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Cesarean Tragedy (I couldn't make this up if I tried)

"Hold the elevator!" the skinny woman with bleached blonde hair and a huge scar that ran from her throat down into her spaghetti-strapped top hollered.

When we walked off the elevator, she asked why I was bald and I explained about the massive doses of Diflucan (Disseminated Coccidiomycosis) and how I contracted it (fires throughout Southern California in 2003). I asked about her amazing scar and she said:

This is from an open heart surgery (I figured, I told her) that started with a botched cesarean 3 years ago.

My heart stopped.

Article after article - blog spot after blog spot - talks about how GREAT cesareans are, how PAIN-FREE cesareans are, how it is merely a CHOICE that women can make. More and more distressed, my own writings cannot even contain my angst about the entire situation.

Then the Universe brings this woman into my world just when a story - her story - needed to be told. She said she knew I was supposed to be in her life from the second she entered the elevator. She begged me to tell every part of her story I could.

I took notes.

Again, I couldn't make this up if I tried.

- Mom on bedrest for 8 weeks due to baby being deep in the pelvis and her legs feeling like they are going to split apart (separation of the pubic symphasis? she didn't know the term)

- Prior to cesarean, antibiotics given - one that was supposed to be run over 2 hours was run in 20 minutes - mom had to have counter meds given before surgery could begin

- Scheduled cesarean for baby "too deep" in the pelvis - they said there was no way for the baby to get through because he was too low. (?!?!?)

- Baby born and mom in hospital for 48 hours before discharge

- 6 hours after discharge, mom re-admitted to hospital with 104.9 fever - she didn't leave hospital again for 65 days

- 5 antibiotics given over several days

- somewhere between day 3 and 10, she had a D&C (fever wouldn't relent) and a placental fragment was found in pathology

- by day 10 postpartum, a red raised area at least 6 inches high ran from belly button to cesarean incision - all the way across

- fever climbed to 105.9 and mom taken to surgery again

- abdomen opened and two grapefruit-sized cysts of infection opened and drained - uterus and one tube removed

- infection continued to spread and mom had a heart attack - open heart surgery showed severe mitral valve damage and the valve replaced

- mom had a stroke

- body rejected valve replacement and second open heart surgery saw mom code on the table. During the resuscitation with the defibrillator, her foot was touching a piece of metal and the shock blew a baseball-sized hole in her outer heel

- on life support after that surgery, once she came out of her 6 day coma, she couldn't get anyone to pay attention to her foot pain until she got the vent removed and screamed, "What the fuck is wrong with my foot?!?" The nurses came in and saw, for the first time, that she had been burned and then needed to tend to the infection in her foot so she wouldn't lose her foot. The wound is still open 2.5 years later (I saw it with my own eyes).

She was discharged on day 67 postpartum.

- In 3 years, she has had 10 surgeries including 2 open heart surgeries and another to remove her ovary that had been attached to the tube that was removed. Wanting to remove the other tube and ovary, they were so adhered to the bowel/intestines and liver (kidney?), they were virtually estrangulated by adhesions, so they were left alone.

Her child that was born by cesarean has just begun to call her mom. Her husband left her during one of her hospital stays, taking the child with him. She is 30 years old.

I asked if she would have a cesarean again. And, besides how she has grown and changed from all the lessons, she wouldn't recommend a cesarean to ANYONE unless they or the baby was in the process of dying. She said I had to tell everyone the lies they tell.

No, she isn't suing, but she is getting everything paid for in spades.

She has several feet thick records that she is going to share with me as well as pictures of the infections and her in a coma and her foot before healing. She said I could share anything here. She begged me to.

Let's hear her story deep in our souls.

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Reader Comments (30)

OMG I cannot believe it :( Well I can is the tragedy ... thank you for sharing her story.

June 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLeah


I'm just gobsmacked...my Grandmother's (great British) word for being utterly astonished. (I used it recently on my blog for another situation...and I am not easily gobsmacked.)

I'm glad you will be sharing her story and giving her a place to vent and warn.


hard story to hear, much harder to live through I am sure.-- I am not quite sure the way the story is written- does she have contact with her baby now?

June 6, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Yes, she sees her baby - he is 3 years old now, but only started calling her "mom" about 6 months ago. Obviously, there are some serious attachment issues.

Sorry I wasn't more clear.

June 8, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

Oh my dear good Goddess...

Unbelievable. I've had 2 c-sections-- one "all right," as far as that goes, one horrific and traumatizing-- but NOTHING compared to this. Nothing. I'm weeping for this poor woman and for her sweet baby... not to mention the babies that were never given a chance to come through her body. :*(

What a horror.

