The Labour Ward
A mothers experience
I had forgotten a lot about the experience of the labour ward until a friend of mine was telling me of her experience. As she was speaking to me memories came back to me in short sharp flashes of undealt-with reality. It was when the bits and pieces of events became the whole picture I started to feel an intense sense of depression and loss.
I remember the day I went into labour. We were dragged out of bed in the early hours of the morning for I dont now how many times that week to attend early mass. I was sitting in the chapel along with the other girls who were considered to be bad, when I suddenly felt a strange feeling between my legs. I rubbed my groin and blood appeared on my white shift. A nun who was standing next to me observed this and motioned me to get up and follow her outside. She took me up to the office and rang for an ambulance to take me to the hospital. I was frightened as I didn't know what was happening to me.
I was taken to the labour ward where I was dressed in a white hospital gown, I was then examined and the nurse told me it would be a long time before I was going to give birth to my baby. The hours crept by, I was watching the clock go round, it seemed like the time was going on forever. A nurse came and asked me if I had any pains. I remember telling her that they were only coming every hour or so.
Later on that afternoon a nurse came along and told me they were going to break my water. I was so scared I did not know what they were talking about. What did they mean "break my water". I soon found out, they inserted something into my body and I felt a rush of liquid running down the bed.
Not long after, the pains started severely. The pains became more and more frequent. The hours were passing by and it was well into the night when the doctor looked at me and said it was time for the delivery. The nurse turned me onto my right side and put my left leg in a stirrup on the side of the bed she strapped my leg into it and pulled my right leg behind me. I was pinned to the bed and could not move. I remember screaming when the baby was coming. "Let me lay on my back your breaking my back". My screams went unheeded.
After what seemed to be forever I felt something between my legs. I can only assume it was my baby. The pain was gone. The nurse told me that it was all over the baby was out. I tried to turn over to see my baby but I couldn't move because of the way I was held down.
"What is it I asked" a couple of times. They eventually told me it was a boy. I caught a glimpse of a nurse carrying my baby out of the room wrapped up in a green sheet. I never saw him. The doctor came later and told me that because I had been cut to get the baby out he would have to sew me up. The pain of the injection into my insides was enough to make me scream. The doctor started to sew me up and while he was doing this he was talking to another doctor who was watching him. He was telling him about the stitches he was doing.
He was remarking to the other doctor about a doctor in the hospital who had a preference for a herringbone type of stitch. After he had finished sewing me they both admired the handiwork. Then he put his finger up my back passage to see if he had sewed up any thing he shouldn't have. The whole time they were doing this they never said a word to me. It was as though I was not even there. No wonder I felt violated. I wasn't even worth the dignity to be told the abuses that was going to be perpetrated upon my body. I had the feeling of just being raped.
After the experience I was wheeled into a ward and knocked out. That was all I remember. The next day came and went. This was the "usual" way according to the Minister of Health Wendy Edmonda that unmarried mothers gave birth at the Royal Womens Hospital