SAVING GIGI – A MULTIPLE BIRTH STORY
TRIGGER: TRAUMA IN BIRTH
This piece is long, at times heavy and 100% down to the nitty gritty. It may make you feel all kinds of something . It has taken me many months to gather the courage to write.
I would recommend that you do not read this if you are currently pregnant, particularly with multiples. Or if you have recently experienced a traumatic birth for which you are still coming to terms.
This purpose of this piece is to emphasise the importance of all the little details (errors) and how they contribute to the outcome. I want others to know that all of those little details that are brushed off, they’re crucial. In some cases they’re the difference between life and death.
My timing may be a tad off, but in the absence of my clinical records this is the best I can do.
NOTE: Advice from midwives and medical professionals is appreciated but unnecessary. My Doctors are managing my trauma and PTSD. Formal complaints have been directed to the Human Rights Commission, the AHPRA and the hospital in question. Legal advice has been sought, accepted and acted upon. I love reading responses but in many cases it is not possible to reply to each individually. Thank you in advance for your comments and suggestions.
PRIOR EVENTS, SAME HOSPITAL
2012: WELCOMING BABY E.
Unfortunately I have had very poor experiences with my local hospital. These experiences span from 2012 to 2018. I completely understand that for some this same hospital was fantastic. For me it has been an uphill battle on every occasion I’ve had to attend.
The birth of my first daughter was fantastic compared to my second. I was induced after my waters broke and labour failed to follow. I was induced at 11am-ish and made it to 1.45pm before asking for an epidural. I never did get the epidural as I dialated from 3cm at 1.50pm-ish to 10cm and found myself delivering in just a couple of pushes with E in my arms at 2.18pm.
The midwife of course did not believe that I had to push after having been checked only 20 minutes before. When I expressed from the bathroom that I needed to push, the midwife told me to calm down, that I was being dramatic and at risk of hurting myself. (I was perfectly calm, I don’t even think I’d raised my voice despite 0 pain killers). I was too busy throwing up.
This left me in the shower bent over the support chair with my mum and best friend attempting to assist. I was crossing my legs in an attempt to alleviate the pressure. I was 21 with my first baby and had absolutely no idea how to advocate for myself.
Finally I simply put myself on the bed and demanded I be examined. Midwife: “Oh my god, she’s crowning”. In a couple of pushes, a few short minutes later, I was nursing my teeny baby E.
I was up and about reorganising my suitcase after showering an hour or so later. Mainly because the bloody bed sheets I’d delivered E on were still on the bed. They remained there until I was finally sent to the post natal ward after 9pm.
I sat in a chair despite my stitches and breast fed for the 6 or so hours following my birth because it was clean and the midwives has failed my repeated requests for clean bed sheets.
The post natal ward was great. Home the next day. Thank god.
TEENY E’S BIG SURGERY.
The lump, first time around.
E required surgery in this same hospital on two occasions prior to her 4th birthday. This surgery was supposed to be a simple day procedure to remove a congenital dermoid (solid bone like cyst formed in utero) from her right eyebrow.
These cysts can be quite dangerous if left unattended and develop in numerous ways. There are no known causes. E’s sat in the subcutaneous tissue at the end of her eyebrow, bordering her temple.
On the first occasion the surgery was performed laparoscopically and was minimally invasive. The cyst however grew back in a matter of months, growing twice as fast as before. We were back at the hospital prior to her 6 month post op check.
It was then that I discovered that the specimen sent to pathology following the initial surgery had not in fact made it there. It was never tested and this was only discovered when I requested the results in person and the operating surgeon could not locate them. This meant that the hospital had failed to properly identify the cause of the now rapidly reoccurring growth in my three year old’s head. At this point I was terrified.
E was booked for surgery within a matter of weeks. Surgery appeared to go well, E had a small patch on her eye and was waking comfortably from anaesthesia. The wardsman arrived to take us to the day surgery post op ward. In the elevator I noticed that her face had begun to swell unlike it had following her first surgery. E was becoming uncomfortable and whinging relentlessly about pain despite being heavily medicated.
