Content Note: This story includes - baby in NICU; unwell baby; unconsented interventions; emergency cesarean; seperation from baby; mistreatment by staff.

Jane's story


I WAS MEASURING BIG during the entirety of my pregnancy and bubs was in the OP position.

At 33 weeks my midwife suggested a growth scan, so off we went.  It was amazing seeing him so clearly and detailed.  I was elated and he was big!

39 weeks and I was still massive and he was still OP so I was booked in for another growth scan.  In we went the day before my due date and sure enough, I was carrying a 9lb babe.  That's when everything turned upside down.  They found an abnormality with his heart.  A narrowing in his descending aorta. I was devastated. The radiologist was wonderful, she told me that we would need to go in to the hospital for a more detailed scan.

The next day we headed in to the hospital and waited for the scan.  They agreed with the initial diagnosis and told us that I would have to birth in Auckland in case he needed heart surgery.

So the next morning, 40 weeks pregnant, we are flying to Auckland.  When we got there I was admitted as an outpatient because they didn't have enough beds and sent away (we were staying at Te Whare Awhina and the staff there were amazing).

Next day, I'm having another scan and the cardiologist explained what would happen to our baby.  They told me I'd be induced the next day and that bubs would be taken to NICU for observations etc. 

I was induced on Tuesday morning, contractions started at about 5pm and I was left in a room with my husband and mum.  The nurse that was on that night asked me to not have him overnight because there were no midwives on the WAU unit that night and also to keep an eye/ear on the monitor to make sure his heart rate didn't drop or become erratic - I still don't know how I was supposed to do this while in labour ... let alone know what to listen/look for! 

I was in excruciating pain, contractions every few minutes.  A doctor came in at midnight to do an internal and see how I was dilating - she did a stretch and sweep without my permission (I've never known that much pain) then left me alone sobbing as my husband and mum had been told to wait outside! 

5.10am my waters broke spontaneously and I was made to walk to the birthing unit where I tried gas and air and vomited everywhere - then everyone insisted on an epidural.  My whole pregnancy I was adamant I was having a natural and drug free birth so I really fought this decision but agreed to it in the end.

I was fully dilated by 2.30 but the epidural wasn't working fully. They then discovered I couldn't have anymore pain relief because my block was too high and my lungs might shut down.

I pushed for an hour and a half, my catheter bag was filling up with blood and even with 3 bags of fluid there was no urine output.  He was well and truly stuck.

I was told they would need to try a ventouse delivery and if it failed I'd be having a c section.  So, off we went to theatre.  They got him even more stuck and so they cut me open, one doctor pushing him back up and one pulling him out of my tummy.

He was weighed, wrapped up and given to my husband - I spent maybe 5 minutes looking at him, kissing and stroking his check and then we was gone.  No skin to skin, no breast feeding - nothing. I saw him two hours later in NICU where I got to hold him for the first time.  What a magical feeling. 

Then I was taken to the ward where a horrible old bat treated me like dirt - the same woman woke me at 5am the next morning, yanked out my catheter and told me to get up and walk down to the NICU unit.  I sat with my baby, not a clue in the world what to do with him until my mum and husband arrived back.  At this stage I had blood pouring down my legs and I was in the worst pain.

The doctors came to scan his heart later that morning (without telling us or asking if we'd like to be there for it) and it turned out HIS HEART WAS FINE -  what a blessing.

Even though he was fine, he wasn't discharged from NICU until the next day and I had no support with feeding him.  One midwife got me a pump and I pumped my heart out to get him enough milk, yet, they still insisted on feeding him formula via a nasal gastric tube.

We eventually got breast feeding established with shields and he was finally in my room but I was left with no pain relief (until I asked for it).  We got to go home 5 days later, after I organised transport with Christchurch hospital from my bed because Auckland hospital was too busy (we'd probably still be there if I hadn't!) and it was the best home coming ever. 

I've tried to move on but in the wee small hours of the night and when something stirs at my emotions I remember how horrible it must have been for him to be pulled out of his safe, warm space and plonked in a cot on his own.  I hate myself for leaving him there on his own and I'm angry at the hospital staff for the way we were treated and for being made to feel like an inconvenience.

We are slowly healing.