Hospital Horror Story
Testimony of Hospital Birth
After being told not to push for an hour and a half, even though the baby was straining to be born, the doctor finally showed up. But, rather than letting her finally push her baby out, he snipped her perineum which turned into a fourth degree tear. While he was stitching her up after the birth, family members noticed the steady trickle of blood coming out of her and spilling onto the floor.
The doctor ignored Anne's mother's warning about the blood pooling underneath him, continuing to chat with the nurses as he finished sewing her up. Afterwards, he looked at the blood on the floor and just shrugged his shoulders, saying, "That's normal." He then waved good-by to Anne and left, leaving the nurses to clean up.
Anne felt dizzy, but sat up, feet dangling over the edge, to walk to the bathroom, per the nurses' instructions. Anne's mother was holding her new grandson, while Arnold, Anne's husband helped his wife get off the bed. However, the moment that she stood up, she passed out and fell into a heap on the floor, blood pouring out of her like a fountain turned on full blast.
One of the nurses in the room frantically rang the buzzer on the intercom to the nurses station, as she helped Arnold get Anne back into bed. "Call the doctor back, NOW! This patient is hemorrhaging badly. "The doctor has already left the building, but I'll ring his cellular." Anne ended up getting 4 pints of blood because of a piece of retained placenta.
The next time Anne got pregnant, three years later, out of fear she agreed with her new OB that a cesarean would be the better route to go. She didn't want to tear again and perhaps become incontinent when she was 60 years old (doctors logic). Her family (whose children I have all delivered throughout my 40 years experience) didn't think that kind of reasoning made any sense and convinced her to come and talk with me about it when she was 38 weeks pregnant.
When I first met with Anne and Arnold, I sensed her great fear about having another vaginal birth. Her husband was neutral and would go along with whatever his wife wanted to do. After I explained the risk of a cesarean, major surgery, and the possibility of future complications due to the scar on the uterus (not just for possible rupture, but for the risk to the babies), Anne listened with a more open mind.
"Why would you want a hole cut in your belly for the sake of sparing your "hole" down below- the vaginal area, which is meant to stretch for the birth of a baby," I asked her? "As for peeing in your pants when you're 60 years old, you can do exercises to strength the pelvic floor."
Anne and Arnold decided against the cesarean, but still wished to birth at the hospital. I agreed to go with them when she went into labor to help her get the kind of birth she wanted. I warned her, though, that it is common for the doctor not to be in the hospital when the time comes for her to birth her baby. "The nurses will do everything in their power to keep your baby in until the doctor arrives (which can be several hours, especially if a mother has had an epidural, which Anne didn't plan on having).
Many women have had their legs held together by nurses to keep the baby in until the doctor arrives. This is not a rare occurrence. Many babies are autistic and brain damaged or dead for that very reason!
Amy Teuter, a retired OB, seemingly with great glee, posts daily horror stories on the internet (Hurt By Home Birth) concerning the dangers of home birth. If she really cared about truth and what is best for women, in fairness, she would have to post the sad and unnecessary deaths and injuries to babies born in modern hospitals also.
A few days later, Anne went into labor. The plan was for me to labor sit with her at home until she was 5 centimeters dilated, then we would head for the hospital.
When I arrived at her home in the middle of the night, internal examination revealed that her cervix was already 5 cm's open. It was paper thin and stretchy. Anne had her bag packed and her older son already had his coat on, ready to leave. Arnold had the motor running in the car, the heater warming the interior in preparation for the trip to the hospital across town. I followed them in my own car.
We arrived at the hospital in 20 minutes, the I-215 being clear because of the late hour. Arnold pulled up in front of the hospital in the Northwest part of Las Vegas at the base of the Spring mountains.
Upon admission, a nurse asked Anne if she planned to have an epidural. "No, I'm going natural," she replied in between contractions. "But, honey," said the nurse emphatically, "I notice from your chart that you tore badly with your first baby. That wouldn't have happened if you had an epidural because you would have been very relaxed with the anesthesia."