I expressed this to the nurses as we arrived in post op, but was assured it was fine. E began to cry and complain that her face hurt. She was only three years old. The swelling continued. I was once again assured that all was fine. I asked that a doctor check and was refused. My mother and sisters arrived at which point E had become hysterical. The nurses were telling her to calm down and that she was being silly.
The swelling was now undeniable and I quite literally threw a tantrum demanding that they call the surgeons immediately or I would go and get them myself.
The surgeons arrived and demanded to know why they hadn’t been called sooner. I told them why. They examined E who was now screaming in pain. They asked me to sign a form, clicked off the breaks to E’s bed and wheeled her straight back to theatre.
They had to reopen the freshly stitched incision and repair the damaged artery pumping blood into her tiny face. They then had to sew it all over again.
E had been haemorrhaging into her tiny little face for almost an hour post op.
Her eye movement was now restricted and her entire right side face was filled with blood. Her simple 1 hour procedure turned into an admission to the children’s ward and it took almost three months for the bruising from the haemorrhage to clear.
E an hour before her simple procedure, then again the afternoon of her discharge from hospital.
Sometimes parents do know better and medical professionals give themselves too much credit. Advocate for your kids until you’re blue in the face and don’t give a damn if it makes you look like a drama queen!
CONGRATULATIONS, IT’S TWINS.
We discovered Franki and Gigi were on their way at 6 weeks gestation. Holy moly, this is where the fun starts.
My GP advised that I would commence with the Fetal Medicine Unit (FMU) and the Twins Clinic at the hospital following my 12 week scan. It was explained that my twins were MCDA which meant that they shared a placenta and were considered to be high risk. My GP sent the necessary referrals directly to the hospital at my 6 week appointment.
At 13 weeks gestation after calling the hospital repeatedly to find out why I had not been contacted regarding my referrals, I was repeatedly met with a voice mail that was never returned. I grew frustrated and called my GP.
My GP called the hospital and they finally called me back. I was scheduled for an appointment that week. They could not explain why my referrals had sat unactioned for 8 weeks.
I commenced at the twins clinic, provided all personal and family medical history and blood work undertaken by my GP. A file was initiated and I then booked in my next two fortnightly lunchtime appointments in advance.
The following fortnight the hospital was unable to locate my file and so I had to provide all info again. My blood work could not be located so I had my GP send it over on the spot. Despite this I was instructed to repeat the same blood tests entirely for the hospitals own records.
The following fortnight my husband and I returned only to see someone else who once again could not locate my file. Once again I had to repeat everything. At this point I had been engaging with the hospital for 6 weeks and grew frustrated that my apparent high risk pregnancy was being managed in this way.
Following this appointment I attempted to book two further appointments, two and four weeks in advance. I requested any time of day other than 9am or 3pm as this was the time I needed to drop and collect my daughter from kindergarten.
Despite having attended three prior lunchtime appointments, I was advised that 3pm was the only available time (All day, no matter how far in advance I booked).
When I reminded the receptionist that all appointments to date had been at lunch time, she advised me that twins clinic appointments were never available during those times. I once again reminded her that I have attended all previous appointments during those hours and that she had in fact been in attendance when I arrived.
She refused any appointment other than 3pm which meant that for the next few fortnight’s my husband and I had to drag a reluctant E from school early so that he did not miss out on seeing our scans and attending appointments.
This caused a great deal of stress. The only positive experience at this point had been the regular scans with technicians who were consistently lovely and informative.
At approximately 27 weeks pregnant, the morning following my twin clinic appointment for that week I received frantic calls from my mother. She had received numerous calls from the maternity unit at the hospital and when her return calls went unanswered she assumed that something had gone wrong.
I was having breakfast in a cafe with my husband when my mother called. I had received no calls from the hospital myself. My mum told me that the hospital had called to urgently book me in for appointment with the Gestational Diabetes (GD) clinic and hospital nutritionist as I had GD. I had not yet been given this diagnosis myself.
When I called the hospital they advised that they had been unable to reach me on the details listed in my file. It turned out that despite the hospital having a universal computer system which should mean that each patient has one file, the receptionist had accessed one of the numerous files listed under my Medicare number.
