The following is an account of my ordeal at better birth of utah. I will later post an email exchange between myself and the owner (suzanne smith) about the events that transpired.
I was so excited to finally be going into labor- my baby would soon be here. I reviewed the instructions on when to call the birth hotline with my husband and we waited until my contractions were following the 5-1-1 pattern described. We went in for my first check.
A student from the midwives college was charting everything, and Ester Werbach was the midwife on call. She told me to put my feet together for my vaginal exam. She had been checking me for about 30 seconds when a contraction hit me, and man did it hurt. I cried out “I can’t take it anymore! stop! stop!” and she just ignored me. She kept feeling my cervix for the entire contraction, so more than a minute. I was shocked. I remember thinking “what… just happened?”
Esther took her fingers out of me and I saw long, gnarly fingernails. She hadn’t even bothered to trim them. She called out how dilated I was in a clinical manner, like I hadn’t even spoken to her. The student charted everything. Ester said “here, take some tylenol” and handed me two big blue pills. I found out later that it was tylenol pm. My husband and doula were both there and also were shocked to find out that I had been given a sedative without any discussion. If I had an emergency complication and had to go to the hospital I would not have been able to give an accurate account of what medications I had taken. This was extremely dangerous.
Anyway, ESTER WERBACH made me sign the paper that says I am in labor (and waive my right to a refund) and that I should come back later when I am more progressed.
What happened to me was something I read about repeatedly before getting pregnant. They call it birth rape or birth abuse (sometimes birth trauma), and it is very wrong. Legally it is medical battery. I was terrified that it would happen to me, and so when it did I just tried my best not to think about it. I didn’t want my labor to be ruined by anything. I wanted it to be the best day of my life, like everyone said it would be. Inside I just wanted to cry. Why would someone ignore me? Its my body, isn’t it? Shouldn’t I be the boss of who touches it and when? I don’t think the clinic believes that women have a right to autonomy. No wonder they crowded my doula out of the room while the exam was happening- they probably routinely engage in these kinds of violatins.
When you sign up for better birth of utah they ask you if you have a history of sexual abuse. I do, so I told them that I do. I wanted to go there because they advertised themselves as being a safe place for a person like me, a place where I wouldn’t be treated with disrespect or forced or coerced into one type of birth. They said in their entry materials that “there is no ‘everyone has to…’ at better birth.” Well, that turned out to be a very costly lie for me. I have post traumatic stress disorder as a result of the conduct of Esther Werbach at Better Birth of Utah. It is hard for me to talk about everything because I basically have to ruin a whole day dealing with flashbacks and anger, so this will be a many part series in explaining what happened. What is amazing to me is how little time I actually spent at the birth center during my labor, and yet I have virtually nothing but negative experiences to share.