Anne smile sweetly at the nurse as she refused the epidural, empowered by my presence as her advocate. She was handling her contractions very well and didn't seem to be in any kind of extreme pain. The nurse said nothing more, at least for the time being, but she would again later try to talk Anne into taking the epidural, which Anne kept refusing. After Anne was admitted into her private room, her family was allowed to rejoin her.
When the nurse checked her dilation, she was 7 centimeters dilated."Wow, you're going to have that baby real soon!" I said enthusiastically. The contractions were really strong and coming close together, but what concerned me now were the decelerations I heard and saw on the fetal monitor they had Anne hooked up to.
The baby's heart-rate fluctuated between 90-100 beats per minute. Normal should be 120-160 approximately. Variations occur that are normal, but common sense told me this baby had cord around her neck and that with every contraction the blood supply to the unborn was being compromised. I didn't say anything to the nurses because I didn't want Anne to worry, but I couldn't understand why the nurses weren't calling the doctor in, who was at home asleep in his bed. It was clear that they were aware of the drop because I saw the expressions of concern on their faces. I assumed that they were used to seeing this drop in the babies of women who have been given epidurals during labor.
However, this isn't what I am used to hearing when I am attending the labors of mothers at home. I was wondering just how long it would be before they summoned the doctor to come. "Why don't you break Anne's water bag?" I asked the nurse. "Oh, no, honey," said the sweet little nurse. "Doctor has informed us that Anne wants to go natural." There is a big difference between going natural and breaking the amniotic sack if the baby needs to come faster, especially when its heart sounds like what I was hearing. It was evident that nothing was going to be done for Anne or her baby, so I asked the nurse if it was okay for Anne to go to the bathroom. "Sure," she said as she dismantled the IV from its place on the metal pole next to the bed, handing me the tube to carry as Anne waddled into the bathroom.
I shut the bathroom door and whispered to Anne that she should push with the next contraction to try and break the water bag. I had brought some exam gloves with me from home, so with permission from Anne, I examined her cervix internally while she squatted next to the toilet. She was still 7 cm's, but her amniotic bag was bulging with a massive amount of water in front of the baby's head. I knew that if it broke, the baby would come right away.
Anne got back into bed after trying unsuccessfully to break it herself while pushing in the bathroom. She began to cry and told me that she couldn't take much more of this. It had already been several hours since we had arrived at the hospital and there was absolutely no progress made past 7 centimeters.
I asked the nurse again to break the water, but she wouldn't do it. The baby's heart continued to decelerate below 100 with contractions. I knew that the nurses weren't going to call the doctor because it was 4:00 A.M. It didn't seem to matter that the baby needed him to be there, his sleep time was not to be disturbed. The intact bag of water acted the same way an an epidural in that the birth could be timed for the convenience of the staff, not the mother or the baby.
(A note here- I don't believe in breaking the bag of water just to rush labor. That is in itself dangerous. But, when a baby in trouble is hindered from being born because one doesn't break the water, that, to me, is inexcusable)
Anne pleaded with me to do something. I asked her if she wanted me to break the water bag after the nurse left the room. "Please do whatever you can to help get my baby born!", cried Anne, in pain. Her husband agreed that something should be done, as did her mother and grand-mother.
"Okay, but I'd like for one of you to stand guard at the door and warn me if one of the nurses comes down the hallway." Anne's mother volunteered and walked over to the door and peered out into the hallway. I felt like we were all actors in a spy movie.
"All clear," she said, continuing to peek outside the slightly ajar door. I put on a sterile pair of gloves and sat down on the bed next to Anne. I smeared some lubricating jelly on the glove and did a quick internal exam. She was still 7 centimeters. I checked the position of the baby's head to make sure that it was engaged enough in the pelvis so that the cord wouldn't fall out when I broke her amniotic sack.
"Okay, Anne, when you feel the next contraction, I want you to push when I say so. Then, I'll break the bag, okay?' "Okay," sighed Anne, gratefully. The next contraction started, at which time I punctured the bag of water. The baby's head dropped down immediately onto the cervix causing her to dilate to 8cm's right away.
"Thank you ever so much," exclaimed Anne with relief in her voice. "It feels so good to have that pressure taken away."
