This is a post about a midwife appointment I’ve just attended, yet it’s also about how we know ourselves better than anyone and need to trust ourselves more in all facets of life, so bear with, won’t you?
I’ve just got home from my 16 week midwife appointment. It should have been a bog-standard, unremarkable appointment to take my blood pressure and review my recent scan and blood tests, yet it became remarkable for two reasons: 1) because the appointment was almost an hour late and 2) because I cried, just a few minutes after entering the midwives’ room.
The crying caught me – and the midwives – off-guard. I really didn’t mean to cry, and was pissed off with myself as soon as I did.
The waterworks sprang on when I began querying my pregnancy due date. The due date I’ve been given, according to my scan the other week, is two days ahead of the due date I’d calculated myself. Two days. No great shakes, you might think. Tom-ay-to, to-mah-to.
Yet I wanted to query the date, to ask if I could use my date rather than theirs.
Because my experience of being pregnant with Ted had shown me that those two little days could, potentially, be very important.
Ted was born at 42 weeks and 2 days – according to NHS dates, at least.
I.e. Ted was very ‘overdue’.
The NHS does not like pregnancies to be ‘too’ overdue. As soon as I hit 42 weeks with Ted, I was sent to hospital for monitoring and was told by a registrar, very sternly, that I was putting my baby in serious danger the longer I didn’t agree to an induction – an induction which I very much didn’t want.
By that point, I’d checked the calendar a trillion times and was fairly certain that my due date was off, and I was probably around 41 weeks. But by then it was much too late to question it, and to do anything but listen to – and be scared witless by – the experts.
The whole experience was very upsetting and I do not wish to repeat it.
(Thankfully, I didn’t agree to induction, and things turned out OK in the end. But if I’d had two extra days on my side, I would have been spared that horrible episode with the registrar.)
So back to today, and given my experience of the NHS’s inflexibility on such matters, I wasn’t really expecting them to agree to change my due date (and they didn’t).
Much like I wasn’t expecting to start crying as soon as I broached the matter.
The midwife and the student midwife were a bit shocked I think and started spouting niceties to comfort me and offering me tissues, while I sat there feeling like a prized plonker.
They told me that things were different last time and I need to be positive this time and it’s still very early days and things won’t be the same anyway, blah blah blah…
And the thing is, I was already over it, and it’s not something I’m dwelling on, and I immediately wanted to move on and forget the embarrassing episode ever happened, yet I couldn’t stop myself from blubbing.
So then the midwife and the student midwife are sitting there probably thinking that I’m completely f-ed up about my previous experience, and told me that I must be sub-consciously very upset about it…. when I know I’m not, not really.
Yes, it angers me, in general, how pregnancy and labour and birth is often dealt with by the NHS.
But it doesn’t keep me awake at night because, quite frankly, it’s just too big an issue for me to let myself get wound up about.
And I‘m not scarred by my experience with Ted. I’m really not.
I would like to avoid the stress I experienced last time around, but I’m very, very grateful that things turned out OK.
I just cry a lot, that’s all.
I mean, I don’t cry at the drop of a hat.
Not when I’m not pregnant, at least.
But sometimes, if something makes me cry, then it can take me a while to stop crying about it. Not because I’m deeply affected by whatever the trigger was, but just because I CANNOT STOP, and the more you try to comfort me and talk to me about it, the more I will cry. SO JUST SHUT THE EFF UP AND MOVE ON WILL YOU? THANKS!
(I remember being in primary school and a horrible boy called Michael yanking my ponytail. It stung a bit, and I cried a bit, and that should have been it. But I cried when the teachers asked me about it, and when my mum asked me about it, and when my auntie asked me about it. I think I finally stopped crying three weeks later. I jest – sort of.
But yes, I’ve never grown out of that, it would seem.)
Also, I am pregnant. And therefore highly emotional.
In the last two days I have cried at the radio when INXS’ Never Tear Us Apart came on, and when Simply Red’s Stars came on (just in case you thought I was cool…) and when Graham and Ted walked past the bathroom when I was in the shower and I thought Ted had escaped from his cot (don’t ask).
Anyway, the point to all of these embarrassing revelations is that I KNOW all of this about myself. I know about my previous, will-they-ever-stop waterworks, and I know how I feel about the episode with the registrar. I know that I am happy and of sound mind, even if I blub too long about things sometimes.
The midwives don’t know any of this though, and so they had to check I was OK and not emotionally unwell, and keep going with the niceties that they’ve been trained to dole out…while also rushing through the appointment, because it was already an hour behind schedule and because to them I am simply a number on a list.
Despite today’s waterworks, I know I feel differently towards midwives this time around, because now I have my own knowledge and I’m surer of what’s going on, and about what I do and don’t want.
I will accept their advice, of course, but I am not looking to them this time for all of the answers.
Because to them I am just a stat, whereas I know so much more about me. Of course I do, I’ve been hanging around with me for long enough.
And it should be the same for you, too. You know you more than anyone else.
And so, sure, seek advice from the experts for whatever you need to, but remember that more often than not to them you are a stat, and that the experts do not know YOU.
You are the expert on YOU, so trust yourself when it comes to YOU. (Obviously I am not saying shun all medical advice, or legal advice, or…you get the gist.)
I really liked this post by Sophie Cliff about teachers at school, and how we used to think they knew everything. I know I certainly did. And how, if we’re not careful, the things that other people tell us about ourselves can become louder than the stuff we know about ourselves. Which is a load of cack, when you think about it. Because to teachers, even the really good ones, we are simply stats, we are just part of their job.
Only YOU are the expert on YOU, and you are so much more than a stat.
Bye for now X