K's Story - Victoria Hospital, London

August 2013 - Everything seemed to be going smoothly. My husband and I were told someone would be in to break my water. This was around 4 am. The nursing staff started telling us they could not find anyone to break my water. The unit was very busy we were told and it was like a baby factory. Our nurse started to become frustrated after several hours. Eventually she found a resident to come in after six hours of trying to find someone to break my water. At this time I was exhausted, on no sleep, no food. 

I kept labouring after finally getting the process started and I had decided on an epidural. The epidural was misplaced and it was not working properly. It did take away the use of my legs but did not take away any of the pain of the labour and made me very disoriented. The staff then gave me a button that I could press to add more drugs because I could still feel the pain but this just made me more disoriented and my legs less useful. They tried getting me to push for 3 hours without any success of my son coming out (this is after 20 hours of labour - remember, no food, no sleep).

I begged and begged to see the doctor. They sent in a resident named Ramona wearing a blanket as a cape because she was cold (very unprofessional with terrible bedside manner) and then I was very, very angry and begged to see the doctor. He FINALLY came in, I swore at him and begged him to get my son out. He said they could use forceps or the vacuum but it was a risk to the baby - I was not in a good state of mind to make any clear decisions at this point. I just knew my body had absolutely no more life in it to keep going (at this point I had been puking every 20 minutes and trying to push for 3 hours with no success). They went ahead with forceps and my son was finally born 23 hours after we arrived at the hospital and after labouring for 30 hours total. 

During the labour I tried to follow up with them to find out what went wrong with the epidural. They sent the head of Anesthesiology who did explain to me that the needle was placed incorrectly. There was never an apology for a clear explanation after. I was in the heat of labour/pushing/hell when she spoke to me - I didn't even have my eyes open.

When I left the delivery room I felt like I was a dead person. My bladder completely gave out on me in the room and I had to be in a shared room because the hospital was so busy - so I lost my bladder in front of another family who was staying in same space as us. The post care could have been better considering how damaged I was afterwards. I was torn open, and defeated. I was treated like everyone else though, and minimally checked on. 

4 years later - I deal every day with severe hemorrhoids, I am waiting to get surgery on my bladder (destroyed in the process), and I deal daily with constipation/IBS (ever since the birth - I have no idea if it's related). 

For my next pregnancy I was told I had Post Traumatic Stress from the previous birth. My symptoms worsened (bladder, hemorrhoids, etc. - I was unable to work and went off 3 months early before the birth of my daughter). I spent a lot of my 2nd pregnancy crying in fear of what was to come. So, I was induced to ensure that things were scheduled this time and we chose a less hectic time of the year (December 2015 - a very quiet time for inductions & births).

When I gave birth to my next child in 2015 the hospital was not very busy and she arrived very quickly. We decided on Vic again with severe hesitation but it was late December and we live close to Victoria Hospital - we didn't want to travel in a storm with a newborn that time of year. I had a completely different experience. I was treated much better because they had the staff power to do it. I was induced. It was scheduled. My recovery was simple. The nurse remembered me from 2013 (2 1/2 years prior) and even made a comment about how horribly I was treated.

I think the hospital was under staffed and lacked the abilities to actually support the mother as needed. I sent feedback to the hospital and I never heard back.

Submitted by K