19 Oct Traumatic birth story | Uterine Atony | Rebecca’s story
Just a little bit about me. My name is Rebecca Lindsay and I live in Liverpool, England with my son. I’m 26 years old and have just completed university studying Business Management.
In contrast to my birth, I had the most pleasant pregnancy anyone could wish for, although not planned, I very quickly got used to the idea of welcoming a new little person. I enjoyed watching my stomach grow as the weeks went by and going to the scans was the most magical experience ever. I researched into the do’s and don’t’s and remained healthy throughout. I took it very seriously and it paid off as my beautiful boy came out as a very healthy 8lbs 8oz baby. I travelled abroad to Greece for my 21st birthday when I was 20 weeks gone and remember proudly flaunting my bump, I was so proud and happy. I went to antenatal classes to have the best knowledge and insight and had plans in my head about my birth plan and breastfeeding.
I have learned, unfortunately, some things in life don’t go to plan and now realise I was very nieve to of not thought for a second the risk and complications birth can bring, I mean, after all, they’re not going to tell you the horror stories in your antenatal classes.
Every year on the 12th of December for my sons birthday, while it is a lovely day to be celebrated, it is also a reminder that I almost paid the ultimate sacrifice on that date and after an exhausting long labour with zero pain relief… all hell broke loose around half an hour after bringing him into the world…
My boy, Jake Michael Brown was born at 1.26 am on the 12/12/12 and I remember although I was knackered, I was so relieved the agony was over and even had the time to upload a picture of my precious boy to Facebook for my family to see and thought I would be sent home in a few hours… Out of nowhere, as I was about to be stitched up as I had a second degree tear, my senses started to diminish, my hearing went and my vision was going very blurry and I just remember begging them to throw a bottle of water on me because I was so hot and felt myself going downhill rapidly. According to the doctor, I was a critical medical emergency after my heartbeat and blood pressure went crazy and that’s when they sounded the alarm and around 7 people from different departments ran in to work on me as I was haemorrhaging a huge amount of blood. I had a Uterine Atony which means, usually when your delivering the placenta you have contractions which also help compress the blood vessels that were attached to the placenta. The compression helps prevent bleeding. If the muscles of the uterus don’t contract strongly enough, the blood vessels can bleed freely.
This leads to excessive bleeding and mine failed to contract leaving the blood vessels exposed so they had to take action immediately… I remember repeatedly screaming “am I going to die”?! One person started working on my stomach, pushing and massaging my womb to make it contract again, other people put bags of fluid in me until the blood arrived to stop my veins from collapsing… they were physically squeezing the bags to get it in as quickly as possible as there was hardly anything left in my veins…. I went from being confused and panicked to feeling myself going and used my last bit of effort to turn to Jake and his dad and then my eyes closed. I could faintly hear in the background the doctor saying they were gonna lose me if they didn’t get it under control. I don’t remember much from then and I went into hypovolemic shock. It later transpired I had lost so much blood without realising because as I was due to be stitched up, my legs were put in stirrups so they were at an upwards angle, the blood from the rest of my body must have been gathering in stomach area so they shouted to get my legs down and I can only imagine what they saw, it must have been a bloodbath. They had finally been able to stop the bleeding and was taken to the intensive care unit and received my blood transfusion and knew I had a long road to recovery. I had lost 3 litres of blood. The whole experience left me in utter shock and I had to piece it together by other peoples accounts and little bits that I could remember.
Out of hospital
Once out of the hospital… I was diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety and depression and was put on iron tablets for 6 months and antidepressants which I remained on for a couple of years. I also had insomnia and found it incredibly hard to sleep as I would wake up with flashbacks, screaming thinking it was all happening again. I also was advised by my psychologist to go and stay with family in Wales for a month as part of my recovery which helped my anxiety considerably. It was a very long recovery both physically and mentally and was unable to enjoy his first Christmas a couple of weeks later. Even after the transfusion, not only was I physically wounded but mentally because I found it difficult to deal with the unexpected life-threatening trauma and to bond with my son….while I should have been having first pictures, skin to skin, first feed, bath and change….instead I was hooked up to all sorts of machines to see if my organs were failing, I was having blood pumped in me, other drugs put in my veins, oxygen mask for 8 hours, tablets, injections…
Thank God for Doctors
Every time I needed some water, the oxygen mask had to be moved to the side and had to be given it through a straw, I could do nothing on my own, I had no colour left in me and then had the glamorous catheter to top it off… I remember seeing Jakes dad feed him and the midwives taking their turns as well when his dad went home for a rest. I felt useless and like a failure. I also felt guilty, although I initially attempted to breastfeed, I was just too weak to carry on with it. A lot of people say giving birth was the best day of their lives but it was very bittersweet for me and would be lying if I didn’t say it was the worst day of my life which sounds awful because my son was born.
How can you go from meeting your baby for the first time after an anticipated 9 months of waiting to then nearly dying all within half an hour? It didn’t make sense to me and I just thank God for those doctors who saved my life that day. The scars on my hand are a constant reminder of my transfusion. Jakes dad had to be signed off work because he couldn’t believe what he had witnessed cause they didn’t have time to get him out the room so was in the corner of the room watching it all unfold and had to be comforted by emotional midwives because even some of them hadn’t witnessed something on this level and were shaken up.
“Someone else’s blood stopped my organs from failing and I’m here to tell the story and our bond is now unbreakable! If it hadn’t been for blood donors, I was told Jake wouldn’t have his mummy here.”
From where I was then to now, although it will probably stay with me for the rest of my life, I am in a much better place. There are still triggers and I can’t, for example, watch ‘One Born Every Minute’ or anything to do with birth and I would be lying if I said it hasn’t put me off having further children but I have been reassured that if in future, I plan to have another, I would get to speak to a consultant and measures would be put in place to ensure they will be ready to deal with it if it happened again.
Improvements and hope
I know I have improved because whereas before I couldn’t even go within miles of the hospital, I’ve since visited the hospital a few times without too much hesitancy and it’s not at the forefront of my mind like it used to be. One of the problems I had coming to terms with it was because I thought I was alone as all my friend’s births went okay and it’s only through me going on support groups on Facebook that I learned there are women who have gone through the same and even worse. I found it much more comforting speaking to people who had actually been through it as it made me feel like my trauma was heard and validated as some people around me would say “at least you’ve got a healthy baby” which of course was natural that he was getting all the attention but it made me feel like what happened to me was irrelevant. When visiting family over Christmas, a mere couple of weeks after it happened, I would be lucky if I got asked how I felt about what had happened, it was like people didn’t want to know because “look how beautiful jake is” or maybe it was just they didn’t understand just how big of an impact something like that could have but it made me feel alone which is why it’s so important to reach out to people like-minded and who understand.
On a brighter note, I and my son are extremely close and are best friends and I am glad I am now in a place to be able to put my terrible experience to the back of my mind and get on with life. I felt strong enough to go back to university and am graduating with a Business degree in December and I hope I have made my son proud.
Blood donation and its importance
I didn’t realise before this, just how important blood donors are and I am living proof it saves lives. Although I found out I can not now give as I have received, I actively encourage as many people possible including friends and family to come forward and do it to help people like myself who find themselves in desperate situations. Thank You to everyone who already does!