My Ordeal part 2

I went home with my husband to labor. I was trying to ignore that I had been abused by the midwife. I was using hypnobabies and tried to repeat some of the affirmations, like “I accept whatever turn my birthing takes”. I know now how unrealistic is was for me to try and ignore being abused but I only had a few minutes between contractions to really think about much of anything. The pain was getting worse.

Ester Werbach told me I had to take a bath with epsom salts “for the magnesium”. I have medical laboratory experience and know that if the bath actually raised magnesium levels in the bloodstream there would be a warning for dialysis patients and the like on the box, but there wasn’t. Ester was full of folsky remedies every time I had seen her before so I didn’t really take the suggestion that seriously. I figured it was a suggestion just to relax me and help with the pain. I felt much more comfortable showering, so I took a shower. That wasn’t good enough for Ester. When my husband called back to the Better Birth of Utah hotline Ester was angry that I had opted for a shower and basically refused to talk to my husband unless I took a bath. That was the worst bath of my entire life. I was uncomfortable the entire time and it was hard for my husband to do the knee press when contractions went on. So I took the bath and we called back, but Ester Werbach gave no clear indication of when we should call back or return. my husband had to call again and was told to come back to the birth center around 9, several hours later. I tried to relax and ate some ice cream around 7.

When we got to the birth center Ester wasn’t there. Thank god. It was Jen instead. She informed me that I had taken Tylenol PM previously, after reviewing my chart. My doula, my husband, and myself were all shocked about how Ester gave me medication without telling me what was really in it. Jen offered to rupture my membranes. I said I was afraid of a cord prolapse because the baby was still up so high. I went home again and labored by myself for eight hours. EIGHT HOURS. No one checked up on me in that time. Not even a phone call. If I had been experiencing a problem no one would have known. Ester acted so annoyed when my husband called that it discouraged us from asking questions or calling in to the hotline. We were told to go back in around 5 in the morning when we left the night before. I am so thankful that nothing was wrong, it easily could have been missed.

When we went back in ester was there. I was surprised because I thought the schedule said it would be a different midwife on call now and I was looking forward to someone else. Suzanne Smith was there too.

Ester said “we have to check you’. I said “I don’t want to because you didn’t stop when I said ‘no’ last time.” At this point in time ester became visibly angry with me. She literally let out an angry huff. She said “I HAD to do that. I HAD to feel it during the contraction.” I knew she didn’t really, it wasn’t an emergency, and I am supposed to be the one to decide what happens to my body. An actual apology would have meant so much to me in that moment, a tiny bit of human compassion for someone going through something so painful and difficult, but she couldn’t look past her own annoyance to do something small for me.

At this point I realized that I hadn’t eaten in about 11 hours and I asked my husband to get me a yogurt. My care contract said that the food in the kitchen at the birthing center was for laboring mothers and their families. I was a laboring mother and wanted some food. Ester said “NO, you don’t get to eat until I check you.” couldn’t suzanne have done the exam? she was just in the other room. I just didn’t know how to deal with labor and having my midwife be so mad at me and the broken promises from the care contract and everything else.

I started to cry at this point. I was so tired and hungry and I didn’t want her to touch me again and she was angry with me now so who knows what she would do. I had trouble doing much of anything and felt so defeated, I said ok and let her.

Before the exam started I felt something peculiar. I felt her rub my clitoris. the same sinking “what is happening to me?” feeling rose up, it just didn’t make sense. was she trying to make me have a contraction? was she punishing me for being difficult? doesn’t a cervical exam start with your palms up instead of down, like hers were when she touched me that way? My husband was holding my hand so he couldn’t see that she did that. She inserted her fingers into me and then sighed, said I was 4 centimeters.

At this point I was in fight or flight mode. Any hope for a normal labor was totally lost when she did that to me. When something like this happens it seems unreal, like a dream. the shock of it overwhelmed me. I paid thousands of dollars for the midwives package and this is what I got instead. I went to female healthcare providers because of my history of sexual abuse, I felt uncomfortable about male providers so women were all I had left, and that is all shattered now.  I no longer feel safe around anyone in a medical setting. I was unable to get any follow up care after childbirth because of the post traumatic stress disorder caused by this woman’s actions. PTSD is not a curable condition, it is chronic and life-long. What am I supposed to tell my son about the day he was born? How am I supposed to feel about his birthday when its the anniversary of the day that I was molested by an angry, abusive woman? There aren’t any easy answers to questions like that.


  1. Found your story in a link in the My Ob Said What?! site and I just had to comment…

    I’m so, so sorry you were treated this way. Really. I know it may not mean much coming from a stranger, but my heart ached for you while reading your story. As a doula, I’ve witnessed clients being treated like crap but never this bad. 😦

    I was recently diagnosed with trauma this year, and I don’t know if you are receiving help for the PTSD or not, but I wanted to make sure that you knew that you don’t have to live with this condition forever! I’ve been going to a therapist for a few months now and while I still get triggered and have bad episodes, the techniques I’ve been taught have been really helping me stay present and keep perspective while enduring such intense emotional pain. There is help out there for this condition and you don’t have to suffer alone forever.

    Wishing you peace and happiness.


  2. Optimist · ·

    I am so so sorry about all of this. CPMs are not healthcare provider but imposters. You were not in medical setting but someone’s home mascareding as such. You so called provider was simpyl doing what Ms Gaskin teaches people in her book, aka abuse of women in most velnerable position. There many good OGYN who work with women whow ere subject of sexual abuse. Ask around for a refferal. You can have someone who will take good care of you like you deserve.

    1. the OB at the hospital didn’t care if I consented to things either, she shoved a catheter into my uterus without asking me. I made it clear that I didn’t understand what she was doing and she kept on doing it anyway. The staff at the hospital made inappropriate comments about my body. I basically cannot go back to the doctor.

      This had nothing to do with ina may. Say what you want about her methods, she is a proponent of consent during childbirth. This had nothing to do with trying to help my labor and everything to do with punishing me for being a difficult patient.

    2. This is one of the reasons why health care in America is so messed up. It’s either “Doctors are the devil!” or “Midwives are witch doctors!” Why can’t all aspects of health and healing work together for the good of the clients?? Both models can be dangerous if the people practicing are not working for the welfare of the mothers and babies. I am a home birther, but I would NEVER claim that all midwives are wonderful. Just as I’d would never claim that all doctors are horrible. You simply cannot paint everyone with the same brush. And if you do it’s clear you need to get out into the world and experience life a little.

      To the author of the blog: I’m so sorry for your experience. No one should ever be touched without their consent.

  3. Wow! That is so messed up! I’m a student at the Midwives College of Utah, and what you experienced goes against everything I’m being taught. There are lemmons in every profession. I’m so sorry you went through that. Hopefully this woman is no longer practicing.

  4. Ew, ew, ew. Ester sounds like a nasty, creepy woman. I’m so sorry she did that to you.

  5. An ob/gyn did that cervix test to me while I was contracting, and then I was tied down for hours because I was desperate to walk during the contractions but that wasn’t allowed. It was a huge city hospital with a specialty ob department.

    The next time, it was in a tiny hamlet hospital, and I was laying waiting for the doctor. The baby was born in the bed before he got there. That was best, no interference, except they took her away from me immediatly, and I couldn’t see her for a day.

    We survived.

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