Amanda’s Story

It’s 2010 and I’m 14 weeks pregnant with my first baby, having my first scan which ran late due to snow, we lived near Oxford at the time, as the roads were blocked no doctor could get in, so a midwife did the ultrasound.

She was quiet, very quiet during the scan, she called a colleague in to look at the screen, both seemed puzzled and we were sent to wait outside. When called back in we were then in front of a specialist Midwife, who informed us that the midwife who did the ultrasound couldn’t find any legs for our child, so our baby may not have any.

We were to return the following day when hopefully a doctor could make it in to do another scan to confirm.

The following day we were informed by the consultant that our child had a bladder obstruction but did have legs, we were to return a week later to see how it went, however the mega cysts was so big we were advised to terminate.

We were told we had until 24 weeks gestation to decide, the child was in no pain and the bladder may spontaneously rupture, which would be a good thing, but that it wouldn’t kill the child, we decided at that point to return in 2 weeks in the hope it would rupture.

The two week wait alone was heart wrenching full of researching, learning and worrying.

We arrived at the hospital, I lay on the bed and as the consultant looked he ran the probe over me realising who we were “ohhhh it’s you guys, OK, we need to move down the hall to another in depth scanner we need to go on the other machine” off we went, only a few meters away.

Again he runs the probe over, only this time he is quiet, he calls another doctor in then says as matter of fact as you could possibly be imagine “ I’m afraid your son has died, I saw a heart beat on the other scanner a moment ago but I don’t see one now.” His colleague confirmed.

In that moment all that stood out was the word son, you see, I knew it was a boy I knew before my pregnancy was confirmed on a stick I was pregnant and I knew instantly it was a boy.

I’m calm, I feel floaty, Wow a boy I think, I knew it was a boy. The doctor is talking but I’ve zoned out, I get a warm feeling that I knew he was a boy, something in me was close to him at some deeper level I tell myself, how lovely I’m a mummy I think.

I snap back into the room.
After a short pause which, looking back, felt like forever I say “Sorry?”
The doctor repeats his findings then leaves.
We were then given choices.

As we lived over an hour away from the hospital the thought of having him alone at home scared me, so I then begin the process of taking tablets, to help my body realise the baby that had passed and have him at hospital 2 days later.

I didn’t sleep in that time. I hand made a patchwork blanket double sided with a message from my husband and I, when finished we kissed every inch of it both sides, so that our son would always be forever wrapped in our love.

Joshua arrived. However, my placenta had other ideas, I was bleeding. The Doctor tried his best to manually remove it but to no avail. The consultant said I was to go down immediately to have the placenta removed in surgery. He was going off shift for the night.

I continue to bleed with very large liver sized clots coming away, The midwives were busy often not answering call bells so my husband bless him helped to clean me up.

We wait patiently, however we got to spend time with Joshua and had him blessed.

Eventually we are moved down to surgery but still they are busy so we are there some hours more in a side room.
I begin to feel light headed, I then begin to feel sleepy, I realise I am fainting off and on, I raise my legs as I knew to do from my own first aid training but I am already laying down so it doesn’t do much, I realise this is not a good sign.

My husband rings the call bell a midwife attends then calls a doctor, it was at this point the consultant that had initially said I needed to have the placenta removed immediately comes back onto shift and it is he who comes in.

When he realises who we were, he was not happy and began shouting outside our room, ordering people to get me into surgery NOW. I was drifting in and out of consciousness.

Next thing I know my breasts are tingling, I can hear lots of babies crying, and as the fog lifts I’m lying on my side in a side room of the labour ward, through the door way I see my husband talking to a midwife in the corridor, she has a blonde bob…..he says “may I go in and sit with my wife now please she’s just come out of surgery” with an angered huff she snaps “I don’t know why you section partners can’t be patient, you will be called when she’s ready!”
My husband goes on to say in a soft voice “we’ve just lost our baby, it wasn’t a section” her face drops she raises her hands palms up and says “ oh sorry yes, yes I will find out, I didn’t know”

But the damage was done, as I laid there my mind working but not my body quite at that moment I want to scream I wanted to shout and say, ‘How dare you be so unfeeling!’ but I just cried and the tears flowed, because it wasn’t just me suffering, it was my husband too.