The monitor showed the baby's heart rate to be stable. "Should I call the nurse in now?' asked Anne's grandmother who stood by my side. "No! After Anne has one more contraction you can get the nurse." The next contraction dilated Anne to ten centimeters, complete dilation. I knew that the nurses would call the doctor now. "Okay, call the nurse in," I said to Anne's mother, who still stood by the door. She walked immediately to the nurses' station to tell them that her daughter's water had broken The little nurse came strolling into the room again with a smile on her face and then said, "Oh, so your water broke? Let's see what you're dilated to now." She put on a glove and exclaimed, "Wow, you are complete. I'm going to go out and call your doctor."
What the nurse didn't realize was that because Anne didn't have an epidural, this baby wasn't going to wait for the doctor. When Anne had her next contraction, she pushed and the baby's head came down and crowned immediately . We all cheered with excitement at the tuft of the baby's brown hair that now peeked outside her mother's body. If the nurses had even thought about suggesting to Anne to close her legs until the doctor arrived, they decided against it because they knew I was a midwife. Plus, they knew better than to mess with the demands of Anne and her family. The baby was coming and the nurse had to prepare for the "catch."
The doctor was on his way, but he wasn't going to make it in time. The baby's head began to emerge. Anne pushed hard and in a moment the baby's head was completely out. There was however, as I had suspected, umbilical cord around her neck, twice!
What I was not prepared for was the scary fact that this nurse did not know what to do. She did not know how to deliver this baby! Yet, she had been left here to care for this mother in the doctors' absence.
If I had been allowed, I would have delivered the baby very quickly as soon as I saw the cord around the baby's neck. But, I could only watch as the nurse fumbled around, not sure of what to do next.
"Okay, Anne, grab underneath your thighs and pull your legs up as high and as apart as you can," I said firmly. "Now push hard to get your baby born." The cord was holding the baby back, so I offered some fundal pressure to help get her out. The nurse quickly came to her senses when she saw me do that. But, she didn't want me to participate in this, so she ordered the nurse standing on the other side of Anne's bed to..."give me fundal pressure!"
At the same time, I told the nurse to put pressure on the baby's head/neck in a gentle downward motion to release the top shoulder from underneath the pubic bone. I was willing and ready to break more rules and just order the nurse out of the way and get this baby out myself, when the baby was finally born.
The baby was limp and blue, but revived promptly with a little rub down and a whiff of oxygen. The doctor walked in at the exact moment when Anne's daughter began to scream. He looked livid with rage and criticized the nurse for not calling him sooner.
Excuse me? How dare he talk to her so rudely? He should have gotten out of bed hours earlier instead of leaving his work to the nurses, especially if they weren't trained to deliver a baby in his absence!
Anne was ecstatic! Arnold and the family were thrilled! The doctor put on a pair of gloves and took over from where the nurse had left off. He was now going to deliver the placenta. But, he was so angry that he viciously pulled the placenta off the wall of the uterus, leaving a scar that adversely affected Anne's next birth. She cried out in pain at his brutality! When the placenta was out, he was determined to find a tear in Anne's vagina or on her cervix, which he examined with earnestness in hopes of finding even a little nick so that he could say, "I told you so." But, there were no tears, no rips, absolutely no reason to sew anything up at all. Unhappily, and I do mean unhappily, he had to admit that she was intact.
Moments later, he pulled Arnold aside and asked him to step outside into the hallway so that he could talk with the new father. "Do you realize what a risk you put your wife at when you asked that midwife to come here?" asked the doctor, still livid with rage, but trying to remain calm as he spoke with Arnold.
"Why do you say that?" asked Arnold innocently. "Everything is fine." "Well, it might not have turned out fine. Your baby could have died! Your wife could have torn to shreds because that midwife had her pushing when she wasn't ten centimeters dilated. Luckily her cervix wasn't torn."
"She didn't tear, so why are you making an issue of that? Besides, your nurses are here. Don't they know how to deliver babies in case you can't make it?" asked Arnold. "They're not trained to deliver babies. They're not doctors!" yelled the doctor at Arnold. "Then why do you leave laboring women in their care?" said Arnold. That stopped the doctor. he knew that he should have gotten out of bed and come to the hospital hours earlier. He didn't say anything more, just turned on his heels and walked away.