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Just home from crash c section - very upset I don't know what happened

(26 Posts)
greenlawn Mon 06-Oct-08 12:53:09

Just wanted to ask those of you who've had one if anyone debriefed you afterwards.

Went in for a consultant appt on my due date to find I was already 3 cms dilated - had a membrane sweep and my waters broke, so got into the car to go to the delivery suite - by the time I got there I was having strong contractions every 3 minutes.

I was only in the room for about an hour and everything seemed to be progressing very fast, when I started to feel very sick and sweaty. The mw said I was having very strong contractions but coping well and it would be a fast birth. Then I looked at the monitor and the heartrate line was right at the bottom and I could hear the heartbeat slowing right down. Room full of people, dashed off to theatre, and under a GA within 3 minutes. Ds3 was born 5 minutes after I was put under.

He is fine, and I'm incredibly grateful that he is alive and well, but no-one has told me what happened. The only thing I heard the surgeon say was that the heartrate drop was prolonged and profound and he told DH the baby had to come out now. When I was in theatre I heard the surgeon say "maybe a cord compression". There was no consent form or discussion, I didn't even know I was having a cs until after it happened.

Can I ask to find out what happened or see my notes?

I've had a previous (elective) cs and a vbac and had been hoping for another vbac this time but obviously it didn't go to plan.

I'd really appreciate anyone being able to help as I feel very tearful and upset about what happened.

PoorOldEnid Mon 06-Oct-08 12:57:27

you poor thing.

Yes of course you are right to try and find out what happened to help you make sense of it.

44christmaspuddingsinarow Mon 06-Oct-08 12:58:42

Ahh sorry you feel tearful about this, is it shock that has left you feeling like this, tearful and upset, a traumatic borth and then woom down with a bang.

You can ask to see your notes, can you see your own midwife to get some type of knowledge of what happened?

TeenyTinyTorya Mon 06-Oct-08 12:58:44

I don't have a lot of experience of this but didn't want to leave your post unanswered. You can definitely ask to see your notes, and they should tell you what has happened. I hope you get some answers and feel better soon.

moopymoo Mon 06-Oct-08 13:04:14

what has happened to you is a major trauma and you are likely in shock. you are absolutely able to see your notes and ask questions - it will all take time to digest. Be prepared though that there might not be any clear explanation though- often a judgement call is made in an emergency in the best interests of you and your baby. day at a time, and many congratulations.

fondant4000 Mon 06-Oct-08 13:29:31

It must have been incredibly shcoking - and v. scary for both you and your partner.

Pretty sure you can read your notes, and that the hospital could arrange for you to go over them with a consultant if you'd like to. Your midwife should also be able to talk with you about what happened, and what you are feeling.

I had an emergency cs (with an epidural) and can remember being upset about the lack of control and not being able to remember everything that happened (I was exhausted after 4 days awake!).

It can take time to piece it together and feel OK about it. In the end I decided whatever had happened I had a healthy baby and I was OK - and that may not have been the case in the days before cs.

PathofLeastResistance Mon 06-Oct-08 13:36:53

I'm sure if you ask someone will find the time to go over things with you. Obs is a specialty where a lot of the gentle explaining has to be done separately to the action because things can become emergencies so suddenly. I would suggest you contact the surgeon, by letter if necessary. They could then arrange to see you in clinic or may find someone with more time to see you.

It's so good your baby had a good outcome. Try your best to relax and enjoy him now.

Sycamoretree Mon 06-Oct-08 13:45:43

I'm sorry you have had such a shocking experience. You should get your notes (you may have to pay?) and digest them. If you still feel the need, get a bit of counselling - I did. Only on session, but it helped to talk through everything from start to finish, and put it in it's "proper place" as it were.

Congrats btw. smile

chipmonkey Mon 06-Oct-08 13:47:38

Greenlawn <<<hugs>>>
Congrats on another lovely boy but so sorry it was so traumatic an entry into the world for him. Def. ask for a MW/Dr to go over the notes with you and explain.

WinkyWinkola Mon 06-Oct-08 13:55:13

You poor soul. Did nobody try to explain what had happened so that you needed a crash section?

You are allowed to get your hospital notes but bear in mind they may be difficult to interpret given the circumstances. I've got mine from an emergency C-section and a VBAC and I can't really make much sense of them.

I would call the hospital ward and ask to talk to a midwife or the surgeon. It's really important that you know what happened and why it happened - if there is a reason available.

