What were you doing on Wednesday 2nd April 2008? Or how about Sunday 16th December 2012? I can tell you exactly what I was doing … Maybe these pictures will help?
Phoebe was born just before 8pm in April
Peter was born just before 2am in December
So yes, I was at the Birmingham Women’s Hospital watching both of my kids being born. A fantastic experience and ones I will never forget in a very long time. But could they have been better? Could they have been improved?
Well, for most people I guess you would say, “well no, how can you improve on the birth of your kids?” They were both natural births, no c sections which is good but both of the births were very different.
When Phoebe was born, I remember we went in about 9am and because waters had broken, we were kept in – basically, paternity leave had started there and then. By about 12pm it was obvious that although things were going well, “now might be a good time to phone the interpreting agency.” (You all know my wife is deaf, right?) They phoned and by 12.30/1pm sure enough our interpreter had arrived. She was fantastic! I shan’t name her but when she first arrived, I had my reservations thinking, “you’re a bit young to be interpreting something like this”. It turns out it was her first birth she has interpreted … and still her first to date. Anyway, Phoebe arrived minutes before 8pm and although tired from interpreting, our interpreter was still there helping out at gone 10pm at night – a true star. Thank you so much!
By contrast, Peter’s birth was very different. We arrived at around 9pm on a Sunday night and when I asked for an interpreter on our arrival – the looks I got. As if to say, “what do you want an interpreter for?!” I explained that my wife was deaf and they told me, “give us minute to get things sorted and I will call them”. Fine … I thought. 10pm passed and still no interpreter, “oh we will call them when she’s a bit further gone”. 11pm … 11.30pm … 12.00am. “oh she’s progressing really well” … “but where’s the interpreter?” … “oh, I don’t think we can phone now, its too late – you’re coping ok aren’t you? You can do it!”
And that’s pretty much how it was! I am not a qualified interpreter, I wanted to spend the time supporting my wife through perhaps one of the excited/nerve wracking times of our lives and this is what they tell me!?
Don’t get me wrong, I am certainly not a racist but with signs all over the hospital in various languages it is obvious they provide translators for people who can’t speak English so why was my wife left without a qualified interpreter?! It’s not good enough NHS!
I am also very very sure this isn’t an isolated incident. Why should deaf people be left to suffer without full access?!
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