Kaj’s Story, UK


I had my baby in June 2020 during the Covid Pandemic. After years of IVF we were finally going to have a baby. 

I was booked in to be induced on the 29th June as baby was measuring big. My due date was actually the 8th July 2020. I arrived at the hospital at 9am. My husband dropped me outside the hospital main entrance, due to covid you’re not allowed anyone in with you, not even your own husband!! This was extremely difficult especially with this being my first baby and so overwhelming. 

I made my way up to the induction suite getting lost several times as the hospital was being refurbished and things were in different locations to the virtual tour we had in advance to prepare me!


I started bleeding about an hour later so I was checked by the induction nurse who then told me I was already 5cm dilated and I had no idea! No major pain other than a slight cramp now and then (I do have a high pain threshold due to severe period pains).


I then phoned my husband who was already back home asking him to now come straight back to the hospital..in this time I was taken downstairs to the labour ward all on my own with no support.


My husband arrived 45 minutes later. By this point my pain was becoming intense. I requested an epidural and received one about an hour later. 

Labour wasn’t progressing so I was then offered oxytocin to get things moving. This took some time. My baby’s heart rate then started rising more and more. 


It was about 15 hours later that they then decided that it was now an emergency as baby’s heart rate was now 200. I was checked again and I was fully dilated.


I was told i had to prepare to start pushing and I had 20 minutes to get the baby out. The midwife prepared me, I requested a hot cloth on my perineum as apparently this is meant to reduce the chances of tearing..the midwife agreed and to be honest I don’t even think they did it or if they did I have no recollection of it. 

I started pushing and was told I was doing well…not sure how well as the baby did not even move and was stuck. 


I was told I needed to get to theatre immediately, here’s me thinking they are finally going to offer me a c section and all would be good. How wrong was I.. 


I went into theatre and I was surrounded by about 20 different professionals. It’s like they KNEW I was going to have a 4th degree tear. 

I was given an extended episiotomy, I don’t know whether this was in theatre or before as by this point I was exhausted and just so drained.


I remember they pulled out forceps which looked like some huge metal garden shears and they threw my legs up into the stirrups. 

I was then told my baby’s head was out but that he was not breathing and he was also stuck. I was told they had 2 minutes to save him. Then all of a sudden the doctors are jumping on my stomach trying to dislodge my baby’s shoulders to try and get him out. This made no difference. Once of the other senior doctors then put him hand up me, twisted my baby’s arm and then pulled him out.


He was still not breathing at all.. totally unresponsive. He was taken away immediately and I wasn’t able to see him. he was taken up to special care with my husband. He has swallowed alot of meconium when in distress and it was now all lodged into his lungs. I sent my husband to go and be with him.


At this point I asked them how bad the damage was..I was told it was a 4th degree tear and at this point I went into complete shock. I knew what this meant, it meant that I would be incontinent for the rest of my life..I would never get my life back. 


I was repaired straight away which took about 3 hours. I was shaking the whole time with my teeth chattering. The feeling you get when you are sooo cold and can’t get warm except I wasn’t cold. The anaesthesist  was really really nice. He played some soft classical music the whole time to try and keep me calm and relaxed. My midwife also held my hand the whole time and kept telling me everything would be okay. 

After 3 hours of stitching I was released into the recovery unit. By this point my baby was breathing I was told by my husband. Except I was still unable to see him as he was on a different floor and I was told they couldn’t take me to see him. 


I tried to sleep and my husband slept beside me on the tiny single bed for about 2 hours before he was told he needed to now leave and was no longer able to see me due to Covid as I would be moving to the postnatal ward. This was really really difficult both physically and mentally for me. I just had a baby, a 4th degree tear and in immense pain and discomfort and now my husband was leaving me and my baby was in special care. I never felt so alone. 

My  postnatal midwife told me I could go and see baby if my husband could take me. Unfortunately this was denied due to covid. I could meet him in special care but he could not take me there himself..I was told that the midwives on special care would take me.


When I got to special care, the midwives said they couldn’t take me to see my baby and I should be independent and go on my own as I am a mother. How with a 4th degree tear and my hundred stitches could I WALK to another floor alone. I tried and I nearly collapsed. I was in so much pain and feeling so dizzy I could barely get out of bed.


6 hours later I was finally able to go up to see my baby, although my 4th degree tear meant that as soon as I got upstairs I had to leave in less than 30 mins because of my immense pain and bleeding everywhere. 


I got a wheelchair back to the postnatal ward and was told to go to sleep and rest. This was impossible due to the separation anxiety from being away from my baby and not having any support. 


I desperately wanted a shower however those with 4th degree tears will know that the pain of doing this on your own is virtually impossible. I didn’t have my husband or anyone to help me and I just broke down. Due to covid you aren’t allowed any visitors so everything you do, it had to be on your own. 

The ward managers must have felt sorry for me with my 4th degree tear and covid and my baby being in special care that she actually used her lunch break to give me a shower and help me get changed and dressed. 


This was so humiliating and degrading. I even had the nurses take me to the toilet to poop and pee. Due to my 4th degree tear and having the urgency issues, I was able to poop pretty much straight away. This meant in my eyes I could go home. I demanded to go home as i felt this would be best for my own mental health. 

I wasn’t able to see any physio due to covid, I was told a physio would phone me and they did the following day and tried to explain how to do pelvic floor exercises over the phone..pretty useless to be honest.

 
I started pelvic floor excises pretty much straight away even though I couldn’t feel anything when I was doing them. I assume my muscles were just too weak.


I was on lactulose and pretty much not making it to the toilet all the time for a pop and this was happening about 4 times a day. I had severe diarrhea from the lactulose and was told to stop taking it on day 3.


This helped slightly but the urgency was still there and I wasn’t making it to the toilet. My husband was having to change my tena pants, had to give me baths and literally clean me up every single time I’d had an accident.


I would sit on the toilet and cry every single time that I just couldn’t do it anymore and that things were never going to get better. 


I tried searching for private physios..and I came across Lucy Allen who seemed to have a wealth of experience. She literally saved me..seeing her helped me more than anything else had. She gave me hope which I really needed and she done thorough checks and she was the first person to ever ask me how I was and how I was coping. No professional I saw before that had ever asked. I will forever be grateful to womens health physios but especially Lucy. I saw her approximately 5 times. 


It was getting a bit of a struggle to get to central London all the time so I was then able to find someone equally as great and that was Zoe Eggleton at Holly Hospital. She offered me biofeedback, someone to talk to and so much hope. I still see Zoe now but not as often as I use to, as I’m finally improving and not experiencing as much urgency as I use to. Of course this depends on what I eat.


Pelvic floor exercises I’m told I will have to do for the rest of my life now. I still have anxiety and have days when I’m too scared to go out in case I might need the toilet and there not being one. Covid hasn’t helped the situation as nearly everything is closed including public toilets. On the other hand, lockdown has had its benefits. My husband has been at home and I’ve had his support through everything and he has been there with me every single day.


So there is hope..I feel like I may not have found my amazing professionals I’ve seen privately had it not been for covid/lockdown as I probably may have settled for the NHS provisions. 

Never give up, if you don’t think you’re getting the right advice, look for other professionals. Each professional I have met has had something different to offer.

Kaj Da Silva ~ East London, UK

kaj87@hotmail.co.uk

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