You're going to feel tearful and shocked for a while, you know. Please be gentle with yourself and take it very very easy. A crash section is very scary and it's obviously far from what you had hoped for the birth of your DS.

You also need to debrief your birth experience for yourself. When you are ready, write it all down. Ask your DH or a friend to read it and then talk about it with you. That can help too.

goingfor3 Mon 06-Oct-08 14:00:03

Congratulations on the birth of your baby!

Is the midwife still visting you at home? I'm sure she will be able to look through your notes and explain what ahppened.

Frightattendent Mon 06-Oct-08 14:08:20

Greenlawn I am so sorry you feel so disempowered and this is very common to feel like nobody will tell you anything because you don't matter. That doesn't make it Ok though.

From what you describe, they did it because of the heartrate being subdued. I don't know if there is another way around cord compression - there will be midwives around in a while I expect who can advise you about this situation, and what is the usual protocol - but when I was having ds1, his heartrate dropped alarmingly too, (not that anyone was with me except my mum, and we were both asleep!) but she did notice the beeps and woke and ran to get someone. They wheeled me quickly into the delivery room, and were threatening caesarean and ventouse and forceps etc but in the end I pushed hard and he came out. It was lucky though as he was in a bit of danger. His heart dropped to about 40 or something, can't remember now but it wasn't near the bottom of the thingy. Even so it was almost an emergency. He had had the cord round his little neck.

I think you need to ask for someone to sit and talk you threough your notes very slowly and carefully answering all your questions so that you can come to terms with what happened and stop worrying that there was something you should/could have done differently.

Well done and congrats for your dear little baby smile
I hope yu can get some closure on all this soon x

flamingtoaster Mon 06-Oct-08 14:26:54

I had an emergency c section because of the heartbeat dropping. When I came round I was shocked to find I had a drip in - I didn't realize that this was standard for a c section - and my son was in Special Care for observation/oxygen overnight. I was told on the ward was that he had had the cord twice round his neck but that was all the information I was given. I was very lucky that a few nights later I was in the night nursery when one of the nurses came in to express milk for her little one. She looked at my son, asked was he baby flamingtoaster and when I said yes she told me that she had been in theatre when he was born and he had been so blue and floppy that she had been in tears. She was delighted to see him looking and feeding so well. Looking back I realize that this conversation had a lot to do with me getting over the trauma of it all so quickly - but the overriding feeling was relief that both me and my DS were alive and, thanks to the speed of reaction, my DS was absolutely fine. Apart from your hormones playing up a general anaeasthetic has a slightly depressing effect so you may find in a few days you suddenly feel much better when the effect has worn off - it can take a week or longer.

You could always ask that your details are sent to your doctor and he could explain them to you at your six week check.

Congratulations on the arrival of your DS - I'm sure you'll feel better soon.

eekamoose Mon 06-Oct-08 14:43:54

Greenlawn, many congratuations on the arrival of DS. I had a very similar experience when I was labouring with my first baby and then a crash caesarian performed within minutes in an operating theatre in which the sense of panic was palpable.

I was in hospital for 5 days afterwards as DD required some special care. I requested a meeting to discuss the birth every single day I was there and, finally, on day 5, a consultant came to see me. He had not been present at the birth so I wasn't particuarly happy about that. He read through my notes whilst talking me through them. I was deeply suspicious when I looked in the file and saw that the print-out from my dd's heart rate monitor had somehow been damaged by what looked like a cup of tea being spilt all over it hmm.

Sorry, I digress. My point is that you have every right to be told what happened to you by someone present at the birth but you might have to keep asking and asking until they take you seriously. I think the staff sometimes feel that as you have a healthy baby that's all that matters, but I understand perfectly well that you want to know why, and what happened while you were out cold.

Although I am no longer traumatised by DD's birth (more than 7 years ago now) I am still "bothered" by the fact that neither me nor DH were there with her when she came into the world. BTW, the reason for DD's trauma remained unexplained, suspected cord compression was the consultant's best guess.

greenlawn Mon 06-Oct-08 14:52:58

Thank you so much for your responses. I've spoken to the community mw who has said she will find the notes and investigate for me. I've stressed that I am very very grateful that he was out so quickly and its not an issue of being unhappy with what was done, its just I'm floundering as to what happened.

She wasn't sure about the cord compression as she thought that wouldn't have made me feel ill, but she raised the possibility of the previous scar coming apart.

I think following on from that I may get myself some private counselling, I had this after my first cs (one of my twins had died and had to be delivered by cs) - obviously this time there was a happier outcome, but it has brought up a lot of demons I thought I'd dealt with.

