Natalie Hodgson shares her daughter Chloe’s story, in support of the Each Baby Counts project.
Our daughter Chloe was born full term on the Tuesday 8th January 2013 at 08:06.
After a low risk completely uneventful pregnancy, I went into labour on my due date, the 3rd of January. I laboured from that Friday evening for four days before she was finally born by Kielland’s forceps (rotational forceps) delivery on the Tuesday morning.
Just before the forceps delivery started the midwife realised the theatre foetal monitor wasn’t working, so the midwife resorted to using a handheld Doppler instead. She struggled to get a consistent heart rate with the Doppler, but they progressed regardless. We heard the Registrar try to flag something up with the consultant to which he was told by the consultant that ‘it was too late’, they continued for minutes delivering Chloe as they had started.
Immediately after Chloe was born she was placed for a second on my left hand side so that we could see her, I remember the biggest smile spreading across my face as I turned to my husband and said ‘we have a daughter’. Chloe was taken from the room by the midwife who then shouted back into the theatre asking for help. Moments later the crash team arrived.
The silence in the theatre became suffocating as minutes passed and no one said a thing, still we hadn’t heard our daughter cry. I can remember tears pouring out of my eyes and down the sides of my face. The atmosphere made it obvious that something wasn’t right. Finally a specialist came to the theatre bedside and told us Chloe had been born very unwell and needed to be taken to the NICU. My husband was allowed to go through to see Chloe in the room adjacent to the theatre while I was being stitched up.
A few minutes later she was wheeled past us in the little plastic tank and taken out of the room.
I was moved to a bed in the maternity ward, near the main desk. We could see that senior hospital officials had arrived soon afterwards and were gathered around the desk outside the theatre asking the midwife in charge questions and taking files away.
I got to see Chloe properly for the first time in NICU wrapped in what looked like bubble wrap with wires coming from all directions and a breathing tube in her mouth. I so badly just wanted to pick her up and hold her.
We spent the evening in a private room in the maternity ward. The ventilation carried the noise of all the other crying babies straight into our room. I would have given anything to be holding my baby crying or not.
After what had been a very long and emotional few days, with no warning the consultant and registrar came into our room in the maternity unit to see us which caused a lot of upset. They were the last people we wanted to see.
The next day we asked to see our notes to help process a very overwhelming event and was told that we would need to apply for them to be released. Immediately, we felt the tone of the situation was defensive instead of supportive.
A new consultant was assigned to us and put in a very difficult position of trying to explain what had happened during the delivery given that he hadn’t been involved in any of our labour process up until this point.
Chloe was in the NICU for five days where she spent the first 48 hours on a cooling mat to try and reduce the swelling in her brain. She was also attached to brain monitors on several occasions so that her brain wave activity could be watched.
On Saturday 12th January we were both sat down and informed that if Chloe did survive she would be living with severe brain damage (cerebral palsy). The decision was made to remove her from the life support which happened that evening. The next 24 hours were equally the worst and best of our lives, cuddling and spending time with her, almost as it should have been.
Chloe passed away in our arms on Sunday 13th January at 5 days old. She died from severe hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy (lack of oxygen to the brain).
The new consultant met with us a few weeks after Chloe’s death to go over the case that had been reviewed internally. We could tell he had to be very guarded about what he could tell us but he did say if a caesarean section had taken place over the forceps delivery then the outcome would have been different.
Jordan and I made it clear from that point that we were not interested in taking legal action personally as no amount of money would change what had happened or bring our daughter back. Potentially years of being dragged through the courts to repeatedly talk about the hardest thing we have ever experienced didn’t seem like it would help us with the intense grief and anger we were experiencing. This is why the vital work done by the long term quality improvement programme, Each Baby Counts - launched by the RCOG to dramatically reduce the amount of babies left dead or with severe disabilities - is absolutely vital to make sure no more unnecessary, tragic and infuriating cases keep occurring in such high numbers around the UK.