We left Hospital, and as I looked up at the building all I could think was, ‘This is wrong, how can I leave my child in this place when he is supposed to be coming home with us. He must be cold, I don’t want him to be cold.’

You may have noticed I used the word “can” then and that’s because I can see it, I can see it all, I remember the smells, sounds the curl in the bottom of the hair of the mean midwife who spoke so horribly to my grieving and worried husband, I see the look on people’s faces and the hurt in my husband’s eyes. I’m back there, in those moments, no matter where I go and what I do. The same can be said for all my birthing experiences. You relive them constantly.

In 2010 a few months later along came my first full pregnancy. Again I knew before I tested I was pregnant and again I felt the sex was a girl from the start. This time though I clung to that feeling, because concentrating on a lovely surprise was far better than worrying about what bad things could happen to this baby.
All was well until the birth, I was 40+14 when I was induced…..I’d waited 14 hours for an epidural but sadly it wasn’t working properly when it did arrive.

It would work on one side for half an hour or so, then stop, I had it re-sited so many times, I lost count. It eventually stopped working altogether, shifts came and went, one lady with a strong Spanish accent stands out. I remember through the daze of pain I was in, being shouting at. I was to turn over onto my other side to help the epidural work, she barked at me, I know this must have been for my own good but looking back it scared me, I remember her tone, no explanation but shouting, it made me panic, I remember physically jumping.

A little later on my child’s heart began to decelerate.
The consultant came in, I was 8cm, he explained that (with hands high enough for me to see, as if in prayer) he was going to try and manually stretch me to 10cm. What I can only describe as feeling like a cow then ensued where he tried to stretch me, both hands inside me and pulled open. It hurt a lot.
It didn’t work.
I was moved to surgery, everyone rushing around, I wanted that, I wanted my child safe, I understood, it was just scary…..

For some reason, unknown to me, the anesthetist was still having problems numbing me. I look up and crowded around me are my husband, the midwife, the anesthetist and consultant. Further back more staff, faceless, I can’t see them but know they are there. Suddenly they are all leaning in, shouting “push push push” some with fists clenched in a rhythmic motion, beckoning me on. Everything was moving so slowly to me, my eyes are wide, I feel like a deer in headlights is the best way to explain it.

 The consultant raised his voice and says “this baby is coming NOW”, My babies heart was very slow, the consultant was working quickly, I was grateful and still am, with one foot up on the edge of the bed and forceps in hand, my first child was born. I needed a transfusion of 3 units. Sadly 4 different people could not gain access to my veins, including the anesthetist, 17 times I was poked, feet, throat and groin included it was such a horrible experience.

The following day my bed was completely surrounded by medical staff, I recognised the anesthetist. They were worried about me after what had happened during the birth apparently.

He said he had never seen it happen before, it was then explained to me that they couldn’t numb me, the baby was oblique and back to back and they had to open up my vagina internally. So a scalpel made a cut internally to make room for the surgeon to be able to get the forceps around my daughters head, a few seconds more and they were about to break my pubic bone apparently. All with no pain relief. I was told I had over 300 stitches.

To this day I am thankful they saved my child. It was however, petrifying. I couldn’t stand upright fully for at least 7 months the pain and healing took a long time.
I vowed no more, but as time passed and my beautiful baby bloomed we realised she needed a sibling, I was utterly petrified but she couldn’t be alone in the world so we tried.

Her brother then came…..again I knew before I tested and I was convinced it was a boy, I was back in Joshua’s pregnancy in my mind, clinging onto my deeper mothering feeling for comfort. I was so incredibly scared however. I asked for a birth after thoughts thinking this would help me.

The midwife was not able to answer any of my questions and didn’t have any answers for what happened to me before, she basically shrugged me off, she was flippant, non-responsive and I left feeling like I’d just irritated her she had better things to do.

