You’ll excuse me if the following sounds a bit clinical, but it has taken me almost two years to put May’s delivery into writing. I find it easier to deal with if I am straightforward, so I’ve left out a lot of my own personal thoughts or fears at the time.
I don’t write it for sympathy. I don’t need comforting. I write it because it has been two years and it is time to move on.
WARNING TO PREGNANT LADIES: Do you really want to read this? It doesn’t end well.
When I was pregnant with May, there was no sign that anything was amiss. Nothing. In fact, I felt exactly the same in that pregnancy as this one. That is either very worrying or reassuring, depending on how I wake up on any given day.
So, when my waters broke, no one fussed. The midwife visited me at home to test my waters for infection and told me I could labor there for up to five days if I wanted. (I didn’t. FIVE DAYS!)
The following day, I received a call from a different midwife who told me my waters had tested positive for Strep-B. This is an infection that can kill babies, so I urgently needed to come to the hospital. The process of all this happening, from waters breaking to booking in, was 36-hours.
Once there, it was another five hours before a drip with Penicillin was administered to fight the infection. Still, I had no contractions, so they decided to induce.
A drip of Pitocin was administered and I went from no contractions to full, constant torture in under ten minutes. From then on, I had an epidural.
I pushed for a long time before a doctor checked and discovered that I wasn’t fully dialated. This was the first time, since I arrived in the hospital, that I saw a doctor. By this point, we were already over 60-hours since my waters broke.
The doctor asked me to make a choice: continue to push (as the baby didn’t show signs of distress) or move to the operating room for further assistance. At this point, I hadn’t eaten or slept in days. My body shook with exhaustion, but also a reaction to the epidural. I thought I was going into shock.
Once in the operating room, May was delivered fairly swiftly. But, her arrival only came after a failed suction, and successful forceps delivery. She had a gash on her head from the failed suction for days afterwards. Really, you would have thought she’d been in a car wreck not a delivery.
That is the reason why I didn’t question her not wanting to feed, or shaking, or any other signs that I now know were signs of distress.
May was rushed to the Special Care Baby Unit the following morning after a midwife recognized she was seizing. She stayed there for almost six-weeks.
But, what exactly caused the brain-damage? We may never know for certain. A lot of people have theories. A midwife for my current pregnancy, told me that Strep-B needs to be treated with Penecillin within 18-hours of the waters breaking to be effective. Strep-B is known to cause brain-damage. The obstetrician assigned to my current pregnancy believes it was the combination of a protracted labor with the Strep-B. My mother thinks it was socialized medicine.
I’ve always thought it was a combination of a lot of small things that isolated would have caused no harm, but together damaged May irrevocably.
We don’t know what the future holds for May. We aren’t deluding ourselves, which I’m thankful for; she is severely brain-damaged. Our goals for her have much more to do with independence (feeding herself, using a toilet) than they do with attending a university.
We haven’t sued anyone. We looked into it, but it is a very difficult case to prove. So far, it doesn’t look like we have one. But, that might change.
Here is what we focus on: our love for May, the joy she gives us and the security we can give her.