My Celebrity Life

The people who say birth isn’t as bad as This is Going to Hurt makes it out to be are lying

In a case of life imitating art, I appeared on-screen in the series (Picture: BBC)

Peeking through my fingers at another gruesome scene in BBC’s This is Going to Hurt, I told my husband that I was so relieved that I’d given birth before watching it.

What I saw was so raw and a brutally honest reflection of childbirth – I couldn’t help but remember my own.

I first became aware of writer Adam Kay back in 2017 when he released his award-winning debut book This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor – an account of his time working as a NHS junior doctor on an obs and gynae ward. Or, as he liked to refer to it, ‘brats and t**ts’.

And while the book is infused with comedy, it discusses serious issues about the mental health of staff in the NHS, and it doesn’t shy away from the health service’s chronic underfunding.

Now, his memoir has been turned into a seven-part BBC comedy-drama called This is Going to Hurt, starring Ben Whishaw as an overworked Kay. I, for one, binged the whole series.

I gave birth to my daughter Mia by Caesarean section at a London hospital last month, and as I sat down to watch episode two, the first scene took me right back to my time in the operating theatre.

In the scene, Kay performs a C-Section on a patient; during the procedure, a swab goes missing and chaos ensues as the medical team frantically searches for it.

Then Tracy, the head midwife (Michele Austin), utters the chilling phrase: ‘Swabs go missing all the time.’ And, that’s precisely what happened to me.

I fell pregnant at the age of 40, and was classed as a ‘geriatric’ mother. Due to my age and weight, I was immediately placed in the high-risk category and informed there was a chance my baby would have a genetic or chromosomal condition, and I underwent various tests.

For the next nine months, I was in a constant state of anxiety, and the maternity care I received only exacerbated this. I lost count of the times I would return from the hospital crying because I hadn’t received the help or advice I required.

Lynn and Ben Whishaw (Picture: Lynn Carratt)

In addition, I never once saw the same midwife for continuity of care and was constantly told how short-staffed the department was.

At eight months pregnant, I caught Covid and informed the midwifery staff as advised by my GP. They told me over the telephone that they would prescribe me Clexane injections, and I must inject them daily during my week of isolation to alleviate my risk of blood clots forming.

The on-duty midwife said they would send them out immediately – they forgot to – something they later admitted, only after I chased them twice.

I visited the hospital on another occasion after noticing my baby’s movement had changed. The midwife placed the foetal doppler over my bump to search for her heartbeat. Struggling to find the heartbeat, she turned to me and asked: ‘Whereabouts did the midwife at your last scan find the heartbeat?’

Already distressed, I said: ‘I don’t know.’ She said: ‘Surely you can remember?’ I said: ‘No.’ Thankfully after a little more searching, she found it.

Due to the intense fear I harboured about giving birth, it was decided that I’d undergo an elective Caesarean. Unfortunately, despite weeks of notice, the medical staff forgot to book a date for me to undergo the C-Section.

At my 37-week check-up with the consultant, she hurriedly tried to book me in for the procedure, only to find the operating theatre was fully booked for the following two weeks.

This Is Going To Hurt is based on Adam Kay’s bestselling book (Picture: BBC)

I was then informed that my surgery couldn’t be scheduled, and I would have to wait for a cancellation. I then had to call the hospital daily until a date became available. This left me little time to plan for my recovery from what is classed as major abdominal surgery.

Laying on the operating table feeling nauseous and numb from the chest downwards, fear I’d never felt before overtook me. Crying, I told the consultant: ‘I can’t go through this. I’m not giving birth like this.’ As the staff calmed me down, I laid back, put on my headphones and watched Coronation Street on my phone – my daughter was born before the first ad break, it was that quick.

As I ecstatically cradled my newborn baby on my chest, I noticed the consultant in a state of panic. She whispered to staff about losing a swab and told them it needed to be found quickly. As my husband, James, looked on bemused I began to worry they had left it inside of me and that they would need to open me back up – I was confused and scared.

Fortunately, after some frantic searching, they found the missing swab and put me into recovery. While this wasn’t a life-threatening situation for me, it should never have happened.

After spending time as a patient on the labour ward, it became abundantly clear that the department was operating on skeleton staff and that many were overworked.

However, Kay and the show have come under fire for their ‘misogynistic’ portrayal of maternity care. Mothers, midwives and pregnancy campaign groups have slammed the BBC One show for depicting birth as ‘traumatic’ and women as ‘weak and disempowered.’

While the series is based on a collection of real-life stories, it’s a TV programme at the end of the day, and we have to allow for artistic license. We should also remember that the main focus of this drama or Kay’s book isn’t about the women; it’s about the maternity ward staff and the undue system they have to work under.

But as a new mum myself, some of the birth accounts covered in the series are pretty realistic to what I encountered in my own pregnancy care.

In a case of life imitating art, I appeared on-screen in the series as the ‘Fireman Sam’ woman. In episode four, Dr Adam has to remove a Fireman Sam sponge from inside me while I’m laid on the bed, legs akimbo.

While the show may have created a lightning rod for debate, one thing we can’t deny is that Adam Kay has the rare talent of being able to shine humour on the most heartbreaking of situations.

 


Credit: Source

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