Her replies of “I don’t know, it’s not in your file, you’ll never know, I’m sure it wasn’t that bad, you’ll be fine” ringing in my ears….I’d hoped for reassurance or to understand, but left with more dread than I arrived with.

Due to previously bleeding so much I was classed “high risk”
I requested a c section, because of what had happened before in the previous birth. My consultant zoned out as I explained my birth, he didn’t care, he certainly didn’t listen about what I had been through or how it had affected me I was petrified, but that simply didn’t matter.

He firmly told me that I absolutely could not have a section and that if I wanted to have one I would have to change hospitals and consultants and go to a different county as no reason was good enough for him to give me one.

Luckily, and thank goodness, my husband got promoted, and with promotion came a move.
Two weeks before my child arrived we moved to Lincolnshire and Pilgrim Hospital was where he chose to have him. Mr Ikhena kindly agreed to a C section immediately after patiently listening to me explains what happened previously. However for reasons I won’t go into, my aftercare didn’t go to plan which was a shame. Separately to that I was stitched internally too tightly and movement caused tearing internally. I couldn’t breathe or talk due to the pain. Once diagnosed though I was eventually (after numerous re admittance) able to cope with the pain. It was such a shame to have finished that birthing experience on a sour note.

Then came 2018 and our 3rd baby decided to join our family for the 4th time, I knew before I tested I was pregnant and again I thought the baby was a girl, as with all 4 pregnancies we decided not to find out.

Once again I was scared, no, more than scared…..terrified.
My community midwife listened intently and told me to contact the birth after thoughts team and get booked in.
Thank goodness I did.

Because from that moment onwards my pregnancy and birth experience changed….for the better, in so many wonderful ways.

I met Sandra Pygott in early 2018, we talked over so much and she helped me go through my old notes in a birth after thoughts session from my son’s delivery. Sandra sat and Listened, she asked questions, showed real interest and care and didn’t mind when I asked a million questions.

For the first time I felt I was actually being listened to, my wittering was OK, my recounting was OK as were my often daft questions. She was like a breath of fresh air; I didn’t feel like a nuisance anymore. I felt listened to for the first time. Often previously when I asked question I was made to feel silly, I didn’t leave with this feeling and I was so incredibly grateful to her.
Sandra didn’t fob me off, she did all she could to listen to me and made me see that I wasn’t just a number, I mattered, as did my birth experience. I felt that my experience mattered to her too.

At this point I mentioned I would dearly love a natural c section, Sandra knew exactly what this was. She asked me what my requests might be and she would see what she could do. Sure enough she very kindly spoke with Dr Jindal who so kindly agreed along with the anesthetist Dr Sharpe. This I will be forever grateful of.

My heart skipped, and although I was measuring big (47 weeks the day I went in to have the baby) I was as light as a feather when I was told I could have one, because a weight had been lifted, all my fears and worries melted away, I felt confident in the team looking after me and my little one and I slept better than I had in weeks.

Sandra touched base with me numerous times, my requests were that if safe, I could watch my own birth, that the baby were to stay on me after birth, just like they would in a vaginal birth and we could have delayed cord clamping, then skin to skin.

I woke up on the day of the birth and although slightly nervous I felt so much confidence in what was going to happen, I wasn’t scared, I was happy.

Ms Jindal on the day was just wonderful, so caring, kind and thorough which again gave me so much confidence. The cherry on the top if you will. But it wasn’t just her that was fantastic; it was every single person in the room too. It was such a lovely experience.