Blessings to her, and to you, for telling her story...

June 21, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

she should publish it on the news or something!

June 24, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

OMG I feel so horrible for this woman!

She should be SUING the SH!T out of that hospital and that doctor!

June 24, 2006 | Unregistered Commenter~M

This is the worst Post Pregnancy Hysterectomy account that I have come across to date.

I am part of a support group and a web site www.a-little-wish.co.uk, more infromation on www.a-little-wish.org.uk (as we are in transition), that has been founded for this subject.

If at all possible we really would like for this lady and others to come forward to a little wish as this is still such a hidden subject.

My thoughts and prayers are with her.

Michelle Hickman (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4753997.stm)

June 25, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

OMG Wow! Poor woman. It makes me so mad when people say c/s is 'the way to go' and it is 'easy and safe' Full of BS! My heart goes out to that woman. I too am a victim of c/s myself and I am only getting angrier and angrier about it, especially when I read sad stories. This is by far the worst c/s story I've came acrossed.

June 26, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Although this is a very unusual tragedy, it did happen - this is headline news. Reviewing her records and creating an accurate story will be very powerful. I would love to pass along this story to the birthing/breastfeeding communities, please let me know when you have it documented. Thank you for sharing, Rae Davies
Coalition for Improving Maternity Services International Committee Co-chair

June 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterRae Davies

Throwing the big ole BS flag down on this one ladies. Sorry the entire story screams FISHY to me. First, why on earth would a woman get in an elevator, with someone she doesn't know, and have the balls to ask her why she's bald? That's something a curious child would ask, not a grown adult. Secondly, exactly how fricken long was this elevator ride? Or did they continue discussing elsewhere and that detail wasn't shared? And why would you share so much intimate details of your life with someone you don't even know. Unless this was some sort of set up interview beforehand that is. I wouldn't believe a story like this without some sort of proof. This would be ALL over the headlines if it's real. Whether she wanted it in the headlines or not, it would be there. There must be something legal drawn up, going by the assumptions that all her medical is being paid for. Show me the proof. BS stories like this show up all the time. When women who are adamantly against c-sections, get together. You can find similar horror stories all over, and off even, the internet. Even on snopes.com.

June 29, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

To all but the last commenter: Thanks for your kindnesses towards this woman.

Anon who has a BS flag:

You obviously do not know me, live in my life nor have seen the painful repercussions of botched surgeries. I can give at least 5 examples of similar incidents, but this was the first that came out of a cesarean.

I am asked why I am bald ALL THE TIME. All the time. At least 5 times a day by adults. Kids just point; adults ask.

We went down the elevator and then stood talking for a few and then turned our prescriptions in and then sat for 30+ minutes waiting for our meds to be ready. Apparently, the boring details mean something to you. I edited them out because they seemed extraneous.

This happens when women who hate cesareans get together? She didn't even know I was a midwife until 10 minutes into the discussion!! How would she have known I am not thrilled with scheduled cesareans? She couldn't have known.

Your cynicism would be great utilized towards the medical community.

And no, things like this do NOT always make the papers. Not at all. People who are weak or scared or manipulated into keeping quiet don't sue nor tell the press.

I'm sorry you don't believe her. Too many probably don't. Same as women not believed about being birthraped or birth abused... "seems fishy"... until you are the woman screaming in the middle of the night because the memories won't subside.

I hope you never have to experience such horrible things in your life. You are one lucky woman nothing has happened yet. (That you know of.)

June 29, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

I second the previous commenter.

If it is so important that this story get out, what is her name? What hospital was it? What city, state?

For that matter, what is *your* name?

Incidentally, even assuming this is true, how is having the kind of spouse who would leave you for having medical problems the c-section's fault??????

July 3, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Anon 2:

The exact details aren't the important part to get out. It is that these things can happen at all during a "routine cesarean."

Many, many here know who I am in real life and I am writing under a thin (thin!) veil of privacy for a number of reasons. But I am not a liar - I have no reason to be.

If I am ever able to gather the information the woman says she has, I will gladly share what she gives me permission to.

Of course, none of us knows why *anyone* gets a divorce - all we hear is the side of the story of the person talking to us. I was sharing what she told me. I wasn't putting my projections anywhere in there - simply being a storyteller.

Not sure why you are so ANGRY about this post, but perhaps that would be worth exploring.