This file was from 2012 and had my ex husband and mother listed as contacts. It had my old phone number and 2012 address. This was the same ex husband for whom the hospital held copies of my restraining order (obviously on another file) and family court orders for Eva and myself stipulating the conditions of the restraining order that applied to us both, my sole parental responsibility and the specification of no contact.
These orders had been provided to the hospital three years prior during admission for E’s surgery mentioned above and had been confirmed at every occasion we had attended the hospital since.Despite this, they still had him listed as my next of kin (on this file) and had been trying to contact him regarding my current pregnancy.
Fury is too soft a term.
I advised the receptionist as politely as I could by this point that in my hand I held my maternity booklet, on front of which the sticker printed ‘from my file’ on their computer system displayed all of the current details. These included my husband Casper’s details. Further, that I reminded her that I had attended an appointment less than 24 hours before hand with my husband at that same hospital. HOW???
I requested that her boss or her bosses boss call me back immediately. I received a call from the head midwife later that day who was initially cold and condescending. It was only after I explained with great frustration while bawling my eyes out.
I explained that none of her staff could guarantee that my current pregnancy had not been discussed with my violent ex husband, at this point she stopped talking at me and actually listened. I advised her of the court orders held on file, of the absurdity of this incident and breach of of confidentiality.
I then advised her of the unexplained loss of my file and records and my inability to book a single appointment at any time of day other than 3pm no matter how far in advance. At this point I finally received an apology and miraculously, alternative appointment times. The head midwife advised that she would be attendance for all of my appointments from then on.
The following week I was given an appointment at 2pm. I was very unwell having attended labour and delivery the evening prior with elevated blood pressure, pitting oedema and a chronic headache. I was sent home with pathology forms in the early hours on the view that I would attend the twin clinic later that day.
My husband and I arrived for our scheduled appointment at 2pm. We were hoping that he would get to see our scan before running to pick up E. We sat in the waiting room as the only ones there and watched our OB laugh and joke with a male colleague for almost 15 minutes. She then looked at us and wandered back to her room. She re-emerged continuing her conversation with the man.
At this point it was almost 2.30pm and a furious Casper complained. The head midwife had also not arrived. The OB apologised, citing that she did not know we were there to see her as my file could not be found and my card was not laid out waiting for her. She did confirm that my appointment was visible on her computer diary though.
At this point I felt very unwell and Casper had to leave to pick up E. She took my blood pressure and found it to be high. She then checked the blood results from that morning and discovered that my liver enzymes were also elevated. She then asked me if I felt ok to which I responded no. She told me without hesitation that I had pre-eclampsia and was being admitted to hospital for monitoring immediately.
Preeclampsia is every 28 week mama’s worst fear. In particular, for twins it can be a death sentence.
I burst into hysterical tears as Casper arrived back to the chaos with E. The head OB arrived, as did the head midwife and overruled this decision, instead sending me to the Maternity Assessment Unit for assessment. From there I was sent for an X-ray as I was experiencing severe chest pain and wheezing. Something the OB had failed to notice.
It was then decided that I had a lung infection as opposed to pre eclampsia. The original OB arrived in the MAU and apologised for telling me that I had preeclampsia. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that to you”.
Take a breath. Exhausted yet?
I made it to 34w+ 5 at which both babes were head down and it was decided that I would be induced at 36+5.
On the morning of my scheduled induction I called the hospital to confirm that all was going ahead. I double checked my bag and we set of to drop E at my mums. I assured her I’d see her the following day anticipating a birth as fast as hers.
I was particularly nervous by this stage as the babes movements had decreased significantly. I am a chronic student, I study everything. There is nothing I hate more than sitting in a doctor or lawyer’s office and feeling as though the conversation is over my head.
I applied this same studious mentality to our escape plan from domestic violence. That path and my need for understanding lead me to drastically switch from studying public health to gaining acceptance to law school. (Neither of which I’ve even close to finished).
For months I spent hours obsessively researching MCDA twins, the potential complications, mortality rates, hazards of the NICU, placenta viability, TTTS. I learned that my babes occur in only 3/1000 live births or 0.4% of all pregnancies.
Given this, I needed to know what I was in for and give myself the best possible chance of taking them both home healthy.
