Caesarean Section – Saturday September 30th 1972

In the 70s, ante/post natal care in the UK within the NHS left a great deal
to be desired. Thankfully that has changed over the years and mums are now treated
like human beings.

Sunlight edged through bevelled
glass, hovered softly across
the water, a jug of liquid gold

waiting for painful sips to be
taken as surges rose and fell;
you had decided it was time,
we would do this together.

You shifted and shifted
hour after laboured hour;
I pushed in vain, until
suddenly it seemed all
senses were cancelled,
crossed off the list of
essentials for giving birth.

I clawed my way out of
drug riddled fog; no doctor,
no nurse, no family – no baby.
My silent screams bounced off
icy walls like a pin ball.

Twenty-eight life long hours later,
trundling wheels through endless
corridors to nowhere led me slowly
toward you, stone-faced uniform,
accusatory, hostile silence.

We finally met, still painfully
divided by unyielding glass;
you were beautiful –
vulnerable, innocent,
impossible and real.

And I had failed you already.



29 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Poetry & Icecream
    Sep 29, 2012 @ 13:48:42

    This is so sad Christine. You didn’t fail though…never! I think the medical system failed you!


    • journeyintopoetryJourneyintopoetry
      Sep 29, 2012 @ 13:58:39

      Thank you so much for this comment.

      Deep down I know I hadn’t failed him but that’s how I felt at the time. How could they do that to someone who had just given birth! I was convinced there was something wrong with him or he had died and there was no sympathetic explanation as to why I couldn’t see him. I had to insist in the end that they take me to him. Horrible! It wouldn’t happen now thank goodness.


    • journeyintopoetry
      Oct 05, 2012 @ 12:35:08

      Thank you for your comment.

      I know deep down I didn’t fail him but it did feel like that at the time.

      You are right though they failed me

      Christine x


  2. dfb
    Sep 29, 2012 @ 16:25:44

    This is excellent and so painful… ‘stone-faced uniform, accusatory, hostile silence.’ is so graphic. Very well done.
    Yes, many things have improved over the years but it is also a pity that governments are not committed to the health service anymore, despite what they say. Within five years or less, the NHS in England will have ceased to be what is clinging onto now. We didn’t vote for this. At least in Scotland and Wales it looks as though it will be free at the point of service.


    • Journeyintopoetry
      Oct 02, 2012 @ 13:55:51

      Thank you David
      I know what you mean about the government’s attitude toward the health service

      I have to say that my experience now in the NHS with the treatment for MS I cannot fault the team who are caring for me although I have heard it is not consistent throughout the country. I am fortunate here in Leeds we have one of the best support for MS.

      Thank you for your comment



    • journeyintopoetry
      Oct 05, 2012 @ 12:39:59

      Thank you so much David.

      Yes it’s very sad the way the NHS is going, government commitment isn’t there.
      “Clinging onto” describes it very well.



  3. hollyannegetspoetic
    Sep 29, 2012 @ 18:05:35

    This is terrifying and touching at the same time. So brave and honest. I had my heart in my mouth reading this.


    • Journeyintopoetry
      Oct 02, 2012 @ 13:57:14

      Thank you Hollyanne.

      It was a bitter experience and I just had to voice it for some reason. Maybe I can lay it to rest now I have written it down



    • journeyintopoetry
      Oct 05, 2012 @ 12:42:21

      Thank you Hollyanne.

      It was a distressing experience and is still with me after all these years, though I have to say there was no problem bonding once we got going. I made sure of that and now he has three beautiful children of hios own and I have grandchildren!! πŸ™‚



  4. Harry
    Sep 29, 2012 @ 19:05:01

    Forty odd years ago our doctor did not allow men in with the wife giving birth ( thanks doc ) but it has changed.


  5. Journeyintopoetry
    Oct 02, 2012 @ 13:50:42

    Thank you. I know deep down I didn’t fail him but it felt like that at the time. I am grateful my daughters don’t have to through that awful experience.



  6. Francina
    Oct 03, 2012 @ 13:13:51

    Sometimes you read a poem that leaves you speechless and tears. This poem of you , dear Christine, is one of those poems. Beautiful but so bittersweet. Poignant write. You did not fail, dear Christine , not at all.
    love and hugs from across the creek. Francina xoxo


    • journeyintopoetry
      Oct 05, 2012 @ 12:46:08

      Thank you Francina for this heartfelt comment.