July 3, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

I am a licenced midwife in central Florida attending women birthing their babies at home or in a birthing center. We have seen similar tragedies in the news lately; a woman loosing all four of her limbs to a flesh eating bacteria she aquired in the hospital after a vaginal birth; also a woman who was admitted with preterm labor , was given 4 times the normal dose of mag sulfate and died as a result, they did manage to save the baby. It was reported that when her husband tried to tell the staff his wife couldn't breath properly they just ignored him. We as society put our blind faith in medical technology. Women need true informed consent and education about all of their choices .

July 4, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Anon in Central Florida: You are in my home turf! I used to work at Special Beginnings as a birth assistant and doula (and office wench).

Perhaps we should touch base when I head home for vacations?

July 4, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

I think this story sounds fishy. Why hasn't this been on the news? where is the documentation that this actually happened? who is this mystery woman in the elevator?
I think there is more to this story even if it is true. I don't think that just a surgical birth caused this woman's problems.

I just find the author of this post unbelievable.
And yes, I do support women's right to choose csections, just like I support homebirth. I had a horrendous csection but I have had two wonderful, practically pain free ones as well.

I am just not buying this "tale".

July 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterCesarean Goddess

Cesarean Goddess (??):

You don't have to "buy" the tale. All that matters is the mother's story and what she knows in her heart happened.

If you don't think a cesarean can cause this sort of cascade of problems, you haven't sat in an ICAN meeting or three. Listening to the horrors so many women have gone through because of their "surgical births" is enough to scare the crap out of anyone who really does make a conscious choice!

Not every complication ends up in the news or in a courtroom. Not even dramatic ones like this one.

And *I* am the author and if you don't find be believable, don't read me! *laughing* Am I fake? Making all this midwifery stuff up? Am I being channeled into the Internet?

Uh, no. I am a real life midwife that MANY who read me know personally and professionally. Many of my clients read here. Many of the local doulas and childbirth educators read me. I'm not sure if any other midwives do, but they are certainly welcome to.

So, again, if you have a hard time swallowing something I say, turn and spit it out. It's entirely up to you.

(And as an aside... I think www.allearsnet.com is a FAR better WDW site than wdwinfo.com. Something we have in common - an absolute adoration of WDW!)

July 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

To the 'person/s' who claim that IF that account was true it would be on the news.


We at a little wish CAN NOT get the media to cover post pregnancy hysterectomy!!! Try reading THE TRUTH at www2.a-little-wish.co.uk at the why is this new to me section as we LIST the MEDIA that refuse to cover post pregnancy hysterectomy.

We have been trying for OVER THREE YEARS to get post pregnancy hysterctomy INTO THE MEDIA. Since the embryos went public we have been pushing our new contacts to COVER post preg hyster and they will not, and believe me I have e-m I have phoned and I cant do it!

We really would like this lady and others to come forward. The more that do the better chance we DO have of the media covering it.

AND LOOK I AM REAL AND CAN BE CONTACTED!! even at 3 am when people are in tears and so on!

Continued hugs and prayers for this lady

July 11, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

"by day 10 postpartum, a red raised area at least 6 inches high ran from belly button to cesarean incision - all the way across"

Does that mean they even cut the wrong way to start out with??? Vertical instead of horizontal? 0.0

July 14, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

No, if you laid a swath of cloth 6 inches wide across mom's belly... from belly button to incision... that's what I meant.

Sorry it was confusing.

July 14, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

I just made it to this post (missed it when it was originally written). I have cried so often reading your blog, but today I sobbed.

My infected c-section area was the size of an adults hand, I wish I had photos of the infected site. Touching my stomach had pus draining from the scar. I can still see my clothes in my dreams, stained with the burst abscess.

I complained about the pain and heat radiating from my scar while still in hospital - but was told "the scar looks fantastic! the OB did a great job!". Three days later I was being rushed through emergency having IVs started and antibiotics pumped through me in rapid rates.

People assume that C-sections are a walk in the park because they all know someone who recovered quickly, and "did not tear like in a vaginal birth"

It's not all kittens and roses people!

July 23, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterKristie

this kind of fear-mongering is criminal. Why do you feel the need to discuss this extremely low-probability crap just to make mothers feel nervous and bad about their choices? Shame on you "navelgazing midwife". I question your professional ethics and your morals. The real tragedy here is that this poor woman's story is being used (and likely exaggerated) to scare women out of perfectly safe procedures (so that they'll hire a midwife instead perhaps? hmmmmm.). I hope that readers can see that you have a professional conflict of interest in discouraging elective cesareans.

