After a tough, tiring, 26hours labour, the consultant decided to perform an emergency caesarean section. Fortunately, I had had an epidural to control the pain, so I was topped up and conscious through the operation. At 04.44 my daughter was born, and what should’ve been a lovely experience, became incredibly traumatic.
The theatre staff were concerned once Laura was born with her breathing. Her lungs were suctioned to clear away any mucous. This didn’t help. Once I was stitched up, we were taken to my room, where she was monitored closely. She wouldn’t feed, her breathing was very laboured as if she was gasping for air, and her colour was sallow. Within 15 minutes she was taken away from me and down to SCBU. They thought she might have group B strep infection and underwent tests. At this point I couldn’t walk as the feeling wasn’t back in my legs. Not only did I have the trauma from the birth, but I also now had my baby taken away from me. Why me? 4 hours later we were given the news.
Laura was diagnosed with a Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia, CDH. Kettering General Hospital couldn’t operate on her, therefore they had to find a specialist hospital that would. Nottingham City Hospital Neonatal Unit could take both her and me. There was available room for my husband too.
Neither pre-natal scan I had showed any abnormality. On Laura’s x-ray it showed that on her left side of her chest, where her lung should have been inflated, there was her small and large bowel, stomach, spleen, and her heart was pushed over to the right. Such a scary sight! At this point they didn’t know to what extent the diaphragm had developed. So many negative thoughts churning through our heads.
Later that night Laura was blue lighted up to Nottingham City Hospital. I managed to get down to SCBU to see her before she was taken away. I was devastated, exhausted, and felt like my heart had been ripped out. Sadly, I couldn’t go too because of having major surgery. I waited until the following afternoon, before organising a private ambulance and midwife to take me to Nottingham. Otherwise, it would’ve been yet another day without seeing my baby. The care we received at Nottingham was amazing, and the procedure fully explained. Laura was operated on at 4 days old. Thankfully it was a relatively simple repair but incredibly heartbreaking to see. We were in hospital for 10days in total before being sent home.
Once back home, the reassurance and support weren’t there. There were no charities to offer support back in 2005 such as this. My time with the midwife had finished as I had the care in Nottingham. The local health visitor had never come across another baby with CDH, so wasn’t helpful. I felt scared in case the operation failed, would I be able to tell? My anxiety went through the roof. I was obsessive over her, watching her breathing, looking at her colour. Felt so alone, and helpless due to the c-section.
Over time I acknowledged that I had Post-Natal Depression, no surprise there. After being prescribed Anti-Depressants and referred to counselling, I was functioning again.
Several years later I had Hypnotherapy to help overcome the trauma of Laura’s birth.
I am very pleased to say Laura had no further affects from her CDH. She was open ended signed off from the consultant after 3 months, as he was very pleased with her recovery. She has her scar on her left side of her abdomen which tells her story of survival