      As I said to Hollyanne above I have made up for all that horrible experience and now I have wonderful frandchildren!! πŸ™‚


      Christine xx


  7. Thomas Davis
    Oct 10, 2012 @ 12:53:46

    I think back then that women had a common experience with doctors. Our first daughter and son were born through Ethel’s long labor. They were both wonderful and enriched our lives in so many ways, although Kevin’s death from cancer has left us devastated in so many ways those ways are uncountable, but there is no doubt the doctors were at fault and not Ethel. They used to keep the fathers in a small, windowless waiting room in the U.S., chasing him away from the frightened mother to be, and I remember waiting and waiting and waiting, wondering what in the world was happening. Finally a stern faced nurse entered the waiting room in Wausau, Wisconsin and told me that I had a daughter. When I asked how Ethel was doing, she did not smile or give me any assurance at all, but said that she was all right. Then she left. A little while later another, more cheerful nurse came in, and I was taken in to meet my daughter and see my deeply loved wife. This is a wonderful poem, Christine, but those were different times. I am so happy to see that you are up to posting poems again. I am having trouble reading and commenting. The election and health stuff (nothing serious) have kept me on edge for weeks now. I am so in favor of Barack Obama, and I am terrified that Mitt Romney is going to keep the world’s economy on the brink of collapse, but in the end I ought to be old enough to realize that time is long-term and not short-term and that long after Obama and Romney are gone the world will, hopefully still be here. With any fortune your poetry will still be here too.


    • journeyintopoetry
      Oct 10, 2012 @ 15:19:25


      Thank you so much for this lovely comment.

      Losing a child is unimaginable and I feel deeply for you.

      It is good that things have changed, my daughter’s recent experience of giving birth so different from mine.

      I am pleased to hear your health issues are not serious and you are still recovering well from your treatment.

      I hope to keep the poetry going; it is such good therapy for me – and fun too! πŸ™‚

      Please pass on my very best wishes to Ethel too

      Christine x


  8. triciabertram
    Oct 12, 2012 @ 22:30:30

    Oh Christine,
    This is so movingly and beautifully written, I want to reach out and grasp your hand.

    Some painful experiences never leave us, we just learn to live with them.


    Tricia xoxo


  9. journeyintopoetryJourney into
    Oct 13, 2012 @ 11:00:56

    Thank you so much Tricia.

    As you say we learn to live with painful memories. And writing about them helps. πŸ™‚

    Thank you for taking time to catch up, something i know is difficult when we have been away.

    I hope you are feeling a little better πŸ™‚

    Love and big hugs

    Christine xx


  10. Betty Hayes Albright
    Oct 13, 2012 @ 19:49:01

    Christine, my heart aches for what you went through in 1972!! The insensitivity and clinical starkness of those times is hard to believe, and I can imagine why it left emotional scarring. (My second son was also born in 1972 – and we were lucky at that time that fathers were just being allowed in the delivery rooms. It was something new at the time and I’m thankful.)
    Sending love and hugs to you – and I’m so happy for the result years later – your son and grandchildren!


  11. Ina
    Oct 14, 2012 @ 16:12:38

    Hi Christine, the result is what counts and that is a beautiful baby πŸ™‚ and a beautiful poem! Sorry that you didn’t experience the ” joy ” of childbirth. But if it is any comfort, giving birth the “natural” way has some downsides too lol. I suppose it has to be difficult, or we would have dozens of offspring? I remember I said I would never gave birth again after my first, which lit. splitted me in half, and it took me 12 years to reconsider! LOL !
    Big hugs and love xxx πŸ™‚


    • journeyintopoetry
      Oct 17, 2012 @ 15:58:35

      Thank you Ina! Yes I guess being “out of it” when giving birth does have its advantages but I would have welcomed a cuddle with my very first baby πŸ™‚

      But as you so rightly say a beautiful baby is the main thing and I certainly got that – eventually!! And now I have the benefit of his three children too so a lovely outcome!! πŸ™‚

      Lots of love and hugs xx


  12. bardessdmdenton
    Oct 14, 2012 @ 23:34:28

    I have been so remiss in liking and commenting on this powerful poem of yours Christine, although I have read it a few times. I have not given birth but this poem as with any excellent writing proves that the effective use of words can transcend our experience and take us into that of others. This also vividly speaks to why we must go forward in women’s healthcare, not backwards. Your poetry gets stronger and stronger, as does my love in our friendship! Blessings, Diane XO


  13. Fergiemoto
    Oct 16, 2012 @ 20:46:22

    What a traumatic experience, Christine! The poem is so powerfully written and very moving. Those were such different times, and hopefully things continue to progress forward. Glad to see you posting. Hope your health is improving.


    • journeyintopoetry
      Oct 17, 2012 @ 16:10:42

      Thank you for this lovely comment.

      I am doing ok at the moment health-wise thank you. I hardly dare say it because MS is so unpredictable it comes up behind you and bites in the rear quarters very suddenly! So I’m whispering this so it can’t hear me!! lol πŸ™‚



  14. restlessj
    Oct 19, 2012 @ 16:49:41

    That last line is like a Primal Scream. Beautifully written, I hope things improved after that?


  15. journeyintopoetry
    Oct 19, 2012 @ 16:53:00

    Thank you Res.

    Yes things did improve though i had two more C sections, but both a much better experience.

    And that first horrible experience has now given me three beautiful grandchildren πŸ™‚



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