I could and for my daughter's sake it was enough. We survived.

And yet, in terms of coping with what happened - I still find myself, at times, overwhelmed. I cannot help but think that if what happened was truly neccessary - that if there was no way it could have been avoided, I could accept what happened (as awful as it was) as the price of admission to motherhood. However, now knowing more about what happened and what did not happen - I know that what happened was clearly not neccessary - it could have been avoided (easily). It does not make coping with what happened easier - rather it generates a profound need for accountability and justice.

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