Hysterectomy After Childbirth – Laura’s Story

My name is Laura Boot-Handford and I recently turned 30. I grew up in the beautiful town Lewes, East Sussex. I met my Husband there whilst at college. We both went to University in Leicester and settled in Northampton nearby once we had finished. We bought our first house and two cats. We got married and soon thought about starting a family of our own.I was 27 when we had our first son, Harry. I had a consultant led pregnancy as I have Addisons, although I rarely saw the consultant.  I started to get high blood pressure and traces of protein in my urine which was indicating the onset of pre-eclampsia so the registrar decided it would be best for baby if I was induced at 38 weeks.  I had three stretch and sweeps over the weekend to try and start things off but Baby was nice and happy and didn’t want to budge.

I went into hospital to have a propess inserted into my cervix.  It looked kind of like a flattened tampon with a long cord.  I was supposed to have this in just overnight and removed the next morning but it was particularly busy on the ward.  I was asked to get up early on the Friday morning so they could break my waters to get things going but I was left again not knowing what was happening.

I spent most of the day sitting in a side room wondering if anyone would come and talk to us about a plan for what was going to happen.  I had my birth plan; I gave it to the midwife who was looking after me and she just laughed and said I shouldn’t get my hopes up.  I was wishing more and more we had saved some money to go private!

Eventually at 4.30pm on Friday afternoon there was a midwife free to break my waters. She had a long needle with a hook on it, much like a crochet needle and started the procedure.  She couldn’t get it to work so another midwife tried, still no luck with her so the doctor was called.  She pressed very hard on my stomach and struggled too. She kept putting her hands on my clitoris which I didn’t like and I asked her to move them.  She replied “you better get used to it, this is just the start and you will have lots of people touching you down there.”  I was shocked and felt violated. But I was more concerned about getting the baby out healthy.

Eventually my waters were broken and I had a clip attached to his head to monitor him.  I was uncomfortable and afraid to move in case the clip fell off.  As I was being induced I was attached to the monitors the whole time which felt restricting.  Not a lot was happening so the doctors put me on an Oxytocin drip.  As soon as they did this the contractions were intense.  I wanted some help with the gas and air but no one would help me.

When the midwife came in the baby started to have decelerations so they decided a c-section would be best as I was only 3-4 centimetres.  I felt tired and distraught.  So I was wheeled off to have an epidural.  The aneasthetist tried for a long time but could get the epidural in.  I bit through my bottom lip I was in so much pain as they took away the gas and air.  I was sobbing.

Eventually they decided that I should have a c-section under general anaesethetic.  So I missed the birth. As I was waking up in the recovery room almost an hour later the midwife was pinching my breast and trying to get the baby to latch on.  I barely knew where I was let alone that I had given birth.  I was moved to the high dependency unit.

I was very sleepy from all the anaesthesia and eventually I realised I was wet.  I thought I had had an accident but I noticed I was bleeding. I bled through the sheets and instantly realised something was wrong.  The doctor who had broken my waters was back and was kneading my stomach, trying to get it to contract back.  It was excruciatingly painful.  I was sick and kept asking for someone to knock me out.

I was in surgery over 6 hours and lost more blood than was in my body. I was sedated in intensive care for 24 hours and the day I woke up I was a mess. I was in pain, confused and disorientated. The doctors decided that it would be an appropriate time to tell me what they had done to my body, that they had given me a hysterectomy and that they had saved my life.

I was heartbroken, completely devastated. I was told to be quiet as I was disturbing the other patients.

I was grieving for all the children we would never have.  How would it affect my relationship with my husband?  Would people know I was incomplete?  Was I still a woman?  I felt like a failure.  I couldn’t look, let alone touch the baby.  So many things were rushing through my head but no one came to talk to me.  I started to behave strangely.  I was having hallucinations all the time.  I was scared of everything.  The doctors sent me for an MRI scan as they thought I could have some swelling on the brain.  The scan was fine and I was discharged from hospital after ten days.  It couldn’t have come sooner.  It was very hard to be on a ward with all those babies and pregnant women.

I only spent a few days at home before I was taken back to hospital.  I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress and spent another 2 weeks there.  Looking back it isn’t surprising but I just wanted to be at home with my family.

When Harry was 13 weeks old I was finally referred for counselling at the hospital.  It took such a long time to receive any help.  It really helped to talk things over.

My husband and I decided we needed to get away from Northampton and the bad memories associated with the birth and put the house on the market.  At the same time I had been through the complaints process with the hospital and I was in the position to instruct a solicitor to sue them for negligence.  A year later we sold the house and lost £25,000.  We moved back into my parents so we could pay back the money we had lost on our house.  We also heard back from the solicitor and unfortunately there was not enough evidence to continue the case.

Once I was in Sussex I felt a lot happier. It was such a relief to be able to pop into town and not have to pass the hospital whenever I went out.  I stumbled across http://www.wombtransplantuk.org and decided to get in touch with them.  I went to visit the organisation with Harry and my Husband to find out more.  The organisation is trying to raise £500,000 to perform the first five womb transplants in the UK.  In November I went to their conference and met the transplant teams from Sweden, Indianapolis and Turkey.  They shared their research and got I got to meet everyone.

I will be running the Eastbourne half marathon on the 3rd March for the Uterine Transplant charity.  I am fundraising for them to try and raise some money towards their research and the procedures.  I would love to have a brother or sister for Harry.

If I am not suitable for a transplant then I know that this charity may help others.  It has already developed new techniques for ectopic pregnancies and cervical cancers.

It is true what people say, life is short and be grateful for what you have, I couldn’t agree with them more.

If you want to support them then you can through my page on Http://www.everyclick.com/mrsboot


in my own words book coverNow available on our online store and all other online book store’s. In My Own Words: Women’s Experience of Hysterectomy is full of many other real-life stories from women the world over.

Other people’s stories help women feel less isolated. They show that they aren’t going mad, missing the point or stupid.

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