By Autumn’s mother, Nancy
My husband Chuck and I had been trying to have a child for some time. I was 38, so we were thrilled when we learned I was pregnant. All during my pregnancy my doctor kept telling me everything was going fine.
But then about a week before my due date, I started leaking amniotic fluid. When I called the hospital, they told me to come in immediately. I got there at 5:20 a.m. The nurse gave me an exam and attached a fetal heart monitor. I was having contractions about five minutes apart but my cervix was only slightly dilated.
My obstetrician arrived about 7:30 a.m. She told the nurses to watch me carefully. I learned later she was concerned about what she’d read on the fetal heart monitor — that the baby was under a lot of stress. But then she left. I could tell the nurses were worried. I was scared. Chuck was nervous. But nobody was telling us anything.
The doctor came back about an hour later, did another exam and ordered an emergency C-section. This was at 8:25 a.m. For some unknown reason — we’ve never gotten a straight answer — the C-section wasn’t performed until 9:31 a.m., more than an hour later.
When Autumn was born, I knew something was wrong. I didn’t hear her cry. She couldn’t breathe. They put a tube down her throat and flew to a pediatric specialty hospital, where she was placed in the intensive care unit. The doctor at the pediatric hospital told us on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 not making it, Autumn was a 9+; but she was a tough little girl. In only two weeks, we had her home.
Right after Autumn’s birth, neither the doctor nor the nurses were giving out much information about what had happened. I just had so many questions, but nobody was giving us much to go on.
Visiting nurses suggested I might want to talk to a lawyer. While I was researching Autumn’s diagnosis on line, I found the name of a law firm that specializes in cerebral palsy cases. I figured even if they said we had no case, at least they could answer some of our questions. But they told us we did have a case.
Last December, we won a verdict. The jury ruled the doctor was negligent in taking so much time to operate after determining the situation was an emergency. The award will help take care of Autumn for the rest of her life.
Autumn can’t walk, speak, see or hear clearly. She goes to school three half-days a week. She also takes speech, hearing, vision, occupational and physical therapy. In the first year of her life, she had 60 to 70 doctor appointments, and has since had multiple surgeries. Our goal for 2009 is to go a whole year without going to the hospital!
But she’s our little sweetheart. She likes to laugh, and she’ll get silly and start giggling. She’s got beautiful hazel eyes like her dad. Overall she’s a pretty good-natured kid.
Looking back, I would tell anyone who’s had an experience like ours to keep asking questions. Don’t let them go unanswered. Get a qualified lawyer to look into your case and don’t give up hope.