L.B.'s Story - Kingston General Hospital, Kingston, Ontario

May 2016 - My water broke around 6am and my husband called ahead to the labor and delivery unit to let them know and we were informed to come in right away to reduce risk of infection. We get to the hospital around 7am, where they checked my cervix and was only 2cm dilated. They told me they were under staffed and to come back around 11am. The whole time my waters were leaking but I followed their instructions anyway. 

When we got back to the hospital, the nurse put in my IV and put me in a room. Without even giving my body a chance to try anything they hooked me up to pitocin to start induction. Again due to them being under staffed they wanted a faster delivery. 

During the waiting period I was not being monitored at all. The pitocin was causing contractions that lasted about an hour long with no breaks and I was exhausted. They kept bringing in food and I was told I wasn't allowed to eat it. (Why bring the food!) After the first 18 hours of this I gave in and took the epidural. The first attempt they missed, but got it on the second try. 

During the night, I was up watching my baby's heartbeat on the monitor and I could see it dropping a lot. The nurse came in around 7am the next morning and told me I had to go in for emergency cesarean as my body had not made it past 4cm and my baby was now in distress. As I was being prepped, my husband was handed consent forms but just told to sign as there was no time to wait. (I had no idea about this until after)

In the surgery room they expected me to move myself from the bed to the operating table even though I had an epidural in for the last 8 hours and couldn't move my legs. Eventually one of the students in the room told me to put my hands around her neck and she would pull me over. As she did this, unknowingly my epidural catheter shifted. I was alone and scared as my husband wasn't allowed in until they had started and I was freezing! Once they began they asked me if I could feel it and I said yes. They said is it dull or sharp and I said sharp. They asked me this question a few more times and each time I told them it was a sharp pain. I was told they are just going to start and if it's too much to let them know. At this point my husband was allowed to enter the room. I was shaking so violently on the table and just wanted to cry so badly. Feeling every cut, and tug, and tear I finally remember my son being born and hearing the first cry. After that came pain so unbearable that I was put under general anesthesia. 

In recovery, I met my son for the first time after all my family was already allowed in the room while I was still asleep. I got moved into the ward very quickly after I woke up, I barely remember it happening because my mind was so foggy at this point. As I was breastfeeding the nurse kept asking me how long he nursed and how much he was voiding and I was so tired I couldn't answer accurately. I then learned I was supposed to have been given a log sheet and the nurse was upset I didn't ask for one. (First pregnancy, I had no idea I was supposed to have one) They eventually told me I wasn't doing it right and my son was starving as he wasn't getting what he needed from me and they took him and formula fed him. It was determined he had gotten jaundice and I was to blame for the lack of nutrients. The nurse wrapped him in a blanket with the blue light and I was not allowed to hold him as it was all connected to his cot. At this point I just felt like a complete failure, not only did I not dilate and have an emergency surgery, but now I am starving my baby and caused him jaundice. My son was crying and I couldn't hold him to comfort him. The nurse took him and put him behind their nurses station and I slipped into a huge state of depression because of it. When the shift change happened, my new nurse was confused as to why I wasn't allowed to hold my baby and told me to have him lay on my chest and she placed the blanket over the both of us so he still got the therapy he needed. He was poked over 16 times in his hands and feet to check his jaundice level until it was finally down enough that he could stop using the light. 

During all of this I was not fully immune to rubella and had to get a shot shortly after surgery. The nurse came in and with minimal warning she jabbed the needle in my stomach a couple inches above my cesarean line. Ouch! I was also given two blood transfusions as I was told I was losing too much blood while in recovery and also put on oxygen as I wasn't getting enough. I was getting terrible headaches every time I sat up and was told that was from the first (missed) epidural and that I would need a spinal block. When the anesthetist came in I was attempting to breastfeed again and even though I told him I would stop so he could do what he needed to do he said no and would come back later to do the block. He never came back!

Finally came time to go home. 
At my first appointment with my family doctor post op, I had my staples removed and the ends of my incision came open. Great, another thing gone wrong! I had to go to public nurses to have it packed every day for 2 weeks. Then once a week until healed.

After this experience, I really didn't want to have any more children as I was scared to go though it all again. After about 2 years when the pain was more just a terrifying memory, I decided to have my second child. After fertility treatments to finally get pregnant again, the fear set back in. This time instead of an OB, I was able to get a midwife. Best decision I ever made! I needed a consult with my OB from my first birth for recommendations on cesarean or VBAC. At this appointment is when I learned I had previously hemorrhaged during surgery and had a uterine infection due to them sending me home when my water had broken. This was the cause of my incision opening after removing the staples. Up until this point I was completely unaware! No one had told me and the records I took home did not match what was being told to me. 

My repeat cesarean with the midwives at my side was 1000x better than my first experience, with minimal complications and a healthy baby girl. Born 3 years and 2 weeks apart.

I didn't speak up until I was pregnant with my second as I was under the impression all the things that went wrong were due to my body not being able to function as it was supposed to. Now I know, that is not the case and I wish I had spoken up prior to.

Submitted by L.B.