“I don’t understand why they get so upset. It happens all the time. Every day. Nothing’s changed . . . it’s just part of life. They need to get over it more”
These were the words I once heard a triage nurse stating when we brought in a woman having a suspected miscarriage. I guess statistically speaking they’re right – it does happen all the time. But, to the individual it’s happening to, you couldn’t say anything more dumb.
In my understanding, obstetrics is among the least influenced in modern medicine. Don’t get me wrong – there are wonderful advances in this field, yet there are still many factors that have to be left for the ‘body’ to deal with. For example . . . miscarriages ‘happen all the time’. So do complications in birth. And if it wasn’t for modern medicine then the mortality rate in births would certainly be much higher than they are now.
My very first exposure to someone giving birth was not a happy one . . .
I was on my second placement and we’d been called to a woman in labour. I was quite fresh out of ‘school’ and had the most basic knowledge regarding child birth – it involved things like cleaning the baby, cutting the chord and presenting it to the over joyed mother . . . and how everyone would be happy. However, when we stepped through the front door of the small East end flat we were greeted with panic.
“Oh my god, it’s coming!!! Oooh God, help . . . !”
We watched as the patient collapsed onto a bare mattress that lay in the corner of a dimly lit and bare room. Her partner followed her down and held her hand. Instinctively she lay on her back and spread her legs apart.
“It’s coming! It’s coming! Oooh God!!! I can feel it. PLEASE!!”
She was only 18 weeks pregnant.
It was pointless trying to prize her underwear off her as birth was imminent. So, I cut them off . . . and, no sooner had I done so than ‘it’ came out. ‘It’ though, wasn’t a baby – it was a lifeless, almost fully formed fetus, complete with feet, arms, hands and face.
There was silence, save for our clockwork actions. The mother simply clenched her eyes shut and held her breath. The Father, held her tight to him, his eyes also closed.
The medic collected the baby into a towel and wrapped it whilst I clamped the chord and cut it with my scissors. A pad was placed and soon the Mother was helped to the ambulance. Little was said but as much care and attention was afforded to her as could be managed.
Nothing was said of worth while on the way to hospital. I mean, what can you say to someone who’s bottom has just dropped out of their world. Her partner remained right beside her though and held her close. Both were desperately trying to hold it together. When we arrived at A&E we informed the nurses of what had happened and they immediately set about rearranging patients so that the couple could have a private room to themselves.
My last view of them was as the doors were slowly brought to . . . their grip on each other tightened, and as the doors shut they both finally broke down and cried. And even with the doors shut, the Mother’s wails could be heard round the entire department – genuine, deep soul wrenching sorrow that just simply tore straight through you.
Back in the Ambulance we sat for a while in silence. I knew if I tried to speak my voice would falter and show how affected I was. And, even though we still had a couple of hours to go before our shift was up, we didn’t do any more work that day.
NB I write this one to all those who continue to have a cynical view on this subject. Miscarriages do happen every day . . . more often than people think. But, I’m sure to the individual, it doesn’t feel like it should be ‘just part of life’.