As the spinal block went in I had a slight wobble, nothing to do with the team, just my own dire pain threshold…however Sandra was in front of me and calmed me down (helped with some lovely essential oils she knew just what to use and recommend, her along with the others and oils helped me relax) They were fantastic.
Dr Jindal and her team including Dr Sharp were equally lovely, explaining everything and they helped me to stop panicking, in fact I hadn’t even realised it had been placed in the end they were so fantastic.
Ms Jindal so kindly allowed me to watch and it was AMAZING ( I’m welling up now as I relive the moment)

As a side note, I mention this next part because on top of previous bad births you just don’t know what people have been through and have to coup with all at the same time, so the way we react or what happens to us can be because of what we’ve been through previously, for instance Joshua’s birth and how harrowing it was for me that day only got worse, on arriving home to another address we were staying at I placed my bag on the floor and the phone rang, it was the police. not only had we just lost our first baby, but the home we owned had had a major flood. Due to the freezing weather a pipe in the loft had burst and flooded the entire house, we lost EVERYTHING. It was the worst flood both the police and fire brigade had ever seen they said. All contents were lost forever. Photos, mementos, documents, knick knacks collected through the years that meant something, the kitchen, bathroom, all plaster walls in every room and flooring all destroyed, but that wasn’t all. While I was in hospital having Joshua we had also been burgled. A lot of things of value had been stolen. You really couldn’t make it up.

It was an incredible amount of awful things to go through all at the same time. So my brain decided to try and cope for me. From then on it only retained the most important information. I lost all my short term memory thereafter.

The loss of Joshua and the events surrounding that time have left me with health issues which do effect how I react to things, so the fact that everyone was so phenomenal truly did mean the world.

The Birth.
The drape was dropped and slowly I saw the baby as she came out. She rotated to face me, as I looked at the baby, face to face she almost sat up. Ms Jindal just supported her so she didn’t fall. She was lifted gently aloft and I got to see the sex for the first time. A GIRL. I knew it was a girl, that’s all I could shout with joy as I knew once again that she was a girl, everyone else in the room was saying “wow she’s MASSIVE”
And she was indeed, ha ha! The smiles in the room were infectious; my beautiful big girl came into the most wonderful atmosphere, how lucky we all were.
Welcome to the world Evie.
As Sandra lifted her onto the scale a frown came upon her face, “no no, this baby is bigger than that” and her experience shone through as the scale turned out to be ever so slightly stuck on the rail surrounding the scales and she was in fact 4.89kg (10lb 11.5oz) a whopper! Not the 8lb something it initially read. No wonder I measured 47 weeks only moments earlier!

The smiles in the room continued and she was placed directly on me for skin to skin, not wishing to lose that waist line, she immediately latched and breastfed and we were transferred that way to the recovery area.
It was just so beautiful.

Sadly Evie ended up on NICU for a few days (she was making a strange sound and doctors were worried she was chest sucking. Turns out she just likes to make an odd sound when drifting off to sleep and she is content would you believe, which she still does to this day ) along with jaundice.
Once again the staff were incredible, especially Sue and Hayley. Truly, they are exceptional, as were all the ladies in there, as soon as a little one needed them, they were there, concerned, professional but above all caring, really and truly caring, not only for the babies but the mothers too. What a team Pilgrim has!

From the moment Evie was born, she smiled and has every single day from then on, I’m not fibbing, I have the photos to prove it! They are full on big beaming smiles, her whole face lights up, she is the happiest baby and everyone remarks on how lovely, smiley and content she is, and yes we could say that those smiles were wind in the early days, or practice smiles.
But I think she just did what everyone around her was doing from the very moment she joined us in that room that day.

Her calm, happy entry into the world, I’m sure has had a bearing, as has our entire pregnancy and birth experience all down to a meeting a wonderful women called Sandra, who roped in other equally wonderful woman Dr Jindal and Dr Sharpe (along with their entire amazing team!!! who’s happy smiling facing on our photos will forever make me smile and teary)

I don’t think you will ever truly understand what a positive experience has finally meant for us. But It’s meant the world and the team at Boston Pilgrim Hospital will always have a special place in our hearts because of all they did for us.

Special thanks goes to Sandra Pygott for taking the time to listen and go out of her way to help me have the birth we did and Ms Jindal for being so incredible and agreeing to it.

You helped heal a heart , I don’t have to relive this birth in a negative manner, no flash backs, no sad scary feelings I just get to enjoy my little girl as I wish all new mothers could.

Much Love and Thanks to you all, what wonderful people you are! 

Amanda x