As told by his mother Erin
Early in my pregnancy, I called Mrs. O, a midwife recommended by a friend, to see if she could care for me even with my history. I had a history of preterm labors, a cerclage in place and thyroid disease. She said that she could. She explained that she would draw my labs and send them to the endocrinologist as needed, and near the end of pregnancy she would have a doctor remove the stitches [the cerclage that another doctor had placed because of the history of preterm labors].
Mrs. O reassured me that if the baby had problems at birth, she had oxygen and was only 10 minutes from a good hospital. We made an appointment to meet and I saw her exclusively and regularly for the rest of my pregnancy. In addition, I met Dr. M, the doctor she recommended [one of the few doctors in that part of the country who is willing to back up homebirth midwives]. At my appointment with him, he did an ultrasound and we scheduled an appointment for the cerclage to be removed on December 17.
Shortly after this visit I went into premature labor at Bay Shore Hospital and they stopped it with 2 shots. Then I went into premature labor again and went to Christus Saint John Hospital, but the contractions stopped on their own and I was sent home.
When I was 33 weeks, Mrs. O said I was measuring an extra week at every visit and changed my due date from January 13, 2008 that was given to me by ultrasound by Dr. L on that first visit and an ultrasound with Dr. R at 16 weeks to January 05; the new date was consistent with my last period and the measurements at 34 weeks. So that day I went from 33 weeks to 34 weeks instantly.
Mrs. O said she could deliver me at 35 weeks and if I went into labor before the cerclage was removed she would remove it herself. I asked her to just remove it on December 17, as we had scheduled with Dr. M, but she said she would only do it on an emergency basis, because it was out of her scope and she had not done it before.
Mrs. O insisted that Dr. M remove the cerclage on December 2. She wanted to be able to deliver me the day I turned 36 weeks by new due date if I went into labor at that point, without having to remove cerclage herself. He did it reluctantly but said that I would probably make it until full term anyway. At that second appointment with Dr. removed a blue string with a knot at one end and checked me to be sure I had not instantly dilated. I asked him about getting a shot [of steroids] to mature the baby's lungs but he explained that they do not recommend them after 34 weeks. Even after I told him my history with my daughter Gabriella who had respiratory distress syndrome at 36 plus weeks, he said he was sure that something else beside having premature lungs caused her breathing problems.
After the cerclage was removed I had stabbing pain in my vagina with mild contractions. I had many episodes of contraction from then through December 11 2007. On December 8 I called midwife to tell her I lost my mucus plug but because I was not contracting at that moment she was not concerned.
On December 11, painful contractions began at 3:30, instantly one minute apart. I wanted to go straight to hospital because contractions were so severe, and tried to find a family member to watch my kids. I called Mrs. O; she said that she was on her way.
My family arrived at about the same time as Mrs O. She came into the bedroom, and as she got everything ready that I had better not be only one centimeter dilated. Then she checked me and said that I was one centimeter. Then I told her these were 8 centimeter contractions. She checked me again and this time she that the cerclage (which had supposedly been removed) was still in place, but she lacked the equipment to see clearly. I told Mrs. O that I would feel more comfortable going to the birthing center so that she could have a speculum to see better.
We got ready to leave. My mother told the midwife she thought we should call 911, but Mrs. O said that wasn't necessary since she could remove the cerclage herself. When we arrived at the birth center, she unlocked door and turned on the lights. When everything was prepared, she checked me and said she could feel the stitch but could not see it even using the speculum.
She began to try to cut the stitch, and that was very painful. She put a pink dish pan underneath me to catch all the bleeding. She insisted that she was not cutting me as her assistant and my sister took my legs; I had gotten weak from holding them. You could hear the cutting. She would close her eyes as she cut.
I was begged her to stop and she let me get in the tub for awhile. A knot from the cerclage came out in the tub. After awhile she said I was over heating and had me return to the bed. She checked me and I think she said I was 7 but the head was still bouncy, so I agreed to have her break the water so his head would drop down as it had with my previous labors.
After Mrs. O ruptured the membranes, I went back into the tub. She told me to stay on my hands and knees and to push to try to blow the cervix out. After awhile she checked me while I pushed and said she could feel something hard that must be another stitch.
I returned to bed and once again she tried to cut the stitch. She cut for a long time and I begged to go to the exam room because there were stirrups there and she would be able to see better. I knew the walk to the exam room would be a break from cutting me.
