Angela's Caesareans

Angela shares the sad story of the loss of her son due to complications of shoulder dystocia, followed by two positive caesarean birth experiences.

Two Birth Stories - two beautiful baby boys

William's birth

I had a wonderful 'blooming' pregnancy, an easy 9 months. Towards the end I was concerned that I was carrying a large baby and would have difficulty in delivery - this was confirmed by a shop assistant calling over her friend to come and have a look, as she had never seen anyone with such a large bump! But my fears about the size and the delivery were dismissed by community midwives and by the hospital staff - I was told to wait and see what happens.

Due date came and went - 17 days later after being induced, everything moved fairly quickly - constant pain, contractions, waters breaking, epidural, syntocinon drip and 16 hours later finally time to push. No pain but I could feel each contraction to push, I remember thinking this is a whole lot easier than I thought it would be. But nothing was happening. The doctor was called and he began a ventouse delivery. This is when it all went wrong. Something called shoulder dystocia. Both of my baby's shoulders were wedged in my pelvis. This is a fairly rare medical emergency; all obstetric medical professionals train for it but hope not to see it. The doctors tried the prescribed manoeuvres but to no avail. The room filled with panicking doctors and I knew something was terribly wrong. They couldn't free his shoulders - on the second attempt they carried out the very unusual and more theoretical manoeuvre of replacing my son's head back into my uterus (zavanelli manoeuvre). We were then rushed to theatre. He was eventually delivered by caesarean section but had been starved of oxygen for over twenty minutes during delivery; he was very poorly, in a coma, hooked up to many machines. When I woke from the anaesthetic, they showed me three pictures of him, he was then brought down from special care and I got to hold my son. Aged 14 hours he died in my arms.

We were very sad, angry and shell shocked. At 10lbs 4ozs my baby was too large for me to deliver, the doctors termed it "absolute feto-pelvic disproportion".

I was also very poorly - huge blood loss and a near transfusion, 3rd degree tear, bruising, adhesions and an infected caesarean scar. Recovery was slow and I had to make two additional visits to theatre. As a result of all the physical trauma I didn't know if I could have another child.

Toby's birth

Five months after the birth of my first son I was pregnant again with my second.

It was all very different this time - different hospital, different doctors, but no eager optimism. We were both very worried and anxious - just waiting for it all to go wrong again.

Once again an easy and enjoyable pregnancy - I saw my community midwife nearly every two weeks and it was very reassuring to hear the heart beat and to check my baby wasn't growing too large. I also saw the consultant regularly - he was very understanding and we had confidence in him. He told me that this baby had to be delivered by caesarean section and an elective was scheduled for 39 weeks.

On December 4th we arrived early at the hospital - a very understanding nurse admitted me and prepared me for theatre. She had taken the time to read my notes and arranged for me to be the first of the 3 electives that morning so I wouldn't have to wait any longer than necessary. It was much appreciated. But other emergencies meant theatre was busy and I didn't make the nervous walk to theatre until 2.30pm.

My husband went off to get gowned-up and I walked in by myself. Terrified, I wanted to shout out 'no - I can't do this!' but the staff were busying away and started chatting to me and reassuring me, telling me what to do. Also, the male theatre nurse confused me and stopped me worrying a little as he was wearing a very fetching shade of lipstick and foundation!

Very quickly the doctors were telling me that I had a lot of water and did I hear it swoosh out and that my baby would be born very soon. And he was. Crying before he was fully out and peeing over the doctors as soon as his was held up. They lifted him up for me to see and my husband took a photograph - this is now one of my favourite things. I thought how beautiful he looked and that he wasn't large at all - a very neat 7lbs 14ozs.

We now feel very lucky and privileged to have our beautiful baby boy. As he grows and develops we truly realise what we have missed with our first-born and this painful loss will never be forgotten.

... followed by Catherine's Birth Story

Catherine's birth by elective caesarean section was a wonderful experience. She was booked to be born on the 1st April, (April fools day) but there was nothing I could do to change it as the consultant didn't want me to go into labour and risk not having a caesarean delivery. This was important as my first son William had died following a traumatic vaginal delivery complicated by shoulder dystocia. There is a high risk of this happening again and I sustained injuries that meant all future births had to be by caesarean section. My second son Toby was born by a great caesarean section and then 16 months later so was Catherine.

When my husband and I arrived at the hospital at 8.00am as instructed we were both very upset when we were told that I probably wouldn't be able to have my baby today as they were too busy and didn't have the midwives available to cover theatre. We had to wait and they would see if they could find out what was going to happen. A friendly face came out next, another midwife who I knew already and had great faith in, she said they still weren't certain if it would all go ahead today but they had a room on the ward where we could wait and see. Eventually by noon we knew we would be in theatre in the next hour or so and the consultant and anaesthetist would be along soon to do all the pre op and paper work.

My husband went off to get gowned up and when he came back we walked into the theatre together. We had spoken to the doctors to arrange this and for him to be able to stand in front of me as the spinal was done. These are things that I had found really difficult to do alone with my previous delivery and it was far better this time doing it this way.

Within minutes I was laid down, fully numb from the waist down, hooked up to all the machines and our music CD was playing in the background. The consultant asked if we would like to have the screen high or low and said that she would be starting very soon. We had the screen low so my husband could peer over and see what was happening. Just before Catherine was about to be delivered the consultant asked if we would like the screen lowered completely. I was then able to raise my head up and see her lifted out of me and lowered onto my chest. I cuddled her and wondered at how much vernix she was covered in and thought how amazing she was. The midwife asked if she could take her to be weighed and Catherine was quickly cleaned and wrapped in a towel. My husband went too and took some more photographs. Very quickly they were both back and I was cuddling my baby again.

Half an hour later I was being wheeled back into a room on delivery ward and it was all over. At first when I tried sitting up I felt very lightheaded and woozy but after the same wonderful midwife brought me a cup of tea and some toast I soon felt fine and was able to sit up and breastfeed.

My recovery went well and by the next morning I was up and about showering and feeling fine. We both left the hospital after two nights and were back home with the rest of our family.

We have a family website with family photographs including pictures of Toby and Catherine.

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