Sometimes Life Throws you a Curve Ball
I’m writing this post exactly 9 months since we lost our little boy. Today is a hard day, 9 months ago Liam was born and he died, he has now been gone for as long as we knew that he was here for and I’m really not quite sure how I feel about this, however I do know this: A mothers love is eternal, and I will love and miss him till the day I die, I wish I could have just 1 more minute with him, to let him feel how much I love him, to smell his hair, to cuddle him and to kiss his cheeks. I also know that Liam has taught me how to be a better person, how to love unconditionally, how to ignore the small inconsequential things that so often have us distressed in life. Because of Liam I hope I am a better wife, a better mum, a better friend and a better person.
Thank you to everyone who has written to me asking if we are ok, I realise that it has been a while since I last posted, however the last post I wrote took a lot out of me, it was a long one and required much thought and effort. I am also back at work so I no longer have as much ‘free time’ as I had before, so I agree it has taken a while to sit down and write but it is the best that I can do at this point!
So going back to where I left off last time, I was really confused, the hospital blamed the Dr, the Dr had blamed the hospital and I just wanted the truth. So on October 4th the day after we met with the hospital I wrote an email to my obstetrician:
A couple of weeks ago I wrote to you and gave you the opportunity to tell me your side of the story, which you told me you had nothing to add.
For 14 weeks and 2 days I have defended you to everyone…my friends, my family and my husband.
Yesterday Ryan and I met with the hospital who showed me the pitiful copy of the RCA they had conducted and told me a few truths which you failed to tell me.
Firstly you failed to communicate with the rest of the staff that I was a Cat 1 emergency, so although you thought it, no one else knew and no one realised the seriousness of the situation and therefore didn’t respond appropriately
You failed to call theatres in until (from my timeline 37mins) and the hospitals timeline 22mins after you made the decision for an emergency C section (umm that leaves you with only 8 mins to get the baby out…and theatres weren’t even yet on site)
It was your decision not the anaesthetists decision to do an epidural as you have written to me it “saved time” and as I have thought all along…what a load of nonsense everyone knows that a general should have been given and they told us this in the meeting yesterday.
You failed to let my midwife monitor Liam after 210am telling her you wanted to get me to theatre ASAP and therefore it wasn’t necessary and apparently multiple times she tried to monitor but was instructed not to therefore failing to see Liam’s demise…and this would have been acceptable had Liam been born a few minutes after 210am…but he wasn’t born until 244am
Here’s what I do know
You did arrive very promptly to the hospital after being called, (in doing so you chose not to look at Liam’s CTG trace at your house which we are told is available to you and therefore you could have started things rolling while in the car)
You seemed to be arranging things most of the time that we were there, so I believe you think you acted quickly
Babies sometimes have something inherently wrong with them, which puts them in distress and sometimes don’t make it..this we will never know with Liam
I also know that given the fact that I had a VERY low lying placenta, the probability that the cord was beside his head during contractions is a lot higher than if my placenta was elsewhere, and therefore with each contraction the cord being compressed beside his head is quite likely, and in fact was what you told us was happening in the delivery suite.
My point is, whether Liam had something inherently wrong with him or whether it was cord compression means little, he should have just been out ASAP you never gave him the chance to live. Had he been out at 145am (my timeline 30mins post decision) or 2am (the hospitals timeline) and had died his death would still be a horrible tragedy but I could accept it more, he was delivered 89mins post decision (my time line) or from the hospitals 74mins post decision, babies like this can’t hold on that long, and you never gave him the opportunity to live, that was taken from him.
For 14 weeks I have defended you to EVERYONE you told me that the hospital didn’t have theatres there and weren’t set up etc so I blamed the institution.
You didn’t communicate effectively to staff that I was a Cat 1
You made the wrong choice to give me an epidural not a general
You failed to call theatres in at the appropriate time
You didn’t let my midwife monitor Liam
After all that I went through to have this baby, 4 miscarriages and 2 years you let my baby die. You have ruined our lives…ruined forever, you can have no idea what it is like to bury your baby, you have 3 healthy children you couldn’t even begin to comprehend something like this
All that Ryan and I were ever after was the truth, and you failed to tell me the truth, all we ever wanted was someone to say “Sorry, had he been out within 30mins there is a chance that he would still be alive and we are sorry that we didn’t do this for you”
Why couldn’t you tell me the truth?
No, I have no intention of “coming in and discussing the RCA” the hospital meeting told us everything that we needed to know
I hope my email makes you feel horrible down to your gut, if only for a day, because then you would know what Ryan and I are going through each and every day.
Those were my fighting words from a mum in distress, from a mum angered because people kept lying to her, from a mum who missed her baby each and every minute of the day, I received a prompt response from my OB saying
I’m very sorry that you feel this way – it does hurt me to the guts everyday and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since that night.
I think it would be good for all of us to talk about this again, and I am happy to talk face to face whenever you like.
