Anger, Fire and a Holiday to escape it all
Liam’s death for the next few weeks consumed my soul, I was so angry, I wanted revenge, I wanted someone to say sorry, I wanted to know where exactly in his birth things had broken down, I wanted to understand why he wasn’t here today, like I said in a previous post I was a very angry person, my anger consumed nearly all my thoughts, I had been angry for around 6 weeks already and except for small reprieves here and there my anger lasted about another 6 weeks, but around this time it was at its height. On my days “off” when Alethea went to day care I would spend my time calling or emailing different NUMs (nursing unit managers) of different delivery suites at maternity hospitals around NSW. Maybe it was because I could talk a little medical to them, maybe they were just lovely ladies, or maybe it was the story that I told them, but each one gave me their time, talked to me with empathy and shared with me their hospital’s policy on emergency Cat 1 or code critical C sections, whether their hospital had theatres on site 24/7 and given the information that I provided to them, what they would have done if I had attended their hospital, now I totally admit that I couldn’t give them all the finer details of the CTG trace, (I didn’t have it in front of me, and some of the questions that they asked I couldn’t answer) and I was also probably biased in my opinion of what happened, however I did try to be very factual in what I said to them, because I wanted to get the most accurate answers to my questions, and to obtain that I had to try only to give the facts on what happened and not my opinion. Some of the NUMs asked me why my nurse hadn’t called a code critical at 12:30am and got things going from there, they said to me that the nurse had obviously called the OB into the hospital because she knew that there was a problem, she knew that I was going to need a C section and therefore she should have been able to call the code and get things started even before the OB had arrived, and therefore Liam could have been born by 1am (remembering that I was first connected to the CTG monitor at 12:20am, the nurse knew there was a problem from the very first contraction and Liam wasn’t born until 2:44am) I said to the first NUM who asked this question that I was unaware that a nurse could call a code critical or a Cat 1 C section, and her response went along the lines of “This is our job, we are experts in the field of delivering a baby, we can recognise when a baby is in distress and needs to be out straight away and needs the attendance of an OB, if we weren’t why would we be doing this job, to say that we can’t call a Cat 1 C section is to say that we don’t really know what we are doing and takes away some of our responsibility as midwives. My midwives will call a code as soon as they recognise the need for it, and from the time of calling the code to the time that the baby is out ranges from 7-20minutes” I asked her why she thought that my midwife didn’t call the code, and she responded with “I can’t say for sure, maybe her hospital doesn’t allow in their policy for the nurse to call it” I called and emailed lots of hospitals, and what I found was this…..and this is not meant to scare any mums who are pregnant, because most deliveries result in a healthy baby, I was the exception, I was that delivery that needed to be taken very serious and Liam needed to be out asap to have given him any chance at living. From what I found the big tertiary public hospitals have theatres on staff 24/7 and all of them have a policy where Cat 1 or Code Critical babies are to be born within 30minutes, some of these hospitals have refined this policy to say within 20minutes, and some of the big hospitals stats show that their code critical births happen as quick as 7mins but no longer than 20mins but do not have a formal policy on this. For the smaller public hospitals generally they didn’t have 24/7 theatre coverage, most of the time the theatres close between 9-10pm but they had to have staff on call that lived within a certain time frame from the hospital and theatres needed to be up and running within 20-30mins. For the private hospitals, most of them didn’t really want to share their policies with me (I’m not sure why) the ones that did told me that they didn’t have 24/7 theatre staffed but that they had policies in place similar to the smaller public hospitals, and their Cat 1 C section policy stated that the baby should be out within 30mins.
From my investigations there were a few things for me to then think about. Why hadn’t my nurse called the code, why wasn’t Liam born by 1am, most hospitals policies on Cat 1 C sections stated that the baby needed to be born within 30mins of calling the code/category…but likewise some of the hospitals did not staff theatres 24/7 and when they didn’t their policy for theatre readiness was within 30mins, if a hospital took 30mins to get their theatres running then there was no way that a Cat 1 baby could be born within their stated guideline of 30mins, it could be close, but not within 30mins maybe 35-40mins is attainable but sometimes the 30min mark would not be reached. What people may not realise is that in these babies that are in serious distress every minute counts, every minute increases the risk of hypoxia, ischaemia and asphyxia, and indeed there are many studies overseas that state that the current 30minute protocol needs to be revised and changed to a maximum of 20minutes and that in certain cases this needs to be reduced to even 5minutes, but on average hospitals that are able to achieve a delivery time of less than 15minutes increase the babies survival, and increase their APGAR scores. If it is possible to achieve this already in some of the bigger teaching public hospitals, the same care should be given to ladies who attend smaller public hospitals and definitely in private hospitals where the lady and her private health insurance pay for the ‘privilege’ of attending!
