Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thomas' story

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.


  1. Erin, thank you for having the courage to post your story, and for sharing Thomas with the world. I hope and pray that his story will help other women and babies.

    Many (((((((((((((hugs))))))))))))))
    ~Rebecca from MOMYS

  2. i am so, so very sorry for your loss. your son was beautiful. i was wincing in pain the whole time reading your story and now i am crying. i am so sorry.

  3. I'm so sorry for your loss. Your son is beautiful. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope it helps to prevent more deaths.

  4. Erin, words cannot express how sorry I am. Thank you for having the courage to share your story with us. I can only hope that this midwife is no longer allowed to practice.

  5. Thank you for sharing your story. I wish I could hug you.

  6. Dear Erin,

    I too wish that I could hug you. I am so sorry this happened to you. Mrs. O I think is an especially selfish woman who put her desire to "deliver" your sweet baby ahead of your needs and Thomas's needs behind her own wishes time after time. It seems criminal and creepy to me the way that time after time a chance to transport was presented and she said no. I am so sorry you lost your precious little boy.


  7. I am so, so sorry. And angry on your behalf. Thank you for sharing your story.

  8. I am so sorry mama. I could hardly read this story, I cant imagine what you went through living it. The MWs negligence was profound, and scary. thank you so much for posting this, I know you are helping others.

  9. All I can say is I am so sorry. I am sure you miss your son Thomas so much, I will say a prayer for your family tonight.

  10. I am so sorry for your loss. Please tell me that midwife is in jail. I am absolutely horrified.

  11. Mrs O's actions are beyond heinous and this story is absolutely appalling. I am so sorry for the loss of your beautiful baby. I truly hope that measures have been taken to punish this incredibly selfish and ignorant midwife for her callous disregard for your health and your son's life.

  12. Mrs O's actions are utterly heinous and this story is absolutely horrifying. I'm so sorry for the loss of your beautiful boy. I truly hope that justice is being pursued in this case and that Mrs O will be punished for her callous and extreme disregard for your health and your baby's life.

  13. I'm so, so sorry for everything you went through.

  14. I am in tears. I am so so sorry your the loss of your sweet little boy. What Mrs O did to you was selfish and wrong. She is a bully and forced you to go against your intuition. I hope she is no longer a midwife. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope it helps others be more selective about who they choose to deliver their babies.

  15. I'm so sorry for the loss of your son.

  16. I am extremely sorry for your loss. That you and your precious baby were treated in such a manner is inexcusable and horrible.
    I am a midwife of 30 years experience and I cannot ever remember having been so appalled by a story about a birth. I counted 17 episodes of malpractice, one accompanied by inexperience. I noted two extreme instances of Out of Scope of Care. This midwife failed to collaborate properly with her back-up MD and failed you by not suggesting that you stay under your endocrinologist's care. I fault both the midwife and her physician for not checking with the physician who administered the cerclage, finding out how it was put in or suggesting you see that physician. An alternative would have been to have you see a high-risk OB for cerclage removal. Removal should never have been attempted anywhere but on the exam table and not at all by the midwife. The administration of Nubain and Epinephrine would have been out of my scope of care but I do not know if it was out of hers. Most midwives will not deliver out of hospital before 36 weeks and those other births she told you about are definitely mal-practice if delivery in the hospital was available.
    Again, I am so sorry that this happened to you. I know your heart is breaking. I hope that you will be able to go on and have healthy babies. This midwife does not deserve to be practicing and should be prosecuted for criminal negligence and other things the lawyer can come up with that I don't know. Praying for you.

  17. Dr. "O" is the gynecologist I use for my well woman checkups. I am beyond disgusted by reading this and will no longer be a patient at that location. I am SO sorry for your loss. My heart is breaking into a thousand pieces for you. You will be in my prayers.

  18. I am so very sorry for you and all of your family. Much like the other stories I've been reading on this site tonight and crying over, this is just so heart breaking. This is a terrible, terrible thing to have happened, and the midwife deserves to be jailed for what she did. It was essentially gross negligence, and she should never be allowed to do this again. I know that will not bring back your beautiful child, but maybe it will stop her from doing it again. God bless you all.


  19. I am so, so sorry for your loss and heinous experience with a midwife who didn't have enough sense to turn you away from her care in the first place and suggest a skilled OB and continued endocrinologist care. I truly hope her license has been revoked indefinitely and you may find some sense of peace.