In the United States, even seemingly healthy MCDA twins are typically delivered between 32-35weeks gestation because of the high risk of placental failure and unexplained stillbirth after this time.
This was not a risk I was willing to take and at 36.5 weeks I was well and truly in the red zone. I had repeatedly requested that I be delivered no later that 36 weeks, but two public holidays got in the way of scheduling my induction (because they apparently affect hospitals) and so we had no choice but to take the risk and wait.
We arrived at the hospital at 2.50pm and were sat in the waiting room for my 3pm induction. We knew from my last OB appointment two weeks prior that I was 2cm dialated and therefore there was already a high likelihood of successfully breaking my waters (ARM).
At 4.30pm we were still in the waiting room. Shortly after 5pm we were moved to an assessment Bay. (Already an entirely different process to E’s prompt induction.
Here the midwife discovered that she only had one tracing monitor not two and set off to find another. She came back just before 6pm and had to be reminded that I was still missing one trace. She hadn’t found one nor could she recall that she had set off to.
She returned with a male doctor who promptly told me that I would need to go home because it was past 6pm and they do not induce twins at night time. I reminded him that I had called ahead to confirm my induction, has been waiting for my induction since 3pm and that he was the first doctor I had seen. I refused to leave, expressing my fears about placental failure and still birth.
I explained to him my deep understanding of he potential complications at this gestation and that I was not willing to risk burying my daughters because the hospital did not want to deliver twins at night time. I told him that I did not want to end up in an unnecessary C-Section if my currently head down babies had moved to an unfavourable position by the following morning.
He refused my induction. I refused to leave. He left the room in a huff and never returned.
At 9.30pm I was still sitting in the assessment bay. I walked myself out to the reception and asked if they’d forgotten I was there. I returned to the bed and after a while a new midwife arrived. She explained that I would need to come back tomorrow. Once again I explained my fears and assured her that I was absolutely not going anywhere.
I once again noted that my babies were currently both head down which was optimal for the natural birth I was hoping for. ( Broken record) I reiterated that I was concerned that if they continued to delay my induction that my babies would move and I would find myself in need of an entirely avoidable c-section.
She confirmed that it was ‘too high risk’ to induce twins at night. I asked her, what would you do if I came in now I’m unstoppable labour, you’d handle it right, because this is a hospital!! Why are you risking my babies for want of a less stressful night shift? Ive been here since 3pm!!
I then very directly asked her that if I went home and tomorrow it was discovered that one or both of my babies had unexpectedly died due to the placenta failing to support them at such late gestation, what will you say to me?
Will you tell me I’m very sorry but you have experienced unexplained stillbirth?
Because quite clearly everyone in this room knows this is a significant risk which increases hour by hour.
Her demeanour immediately changed, she said she would be back and within an hour she came in to tell me that she’d found me a birth suite. We moved in at 1am, 10 hours after my induction was scheduled to commence.
Once settled in our birth suite she advised that the team would be in to commence my induction at 6am when the day shift commenced and at which point her shift would end. (Turns out I would see her later though).
Casper and I attempted some sleep and sure enough the morning shift arrived to scan and induce me. An internal exam just before 7am confirmed that I was still ARM-able as I had been for a fortnight. A scan then confirmed my fear. Gigi has now moved and was sitting high and transverse as opposed to low and head down.
I asked both the OB and her superior in attendance to honestly answer me as to whether a scheduled c-section was safer despite my want for a natural birth. They explained the methods available for turning Gigi if she presented unfavourably but noted an epidural would be required.
I explained how fast I had dialated in my prior birth in the same hospital 5 years before and noted that if I dialated from my current 2cm to 10 at the same speed there would be no time for an epidural. They will not give you one until you’re 4 cms dialated and I had a proven history of skipping that part.
Both doctors agreed that a c-section was the safest option, advised me that there were only two sections booked for that morning and that was may be able to go first as I was all ready to go. The told me that they would go and seek permission from the OB in charge and I would then be prepped.
We notified our families.
HERE WE GO….
The OB in charge arrived at my bedside and proceeded to explain all of the benefits of a natural birth. I then explained that I was aware of the benefits and that a natural birth had been my preference all along. That I had actually had one before. I explained however that I was concerned about the positioning of the babies and how fast I dialate.
