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

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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.

13 comments

  1. Jackie I went through this 4 years ago, after the birth of my twins. People kept telling me how ‘lucky’ I was to have 2, which made me feel guilty as I was grateful but had such intense grief for the loss of the baby/babies I’d never have. That choice was ripped away. Thankful to be there for my babies, I also felt like a fundamental part of me was missing and even felt like the womanly part of me was gone…I’d been so ill that breastfeeding became impossible. From the date onthis post I can see how recent this was for your daughter. It must be very painful for you as well to see her so hurt. I had counselling but not until 6 months after when I was ready to start processing it all a bit. Also the distraction of a newborn keeps your mind busier. 4 years on and I can honestly genuinely say that it never goes away but I have adjusted and it’s not painful anymore, it does get easier and time heals. If your daughter wants someone to talk to my email is Katiepygott@yahoo.co.uk I’d be very happy to lend an ear. All the very best, Katie

  2. My daughter has just gone through this after her first baby and it feeling totally alone and traumatised. People keep telling her to be grateful she has one, and don’t understand she is grieving few the ones she wanted to have. Is there a support group for people to help each other?

  3. Had emergency cs followed by hsyterectomy after my uterus ruptured and my baby boy died in the womb. Up to now I can’t come over it, mourning the child I lost and the babies I will never have. I thank Yehovah am alive and focus on the blessings He has blessed me with including an understanding husband and two healthy children.

  4. I got a radical histerectomy during my c-section delivery. Now I was thrown into surgical menopause. 5 months since then….. do you know when the first symptoms are going to start?

  5. I gave birth naturally to a 10.3 ounce baby after which doctors could not stop the bleeding from my uterus. I had to have an emergency hysterectomy. I should have had a Cesarean as I had had surgery before for a uterine fibroid so maybe my uterus was not suited for natural childbirth. I can understand the plight of us ladies as I would have liked to have more babies but I only had one, a boy…

  6. Your story sounds similar to mine linn, I got stitched back up too then rushed back through with the most horrendous internal bleed followed by eight hours of surgery to save my life. I lost 28 pints of blood and unfortunately they performed a complete hysterectomy on me which was devastating as it was my first child. Focusing on what you’ve got instead of what you don’t is the only way to get through it. Was good for me to read your story, thanks for sharing xx

  7. I’ve just read this and I can totally relate to the feeling of being scared of everything, I ended up having an emergency section, being stitched up after baby and then reopened for an emergency hysterectomy, When I woke I felt like the rug had been completely pulled from beneath me as I had a fairly straight forward pregnancy, just a very long labour!!!
    I remember parts of the surgery as to begin with I had a spinal block for my section….hours went by in theatre where I was in and out of consciencness….so I remeber lots of talking and panick whilst I lost blood and then received blood continuously for hours…after finally they gave me a general anesthetic with the mask,,,which till this day gives me nightmares!
    I just focus on the positives now that I have a beautiful little girl.

  8. Hi. I was 28 (I’m 30 this year) when I was given an emergency hysterectomy following emergency cesarean. It has been the most difficult thing to cope with and much of the emotions you describe are what I have also felt. Especially grieving the children I’ll never have. Thank you for sharing your story. Much love.

  9. Hi Laura,

    I wish you all the best for the future and can totally relate to your story, I am 30 and just recently had a post natal hysterectomy, it is so rare and would be nice to speak about our experience with someone who has gone through the same trauma.

    Kind regards,

    Lisa.

  10. Hi Laura,I had a very similar experence 3 years ago and have never found anyone who shares the same problem, Emma

  11. Your story is very moving Laura I wish you all the best for the future what ever it will bring and good luck on March 3rd thank you for reminding me that I should be grateful for what I have .its easy to take lots of things for granted in life x

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