What he failed to realise is that if he had told me the truth to start with, I wouldn’t have had the anger that I was experiencing, had he just once shown that Liam’s death affected him, my anger would have been less, but he had shown me none of these things, when we had previously seen him all he did was sit in his chair behind a desk and look me in the eyes and blame theatres for not being there on time. I no longer wanted anything to do with this man, the thought of seeing him made me sick to the guts, the thought of having to go back into his surgery and see all the other pregnant mums and have the receptionist again try to make me fill in a post natal depression score made me want to throw up. However after calming down for a day or so I thought that I should be the bigger person, there are always 2 sides to a story and I thought I should hear his side now that everything had ‘come out’ I wrote to him and asking if possible could we meet on common ground, like I said I didn’t want to go back to his surgery, but this request was denied. I’m not sure why doctors believe that they should hold the power all the time but they do and I was made to feel like the lowly patient and felt like I had to go grovelling back to him. Ryan had decided not to come to this meeting, for a few reasons, firstly he was very busy at work, secondly Ryan was tired of everyone blaming each other and thought that this meeting would be much the same, and thirdly from what the hospital had told us, (even though he is the most placid man in the world) Ryan was not sure he would be able to be in the same room as the doctor.
When I arrived the doctors first remark was “I thought Ryan would have come with you” and I responded to the Dr with “My husband is a very placid man, but I think if he saw you, there is a very good chance that you may not be standing at the moment” to which he nodded in agreement and said “I wouldn’t blame him” or something similar to that.
We sat down and sometimes life throws a curve ball at you that you never anticipate, I had thought we were just going to play the blame game again, and that I would listen to his side of the story against the hospital again, instead something totally different happened and my OB sat there and apologised whole heartedly and unreservedly. Now normally my memory is quite good and I can recall conversations word for word, but what he said to me was so totally unexpected by me that I have very little recollection of the meeting. I do remember him saying “I am so sorry, you put your trust in me and I let you down, I didn’t do things quick enough and I agree I didn’t give your little boy the chance at life that he deserved” I remember that 3 times while I was there his eyes welled up with tears and I realised that Liam’s death had impacted on him. I remember him apologising for different decisions that he made. What I do remember clearly were a couple of answers to questions that I asked, the first question I asked was “why didn’t you give me a general?” and his response to my question was that he along with the anaesthetist believed that they could safely give me an epidural in the time that it took theatres to arrive at the hospital, so that when everything was ready they would just wheel me into the OT and get Liam out, what he didn’t realise until we were in theatre was that although the anaesthetist had put the epidural catheter in he didn’t give me any drugs until we were actually in the OT and that was what the wait was in theatre for, they had to wait until the drugs had ‘taken’ and I was numb in the OT before the operation could start and my OB told me that until I was in the OT he understood that we were all ready to go, he thought that the drugs had been given in the delivery suite, and to that I asked “when you realised that the drugs hadn’t been given why then did you not just give me a general anaesthetic and get Liam out as quickly as possible” and he replied that yes in hindsight he should have done that, but at the time he never thought that Liam wasn’t going to come out kicking and screaming, he told me that in women like me who have had no pre-eclampsia, no diabetes and who were fit and well 50% of the time when you see a trace like they saw with Liam it means nothing, and for these 50% of patients you do a C section and really they didn’t need it, they could have safely gone on and delivered naturally and all would be good, but in the other 50% of patients CTG readings like the ones that we saw with Liam meant a lot and those babies need to be out ASAP, he told me that he always thought that I was in the other 50%, the 50% of ladies who receive a C section but didn’t really need one, he reiterated that he always thought that Liam was going to come out kicking and screaming. The second question that I asked was why did he (as the hospital had told me) refused my midwife to monitor Liam before the C section because Liam went nearly 35mins without anybody checking him, and he told me that his main aim was to get me into theatre and get Liam out (to which I agreed with, however I said to him that his plan actually didn’t happen and he didn’t get Liam out quickly) he then told me that the first time she asked they were just about to wheel me to the OT so he said to wait until we got there. After wheeling me to recovery (just outside the OT) that the midwife apparently told my OB that she forgot to bring the portable CTG monitor should she go back and get it to monitor the baby, at that time he didn’t know that the anaesthetist hadn’t put the drugs into the epidural catheter and he thought that he was going to wheel me into the OT and get the baby out. In the hospital that we were in the OT was not just 10 steps away from delivery it was a good 5minute round trip and he expected to be doing the operation by then, so told her not to bother. The third time that the midwife wanted to monitor the baby she had spent time in the OT (while the drugs were taking their effect) looking for the handheld Doppler that should be kept in each theatre, but for some reason on this night the Doppler was missing from this theatre and couldn’t be found so again she asked if she could go back to delivery for the portable monitor, however because she had spent so long looking for the hand held Doppler there was no point because by this time the drugs had nearly worked and for sure by the time she retrieved one from delivery the baby would already be born.
So again a few truths were told to me. Yes as the hospital had said my midwife requested 3 times to monitor the baby and three times she had been denied the right to monitor him, however the hospital had left out 2 vital pieces of information…..my midwife had forgotten the monitor and the handheld monitor that should have been in their OT was missing.
I left that meeting with my head spinning. I got in the car and called Ryan straight away, “He apologised Ryan, he said that it was his fault and he took the blame solely upon himself” Ryan asked what I meant and asked me to relay what had been said, it was then that my mind turned blank and I realised that although my OB had apologised whole heartedly and unreservedly I couldn’t remember exactly what our conversation had been because I just hadn’t expected it, and I told Ryan that I was really sorry that I couldn’t remember probably the most important conversation that I’d had with any medico since the birth and death of our baby boy.
A weight lifted off my shoulders that night, a heavy weight that I had carried around for far too long, and that was the weight of my anger. My anger dissipated with his apology and I felt light and relieved, my resentment was gone, my fury tamed, this day when I met with my OB: Friday 10th October was a turning point for me.
- Posted in: The First Weeks