“When we do the best we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.” – Helen Keller.
On the afternoon of July 2nd 2012, my water leaked. Not broke. Not gushed. Leaked. I was having lunch at the time and calmly finished my meal, then called my doc. She wasn’t in the city (why does this always happen to me! Seriously.) Anyways, so her replacement doc was on call and asked me to come on over to the hospital immediately. So I went to shower. Yup, I had decided earlier on that no matter what happened, this time (I was on baby #2), i wasn’t going to go to the hospital without clean hair! I am telling you all this because as you can see, I was fairly calm, unhurried, and in control. There was no reason to panic; it was after all, just a small, slow leak. And all my research told me that amniotic fluid replenishes itself cause the pregnant body is always making some. So, no need to worry about drying out or causing the baby any harm.
So I showered and went to the hospital. And got the shock of my life.
Now I had a basic idea of what to expect at the hospital. I figured they’d first check me to confirm if it was indeed amniotic fluid and if yes, then they’d check for signs of labor. Those signs would determine what happens next. But in my wildest dreams I did not expect that they would say I needed surgery RIGHT AWAY!
But that is, in fact, what happened. You see, when I reached the hospital the on-call doc said it was indeed amniotic fluid and because of the risk of infection coupled with the baby’s head not being in position and no signs of labor being imminent, I would have to have a c-section and that she, the on call doc, could do it in the next 2 hours. The way she said it, and I kid you not, was like “Oh I’m here, you’re here, so we might as well get it over with right now”.
Remember all that self-control I was so proud of earlier? Yeah it all melted into a melange of tears and panic. I held my husband’s hand amidst my shock at what had just transpired over the last hour or so. This was my worst nightmare coming true. I wanted a natural birth. I didn’t want surgery – at least not an optional one. And the way she said it, it didn’t seem like I had the option of saying no! In fact in the next breath she was asking us to arrange a blood transfusion in case I should need one during surgery. WTF!
“Always go with the choice that scares you the most, because that’s the one that is going to require the most from you” – Caroline Myss.
The rest of my story is a lesson in empowerment. In that moment, I knew that if i didn’t take control back of the situation I might be haunted by my decision forever.
To buy some time, I told the doctor I needed to ask her some questions. I said since it was just a slow leak, there was no imminent risk of infection, right? Right, but there could be and she didn’t advise waiting longer than 48 hours. Well in that case I have 48 hours before I have to do anything. I cornered her there. My next question to her was if the baby’s head is not exactly in position (she said it was off on a tangent), then there’s still the possibility that it could get in position within the next 48 hours, correct? Correct, but, according to her, highly unlikely at this late stage (I was full term).
It was then that I made my decision. Somehow through the fog of tears, panic and shock, I told her that I would like to go home now. I am not going to have surgery today and I am going to wait it out. I see no reason for a c-section, I know the signs of infection and will watch out for them. I am not coming back until labor begins naturally. This time she was in shock (probably both at how I spoke to her and my logical statements which she couldn’t refute). Naturally she took her revenge by marking on my medical sheet that I was being discharged “against medical advice“! The nerve.
Anyways, as it turned out, my soon-to-be-born daughter had already decided where, when and how she’d like to be born. That same night, close to midnight, I started having contractions. I reached the hospital and gave birth 4 hours later naturally, without painkillers, without epidural, and without a frikkin’ c-section that was oh-so-necessary according to the doctor. Everything fell into place; she got in position and labor started by itself. It was intense, but fast!
This might just be the story of one doctor’s greed and misuse of power, but it’s also the story of one person’s ability to fight against an authority figure when the latter is not making any sense whatsoever. My point is, we tend to trust authority figures without question. A white lab coat means that they’ve gone to medical school, while we haven’t and so therefore we ought to shut up and accept their decision with blind faith. Well thank goodness medicine is not religion. You are actually free to ask as many questions as you need to to get to the truth. And when you have the truth, you are free to make your own decision influenced by your internal barometer of what is right and wrong.
I know in a perfect world it should mean that your doctor will have your best interests in mind, and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting (and being treated) with many wonderful doctors who have taken the time to understand and proffer helpful, appropriate advice. My point is when you come across that one member of society who attempts to take advantage of you, stop and think logically. Think rationally. Do not let authority figures (in any color coat!) intimidate you!
“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” – Coco Chanel.
I am thankful that in this case, everything turned out to be okay and that, in hindsight, I made the correct decision. But I can tell you it was a nerve racking time and I doubted and questioned my decision constantly during those hours, terrified that I’d done the wrong thing. My family’s support and the little knowledge with which I could question the doctor all worked in my favor. I know that if I had been unable to cross examine the doctor, I might have been coerced into a surgery that was not just expensive, but completely unnecessary.
So to all you ladies reading this, I say – arm yourself with knowledge and trust your instincts!
Be well 🙂