Joanna's Story


So mine happened 14 years ago. I put on 6 stone during pregnancy going from a size 10 to an 18/20 which had its own vulnerabilities. They thought I was having a 14 pound baby after weekly checks toward the end showed signs of pre eclemsia and cholestasis. I ended up 11days over and went into hospital Thursday evening to be given a pessary to start induction.

My waters were broken 8am Friday morning and by 11:30am I hadn’t dilated at all so I was given the oxytocin drip and told I had to have an epidural. The anaesthetist gave me the epidural and ruptured into my central nervous system causing paralysis up to my cheek bones. My blood pressure went very low my lips turned blue, my body convulsed and I closed my eyes hearing my husband screaming my name as the last thing I said is please don’t let me die. I became room 3 that day.

Eventually the epidural wore off after a number of hours however they were unsure what to do as the pain became unbearable so they gave me more and again I stayed paralysed up to my cheeks. I felt trapped inside my own body with people running around.

The baby started getting unsettled. After it started wearing off again we are now into Friday night they gave me pethidine which made me sick. I was having very harsh contractions but still I hadn’t dilated more than 2.5cm from this they decided to give me a c section took me into theatre at around midnight and gave me a spinal which didn’t work and as the theatre was needed I had to be wheeled out into a recovery room to wait for 2 hours before they could try again.

As you can imagine I was quite scared, in a lot of pain and just wanting my baby to come out.

At 2 am I went back in had a second spinal and they eventually delivered Archie a 10lb beautiful boy 30 mins later on the Saturday morning.

After this I had postnatal depression, was put on antidepressants for 6 months. I couldn’t speak about this for two years without crying. My midwife who is a friend today said in all her 25 years of midwifery she had never seen so many things go wrong.

I ended up 5 weeks after delivery being diagnosed with chemical meningitis and requiring an epidural blood patch. By then I was so scared of anyone putting a needle near my back and thankfully when going into hospital they decided it was clearing up without this being needed. At the time I didn’t investigate as I knew the incident was a near death experience.

6 years later after 3 miscarriages I became pregnant with my gorgeous daughter. Same hospital and same head anaesthetist. His name is Richard. He admitted then that should the epidural have spread higher than my cheek bones I would have died instantly. I had to have counselling during pregnancy and delivered by c section my second child.

The whole experience I felt unsupported. It traumatised my husband and I had no one to turn to for help. I think what you are doing is wonderful and years on I’m now able to look back and find positives that I have the best loving kids I could ever ask for.

What would have made your birth experience better? Support, understanding and constant point of contact after birth

© Make Birth Better CIC 2019

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