I further explained that I was particularly concerned about having Twin 1 (Franki) naturally but then not having time to administer the epidural and finding myself knocked out in an emergency C section if Gigi remained transverse. I told him that I did not want to have to recover from both a natural birth and an emergency C section while caring for three children.
Selfishly, I wanted to enjoy my birth. If I could not safely have my desired natural birth and a c-section were necessary, then I wanted to have a calm and organised one. I wanted the opportunity for a beautiful photo of myself, my husband and our girls together upon their safe arrival. I wanted to eliminate the risk of any uncontrolled emergency.
His exact words in response were “I understand that this may sound manipulative, but if you want a c-section you will need to go home and wait until tomorrow as we are fully booked for the day”. At this point I noticed the visible surprise on the first two doctors faces.
I had already explained to him and the other doctors my fears surrounding still birth. So I said to him, ok, we will go ahead but only because I am so worried about my placenta failing. I did however note that if anything were to go wrong I would ensure he was held accountable for his flippant disregard for my well founded concerns.
He patted my bed, told me he would check in and left triumphant. My waters were broken at 8am. I was now only hours away from hitting 37 weeks with what they estimated were two 3kg babies. Red zone.
I asked if they could start the drip immediately as I did not contract on my own in my last labour. They assured me this time I would. At 12pm, 4ish hours later I had not contracted at all and so in went the drip after all.
I explained to the midwife that I did not want pain relief but desperately wanted to spend my labour in the shower. I told her I anticipated ot would be quick if I were able to be mobile and I’m the shower. This was how I laboured with E and found the hot water best for my pain.
The midwife initially agreed but later resisted my attempts to leave the bed as the day went on. She cited that I needed to maintain the trace and that she did not know if the mobile monitors I had used with E were available. (She hadn’t asked).
Finally at 8pm-ish I was still 2cm dialated after having sat in a bed all day at the midwives insistance. The girls heart rates were now tachycardic, consistently sitting at 180 and not decelerating well. At this point I got annoyed, got up and demanded to be let in the shower. I told the midwife that at this rate I would be too tired to push and end up in theatre anyway and so I needed to move in order to dialate.
I told her that the heart rates were of serious concern and I wanted an OB’s opinion on the trace. She finally agreed and the mobile monitors I’d been requesting for 8 hours simply appeared. Strong contractions commended within minutes of being mobile. Within 20 minutes of swaying in the hot water and counting myself through contractions I was in full blown labour as I’d suspected I would be.
40 minutes after entering the shower at 2cm dialated, I was still counting myself through each contraction. My husband came into the shower worried. He said “Babe, what are the heart rates meant to be? I said max 160 why? He said they’re 180 and 210 and they’ve been like that for a while.
At this point I lost my concentration and stormed out of the shower. I asked the midwife to call the anaesthesiologist and demanded we go to theatre. I began frantically reminding her that their heart rates had now been dangerously high for hours. I told her her they were going to have a stroke and demanded that she cut my clothes off as I couldn’t take them off because of the drip and monitors.
I could feel myself transitioning and knew that if I were to have any chance at getting my babies out safely, I was going to have to simply do it myself. No one was listening to me. I couldn’t control myself anymore. I was so angry it had come to this, so angry that I wasn’t being informed whilst in the shower. I kept repeated myself to call the theatre as she was cutting off my clothes. At this point she advised that they were already on the way. She’d called them and a C Section had been scheduled without my knowledge.
It was now once again night time. They don’t safely induce head down twins at night. It’s too dangerous to deliver them at night. Yet here I was.
The anaesthesiologist arrived as my nightie was cut off and I felt myself fully transition. I was no longer speaking to the midwife and instead asked the anaesthesiologist directly how long it would take to administer the epidural. She said all up half an hour. I told her that she didn’t have time and that I needed to push.
The midwife interrupted me and said no, you can’t, you were only 2cm dialated 45 minutes ago (Déjà-vu). I said no, I need to push now so please check. Much to her surprise I was in fact 9cm dialated. At this point one of the two OB’s from 6am walked in and laughed ‘oh you weren’t joking about dialating quickly were you?” My face said ‘go to hell’ to be frank, but I said nothing. (Nope, wasn’t joking).
