A Woman on a Mission….with Anger
I am going to preface this post by saying that anger is a horrible emotion, it eats away at you and consumes your life, for the next 12 weeks I became a very angry person, not to Alethea or Ryan, I just had anger in me as to what had happened with Liam, and I wanted justice for his death, it was untimely and to me it should not have happened, but I will ask you to hold comments on the actions of the hospital and staff until you have heard the WHOLE story (yes I do know that there were a lot of things that happened that shouldn’t have happened, and I appreciate that a lot of you have contacted me voicing your opinion) . MY story for the next 12 weeks is very biased but these are the emotions that I went through and these are the thought processes that I had.
Monday July 23rd Ryan returned to work, and I had my first day with just Alethea and myself. My little munchkin and I have most of our days planned out, I had tried to keep her as busy as possible before Liam came along doing lots of fun and different activities, because I had figured that after Liam had come we would be spending a lot more time at home and I wanted her to have as much fun as possible with me before the new baby came. Monday is however always our shopping day, Alethea LOVES grocery shopping, she gets her own shopping trolley at Coles and knows where most of the regular items that we buy are in the shop, so she merrily goes about getting what we need chatting with her little high pitched voice. This day I had asked her to go and get me half a bag of mushrooms which she was happily doing and a shop assistant (who had seen and talked to me every week while I was pregnant, but had obviously forgotten that I’d been pregnant) said ‘Isn’t she a good helper, is she your only one? I have a daughter a bit younger than yours and I am 13weeks pregnant and expecting my next one’ It was the first time that question had been asked of me and I really didn’t know what to say, if I said yes then I felt that I was not honouring Liam, if I said no then I felt I had to explain, so I explained that no she wasn’t my only one, that I had a baby 4 weeks previous, but sadly he had died 3 hours after birth. ‘Oh, I’m so sorry’ she said with her head down, and then walked off with her trolley telling me she had to get some more potatoes, and I realised after that encounter that from then on when people asked me how many children I had, I would always say 2, but I didn’t have to explain where my other child was.
We coped surprisingly well that day, we kept ourselves busy so the day went by quickly. Unfortunately as Alethea had seen Ryan and I very upset over the previous few weeks, she needed constant reassurance, she kept asking me (and still 3 months later she asks) ‘Are you happy mummy’ and I would tell her that yes I was happy, but I was sad that baby Liam wasn’t here with us, but for her at this stage she couldn’t accept this answer and she would keep asking it until I said ‘yes I am happy’ and once I said that she felt safe, she felt content and she could continue with whatever she was doing.
The next day (Tuesday) Alethea and I got ready in the morning and headed to play group. Generally speaking the play group that we go to is fairly large, so although I know nearly everyone by sight, there are still a lot of people’s names that I can’t remember, but everyone there knew that we had lost our baby and even people that I didn’t know came up to me to tell me how sorry they were for our loss, and it was nice that these people made the effort to talk to the lady with the dead baby rather than treat me like the lady with the dead baby and ignore me. Lots of the ladies asked if I had any pictures of Liam and would I mind showing them, and of course you don’t have to ask me twice as even though Liam was not alive, I was the proudest mummy that there could be, he was beautiful and I proudly show photos to anyone who wants to see him. Alethea had a great time at playgroup, all the ladies treated her extra specially, giving her balloons and letting her do whatever craft she wanted to try. We came home and had some lunch and then it was time to go to Alethea’s swimming lessons, and she had a great time, she’s that one child that is in the pool that likes to include everyone else in the fun that she is having, so she constantly waves to me and blows me kisses as a way of including me in her fun, and I think it is beautiful, of course she concentrates, but when she waits for her next turn she likes to include me. She is also that extra excited child who you can hear very clearly over the noise of the pool as she proudly says ‘I can do that by myself, I don’t need any help doing that’ which always makes me laugh, my little miss independent 3 going on 13yr old.
The next day was Wednesday, this was the day that I had been anticipating. I took Alethea to day care and then headed to the hospital to have a read of my notes. Ryan had asked me if I wanted him to go along with me, and I told him that if he wanted to come he was more than welcome, but if he had work to do that I would be fine on my own. He decided to let me go by myself, he had never read patients notes before and was happy if I read them and then let him know what they said. When I got there the medico legal person was waiting for me, she asked if I would be alright reading them by myself, she said she had had a look at them and it appeared to be a very traumatic event. I told her that I was a hospital pharmacist, that I was use to reading notes and that I would be fine on my own, so I was taken to a small room and began reading over all the notes. Truth be told I was unsure how I would be reading my notes, but as I started reading them I found that I was fine, I felt like I was in work mode reading someone else’s notes, I never felt emotional or upset, I was there for a purpose and I needed to keep my attention focused on my task.
