Sunday 22 September 2019

'I am completely and utterly devastated' - Mum mourns loss of two-day-old baby after losing husband to heart attack

Mullingar Hospital. Inset: Baby Stevie Cullivan
Mullingar Hospital. Inset: Baby Stevie Cullivan

Louise Roseingrave

A mother who lost her baby two days after his birth has told an inquest of her harrowing experience.

Sandra Cullivan was 36 when she went to Mullingar Regional Hospital to be induced on April 28 2015.

Her baby Stevie Cullivan, named after his father who died following a heart attack the previous December, was born at 11.59pm.

The baby boy died two days later on April 30.

“Stevie was my last chance to have a baby with Stephen. I am completely and utterly devastated,” Sandra Cullivan said.

Dublin Coroner’s Court heard how the infant was being treated as a ‘precious baby’ because of the recent loss of the baby’s father. Ms Cullivan had been allocated a private room in the post-natal ward and her mother was to attend as her birthing partner. Mrs Cullivan said her mother, who’d been with her since morning, had been told to go home by staff in the evening as there was nothing happening.

At 10pm, two hours before the birth, Ms Cullivan was given pethidine for pain relief. A CTG scan found the baby’s heartbeat was normal. She was not deemed to be in labour at this point. The midwife assigned to her care was busy dealing with three other patients who’d undergone Caesarean sections that day and had entrusted Ms Cullivan’s care to her colleagues.

“I was hoping to get into see her as soon as possible but other things happened and I was deviated,” the midwife said.

During this 90 minute period, Ms Cullivan was left alone in the room with the doors closed. She was having contractions and she became concerned but said she could not reach the call bell.

“I was very afraid for our baby, I shouted out for help and I was eventually heard and a nurse came in,” Ms Cullivan said. There was ‘urgency’ in the midwife’s voice when she examined her, Ms Cullivan said. The baby's head was low in the birth canal and birth was imminent, the court heard.

Another midwife was called in to help and Ms Cullivan was brought to the Labour Ward in a wheelchair at 11.40pm. There was growing concern for the baby as CTG monitoring of his heartbeat returned an abnormal result. Baby Stevie was born at 11.59pm.

“He wasn’t crying. I kept asking why he wasn’t crying. It was obvious Stevie wasn’t going to be okay,” Ms Cullivan said.

“I feel devastated that I was left for so long and nobody came near me. I looked after this baby for forty weeks. I put my faith in this hospital,” Ms Cullivan told Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane. The baby was rushed to the resuscitation suite where his airway was suctioned and he was ventilated.

The inquest continues.

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