By Keisha Graziadei-Shup
Photo by Syda Productions, Adobe Stock
Disclaimer: This personal birth narrative was written by Keisha Graziadei-Shup. Opinions expressed here are hers and do not necessarily represent New Life Birth Center.
There I was, laying mostly naked on an ambulance stretcher in a white room full of fluorescent lights at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital. Every two minutes or so I would yell for about a minute through another strong contraction with a crowd of doctors and medical students standing by.
They were likely indifferent to my nudity, but my private nature was one factor in having chosen a home-like birth center with a few women that I had grown relationships with, rather than the brightly lit hospital full of rotating strangers.
Marching in rehearsed fashion toward me was the continuous, unintelligible legalese from the mouths of experienced medical professionals. Every few minutes their words were drowned out by a kind of roar, pushed out from my lungs and whose epicenter was my uterus.
It would be the understatement of the century to say I was exhausted right now. At least I was in no mood for technical conversation, to be sure.
During such moments, the doctors simply stopped talking, waited, expressionless, as I writhed in agony and scratched up my throat yelling, with what little energy I had left. Once a contraction passed and I settled down, they then carried on with their emotionless medical gibberish. They seemed to expect me to understand and respond in my current state.
My wise husband knew this wasn’t a prudent process and began trying to make a plan of care on my behalf.
“We have to hear from the patient, sir,” the head doctor interrupted. Jon threw up his hands in frustration.
I wanted to yell at him, exasperated, “I can’t talk to you!” but I’m pretty sure it just came out as a whimper. Then I told them firmly, “I just need this to stop!”
They continued reasoning with me, trying to explain options A through Z, pointing at a clipboard with some papers full of tiny print that I was supposed to read and sign. I think they were making their case that I needed to have a c-section done right now.
They maybe didn’t know but probably could have guessed that this was exactly what I had spent the entirety of the previous nine months trying to avoid. They were like robots, either unwilling or unable to perceive or respond to the humanity of the present situation.
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