  20. I am a former employee of this midwife, and as I read your story, I almost threw up. I left the birth center after several close calls due to her negligence. I wish to God I had reported her to someone when I left the birth center. There were several times I thought she would be shut down, but somehow she always seems to weasel out of the trouble she lands in. It's unreal. I am so very sorry for your loss.

  21. Tammi if you have fight left in you I am ready to fight to get this place shut down.

  22. Lellow:

    If you are interested in shutting this place down, please contact me. I'm starting some efforts in Texas regarding this subject.

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  25. This story makes me so !@#$ing angry! The oxygen tank was EMPTY?? WTF?! That woman should be brought to ruin.

  26. After my first child I just knew that I wanted better care and I went to a midwife in the medical center. Long story short I had an unassisted birth in a hospital. NO ONE was there to help me and I didnt even know what was happening to me i just went with it and the urge to push. This time (3rd pregnancy) I wanted to deliver at a birthing center and Rite of passage was the birthing center I was considering using. I was so sure today, after finding out that they would take my insurance,that I would be delivering here ,but your story has changed my mind !00% to not go to Rite of Passage and just stay with my org. midwives and deliver in a hospital. Words cant even say how sorry I am for your loss. I pray that each day gets easier for you and that your story spread through the internet like a wild fire warning every one of the practices at this birthing center.

  27. The weird thing is that people who had delivered using her and that had babies had lived kind of discounted what happened to me. That was such a slap in the face. Also, people that plan on home birthing say things like well I have faith that things will work out, I am trusting in God. I was praising God for saving Thomas while the ambulance people worked on him. Praising him in faith for Thomas being healed. I prayed about this for months. I read my bible every night, home schooled, had a godly husband, scriptures on my walls written on poster board. When Thomas died I sat on his grave and in tears praised God singing he gives and takes away. God allowed Thomas to die but death was never ever his plan. Sickness and disease are because we live in a broken world. Therefore the sin and the destruction that is causes cannot be Gods plan but he does work all things together for his good. Because we live in a broken, sinful place we have to prepare for things the best we can. That is NOT a lack of trust. I used to say I could never have a child die because God cannot give me more than I can handle. God did comfort me and kept me afloat during the waves of grief. Living on a farm now, my goat lost one of her twins last week. I was reminded in nature things occasionally do not work out, natural is not always better. Medicine and doctors have their place... and using them is not a lack of faith. Why is it a lack of faith to deliver in a hospital but not ungodly to see a doctor if your husband had bad chest pain or your child was having breathing problems. I love the saying just to be on the safe side... Safety precautions save lives.

  28. Lastly, though it has been years I just have not been able to start trying to have her at the very least have this show on her record. Every time I go to get things ready to send to the board it hits me very very hard and I put it off. I feel ashamed that I have not dealt with this but I have a big busy family and a tender heart. I hope that this story has been the warning other mothers deserve. I filed a report with the midwifery board but never sent all my records. I had contacted the attorney general and the police department in the beginning... kept calling and nothing ever came of it. I think that is because she lied about the time he was born to the ambulance team (by about six hours I recall.) I was told that three of four other babies had died there before and some after Thomas after doing there to deliver. He was NOT the only one.

    1. Hello
      First of all I want to say that I am very, very sorry for your loss. I can't believe this midwife was so negligent!! I hope you receive some kind of justice for the death of your beautiful son.
      I live in the area where you delivered and was considering a group of midwives that have a fantastic reputation for safety. I was wondering if you would be willing to email me some information about who exactly did this to you and your son. I tried to email you privately but couldn't figure out how to do it. If you are willing to share please email me at

  29. I read this and cried. It brought back so many memories in regards to my disaster homebirth. If only women knew the risk more. Although I did have one daughter that survived a homebirth she was birth by my husband not even the midwife.

    Thanks for the story
    I also have a blog The Midwife From Hell

  30. I am so sad, just so shocked that a midwife would allow a birth like this with cerclage in situ. I am so sorry for your experience, I am a midwife with 12 years of thankfully safe and happy births, I believe that normality should be promoted, in a hospital or birthing centre with access to OBGYN as soon as it is needed. If only these incompetent midwives were better regulated. I am so sorry for your loss.

  31. I am so, so sorry for your loss. My heart aches for you and your family. I was very close to having my son with this midwife at this birth center, but by the grace of God we were rejected by Medicaid and CHIP and couldn't afford her fee. Thank you for sharing this story. You are so brave. You are helping to save other women from suffering a similar tragedy.

  32. I just looked this woman up, and she faced disciplinary action for what she did to you. It’s scary that she got her license back in the end though.