December 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Criminal? Low probability is STILL a probability, isn't it? I have ZERO economic vested interest in anyone's choice of a cesarean, but have a TON of an emotional, physical and spiritual vested interest in their cesarean-by-choice. The truth is simply not told by the establishment, now is it? The risks are minimized and the benefits are maximized. You know it's true. Someone needs to speak up. It just happens to be me.

It is hardly "criminal." The truth doesn't land one in jail. It might make people itching mad, but it floats to the top and remains aloft long after the bullshit sinks to the bottom.

December 27, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterNavelgazing Midwife

Anonymous said...
... I think being anonymous speaks volumes!! Maybe if you were a VICTIM of post preg hyster you would be ina differnt place ESPECIALLY if you had been used for teaching practice!

this kind of fear-mongering is criminal.
- NO illigal and unnecessary post pregnancy hysterectomies ARE CRIMINAL!

Why do you feel the need to discuss this extremely low-probability crap
- feel free to PROVE its low probbaility... I have yet to see PROOF that it is low risk especially as most it is done to will not say it HAD been done to them AND stats are hidden, a secret!

The real tragedy here is that this poor woman's story is being used (and likely exaggerated) to scare women out of perfectly safe procedures
- gosh I hurt from the laughter, try www.a-little-wish.co.uk YOU SEEM TO HAVE MISSED DOING THIS! No ones account is USED or EXAGGERATED, people pass their accounts willingly as they do not want this done to others.

I hope that readers can see that you have a professional conflict of interest in discouraging elective cesareans.
- and my interest is what???? To save women, babies, families, marriages, quality of life and so on.

ALW is there to educate others to make informed decisions many of us were denyed. To also support the victims created ...

Maybe next time read the links BEFORE commenting. Just because some thing so horrible is happening does not mean we are lying about it!!

December 30, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle Hickman

Message for you :)

Hi we didnt have this lady contact us at alw.

Hope she is doing as well as she can.

Take care


December 30, 2006 | Unregistered Commentermichelle

I thought my butched caesareans scar was a horror story. This makes me very thankful.

March 7, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterpastormalena

It sounds like all of the problems stemmed from the infection that began with the retained placenta. Is there a higher chance of infection after a cesarean compared to a vaginal birth? How do you even get a retained placenta after a cesarean? I mean, they take the entire uterus out of the body; they can see if they got it all, unlike after a vaginal birth, right? Is this malpractice?

August 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSara

Wow! I have had 3 c-sections. 2 were traumatic experiences but nothing like this. I am so glad to hear that she is alive. God bless her and her family.

August 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

My sister just had her 2nd child by c-section. There are many issues here. She has to travel 45 minutes to a hospital, due to her having type 1 diabetes. Her "normal" doctors and the hospital had a contract dispute, which caused the doctor group to turn in a 6 month notice. The hospital got angry with this action, and kicked the doctors out. (took their hospital ID's and escorted them from the hospital) She had a doctor she wasn't familiar with, perform the c-section. She was in the operating room, and a nurse told her in about 10 minutes they would be done. My sister asked where her husband was at. They forgot to bring him in. She started feeling real bad. Had a hard time focusing, etc... She realized something was not right, and looked at her blood pressure monitor. It read 36/23. That's right, I said 36/23. A nurse told her that the urologist was on her way down to make sure that everything was done correctly. She was taken to emergency surgery. The doctor performing the c-section had cut through her bladder to get to the baby. I didn't say he nicked her bladder, I said he cut through it. After realizing his mistake, he attempted to repair the bladder. (he was not qualified to do this) The urologist had to remove the repairs he had made, and make the correct repairs. She had to have a blood transfusion due to a low blood count. Her count was a 5. This greatly increased her risk of infection. She spent 4 days in ICU. For 3 of them, she did not see her baby. He spent 4 days in NICU, due to being pulled through the toxins that were released from his mother's bladder. They are now at home. She has a catheter that has bloody urine draining from it. She will have this gift for at least a week. She has to see the urologist for at least 6 months, and maybe for life. Her bladder is smaller due to this issue. The urologist said she does not recommend her having any more kids due to this event. How many areas of her life will this impact. I don't know, but it will be many. Her and her husband will be in contact with a lawyer, and I hope they make the doctor and hospital bleed out the nose. The hospital is liable, because they put a business decision above patient care. (her doctors even told the hospital that she was "high risk") The doctor is liable because he made the mistake, and then attempted to repair it even though he wasn't qualified to do so. Money will not give them back any amount of the things they have lost or the pain it has caused, but it will make the guilty parties responsible for their actions.

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAn angry brother

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