Age at interview: 37
Age at diagnosis: 35
Brief Outline: After two traumatic births with her previous daughters, Naomi had a planned caesarian booked for her third. Two days before it was due, she had a uterine rupture. Her daughter was delivered by emergency caesarean. Her daughter was fine but Naomi developed a rare colon condition, Ogilvie's syndrome.
Background: Naomi is a psychologist. She has three daughters and lives with her partner. White British.
More about me...
Naomi had traumatic births with her two previous daughters. During her first pregnancy she had been very anxious, after several miscarriages. She ended up having an emergency caesarian section. She did not see her first daughter born, and did not believe she was hers. Thus she felt traumatised and had difficulty bonding with her baby. Her second daughter was born by a planned caesarean but shortly afterwards she experienced health difficulties. She was offered a lot of support from the hospital consultant and midwives in planning her third birth. They were focused on giving her a good experience, and she had a caesarean planned for the Thursday. She felt very positive about the operation, as she knew who the gynaecologist and anaesthetist were going to be.
But, on the Tuesday evening she felt a searing pain as she was at home sitting at her computer and went in an ambulance to hospital. Her uterus had ruptured, and the only thing keeping the baby in her uterus was the placenta over the hole that had opened up. Her consultant was at the hospital when she arrived and they rushed her into surgery. She had been very upset at not seeing her two previous daughters born, and so had a camera with her, which her consultant passed to a nurse. The photos that she has of her third daughter being born are very precious to her – they make her feel as though the baby is really hers. Although this birth was much more dangerous than her first, she did not feel traumatised by it as a result of the reassurance the consultant gave her.
She should have been transferred to intensive care (ICU), but there were no beds, so she was transferred onto the labour ward. She felt OK for the next couple of days, but her stomach was very bloated. On the Friday she developed a lot of pain from the stomach, but felt that the staff did not listen to her or take her seriously for some time. Finally doctors gave her an internal examination and on the Saturday morning they took her down forsurgery and discovered that her colon was blocked and had turned gangrenous (the extremely rare Ogilivie Syndrome). She had surgery to remove the blocked section of gut and was then on the surgical ward which was very difficult as she was separated from her baby.
Her gynaecologist tried to help by arranging for the baby to be brought to her, but she was very worried about her baby getting an infection, so sent her back to the labour ward, where she was cared for by midwives. Even when she was reunited with her baby in the hospital, she wasn’t able to hold her baby because of all the cannulas she had in her arms, which she found very upsetting. She was in hospital for about 3 weeks while her bowel healed. When she got home she found life very difficult. Her older daughters were still very young (3 and 15 months) and there was little support available from family. Her GP was very supportive, and eventually persuaded her to go to a Mother and Baby Unit (40 miles away) for a few weeks to recover. All in all she was away from her family for 6-8 weeks, which had a huge effect on family life.
At the time of the interview, two years on, she still felt the effects of her bowel operation - her digestion was not back to what it was, nor will it ever be. She felt that there has been a lack of ongoing information about how to manage her lifestyle. She also felt that the traumatic birth had had a profound effect on her family, her girls didn’t see their mother for weeks and were anxious about ambulances and hospitals. She and her partner have never talked about it.
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Naomi felt a terrible pain and called the ambulance. Her consultant was there, rubbed her cheek...
So I suppose going back on the Tuesday, I was on Facebook, [laughs] saying three more… I thought I was going to have an elective Caesarean because they wouldn’t have me have VBAC and chatting on Facebook and all of the sudden I just had the most awful pain like I’ve never known. Well it was the same as the urine retention actually. And I said to my partner, “Oh I think I’m in urine retention.” But I couldn’t move, couldn’t stand up or anything.
Luckily my gynaecologist had had told me, had promised me that she would deliver my children. So when the ambulance man came, I got them to ring her at home [laughs]. Which she advised to get me straight in. So I thought I was in labour, because I hadn’t really experienced labour.
So I was like yes, I’m going to get my VBAC and I was actually OK about it, I wasn’t traumatised or anything from it at all. I was quite pleased with it not knowing it was happening. The ambulance driver, I remember I couldn’t find the lift because he’d gone in a different thing, so they were panicking going round and round the hospital. Got me in and the gynaecologist was there. And she just took one look at me and she just said, “Crash now.”
