Trigger Warning: This birth story contains details of instrumental delivery, haemorrhage, tearing and prolapse. If you are triggered by these topics you may wish to skip this blog or read it once you have support available. If you are seeking support for your birth trauma, you may wish to contact our Peer Support Service.
After trying for 3 years to conceive and suffering a miscarriage I had a fairly healthy pregnancy with a scare at 7 weeks and again at 32 weeks. I was living in Sydney at the time but returned home to my family on the Sunshine Coast at 33weeks pregnant to have my Son. Whilst in Sydney I was under the care of an amazing OB who had advised me to return home early just to be safe due to the threat of early labour, Dr Wilson had kept a close eye on me while I was under his care and has said that my Son would be at least 4 kg if he made it to full term.
I was initially referred to the OB at the Public hospital due to being a high risk of haemorrhaging but was dismissed and told not to worry about or the size of my baby and placed under midwife care at the public hospital. Everything was going well up until 38 weeks when I was able to get follow up appointments because they were too busy so I was placed on a waiting list for future appointments.
I expressed my concern a few times about the size of my baby and about being in a lot of pain in my hips and groin, but was told I looked well enough and not to worry. I was also concerned because my baby’s head was no longer engaged, but told whilst he had a substantial head I shouldn’t worry.
At my 40 week appointment I was given an internal and they said I was 3-4 cm already so gave me a stretch and sweep and told I wouldn’t need a follow up appointment because id likely be back that night to have my baby, I went home having mild pains and bleeding, but returned to the hospital in the evening because I was having trouble breathing and hadn’t felt my baby move. I was monitored and told all was well, I was given a sleeping tablet and sent home to rest. This was on Monday I called 2 days’ later because I was still bleeding and my urine was not normal, I was told not to worry. By Friday I was still not in active labour and called again, they told me they had no appointments available so I’d have to wait for someone to birth early so I could have their spot! I was called in Monday morning because an appointment had become available. I was checked again and given a second S&S and told I was still only 3-4 cm, they booked me for an induction but couldn’t fit me in until Saturday.
The morning of the induction came and I was 42 weeks and still only 4cm, my waters were broken at 6am but my son’s heart rate went up and he passed meconium straight away, I was told this was normal. They waited for his heart rate to settle before starting the oxytocin drip an hour later.
Whilst the contractions were intense my labour progressed well, I was given gas for pain and some pethidine in the early afternoon when I was about 5cm dilated. The pethidine wore of by the time I was at 8cm in the early evening. A new midwife came on and taught me how to breathe effectively with the gas to help the contractions and the pain. By this stage I was unable to pass urine so a catheter was put in to empty my bladder. At around 7.30pm I was told I could start pushing, an hour went by with no progress so the gas was taken from me and I was moved to a birthing stool, and put in various positions to try to help my babies head crown. By 9:00pm I was told it was taking too long and the doctors would be called to help get him out.
I was given a needle to numb the area and an episiotomy was performed, my son was born at 9.34pm after 3 attempts with the vacuum, he was 9lb 15 oz ( 4.5kg) and asides from a mark on his head and blue turned in feet ( from lack of space) he was very healthy!
His cord was cut and I was given a needle to help my placenta out, once it was delivered alarms started ringing and the room filled with people, I remember my stomach being pushed on hard and my sister telling me I’d lost a lot of blood so they were pushing on my stomach to make it stop.
I remember thinking my beautiful baby was finally here but it would be at the cost of my life… I began to tell him how much I loved him and how wanted he was.
The bleeding was stopped and I was given a blood transfusion and told I needed internal and external stitches, I was given more gas and another needle to numb the area so the repairs could be done, I was then left in the birthing suite with a “ brick dressing” against my cervix to allow the bleeding to stop. The Dr returned later to remove it and I was told I’d lost over 2 litres of blood so the catheter was left in and I wasn’t allowed to stand up. I was transferred to my room at 2.30 am after a sponge bath from a less than enthusiastic midwife.
The next day I was again told I shouldn’t stand up and I was taught to breastfeed in the side laying position because I was unable to sit due to the pain. Later that afternoon a nurse helped my partner shower me but I became to dizzy and had to be taken back to bed after almost fainting. Once the catheter was removed I became aware of something poking out of my vagina and was in a lot of pain, I asked for it to be checked and was told it was normal swelling and told not to worry, I was told this 3 times in total. A physio came and gave me a support bandage and a few simple exercises to do and stressed that I should not lift anything other than my baby.
I was sent home on day 4 at 8:00pm at night still unable to sit and too weak/dizzy to walk, when I got home I read my discharge summary which stated that I had suffered a prolapsed cervix, I had not been told about this by anyone!
I had a home visit with a midwife two days later so I asked her about the prolapse and again expressed concern about the bulge poking out of my vagina, but again I was told it was just normal swelling and to book a GP check-up.
When I went to the GP she said I had a prolapse and it appeared to be infected so she sent me to the ER. I waited in the ER for hours and was told yes it was a prolapse but I couldn’t be readmitted until someone from maternity came down but they were too busy. I opted to go home around 1:00am.
After several phone calls the next day they agreed to let me come back to the maternity ward for assessment, the registrar who saw me said that I had suffered a prolapsed cervix during delivery and that I was too unwell and would need to be re-admitted back to the maternity ward for treatment. I was told my oxygen levels were low and I had a UTI and needed antibiotics. They suggested a pessary to help the prolapse stay in, so I was given gas and endone whilst I was fitted with several types of pessaries over the coming days.
I was discharged 4 days later and commenced care with a pelvic floor physio and with regular checkup with the gyno team. I was unable to sit for 3 weeks and stayed with my mother for 6 weeks before I was well enough to return to my own home with my partner. It was months before I was able to lift the baby capsule or the pram and I relied heavily on family to help with everyday tasks. I was official diagnosed with a triple pelvic organ prolapse, my uterus was the worst and most bothersome, I suffered with daily pain and bladder leakage and could not control my wind. At 12 month pp I began having issues holding in bowel motions. I was sent to see a colorectal surgeon who confirmed I had a 3b tear that had not been repaired. I was then sent to an Oasis clinic at a different hospital in south Brisbane.
I am now 2 years pp and have been told I’m too young for surgery and to continue with physio and wearing a pessary, I manage walking and some light yoga but cannot run without wetting myself. It has been a very long and difficult road with many dark days. My partner and I separated when my son was just 5 month old.
I am still fighting for answers and in a much better head space now, however my prolapses have worsened and my pessary is no longer working so I am in the process of trying to find a Doctor who will help me get my quality of life back.
My advice would be to any woman in this situation is to seek out a counsellor that works for you and a good pelvic floor physio because both have been an amazing support for me. As women we know our bodies and our babies better than anyone else. I trusted in the care and advice given by the midwives in the lead up to my son’s birth but felt bitterly betrayed by what happened and the fact I was not listened too or taken seriously. I feel that my injuries could have been avoided or greatly reduced had I been given an early induction or c-section. I was not even offered a scan to check his size despite the reports from my OB in Sydney.
My son keeps me going on the bad days and has taught me gratitude and resilience and I will be forever thankful that he is mine and that he is healthy and happy, I hope that I will be one day too.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story, Much love to those of you on a similar path.