I turned myself around and hopped up on my knees facing the wall just as I had with E. I zoned out the midwives. I felt Franki descend and pushed gently once until they confirmed she was crowning. It was then that Gigi’s heart rate blew out. I stopped talking, stopped listening.
My husband was talking to me. I laid my head calmly to the top of the bed, looked at him but ignored him. I was trying to stop myself from panicking. I knew that I had to get Gigi out as fast as I could. But Franki was in front of her. Franki’s heart rate wasn’t great, but much better than Gigi’s.
I remember making a plan. I was going to push Franki out in just one push, no matter the damage it did to my body. I had to get them out.
I remember finally telling my husband not to look back, just to look at the wall straight ahead. (He has the weakest possible stomach). The monitor went crazy and people just appeared from nowhere. Casper counted 16 people but it felt like 50.
The only person I really noticed enter the room was the head OB who had agreeably manipulated me into this birth. He sat pompous on a chair in the centre of the room. Simply observing.
I heard somebody say something about Gigi being in distress and lost it. I didn’t say a word to anyone, I waited for the next contraction and screamed with everything I had in my entire body. Franki was out in one push. Casper couldn’t help it, he turned back to the sound of Franki landing on the bed much to the surprise of everyone in the room. He just stared at me blankly and said “babe, Franki’s here”.
The midwives had barely caught her.
I didn’t respond. I asked the midwives if I could have a local anaesthetic administered as I could feel two tears and did not want to be hesitant in pushing out Gigi. They refused, telling me that there was no tear. I asked several more times but was refused.
There were no tears.
The contractions started once again and I felt Gigi turn head down.
I then told the midwife that she was head down I needed to push. She and the doctor insisted that I lay down so they could fix the scalp monitor to Gigi. I refused, saying that she was not engaged and might move out of position. That I just had to get her out! They once again insisted telling me that the midwives would ‘hold her in place’.
They literally put their hands on the outside of my stomach and attempted to hold my baby in place inside of me…..
My butt hadn’t even hit the bed when I got a contraction and felt her move. I told this to the midwife who assured me ‘no, we’ve got her’. I said no, she’s in my body and I felt her move! I told her to check, now on my back. I could feel her feet kicking downward.
The midwife examined me and immediately looked panicked. Despite being less than a foot above my face she ignored my requests for information and began whispering to the OB “I’ve got a foot” she whispered. Her hand was inside of me, and yet she could not answer my question.
Once again I contracted and felt Gigi move. “She moved again” I cried. Again they ignored me and the midwife now whispered to the OB, “I’ve got a foot and a hand”, the doctor asked how she could be sure that Gigi was now presenting feet and hands first. She confirmed that she could feel a foot and that Gigi was now “holding on to her finger”.
I contracted once again and Gigi’s heart monitor bottomed out. Everyone panicked.
I started to scream
The first time we met, Gigi was almost five hours old and recently released from the NICU. She weighed 2.2kg.
After 30 long hours in that hospital I finally lost it. I started screaming. Get her out! She’s going to die! GET HER OUT!!
A midwife taking notes near the door said, “Camille calm down, everyone is trying to help you”. To which I yelled
“Don’t you dare patronise me!! I told you people this would happen! You didn’t listen to a single thing I said!! Now my baby is dying, get her out!!!!”I frantically turned to the head OB still sitting in his chair in the middle of the room. I screamed, “Get up! I told you this would happen! Get her out!! I don’t want an epidural, just take me to theatre, knock me out, GET HER OUT!! She’s dying.
I don’t think I even took a breath. My contractions were still fierce but no longer regular. Gigi’s head was no longer putting pressure on my cervix.
The OB carefully made his way across the room to my bedside where he quietly said, “ok you know what, I think we’re going to go around the corner and we’re going to have a little emergency”.
I wanted to kill him. It was the most condescending statement someone had ever laid on me and I just screamed in his face, “GET HER OUT” and then just sobbing, “you’re killing her!”