The couple of things that I was interested in finding out were
- What Category C section was I (they range from 1-4)
- The time from decision till Liam was born from the notes point of view
- To see if I could work out what the delay in getting Liam out was
The notes set things straight in my head. To me it was obvious that the midwife had pulled out a separate piece of paper and was writing things down as she went, her timeline was rather thorough. Although I didn’t get a copy of the notes I do have a rather good memory and I remember reading an entry made by the midwife at 0130 stating that “The Dr is putting in an IV cannula and is preparing patient for theatre” so for me from the notes point of view the decision to do a C section had been made around 0130 because if the Dr was preparing me for theatre then surely he had decided to do a C section. There was no mention in the notes of exactly what Category C section I was but the midwife had ticked a couple of boxes stating (again this is from memory) that I was having early decelerations and that I had had single prolonged decelerations of up to 3 minutes (That was where Liam’s heart rate was dropping, like I mentioned in my first post). Again from memory the only delay that I remember reading about was that we waited in recovery for 10minutes before we were taken into theatre 7. I do remember reading the entry made by the NETS team (Neonatal emergency transfer service) and every entry written by them gave Liam a very poor prognosis and they did not expect him to survive. This made me feel better about the decision that Ryan and I had made when we said that we would cuddle Liam to sleep….as this decision had been played over and over in my mind and I was not sure whether we had made the “right” choice, but reading their entry (and they were the specialists in the room) they had basically said that no matter what was done that our little boy would never have made it, and I felt relieved in a way that we had not prolonged his pain and made him suffer just because we had wanted him so badly.
After I had finished reading the notes the medico legal lady came into the room and asked if she could help me with anything. I told her that I was confused, that I couldn’t find what Category C section I had been and that if I was a category 1 C section the notes clearly showed that it had taken 74minutes to get Liam out. I asked her if she was able to find out what Category C section I was and if I was a Category 1 what was this hospitals policy on how quickly the baby should be delivered because for me 74minutes seemed like a long time. She informed me that she didn’t know what the policies were but she gave me the director of maternities phone number to discuss my questions with her. So I called and left a message on her answering machine and didn’t hear back from her until later that afternoon.
I left the hospital a little dazed, I called Ryan and had a cry on the phone to him and then I left to meet Lisa down at Dee Why for some lunch. I talked the scenario over and over with Lisa and to me the time that it had taken Liam to be delivered seemed way too long. I left Lisa and headed to the hospital that I work at to look up NSW health policy on emergency C sections and I read them believing that I was a Cat 1 C section which normally means that from the time of decision to when the baby is out is no longer than 30minutes. I received a call back from the directory of maternity and she told me that although she knew of my case she had not read my notes and didn’t know the exact details of my case, but she did tell me that the hospitals policy was that Cat 1 C sections were to be completed within 30mins, she also told me she had been in contact with my obstetrician and let him know of my concerns, so I decided to email my obstetrician, asking him what category C section I was and I told him that I felt there had been a significant delay in getting Liam out, one which may have contributed to him not being here today and his response included the following below (I haven’t included any names)
I can’t remember the exact timeline, so I suggested to the directory of maternity that we get a copy of the notes and we can then go through the whole thing together and talk about any queries that you have.
From my recollection, theatres were called as soon as we made the decision to do the caesar and were on the way. As the anaesthetist was already in the hospital, he decided to put in the epidural straight away to save some time. After this we wheeled you straight down to theatres and started the operation as soon as possible.
I cant remember the exact timeline, but I can’t remember any obvious delays in the process. I’ll speak with the directory of maternity to get a copy of the notes and then maybe you could come in and we could go through them.
You are right, even though a classification wasn’t formally given, it was a category 1 and that is why we got things going straight away. For a category 1 caesar we would like the time from decision to starting the operation to be less than 30 mins, so presuming the timeline you have is correct, it is a bit longer than I remember.
Speak soon, and come in anytime you wish to go through things. I’ll let you know when I have a copy of the notes.
Well from that short email, I knew that my baby had died because they had taken far too long to get him out. We had been told while we were in labour that Liam had the cord beside his head and that with each contraction the cord was being compressed reducing vital oxygen to him, my poor boy had died from lack of oxygen, he was asphyxiated in the womb. They had never give him the chance to live, they had taken nearly three times as long to get him out than they should have and he didn’t have that long in him, he was reason why Cat 1 C sections needed to be done in 30mins, he should be here, in my arms safe and sound, his life had been taken from him and I hated all of them for it.
Please take the time to stay with me on this journey, I agree it is not a nice one, nor am I proud of the anger that I harboured, however it is part of my journey and although I am not proud of it, I am not ashamed, as I believe it helped me progress and has made me a better person for it, and I think that a lot of other mums and dads who have lost their babies have felt this anger as well.
Unfortunately I won’t be available to post for 2 weeks, but after then I will continue our journey. Thanks to everyone for your support, your love and your patience with me.
- Posted in: The First Weeks