In the exam room she tried again to cut the stitch. I was screaming and in tears from the pain. I begged her to take me to the hospital. She said that the doctors at the hospital would have to do the same thing and would be mean to me because I had been seeing a midwife. She told her assistant to give me some the maximum dose of nubain to help me with pain. She cut again and when I was sure much more than ten minutes must have passed she said, "The baby is right here you need to push." I tried to push but the exam table was very uncomfortable.
After much pleading she allowed me to walk back to the bedroom and I lay down on bed and pushed with her hands inside me. After about 10-15 minutes my son Thomas Robert Williams was born she laid him in a towel covering him loosely and then put him on my chest. He was grunting and she rubbed him and suctioned his nose and mouth. She got oxygen for me to hold by his face. Occasionally he would make a fast gulping sound and when my sister told midwife she didn't answer. He tried to pull the oxygen tube away at one time. He made a one second whimper. Both Apgars that were done with him attached to placenta.
Mrs. O tried to get Thomas to nurse by squeezing some of my colostrum unto his lips but he would not suck. She tried to get him to suck by rubbing her finger in and out of his mouth but it did not work. She put a hot rice sock behind him, but it was too hot and I pulled it away. Next she clamped the cord and asked who wanted to cut it. my sister cut the cord.
Mrs. O started to diaper Thomas and he peed on her. Then I dressed him. He was still struggling to breathe. When we asked if he needed to go to the hospital she said he was transitioning. She said that she had delivered a 34 weeker who was on oxygen for 7 hours and did fine, and a 35 weeker who needed oxygen for five hours and was fine.
I went to bathroom and I was bleeding heavily. Mrs. O helped clean me up and I returned to bed. I held Thomas, positioned him upright and tried to help him breathe by stimulation. But when Mrs. O returned to the room she lay Thomas on the changing table and said it would help him breathe better. She taped oxygen by his face. She explained that he was being sluggish and lazy from the pain medicine I had received. I was able to get some sleep.
My husband arrived about 4:45. We looked at Thomas and I told Mrs. O that he sounded worse and asked if perhaps he was hungry. She tried syringing some formula into him but he started to choke. She sucked it back out and said, "No more formula because it makes you turn funny colors." He was gray. She rubbed him and laid him on his side with more oxygen and said we should let him rest.
My husband and I rested and I could hear Thomas breathing even though I was half asleep. After a while there were spaces in between grunting and I thought that he was getting better. When I woke up and lights were on and Mrs. O was doing CPR. She said that Thomas had stopped breathing. I wanted to call 911, but she said to call the ambulance transport company she uses. I found the phone and she called the transport team. My sister then took the phone and called 911.
The midwife asked me to hold the oxygen by Thomas' nose while she worked on him. I held it to my hand and it was not blowing at all. I checked the oxygen tank and it was on empty. Mrs. O had me look for epinephrine. I found it and Mrs. O may have given the shot.
The ambulance arrived and I started to pray. I over heard that his oxygen was 35 percent and that his heart beat was, I believe, 66. When we are leaving 20 minutes later the transport team that Mrs. O had called finally showed up.
At the hospital and they took Thomas while doing CPR. He started to breathe on his own and his color got better; then his heart stopped. I was asked to leave the room. After 30 or 45 minutes his heart started beating on its own again.
The Texas Children's Hospital transport team arrived and I hopped into ambulance. At hospital we were told that Thomas had gone for too long with low oxygen and that there appeared to be severe brain damage; any of his organs could fail at any time. We were told that he had high acid levels. He was diagnosed with Respiratory Distress Syndrome. Dr. G said that we might need to talk about turning off the machines.
Shortly after, Thomas' heart began to fail. When his heart beat was 22 I asked them to remove the machines and we went to the back room and they brought us our son. He died in our arms sandwiched between my husband and me.
After leaving I went to Clear Lake Hospital because I was bleeding heavily. They did one ultrasound. The technician said that there appeared to be a cerclage left in multiple places. A few hours later a doctor came in and said I that there was nothing that needed to be taken care of in the emergency room.
I went to UTMB on Monday December 17. I saw a ER doctor. He said my cervix looked badly damaged but that it was not severe enough to have an emergency hysterectomy. He removed the cerclage and showed me the blue long string with no knot.