Liz and I ‘met’ online a year ago. Unfortunately it was not a good experience for either of us. Neither one of us understood where the other was coming from and it became heated very fast. My reactions were nothing short of ridiculous and full of hormones and emotions one might expect from a 10 month pregnant woman. I regret my actions. Over time, Liz and I finally let down our walls, started to believe each other, offered apologizes and gave forgiveness.
I share my thoughts with you first for two reasons. The first being that communication is only 30% of what is said. The rest can not be seen or heard (body language and tone). Communicating via the internet, while a wonderful tool, can go bad fast. Please be aware of this. Second, because I want to let others know that even if you feel wronged, attacked or hurt, there is always hope for healing and unity. I am regretful of my actions towards Liz and I am grateful she accepted my apologies. I am humbled by her generosity to do the same for me. I have always believed Liz and Aquila’s story should be heard and am honored to share this brave family’s story here. ~Mrs. BWF
My daughter died at my home birth from a combination of a severe Chorioamnionitis infection, followed by a complete placental abruption. Unfortunately my midwife, a Cpm with only 150 births under the belt, was completely unprepared and under trained for handling such severe complications. The midwife, Faith Beltz was found guilty of failing to transport by the Texas board for midwifery here, but unfortunately no lawyer would take our case, because Faith, like almost every other home birth midwife, does not carry malpractice insurance. This is Aquila’s story.
The week before: December 10th 2009
I went in the morning to the last bible study meeting of the year. About halfway through, I started getting contractions and feeling very cold. I left early, gathered kids and drove us home. I got home and could not make it past the couch, the contractions were bad and I was shivering. I called Gabe, and turned on the TV. I went up to take a hot shower. The hot water ran out after I had been in there for what seemed to be a very short time, but must have been quite long.I turned off the water, but could not stop shaking enough to get a towel. Just then Gabe came in the bathroom and wrapped me up in one. I remember my teeth were chattering like crazy.
We called Amy (best friend and doula) who came right over. This started the -fill the tub, bring labor tea, rub back labor support from both of them. Amy took my temp, which was over 102. She called the midwife – Faith Beltz, who came over soon after. By the time Faith got there the contractions had puttered out. She listened to fetal heart tones, which were 190-200. She said this was caused (probably) by the fever, and she wanted to make sure I did not have a bacterial infection. So, she drew blood for a CBC and left to take it in.
Four hours later the numbers were in. The numbers were confusing for Faith, so we went into the hospital. They decided I have a virus, not the flu, and that my Ketones were VERY high. This was caused by me getting dehydrated from the fever, and the high ketones where irritating my uterus, causing the contractions. They had me eat and drink, and the doctor offered an induction, which I said no thanks. He smiled and said it was fine with him, I should have a great home birth. I spent the next three days in bed recovering.
The Day Before: Dec 18th 2009
I was 3 days overdue and miserable, so I took Castor oil in the morning (2T). This produced it’s designed effect, but no contractions, but I was sure I would go into labor that night. I laid a water proof pad on my bed and went to sleep.
Labor: December 19th 2009
Midnight, on the dot, my eyes opened. I thought “Why am I awake?”. Then a I felt a pop, followed by a gush. I felt so relieved I had put down that pad! I waited for the gushes to subside so I could waddle to the bathroom and grab a pad. I texted Faith and Amy to tell them my water broke. I was having contractions every 5 minutes, and was very excited, so I played on the computer till about 4am. Then I decided that nothing much was happening, so I should try to sleep. surprisingly I fell right asleep and slept in till 6am.
A while after I awoke, I called Faith to check in, and went about my morning. By 11 am contractions are regular and Amy had come over, along with Yoshimi, a hair braider. I bounced on the birth ball while she braided my hair and told me about births in Japan. Amy and I joked.
11:45 am I called Faith to tell her I was getting in the tub because the contractions were too strong for me. We call the photographer Katie Jo who comes out to capture the labor and birth.
We also call my dear friend Bethany to watch the children (because they are coming in every few minutes to “check on me”).
Faith arrives at 2:15pm. Aquila’s heart tones are in the 170’s and my temp is almost 101. They all are trying to cool me off with cool cloths and tea. The pain is intense and when I check myself I cannot feel very much cervix. At around 3:45 everyone is out of the room except me and Faith. I pass three chunks into the tub. I pick them up to throw them away. They are blood clots, hard, gelatinous, and about 1-2 TB in size. (Faith records this in her notes as “bloody show”).
At this point Aquila’s hear tones are at or above 180 almost every time, but on the records it shows them as 170’s…
Faith checks me, because I am acting and feeling like I must be in transition- INTENSE, almost non-stop contractions, and “pushy” feelings, and retching from the the intensity. I am only 5-6. This is where I lost all calm and got scared. There was no way I could do this, and now Faith was wanting me to get out of the tub to try to cool me down. After getting out I notice I am dripping blood, which I show to Faith. I labor for some time out of the tub, and the contractions don’t ever stop. I remember saying, “They just don’t stop. They won’t let go!”
