Jake's Tragic Tale
Our story started like most with a ‘textbook’ pregnancy throughout. My wife, Rachel is a Personal Fitness Trainer, she is extremely fit and healthy and everything seemed to be ‘normal’; but this was our first child, so looking back, we didn’t really know what ‘normal’ was!
In the early stages she had a low lying placenta and a small fibroid, but these were common and rectified themselves during the pregnancy.
We wanted to experience a natural birth and having done our research elected to give birth at a ‘Midwife led’ birthing centre. So we chose Edgware Birthing Centre (EBC), based at Edgware Hospital.
There is no Maternity Unit but we were assured that should anything go wrong during labour, procedures were in place to cope with any eventuality, or so we thought. A short ‘seven-minute’ transfer in an ambulance on a ‘blue light’ to Barnet Hospital would take place.
This gave us the reassurance we needed and was instrumental in our final decision in opting for EBC. They only accept low risk category pregnancies for which we qualified.
However, Rachel was now 10-days overdue and getting a little anxious, so after a routine visit to the Midwife she decided to have a fetal monitoring for peace of mind.
This took place at our local hospital and the results showed that the baby was moving normally and had a strong heartbeat.
That evening Rachel began the first stage of labour at home. The contractions were coming thick and fast so we set off for the birthing centre arriving around 1.45am. You are still considered a low risk up to two weeks past your due date.
Rachel was laboring well trying to relax in the birthing pool using Entonox as her pain relief. During this time the Midwife was regularly monitoring the baby’s heartbeat.
At around 11.30am, the Midwife said that she was a little concerned that the baby’s heartbeat had dropped and that just as a precaution, she wanted to get Rachel out of the birthing pool so she could examine her further.
Although we sensed some concern at this stage there was no real cause for alarm, but the Midwife, said that as a precaution, they wanted to transfer Rachel to hospital.
As this was the best option we thought that we would be transferred to Barnet Hospital in no time at all as this had previously been discussed.
However, on this particular day at this time we were told that Barnet Maternity Unit was ‘closed’ and we would have to be taken to Chase Farm Hospital in Enfield instead. So our ‘seven-minute’ on a ‘blue light’ transfer turned into a ‘twenty seven-minute’ journey from hell.
Had we been informed of this possibility when we first considered the EBC, we would not have wanted to take the risk in the first place! But we never had the choice.
Looking back, it was an absolute disgrace that we were treated in this way – how can a hospital close? If we turned up to A&E would they have turned us away?
This is where everything went wrong…
During the transfer, Rachel received no medical attention at all from the Paramedic or the Midwife. She was not even offered any Entonox to ease the pain. Subsequently, Rachel has told me that she thought she was going to die in the ambulance.
Once we arrived at Chase Farm Hospital, there were no Consultants available so Rachel was taken to a Delivery Room. I wondered why they didn’t take her straight to the operating theatre to perform an emergency Caesarian section.
They placed a CTG monitor on Rachel to measure the baby’s heartbeat and the contractions. It looked as though the heartbeat was OK, judging by what we saw at the monitoring the previous day. Judging by the concerned looks and comments from the doctors and nurses, I could see that all was not well.
It was decided to use instrumental intervention to help with the delivery. At last the baby ‘crowned’ and I thought that now it should be out within the next couple of pushes and that our nightmare would soon be over. However, it took 40-minutes with the help of forceps before the baby was finally born at 1.55pm.
I saw that the umbilical cord was tightly round his neck twice. The baby was then whisked away to back of the delivery room, no-one told us whether it was a boy or girl, no-one told us what was going on.
I had to walk over to find out that he was boy. I also had to ask them what was going on – although I could clearly see that they were trying to resuscitate him.
I came back to tell Rachel that it was a boy but there were complications. She just shouted “come on Jake you can do it”. She was just lying there on the bed weakened by the ordeal and in shock with no support from any of the so called professional staff.
It was clear that after a while the baby was not going to make it and after 45-minutes they stopped trying to resuscitate him.
One of the Pediatricians then came up to me and explained that they had taken a sample from the umbilical cord which had shown up as being very acidic, which meant that baby had been dead for “some time.”
When I questioned him about the CTG monitoring and how it showed that the baby’s heartbeat was OK, he said that they now believed that they were picking up Rachel’s heartbeat rather than Jake’s!!
After things calmed down we were left alone in the delivery room, I went outside into the corridor to see what was happening and saw the group of people involved in this tragic event. At this point we needed their help not an enquiry into who was to blame.
Anyway, I was more concerned for Rachel – she had lost a serious amount of blood and was not in good shape. After the trauma suffered she went into shock going very stiff and then started to go into spasm. One of the doctors picked Rachel up and got her on the bed and back to consciousness.
After a time they brought Jake into the room. We were both in a state of shock, but we held him and took photos. I dressed him, but not in the clothes we had bought as they were still at the birthing centre. Looking back we are both extremely glad we had that time with Jake.
I then had to call people to tell them the tragic news. Everyone was shocked as a few hours earlier I had called people to say that all was going well. Rachel’s parents immediately drove down from Norfolk to be with us.
We stayed with Rachel in the hospital for the next two days, until she was strong enough to come home. They had no ‘SANDS room’ so put her at the end of the Maternity Unit, which was a terrible place to be given what she had just experienced.
We left the hospital on the Monday to return home. It was a very empty feeling without our little boy Jake. We thought we had prepared and planned for everything over the last few months…how wrong we were.
It is coming up to year since Jake was stillborn. There have been many dark days and it has been a tremendously hard journey but alongside the pain and suffering, we have experienced many positives since the tragic event.
At the funeral we celebrated Jake’s ‘life’. It may not have been a long life but he lived inside Rachel and did lots of things during those 10-months!!
We have met some inspiring people. We have found incredible strength in each other. Our families and friends have been amazing. Our relationship is more amazing than ever. We have uncovered an inner strength. It has put life into context for us both. We have become much more spiritual.
We believe that we have lots to look forward to in the future and that Jake will always be part of us.
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