Labor: December 19th 2009
Midnight on the dot my eyes opened. I thought, "Why am I awake?" Then I felt a pop, followed by a gush. I waited for the gushes to subside so I could waddle to the bathroom and grab a pad. I texted Faith (my CPM-midwife) and Amy (my best friend/doula) to tell them my water broke. I was having contractions every 5 minutes, and was very excited, so I played on the computer till about 4am. Then I decided that nothing much was happening, so I should try to sleep. Surprisingly I fell right asleep and slept in till 6 AM.
Awhile after I awoke, I called Faith to check in, and went about my morning. By 11 AM contractions are regular and Amy had come over, along with Yoshimi (a hair braider). I bounced on the birth ball while she braided my hair and told me about births in Japan. Amy and I joked.
At 11:45 AM, I called Faith to tell her I was getting in the tub because the contractions were too strong for me. We call the photographer who comes out to capture the labor and birth.
We also call my dear friend Bethany to watch the children (because they are coming in every few minutes to "check on me").
Faith arrives at 2:15PM (14 hours after my water breaking). Aquila's heart tones are in the high 170's and my temp is almost 101. They all are trying to cool me off with cool cloths and tea. The pain is intense and when I check myself I cannot feel very much cervix. At around 3:45PM everyone is out of the room except me and Faith. I pass three chunks into the tub. I pick them up to throw them away. They are blood clots, hard, gelatinous, and about 1-2 TB in size. (Faith records this in her notes as "bloody show.") At this point Aquila's heart tones are at or above 180.
Faith checks me, because I am acting and feeling like I must be in transition- INTENSE, almost non-stop contractions, and "pushy" feelings, and retching from the intensity. I am only 5-6. This is where I lost all calm and got scared. There was no way I could do this, and now Faith was wanting me to get out of the tub to try to cool me down. After getting out I notice I am dripping blood, which I show to Faith.
I labor for some time out of the tub, and the contractions don't ever stop. I remember saying, "They just don't stop. They won't let go!"
I start SCREAMING with every contraction. I say (at least three times) "I can't do this. I want to go to the hospital. I want an epidural."(It is very important to note here that I said this at least ONE HOUR before we tried to transfer. An hour before she died. And in the birth records, Faith repeatedly states that i was refusing to transfer. She NEVER said "transfer" to me. She never said "emergency", or "abruption", or “hospital”. This is backed up by the other 3 people at my birth.)
Faith was not even in the room for when we were asking to go - she was gone out of the room for at least 20 minutes, on the phone. When she gets back she checks me on the bed. Still 5-6. When I get up the chux pad is stained the color of vomit. It perplexed me at the time, but later I figured out it was blood and meconium. In the birth records she states it was bloody show and clear fluid. At this point i say "My mom had a baby die from an abruption". Faith says nothing. Finally my husband and doula start dressing me to transfer, while Faith is packing her stuff. I realize how very far away the hospital really is...
The hospital was 3 MINUTES from my house. But that meant NOTHING when bad, bad things were happening and I was in hard labor. I t took at least 30 minutes to get to the car. 30 MINUTES.
My contractions at this point were what is called tetanic - never stopping. This is a huge red flag of an abruption. I could not take a step without a contraction. My doula at this point says to Faith, "Should we just call EMS? It will be faster than getting her dressed and downstairs?" Faith says no.
I make the most physically painful journey of my life down the hallway, downstairs and out to the car, only to find Faith wants me to go in a different car than hers, which at the time made no sense and still does not. Why would you leave the laboring woman to drive without a care provider?
As I am trying to climb into Amy's passenger seat I have the urge to go - you know that am I about to push out this baby feeling? I make it back to the living room, where I yell for my son to get off the couch. Bethany herds them upstairs. I don't even get my underwear off (those stretchy, post-birth, throw away ones). She slips out into my hands, completely limp, in a river of blood.
Faith had packed up all her equipment, so she had nothing to even suction Aquila, so she was sucking blood out with her mouth. She yelled for someone to get her the bulb syringe and call 911. She and Amy started CPR while I sat on the couch next to Aquila. I held her foot, limp and pale, and rubbed it. It took EMS 12 minutes to get there.
When they came in they took over with Aquila and Faith came and sat in front of me watching the paramedics work. I asked Faith if she (Aquila) could live after this long. She said, "She is not going to make it".
I had strong pains. She asked if it was the placenta. I said yes as I pulled up a clot the size of a placenta. Then I got pains again and passed the actual placenta. Faith's records say I stopped bleeding after this, but I didn't and she never checked my bleeding. She should have given me pitocin. (Note here - they DO NOT carry pitocin in ambulances, at least they don't in Austin TX. My paramedic also had NO IDEA how to do a uterus massage, so I bled all the way to hospital. I am so very lucky I did not die. A large percentage of mothers hemorrhage to death with an abruption bad enough to kill the baby.)
Here is my second biggest regret of my life (second only to choosing homebirth with a "hands off" midwife). The paramedics asked me where we should take Aquila. They suggested Dell Children's Hospital - saying that they had a better NICU than the hospital 3 minutes away (later to find out this was not true). They said they would take me to Brackenridge, which they said would let Aquila come to me at that hospital- completely untrue. Brack and Dell were about 20 minutes from my house. Longer to bleed for me, longer to not be in a hospital for her (though I wish the EMTs would have called time of death at my house, so I could have just had her with me).
We are put into separate ambulances. Gabe goes with her, Amy with me. When I get to the hospital I end up passing out from blood loss. They do two manual extractions of clots to get my bleeding to slow. I find out after this that she has been declared dead and Gabe is coming to the hospital. Gabe ends up in the ER about an hour after getting there from a migraine (stress) that makes it hard to see. They give him a shot of morphine.
At this point I am freaking out because they are saying they cannot bring Aquila's body from the other hospital - the only one who can pick her up is the medical examiner. Apparently, since she died at home they opened an investigation. At this point the med examiner was threatening an autopsy without our consent. I would not even be able to see my baby until days later, possible after being cut up.
All I wanted was to hold my daughter, see her and tell her goodbye. I never did, at least not until 3 days later. She was cold and discolored from time. I spent those 3 days hyperventilating and sobbing - not because she was dead - i could accept that - but because I could not even see her.
The first time I saw her, at the funeral home.
We buried her on the 23rd of December. I held my 6 six year old in my arms during the service as she sobbed like I had never heard a child sob ... like her heart was tearing out of her body. That was the day my milk came in, throbbing ...without a baby to feed. I cried in the shower as milk poured down. The depths I fell to there are unimaginable to most.
Since I lost Aquila I have lost much more. I have lost real word friends, online friends, family members. All because I was straightforward in sharing that my daughter would have lived if I had labored and birthed in the hospital.
I filed a complaint about my midwife, but 11 months after Aquila's death it is still pending. No lawyers would take the case because CPMs do not carry malpractice insurance. My midwife was not trained well enough to recognize chorioamnionitis, a common complication, or placental abruption a less common one.
She was without doctor backup to help her figure out these complications or facilitate a transfer. The Board that licensed her and regulated her is comprised of her friends and colleagues, so the 'punishment' she is set to receive is merely a slap on the hand and has been drawn out as long as possible to protect her career.