Finally the wardsman arrived, just as they were wheeling me out of the room I asked the midwife what she was going to do with my other baby. I had not even touched Franki yet. She was wrapped in a blanket in My husband’s arms staring at me.
The midwife told me she would stay with her father. I asked “how is he expected to feed her. She’s his first baby, he doesn’t know what to do”. The midwife responded by having the wardsman wait while she held Franki on my breast while I laid there as my contractions raged on and Gigi was slipping away.
I couldn’t believe it! I didn’t want to yell while Franki was so close to me, I just cried and started begging her, “please stop, give him some formula, get my other baby out please, please. She’s going to die”.
Before I knew it they were wheeling me out the door and in the midst of another contraction I told my husband to call my mum and his parents. He looked terrified. I knew that he had no idea what to do and I didn’t want him to be alone if they came to give him bad news.
They left him alone in that delivery suite with a brand new premature baby, no bed, no midwife or assistance, no means of feeding her. Just a chair to sit on and a baby he had no idea how to care for.
I remember contracting while they calmly pushed me through the swing doors near the reception desk. Once we were through them everything got really loud. I was crying with the contractions and it felt like they were running. The lights were too bright and too fast. I couldn’t really see but I remember hearing the voice of the midwife from the night before yelling out her name and telling me that she was there, while the midwife who had been with me throughout the day confirmed she was staying despite her shift having ended.
I didn’t want any of them there. I think I just kept repeating myself that “I told you this would happen” and “please get her out”. I thought I’d been through the worst, that I’d arrive in theatre and they’d put me to sleep. I was wrong. When I arrived they tortured me.
There was no white bed and warm blankets like you see in the beautiful planned c-section photographs. From memory, there a as a metal table with a drain. They transferred me from the wardsman’s bed and all hands were on me.
I was still contracting heavily and had received no pain relief whatsoever. They began hosing my entire body with freezing cold anticeptic, exploding that they did not have time to prep me abs they normally would. I was since again contracting regularly and I’m incredible pain.
They then began furiously scrubbing my body all over with what felt like one of those handled kitchen scrubbers you fill with washing liquid.
They began to scrub downstairs with the ‘kitchen scrubber’. At this point it became clear that I was 100% correct about the tears I had requested a local anaesthetic for following Franki’s birth. The same tears that the midwives had told me we’re not there, was in fact there. They were scrubbing them and I began to scream.
Then came the cannula’s, the horrific pinch of the catheter, more scrubbing, all pain relief free whilst still regularly contracting. I kept screaming, “you’re hurting me! What are you doing, put me to sleep! Please stop hurting me!”
Finally a new anaesthesiologist, a young man, appeared above me. I think he held my thrashing head still covering my ears with his hands and calmly explained that it takes 6 minutes once administered for the anaesthetic to cross the placenta at which point it becomes harmful to the baby.
My poor Gidge was already fighting for her little life and so while the pain carried on, this helped me focus. I think I continued screaming outwardly and telling them to hurry up and knock me out. But my mind had stopped. I’ve struggled a lot with religion in past years. But I remember praying.
Suddenly everything went quiet and warm. I could see the chaos, the lights were blinding. I’m sure I was screaming but I couldn’t hear it any more. I couldn’t feel anything anymore. I remember just begging to God. “Please don’t take her from me, I’ll take her in any way, shape or form you like. But please, just let me keep her, I don’t want to bury my baby”. After that everything just got really warm and I kind of faded away.
I later learned that Gigi had been delivered promptly but was unresponsive and required three methods of resuscitation. She was then transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
My husband told me that he visited her twice whilst I was in surgery. During this time he had to leave Franki to be cared for by his patents and my mother was at the theatres waiting for news about me. When Casper arrived at the NICU, he said that he was unable to hold Gigi. Only touch her through a hole in what he described as a plastic box.
Her chest was moving up and down 100 miles an hour.
It had then taken the team of doctors almost four hours of frantic operating to stop me from bleeding out. I’m told standard c-sections take about 30 minutes from start to finish.
I remember my mum. I could smell her before I could see her. I don’t remember what we talked about. But she later told me that she arrived long before I came out of theatre. She said that for a long time I would just wake, ask for Gigi and pass out again.