I start SCREAMING with every contraction. I say (at least three times), “I can’t do this. I want to go to the hospital. I want an epidural”
It is very important to note here that I said this at least ONE HOUR before we tried to transfer. An hour before she died. And in the birth records, Faith repeatedly states that I was refusing to transfer. She NEVER said “transfer” to me. She never said “emergency”, or “abruption”. This is backed up by the other 3 people at my birth.
Faith was not even in the room for me asking to go- she was gone out of the room for at least 20 minutes, on the phone.
When she gets back she check me on the bed. Still 5-6. When I get up the chux pad is stained the color of vomit. It perplexed me at the time, but later I figured out it was blood and meconium. In the birth records she states it was bloody show and clear fluid. At this point I say, “My mom had a baby die from an abruption”. Faith says nothing. Finally my husband and doula start dressing me to transfer, while Faith is packing her stuff. I realize how very far away the hospital really is…
Please pay close attention to these words…the hospital was 3 MINUTES from my house. But that means NOTHING when bad things are happening and you are in hard labor. It took at least 30 minutes to get to the car. 30 MINUTES. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you are safer than you are.
My contractions at this point were what is called Tetonic- never stopping. This is a huge red flag of an abruption. I could not take a step without a contraction. My doula at this point says to Faith, “Should we just call EMS? It will be faster than getting her dressed and downstairs?” Faith says no.
I make the most physically painful journey of my life down the hallway, downstairs, and out to the car, only to find Faith wants me to go in a different car than her. At the time this made no sense and still does not. Why would you leave the laboring woman to drive without a care provider?
As I am trying to climb into Amy’s passenger seat, I have the urge to go- you know the ‘I am about to push out this baby’ feeling? I make it back to the living room, where I yell for my son to get off the couch. Bethany herds them upstairs. I don’t even get my underwear off (those stretchy, post-birth, throw away ones). She slips out into my hands, completely limp, in a river of blood.
After birth: 5:30 pm December 19th 2009
Faith had packed up all her equipment, so she had nothing to even suction Aquila, so she was sucking blood out with her mouth. She yelled for someone to get her the bulb syringe and call 911. Her and Amy started CPR while I sat on the couch next to Aquila. I held her foot, limp and pale, and rubbed it. It took EMS 12 minutes to get there.
When they came in they took over with Aquila and Faith came and sat in front of me watching the paramedics work. I asked her if she (Aquila) could live after this long. She said, “She is not going to make it”.
I had strong pains. She asked if it was the placenta. I said yes as I pulled up a clot the size of a placenta (the birth records says it was a cup sized). Then I got pains again and passed the actual placenta. Faith’s records say I stopped bleeding after this, but I didn’t and she never checked my bleeding. She should have given me Pitocin.
Note here-they DO NOT Carry Pitocin in ambulances (at least they don’t in Austin TX). My paramedic also had NO IDEA how to do a uterus massage, so I bled all the way to hospital. I am so very lucky I did not die. A large percentage of mothers hemorrhage to death with an abruption bad enough to kill the baby.
Here is my second biggest regret of my life (second only to choosing home birth with a “hand’s off” midwife). The paramedics asked me where we should take Aquila. They suggested Dell Children’s Hospital, saying that they had a better NICU than the hospital 3 minutes away (later to find out this was not true). The said they would take me to Brakenridge, which they said would let Aquila come to me at that hospital- completely untrue..Brack and Dell were about 20 minutes from my house. Longer to bleed for me, longer to not be in a hospital for her (though I wish the would have called time of death at my house so I could have just had her with me).
We are put into separate ambulances. Gabe goes with her, Amy with me. When I get to the hospital, I end up passing out from blood loss. They do two manual extractions of clots to get my bleeding to slow. I find out after this that she has been declared dead and Gabe is coming to the hospital. Gabe ends up in the ER about an hour after getting there from a migraine (stress) that makes it hard to see. They give him a shot of morphine.
At this point I am freaking out because they are saying they cannot bring Aquila’s body from the other hospital- the only one who can pick her up is the medical examiner. Apparently, since she died at home they opened an investigation. At this point the med examiner was threatening an autopsy without our consent. I would not even be able to see my baby until days later, possibly after being cut up. This is part of my story I have never written, because it is the biggest nightmare. All I wanted was to hold my daughter, to see her and tell her goodbye. I never did. At least, not until 3 days later. She was cold and discolored from time. I spent those 3 days hyperventilating and sobbing. Not because she was dead. I could accept that,but because I could not even see her.
This is first time I saw her, at the funeral home.
We buried her 2 days before Christmas. I held my daughter in my arms during the service while she sobbed. My milk came in that day, throbbing, with no baby to feed. Every day I miss her……