I Should Have Shouted Louder
*We rarely trigger warning as all the stories on this website are distressing,. This story breaks our heart, from the disbelief at the start to the obstetric violence and the passing of the baby.
I have a story for you. It’s in several parts. No idea if it’s of interest but it still haunts me 4 years later and is why I’m so determined for a home birth for this baby.
With my first, my due date was pushed back from 30th December to 26th January.
This meant I would have had a positive test before conception. I was also certain of the week of conception as my husband was away with work, so we’d only had sex once that month.
I had an early scan at 10 weeks to be told it was the perfect 10 week sac.
I then went for the dating scan, and was told I was still only 10 weeks.
I went back 2 weeks later and again, only 10 weeks. This is how my due date ended up being so far back.
When I approached my anomaly scan (22 weeks), I’d never felt him move. Not a single flutter, let alone kick.
I was told it was because of my BMI (size 12 jeans, I’m just a heavy person).
They couldn’t complete the scan, so told me to return 2 weeks later.
I returned at 24 weeks and again, they couldn’t complete the scan. I was sent away for a can of coke and slice of cake. There was no response from baby. He wasn’t moving on the scan. They couldn’t scan the kidneys but said ‘I won’t worry, you’re a first time mum, I’m sure they’re there’ and ticked them off on the form.
By this time, I had lost 12kg despite no morning sickness. Paired with no movement nor any movement on the scan (and the knowledge that I was actually third trimester by my dates).
I refused to leave the scanning room without a referral to the Foetal Medicine Unit.
Once I received the referral I knew I needed, security were called and escorted me out of the hospital.
I had a phone call a few days later from the Foetal Medicine Unit as the booking hospital hadn’t put through the referral as urgent and had noted that I had demanded a referral but I just needed reassurance.
I was given a telling off on the phone, lots of huffing from the receptionist and made to feel like I was wasting valuable time. I stood my ground and said yes, I still want another opinion from the Foetal Medicine Unit.
They booked me in for a scan at 27 weeks at a hospital in Central London.
I arrived that morning with my mum (husband stuck in work).
The consultant greeted me with ‘you just needed reassurance yes?’ and didn’t let me explain the full story of date discrepancies etc.
She scanned me. Within 3 minutes she told my mum to stop talking.
Things suddenly got very tense.
She then put the scanner down, said ‘I’ll be back’ and left me laying there with my mum unsure of what was happening.
She returned 10 minutes later and said with as much empathy and compassion as a teaspoon ‘you are going to theatre for a c section. I don’t know if he will be alive when he’s born, but I can guarantee he will die within 12 hours if he isn’t’.
Theatre was busy and so my caesarean didn’t take place until 28 hours later.
In that time on the antenatal ward, I listened and watched as women and their partners were excited that they were either in early labour, waiting for inductions or planned caesareans. I had a button I had to press every time his heart rate dropped.
I had 12 people come in overnight pressuring me to sign up for research; trials to do with placental failure, intrauterine growth restriction, prematurity, high BMI prematurity, high BMI caesareans.
You name it- there was a research bracket.
When in theatre there were several teams.
1. Surgical team + students
2. Neonatal team + students
3. Observing students + lecturing professor.
We were told our son would have 10 mins of resus before being called stillborn.
My husband was pushed aside by a student midwife who wanted to watch.
At 9.30, an observing student loudly asked ‘what happens when he doesn’t breathe?’ and the lecturer started detailing loudly what happens to the body, who takes him to the morgue etc. All within clear earshot of myself and my husband.
At 9.58, a male neonatal nurse fist pumped the air and shouted.’ he’s breathing’.
He was taken to the neonatal intensive care unit, they showed him to me but didn’t consider the fact that I couldn’t twist to see behind me, so all I could see was a tube and foot.
I met him 6 hours later, at no point in those 6 hours did someone give us an update.
When I went to see him, I asked about dinner on the ward and was told to be back for 6. I got back at 5:30. By 7, still no food but absolutely starving having not eaten since before my scan a day and half prior. I was told it came round at 5 and they didn’t leave any aside for me.
My husband had been sent home and was a 2 hour drive away so couldn’t bring me food. I didn’t eat until the next day and that was a single slice of toast.
I asked a midwife to take a cannula out of my big toe so I could try and walk. She said she’d be back, I waited 2 hours and asked again. She then ripped it out my foot with a big sigh. I asked her if anyone might be available to help me to get to the neonatal intensive care unit (I have disabilities so struggle to walk long distances even without the caesarean), I was told ‘no, we’re all busy looking after women who actually have their babies’.
Thankfully my husband arrived shortly after.
I was on the postnatal ward for 7 days.
On Day 3, my husband was threatened with security removal.
I was lucky and had a brilliant surgeon and actually have a pretty good scar and he did something unusual for that hospital, he gave me dissolvable stitches, he said very clearly not to touch the dressing for several days. The midwife didn’t believe me and didn’t check my notes. She was really insistent on removing the dressing and wouldn’t listen. Eventually my husband physically removed her hands from my abdomen and shouted ‘stop’.
She called security.
Whilst they were arriving she made a huge deal over checking my notes and then threw my folder back in the holder and stormed off. I imagine she finally read the part about dissolvable stitches.
On Day 4, I was literally crawling on my hands and knees. I’d said about having a disability; the 2 toilets closest to the ward were out of use. The nearest toilet was 2 corridors away. I was crawling past the nurses station crying and not one of them stopped to help me.
My mum saw me at the end of the corridor as she had just happened to arrive at that point, she grabbed my wheelchair and helped me in.
I was in pieces by this point and emotionally broken and hysterical. I was told by a midwife to ‘stop being silly, no reason you can’t walk after a section’.
I have a disability; sporadic paralysis. This was on the front of my notes with the requirement of a side room with ensuite.
Not one person read this, despite me asking. On this day, I had no use of the entire left side of my body.
My mum let rip at the midwives (go mum!). That evening, I said to the neonatal nurses that I won’t be returning to the postnatal ward, I’ll sleep next to the incubator. They were horrified at what had happened and got me an ensuite sorted and spoke to the head of midwifery who was also very apologetic.
By this point though the damage was done.
Emotionally beaten, physically destroyed from a caesarean and then literally dragging myself along floors, I have been distrusting of nurses since.
I spent 7 days in hospital, my son spent 7 months in the neonatal ward, where he passed away.
Last year I was coerced into a second caesarean but at a different hospital, emotionally manipulated by ‘what if he has breathing difficulties and we can’t get to him because you wanted a vaginal birth after caesarean?’.
Still haunted from the recent loss of our first, I had the caesarean section.
Thankfully, my postnatal experience was more positive.
They Said To Me Says
This is the most horrendous experience, from start to finish, the lack of compassion and individualised care screams out. The guest user who sent in this post, deserves at least for someone to listen to her and understand. There is little we can do but publicise and share these experiences and that we are doing.
For additional support with loss you can contact The Miscarriage Association or Sands.