Thank you for your support.

Lib76 Mon 06-Oct-08 16:01:25

greenlaw you poor sole! i know EXACTLLY how you feel. i had crash c section under GA also very distressing. I was warned by my consultant(on my due date) that if i needed CS it would be under GA , i had low platelets which meant spinal out of question.

it is so upsetting having CS under GA as DH can't be there and you don't get to see babay straight away, so i know what you are feeling. I was lucky that the midwive looking after me while i was in labour came into theatre with me.

my consultant saw me the next day and had chat about what had happend, turned out cord round DS neck, hence distress. I also saw him for 6 wk check and again we had chat about what had happend. I would ask to see your consultant for chat, it does help.

chipmonkey Mon 06-Oct-08 16:58:37

Oh, you poor love! Of course it has brought up the past for you, in that case!

lulumama Mon 06-Oct-08 17:01:45

greenlawn , congratulations on the safe arrival of your baby boy, but am very sorry you had a hard time and are traumatised, i am sure the memories of your previous c.s are not helping you.

definitely be debriefed and go through your notes sooner rather than later

and allow yourself to grieve and feel sad or angry or whatever mix of emotions you are going through right now

lisad123 Mon 06-Oct-08 23:08:11

i did get to see my notes before i left with dd1 but not with dd2. I had 2 very different but very difficult births and still find it hard to think bout it. your under MW care till day 10 so please do ask her.
Congrates sweetie

shabster Mon 06-Oct-08 23:28:05

OMG sweetheart - just OMG. A very similar delivery for my DS's DP in June this year. My first grandchild was presenting bum and sole of his foot first. Emergency CSection. My lovely lovely DIL has only just started to talk about it and ask me questions.

Many congratulations on your DS.

I read your post and saw that you had lost a twin.....I can identify with that so much...I lost a 7 month old twin in 1982 (brother to the son who just had his first child) and I can honestly say there is no pain like the pain of loosing a child. No wonder you are in shock.

Sending you much love from Lancashire.

Big kisses for new baby xx

LackaDAISYcal Mon 06-Oct-08 23:38:31

Congratulations on the birth of your DS3, but sorry things went the way they did sad. Of course you will feel weepy and tearful, this must have been a huge shock.

The hospital will have a patient liaison service who will arrange for you to be debriefed by someone who was either present or who can translate your notes to you.

Lulumama has some very sagely advice on birth trauma and some website links so hopefully she will see this and post.

I had an emCS with DS (I was still awake though) but as it had all got a bit crazy towards the end; I was drugged up to the eyeballs and my birth supporters were confused and scared.

I asked for someone to go over my notes with me and the registrar who was in the delivery room and theatre with me came and talked me through it the next day. I'm pretty sure it was that debriefing that helped me come to terms with it as quickly as I did.

Call the hospital and see what they can do for you; but you are perfectly within your rights to seek some answers.

Enjoy your new arrival smile

greenlawn Tue 07-Oct-08 10:10:48

Thanks so much for your responses, I'm feeling a bit less tearful today - hopefully by the end of the week they may have got hold of the notes and we can go through them. This is definitely the last baby for me, I can't go through it all again, but I do feel I need to know what happened, as I keep getting panicky about what could have gone wrong.

I also have lots of feelings of having "failed" at having my children, ah why do we do this to ourselves?!

kitstwins Tue 07-Oct-08 12:30:55

I can really empathise with this as my twins were delivered under a GA as both my epidural and spinal block failed and, as I could feel the incision, they had no other option but to knock me out to deliver my babies. This was on the back of five weeks in hospital on bedrest due to placenta praevia and recurrant bleeds and a whopping bleed at 2am before my emergency section. I woke up from that anaesthetic in agonising pain, vomiting from the morphine and spent the next few days in complete shock and trauma at what I'd gone through. My babies felt like they belonged to someone else.

You're doing absolutely the right thing in wanting to get answer and build a picture of what happened. I think it's hugely important and can be so useful in processing the trauma (and what you've been through is incredibly traumatic, although the experience often gets brushed aside once the baby arrives). I tried to get someone to talk about what had happened during the delivery (and about why the epidurals had failed) as even then I think I realised that I needed to know. But the midwives were busy and the consultants fobbed me off with the words "be grateful you've got two healthy babies", which just made me feel even worse. And so I left it, and ended up with PND/PTSD.