Like I said my mind was consumed with anger and finding a reason to Liam’s death, it was not in a healthy state of mind. I was very lucky that I had Alethea and Ryan to distract me, when they were with me I was not able to be consumed by my anger, I had to be a mummy, I had to be a wife, I had to be ‘normal’ it would not have been fair on them if they felt my anger, so I needed to put it aside when they were around, however as you can see from my frame of mind at this time it was very, very hard, so I decided that I needed to escape, to get away from everything and focus on the now.
Here comes a part of our journey that I have not mentioned any of so far. When Alethea was 8 months old, we had gotten in touch with Ryan’s biological Dad Peter, whom Ryan had never met before. One of the first comments that Peter said to us on the phone was “I have waited 31years for this day” ie the day that he would finally be able to talk to Ryan, which to us was very welcoming and loving. However Ryan was very wary about meeting Peter the first time, he was very aware that he didn’t want to hurt either his mum or his dad, but he was also very curious to see what Peter was like. When Alethea was 10 months old we met Peter and his family for the first time, and we loved them. I am not going to justify anything that anyone did or didn’t do or go into the past because that is not our story, our story is the here and now. I can only tell you the story from our point of view, so that is how you will hear it.
Meeting Peter for the first time was like looking into an older mirror to what Ryan would look like in 30 years’ time, never have I seen 2 people related look so much alike, they were the same height (which is very tall around 6ft 3) they have the same dimples, similar hair, same facial structure and even though they hadn’t spent any time together they had/have very similar mannerisms, they both tilt their head on a certain angle when they are trying to make a point, they both have a very calming voice (which can be raised into a booming voice when needed) the similarities are endless. Peter’s wife Lenore is also beautiful, she welcomed us into her family straight away, she has 3 other children around our age and her and Peter had one daughter Virginia together who was 14 years old and also towered over me in height. Virginia and Ryan also looked very, very much alike. Lenore had known about Ryan since the time her and Peter had first gotten together, and Virginia had been told all her life that she had an older brother, so it was only time before her inquisitive mind would seek us out. We don’t see Peter and the family too much as they live up near QLD but we do talk to them lots and when we do see them, we are told by all the siblings and Peter and Lenore that we are family, and we really do feel like part of the family, and it is lovely, Ryan and I and Alethea love them all, no they do not replace or try to fill in any gaps that we lacked, they just add to our family, which is lovely.
Anyway 3 years on Virginia is 17 and absolutely beautiful, and Ryan and I and Alethea love spending time with our ‘new’ family. So back to my story….I was in a very bad frame of mind, I knew things were getting on top of me and I needed to get away. I called Lenore and asked if we could come up and spend some time with them, and of course she said yes straight away, I had also hoped to catch up with a couple of my friends while we were up there. We arrived and were greeted with open arms, it was the first time that they had seen us since Liam had died (they had come to Sydney when I was 36 weeks pregnant with Liam, and although we had invited them to Liam’s funeral, which they all wanted to come to, they had decided that it would be easier on us if they were not there so as not to cause any tension when we were in a very vulnerable state). An hour or so after we arrived Lenore’s daughter Brooke came to see us. Brooke has 2 children Tyla who is 2.5years and Savanna who was born 4 weeks after Liam was. I knew that I would be seeing Brooke while we were there and I was very nervous to how I would react to her baby, I really didn’t know what I would feel. When Brooke walked through the door (she is a bubbly, beautiful mum) I could tell that she too was anxious and basically burst through the door and asked if I wanted to hold Savanna and before I knew what was going on I had a baby in my arms. For many, many girls this would not be the right thing to do, but for me it was just what I needed. I had tears in my eyes looking at her beautiful plump lips, feeling her soft skin and the rise and fall of her chest, but I realised that this was not my baby, it was not Brooke’s fault that she had a healthy baby and I did not, it was not Savanna’s fault that she was here and Liam was not and I fell in love with a little baby girl, always looking with envy at what I had missed out on, but always looking with love. Many mum’s who have lost a baby will not want to touch any baby, look at any baby or see pregnant ladies, the pain is too much for them, but for me I loved to hold and rock this baby, she was beautiful, perhaps it helped that she was a girl and not a boy, I’m not sure, but before I held Savanna I had a huge fear of babies which just dissipated the moment I held and rocked her.
Being away from Sydney was lovely; it took my mind off everything that had been consuming my thoughts. We went to Sea World, (and met Dora the Explorer) and we relaxed and had lots of fun, we ate lots, drank lots and I felt normal. I was lucky enough to catch up with my friend Tina, who had been in my mother’s group. Her daughter Evie and Alethea played so well together in a little play land while Tina and I had long chats about life, kids and of course Liam, she cried with me as I told her what had happened and I drank WAY too much (no not a normal thing for me to do!) Tina dropped Alethea and I home that night, and I was not well at all (totally self inflicted!).
For me something changed in me being away. Yes I was still angry, but the raging fire that I had before we went had been dampened down, and I was again able to function normally, I was again able to be a mummy, and a wife and see the beauty in the world that had somehow got lost around father’s day when I watched along helplessly seeing my husband, the man of my dreams crumbled before Liam’s grave.
- Posted in: The First Weeks