Franki was born a little after 9pm. Gigi just before 11pm. I held them both for the first time a little before 3am.
I remained in hospital for 7 nights, 8 days in total. Following my admission to post natal, the head OB who had pushed me into the naturally delivery visited. On the first day he advised me of the events that had taken place. He confirmed that there were in fact TWO TEARS that had required repair during surgery. He told me about Gigi’s resuscitation and that it had taken about four hours to stop me from haemorrhaging.
I was very heavily medicated after surgery the night before and polite.
On the second day it occurred to me that Casper very nearly went home with only one babe, minus the other and minus his wife.
The head OB visited again, this time he apologised. His exact words were, “I’m sorry that everything you were concerned about eventuated, you are obviously very well read and I apologise”. I responded, “well perhaps the next time someone tried to advocate for themselves you’ll remember me and listen to them”. He promptly left and didn’t visit again.
It took 5 days for the hospital to realise that I needed a blood transfusion and iron transfusion following my blood loss in surgery. By the time these were administered I was waking only to breast feed and could barely see or focus. I was passing out without warning, in the middle of a sentence. I was also experiencing difficulty maintaining my temperature, dropping to 35 degrees several times.
I was given only basic paracetamol and standard nurofen following my emergency c section after the team responsible for my intravenous pain relief failed to arrive to arrange my medication for the duration of my stay. This was only discovered after I explained to a midwife that I felt something might be wrong because as far as pain was concerned, I have a high tolerance but was in pure hell.
By this time Casper had been lifting and reposting me like a baby so that I could breast feed as any movement at all was excruciating. Getting to the bathroom meant walking like an 80 year old full assisted and hunched over to avoid extending the incision site.
I was then later overdosed with a full dose of tramadol and endone at the same time despite having warned the hospital that I was sensitive. This was also despite the fact that since my medication had been corrected, I had been on regular alternate doses of the medications. Why they were both administered at once without precedent or warning was not explained. This resulted in sleep paralysis which I had not previously experienced.
When I woke unable to move from the neck down, I could not turn my head and I could not initially speak. I believed at this point that I may have experienced a blood clot or stroke resulting from the aggressive surgery.
I can genuinely tell you that this was the most terrifying experience of my life. I had considered that I was paralysed. The midwives simply told me that it was legal to give such a dose, even if entirely unnecessary. That sleep paralysis was a common effect. For them it was nothing, but I can honestly say it was one of the worst experiences of my life.
Taking his girls home.
Following my discharge I was a mess. I like to think of myself as a brave person. But I experienced flashbacks and nightmares. I cried constantly and without warning.
On day 18 post partum, I contacted the hospital concerned about new pain and my previously well healed c section scar. I was advised by a triage nurse on the phone to attend the ER urgently as it appeared I was experiencing a post surgical infection.
I dropped my my older daughter to my mothers as it was a Saturday night and drove with my husband and the twins to hospital. I arrived at 11.45pm and was sat in the waiting room with my new born premature babies until just after 6am before seeing a doctor.
I was then given a script and told to stop breastfeeding whilst on the medication. When I expressed fear that this could disrupt or terminate my babies ability to breast feed as they were already struggling with latching, the doctor told me to see my GP in 48 hours.
I chose to continue breast feeding and not take the medication. I saw my GP first thing on the Monday. She gave me a common breast feeding friendly medication. By this time I was unwell, required to be closely monitored with number outs visits and required numerous repeats of antibiotics. This infection persisted until 4 months post partum.
I think it’s really important to differentiate between unforeseen emergencies and those caused by human error. Like any mum I’d heard stories of traumatic births. It bothers me a great deal that these situations are so readily accepted as ‘facts of life’. The complications and ultimate emergency that dictated my birthing experience were the result of poor judgement and human error. They resulted from flippant disregard and desensitisation.
Medical professionals are not infallible. They are simply real people with a unique set of skills. They literally hold in their hands the power governing life, death & disability and their mistakes result in immeasurable consequences.
We are conditioned to trust completely and never to question them. I appreciate their societal contribution and the sacrifices they make immensely. But sometimes they screw up immeasurably. They kill women and babies with negligence and bravado and this needs to be said out loud more often.