In the end I got my notes and talked through them with my hospital's Birth Afterthoughts service. If your midwife or HV can't help then call your hospitals Patient Liaision Department (PALS) and ask them to organise this. They will do this for you. I asked to not see anyone who had been present at my twins delivery as it felt too close to home and I didn't want them to be on the defensive - as if I was criticising them - and in the end I saw the chief midwife, an anaethetist and the head of patient liaison. The midwife and anaethetist had both looked through my notes prior to the meeting and had spoken to my consultant and anaethetist in full about what had happened so they were able to answer my questions.

I found it hugely helpful and for me it was a huge step forward in getting over the trauma of my daughters' delivery. I can never relive that day and I'll never know what it is like to see a baby/my babies being brought into this world, which is a huge sadness to me, but I do at least have a picture of what happened (who cried at birth, what happened, etc.). It's not as good as seeing it for myself but it is enough. Also, the anaethetist was able to reassure me that my daughters were not distressed at the time of delivery which I found incredibly reassuring. I'd no idea how much this had obviously been bothering me but I burst into tears when they told me this. I'd not been awake to 'defend and protect' my babies and so the thought of them suffering without me was very upsetting. But they assessed their blood cord gases (apparently this registers 'distress', although I'm not sure how) and said that they were fine. Whether I entirely believe this I'm not sure, but 'medically' I know that my daughters were not upset when they were born and that for all the drama in that theatre they were unaffected. It was just me that was pulled apart that day. Which is okay. Which I can now live with.

I'm sorry this is a bit of an epic but I really feel for you. Often the birth gets eclipsed once the baby is born and there is an overriding message that we should all just pull ourselves together and thank our lucky stars for a successful outcome. Which of course we do, but which still doesn't deal with the trauma of what has happened. You need to make sense of it and the only way to do this is by talking about it - to professionals and also to friends/Family if you can. I'd really recommend writing a no-holds barred birth story; your version of events that day (even if you don't think you know much of what happened) as that can be really helpful in making sense of things and seeing where the gaps are. I did this and sent it to a close girlfriend as I really wanted someone else to know what I really went through that day.

Good luck and also congratulations on the birth of your baby. You've really been through the mill with this but I can promise you that not only are you doing the absolute right thing in trying to talk through the birth, it will also be really helpful when you do so. I was finally able to make peace with what had happened to me and understand that it wasn't my fault and I didn't let my daughters down. It was just that sometimes these things happen, and that day was just my day and my turn.

Best of luck going foreward.

greenlawn Tue 07-Oct-08 14:53:37

Thank you Kitstwins for your message, I really appreciate everyone taking the time to respond.

I know that hospitals can sometimes behave very defensively when people start asking questions - mistakes were made with monitoring during pregnancy when my son was stillborn, scan reports mysteriously went missing and it was hard to get anyone to talk about what had happened. But I know from experience that if I don't talk about this to someone, I'll blame myself and last time round the consequences of that took years to deal with.

The trouble is, the vbac I had last time round was a very positive and healing process and I thought I had myself emotionally on a much more even keel - silly me.

Apparently the notes have been sent for a risk assessment (the mw said this is routine in this situation to see if lessons could be learnt), which is encouraging. We'll see what comes back.

kitstwins Tue 07-Oct-08 21:23:01

No problem and apologies for my atrocious spelling and grammer in it. I'm not usually so useless.

It sounds as if you know what you need to do - probably because of events from your first traumatic birth and what you learnt in that process. It sounds as if you understand the need to get answers and a clear picture of that day. I wish I'd known this after the birth of my daughters as I just muddled through and tried to forget (impossible) and "concentrate on being a mother", which was my consultant's parting advice. So not the right thing to do for the long term as everything just sat inside me and got even worse.

ONe thing that was great from my Birth Afterthoughts appointment was that the hospital agreed to put into training going forward that mothers who deliver under GA should have a full debriefing from a consultant. Whether this ever gets applied or even typed into the training manual is up for debate, but it did feel good to think that there was a chance. That the next time it happens, someone might just remember being told of the potential for trauma resulting from a lack of debriefing and think to talk things through with the parents. I know if someone had found the time to do that for me I'd have felt a lot better about what had happened to me. Even having the slightest, most piecemeal understanding of what they did to me and my daughters in that theatre would have helped as it would have brought me back in the room. It would have given me a moment, albeit a token one, of my daughters' first moments. And that has never felt too much to ask.

I really hope you get some encouraging feedback. Equally, if you're still struggling in the meantime, it might be worth looking up the Birth Trauma Association, which offers excellent support.

Take care. I think you're being incredibly brave and I hugely admire you.

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