Sunday 24 March 2019

'I still don't know why my baby died' - Woman 'haunted' by the loss of her newborn child

'When I took the last push and waited for her to cry, this didn't happen'

Wexford General Hospital and inset, Amy Deegan holding baby Kayla's hand
Wexford General Hospital and inset, Amy Deegan holding baby Kayla's hand
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

A woman who tragically lost her newborn baby says she still doesn’t know why her little daughter died.

Amy Deegan (27) gave birth to a baby girl in Wexford General Hospital in March 2015, but her world was turned upside down when she passed away six days later.

A HSE investigation into baby Kayla’s death found it was "an unanticipated poor outcome" and that the obstetric management was reasonable.

The official report said Kayla suffered brain damage during the birth due to oxygen starvation.

But there's never been a definitive explanation for how - or why - the oxygen deprivation occurred.

Amy says that even though three years have passed since Kayla died, she is still left with more questions than answers.

"The question I asked throughout the next few days was why did a baby who was perfectly healthy until birth die," she said.

Amy recalled how she found out she was pregnant on July 7, 2014.

"I was so excited and couldn’t wait to meet our baby."

She described her pregnancy as normal throughout, besides a few incidents of high blood pressure and the occasional headache.

After 38 weeks and five days, her obstetrician decided she was far enough into her pregnancy to be induced.

"Before being induced, the baby’s heartbeat is monitored to make sure it is safe to go ahead. My baby’s heart rate was racing and they wanted to wait until it slowed down to a normal rate before administering the gel," she said.

"After some time there was no sign of her heartbeat slowing down. They then decided to insert a drip in order to help. They then administered the gel and told my partner he could go home as nothing was going to happen until tomorrow and to go home and get a good night's sleep."

An hour later, Amy began experiencing severe pains and before she knew it, she was 2cm dilated.

The midwife immediately contacted her partner to come back to the hospital. He lived 25 minutes away and by the time he got there, Amy was 8cm dilated and ready to push.

"Even though labour is painful, the excitement I felt as I knew I was nearer to meeting my baby was like nothing I have ever felt, but when I took the last push and waited for her to cry, this didn't happen.

"I kept looking at my partner saying why isn't she crying. All of a sudden alarms started going off and the most severe pain came through me. My placenta was trying to force itself out but couldn't. My baby was beside me being resuscitated."

Amy said the delivery room erupted in sheer panic.

She said doctors were running into the room, throwing their white coats on the floor and running to help save her baby.

She said the midwives and doctors were arguing amongst each other and recalls a man saying "that's not how you do that" as doctors tried to revive Kayla.

"These are not the words you should hear as your baby is being resuscitated," she said.

The minutes of a meeting between Amy and staff at Wexford General Hospital after Kayla's death said that "actions had been taken since Kayla's delivery and all new non-consultant doctors are having additional training in communication in relation to neonatal resuscitations and resuscitation skills".

"I'll never forget the look on the midwives' faces while everything was happening," Amy said.

"I had to go into surgery to have my placenta manually removed and when I woke my obstetrician came in to say that he was very sorry that my baby was very sick. At that moment I felt like it was all a dream, like I would wake up soon and still be pregnant. My baby would still be safe.

"I asked to see Kayla but was not able to walk so my friend Niamh and the cleaning lady brought me up in my bed to see her."

Kayla suffered brain damage during the birth due to a lack of oxygen.

She had to be transferred to the Coombe in Dublin for various tests to be carried out.

"I remember walking in and seeing her in the incubator for the first time. Wires everywhere. She was beautiful. I couldn't take my eyes off her and couldn't but hope one day I would see her eyes open."

Kayla was suffering seizures and was not reacting to stimuli touch.

Doctors diagnosed her as having grade 3 brain damage due to oxygen starvation.

The decision was made on March 17, 2015 to withdraw life support.

"I can't explain the feeling to sit in a room with your partner and hold your baby knowing she is passing away.

"I kept feeling her heart to see if she was still with us until eventually I felt it beat no more. I called in the doctor and he confirmed our little girl had passed away.

"Every time I walked by her room at home I couldn't even bring myself to look into it. When I eventually went to walk in I broke down in my mother's arms. I couldn't believe that instead of coming down to get her bits and pieces I needed for her for the day, I was sorting it out for her to be brought in there for her wake."

Amy says she is still haunted by what happened to her baby.

An external investigation from another hospital determined that they would not have done anything differently. The postmortem didn't show any signs of Kayla having any issues before the oxygen starvation occurred.

Amy's placenta was also examined and showed very small clots, which a doctor from another hospital advised would indicate the issues may have started shortly before birth.

But she hasn't received a concrete explanation for how the oxygen deprivation occurred.

"I found life very difficult after Kayla had passed. Although for some reason I found it harder months afterwards.

"I think it's because when something like this happens everyone crowds you and keeps you occupied, but after time people go back to their everyday lives and so they should. Then you are left alone and not so crowded with more time to think.

"It's hard being in a couple too because you can grieve differently. My biggest issue was to be around pregnant women or babies. I couldn't do it. I couldn't even look in their direction, to do so my heart would literally feel like it's breaking.

"A lot of people thought I was being ignorant by not acknowledging them and I can understand they couldn't feel what I was because they had never been through it. At the same time I just wish people would stop and think for minute how much harder it makes the whole situation by reacting negatively.

"I also found it very hard to go into her room sometimes and it took me a long time to organise any of her clothes. I only found the strength to do so when I was pregnant with my little boy. Kayla may not be here living with me but I'm still her mother and I kept telling myself she wouldn't want to see you upset, so two months after she passed I sat my college exams, and a month after that got a full time job. I just kept myself going knowing she was watching over me.

"I hope every day that I make her proud in everything I do."

A spokesperson for Wexford General Hospital said it cannot comment on individual cases.

"We take the care and safety of our patients seriously. We can confirm that any recommendation which is made regarding training of staff is implemented and any appropriate changes made to ensure that we learn from any incident which may occur within our hospital.  

"With specific regard to communications and neonatal resuscitation skills training for staff in our hospital, we can confirm that training sessions have been provided to the appropriate staff. Training for all staff in relation to the care and safety of our patients is ongoing within our hospitals."

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