Now, so obviously I just had to let them put everything on me. But because I knew who, who was delivering her and she sort of rubbed my cheek and said, “I’ll make sure you’re okay.” I was okay. Actually it was really important, because with [first daughter] I didn’t believe that she was my baby at all, because I’d never seen her born, and I was completely traumatised from it. Whereas this was a lot worse and I wasn’t and that’s why I’ve got lots of photos of the birth, because they wanted to make sure that I would know that [third daughter] was my baby coming out of me. So it makes gruesome viewings, but I like them.
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Her GP was in constant contact and it made a real difference to Naomi knowing there was going to...
Tell me a bit about the GP and why she’s been so..?
She has been in constant contact with us. She if I do need to have a chat and things I can go and I speak her. She reassures me if things, or she’ll check, I might say can you check this out or whatever. I trust her 101 per cent. So she’s just there, they’re just available. There’s three little… it’s a doctor’s surgery. They have three GP’s. Everybody knows everybody. And, it’s fab in that respect. It’s not a big one where you’re… Its personal, it’s like going back to the fifties really or something it’s nice. It’s not particularly, you know, all up to date and all guns blazing, but that’s not what we need as a family. We need someone that knows who we are and I can say x y and z and they know what it’s about and that’s what I like. So my GP, I mean when I was in hospital they would ring up for updates and midwives and stuff would come and say, “Oh you’re GP’s been on the phone. And she sends her love. Hopes you’re okay.” You know, and that’s made it, the feeling that when you get out there is a support out there. Things went wrong. And when I’ve gone there and gone, “Oh.” You know, this has happened. She’s tried to help me. It could be diarrhoea tablets, or anti diarrhoea or if I’m constipated, or if I’m not. Everything’s all, she tried to sort all that out with me as well. So I’ve been very, very lucky that they, and they communicate and support me around that. So it’s been really, really good.
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Naomi had a rare bowel complication (Ogilvie Syndrome) after giving birth to her third daughter....
And at what point did they tell you that that’s what you’d had?
Oh not for ages. Actually it was just mentioned in passing. It wasn’t you have Ogilvie’s or you had Ogilvie’s or however you say it. It was somebody just mentioned it, and I thought, oh is that what it was, you know, rather than, saying, this is what it were.
And that fact, that kind of understanding of how serious it was, who explained that to you and when was that explained? Was that something you’ve worked out by yourself?
I’ve worked it out by myself. And by the fact that they basically were dancing around me afterwards and I went and read my notes last year, which did actually help. And I can’t fault them for that actually. Then I was like, “Oh there’s too much stuff there.” And she was like, “No I’m going through it bit by bit.” And they did. It felt like they were doing nothing. But they were doing something. But obviously that wasn’t communicated to me, and it was, they perceived with the psychiatry thing, they perceived my comment, which was, “I don’t want to be here.” As something completely different, and actually that took me down a different road to completely the way I should have been going. And the fact that now they do all know about it. And there’s books and stuff on it there shows to me how serious it was, but I have just probably worked it out for myself and also people’s with jokey comments. “We don’t ever want to see you back here [laughs] ever again.” Or, the care assistant had been there for all three of mine on the ward, you know, just sort of saying, “Bloody hell woman.” You know [laughs] “It was bad enough with the first, you were a pain in the arse with the second, and a third look at you” [laughs].
So and it did actually help to go back on the ward to read my notes, to face it. Because it sounds silly but I was beginning to want to avoid it. And I know that the best way to face it, is to face it, and they did want, they did say to me, “Do you want us to read your notes somewhere else?” And I said, to them, “No. I want to read it on the ward.” And that, I’m glad that I did that, because that actually made it not so scary. Because it becomes something different in your head.
And who went through your notes with you?
The ward manager.
So you’d recommend that?
Oh yes. But not straight away. And I mean I went through, when I was, after I had [second daughter] I was trying to decide whether to have a VBAC and I went through… after I had [daughter], I went through my notes quite straight away, because I was told that’s what you do. And it traumatised me more, because there was yet more dates of birth and they’d got the dates of birth wrong because the clocks had gone forward, the hours of her birth, it was all… and I, so I felt that bad I just didn’t know when she was born, how much she weighed or anything. Ask me how much the other two weighed and I couldn’t tell you but for some reason it was important for the first. And it was the wrong thing to do.
Then I went through them again with different people who weren’t involved and realised actually I could have had a natural birth if they’d held their nerve, but they weren’t going to hold their nerve with me. And hindsight I suppose is a good thing. And it could have a different outcome I supp