"I could never forget that night... there are still parts of that dreaded experience that are a blur to me and yet there are memories that seem so clear, they come to me at any given moment on any day. Sometimes they haunt me. Sometimes they come like a storm or a hurricane that destroys and shakes my world to pieces. How else can I describe this pain? How can I verbalize something that hurts every part of who you are, body and soul? I have cried so many tears, I have made my own river… and that river has taken me to places I never imagined, beautiful places, scary places, places that I use to fear, places that I’m thankful for and places I have yet to go to.
Meah died on March 6th 2006. The words that are etched in my heart, the words that hurt more than anything I could ever have known until that time were said to my husband as I lay on a cold stretcher in the operating room of the hospital. I did not know it at the time, but I was close to bleeding to death. I remember looking at the doctor walking towards my husband with a look of absolute pain and heartbreak.
‘I’m so sorry Curtis’, he said as his voice broke with sadness for what he had to tell him.
‘… there was no heartbeat’.
I remember the feeling of, ‘no, it can’t be’ and I looked at my dear husband as he put his head in his hands and just cried and cried. The sound of that cry I could never forget, it comes from another place in us. Perhaps it is primal. I don’t know, but it stays with me. To this day, it is with me. My heart felt shattered and the shock of what ‘was’ must have caused the doctors give me more medication to put me back into unconsciousness. I was already under general anesthesia I hardly understand how I woke in that moment. Perhaps it was a knowing that Meah’s spirit had left her body, perhaps it was her spirit that opened my eyes. Who knows, but the very next memory I have is waking to my family and friends all around me, crying as my baby girl was put in my arms for the first time. She was beautiful. She had dark fuzzy hair and the most perfect little lips. I remember how seemingly wrong this was. Her hands and her feet were exactly like mine. Her little chest for some reason reminded me of a little bird. I touched her little body and felt a love so big, it literally tore me apart to know she was gone. I remember not being able to get sound out… like when you’re a child and a ball has hit you in the stomach so hard, you are winded or you are in so much shock of what has happened you simply have no breath and it takes time before you can get enough air in you to cry. That was what happened for what felt like minutes only I imagine it was probably seconds. I can hardly describe the feeling of holding your child, lifeless in your arms. I just remember thinking, ‘no, this isn’t, this can’t be… this must be a nightmare’, only you begin to realize it’s real.
My labor had been induced with the drug called Cytotec. I was never told anything about this drug or the dangers of inducing labor with it. I trusted my doctor and trusted that inducing early would make my delivery easier and safer. I was told that my baby was large and that inducing a week early might prevent a c-section as she'd be smaller and easier to deliver. A larger baby could mean complications and so against my best intuition that made my stomach feel unsettled and against that little voice within that kept saying, 'don't induce...wait...just wait', I agreed to go to the hospital the following Monday for an induction.
The day went by slowly and there was nothing much happening until the afternoon. My contractions began to intensify, the nurse broke my water and I was given a second dose of cytotec. This is when everything went downhill.
Contractions became more and more painful and indeed, they became so very violent, I felt as though I had no control whatsoever!!! My contractions were literally on top of each other and I could hardly rest or take a moment between contractions to breath. It felt extremely chaotic and very wrong. It felt as though no one understood what was happening. It felt like one of those nightmares when you are trying to scream but no one can hear you. I felt alone in my fear and I was aware that I had no control in anyway. I had a deep knowing this was all going to end terribly wrong but no one would take seriously my pleas for a c-section. At least not until it was too late!
I could never describe the intense unbearable pain of what I was feeling physically, only that it was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. I had an epidural and yet It felt as though a knife had torn my insides to shreds and I could feel every bit of it... it was an intense burning pain that made me want to pass out. I felt fear in my heart and in my soul like I've never felt before. This wasn't normal labor pain. Something was terribly wrong!!! This was most likely when my uterus tore in two places and my daughter's placenta tore away from my uterine wall. This was probably when she fell out of my uterus and into my abdomen! My chest felt as though a hundred bricks were pressing on top of me and I could not breath. The searing pain on my left intensified to the point that it was unbearable. I could not move, I could only get the urgent, frantic words out of my mouth 'knock me out, please...please... just knock me out'.
It was only after loosing my daughter in this traumatic way, almost dying myself and dealing with intense emotional and physical pain did I learn the truth about induced labor with Cytotec and other inducing agents. I never knew that the company Searl that makes the Ulcer drug sent a letter to the FDA warning about the dangers of this drug’s use on pregnant women for induction of labor stating that,
'Serious adverse events reported following off-label use of Cytotec in pregnant women to include maternal or fetal death, uterine hyper-stimulation, rupture or perforation requiring uterine surgical repair, hysterectomy or salpingo-oophorectomy, amniotic fluid embolism, severe vaginal bleeding, retained placenta, shock, fetal bradycardia and pelvic pain.'
I share my story so that women may learn from my experience. I did not know then what I do now but with that knowing, I ask that you take the time to educate yourself of all the options available and that you learn the risks of an induced labor. Learn the dangers of cytotec for I am one of hundreds if not thousands of women who have been affected by this drug. It pains my heart and I become so very angry, every time I hear of a new death associated with Cytotec. Almost 5 years later, I am still plagued by the memories, the pain and the trauma of that dreaded day. I will never stop hurting for the loss of my baby daughter Meah who died as a result of the improper use of Cytotec and the inability for my doctor to recognize those life threatening signs in a timely matter.
This should never have happened to me or to anyone else and so it is my hope that as I continue to share my story, women become more aware of the dangers of medical interventions and instead trust their bodies to do what they have been doing for thousands of years.
Blessings and love,
The night Meah died and the dangers of an induced labor with Cytotec.