A C-Section Without Anesthesia? It Happened to a California Couple, and Almost to Us Too!

happy-grandparentsMany of you know that Laury gave birth to our third grandchild, a wonderful, healthy baby boy this week. He was delivered by Caesarian section in the late night-early morning hours by mutual consent of Laury and her obstetrician, with the hospital anesthesia department doing its magic to ensure the procedure be as painless as possible (I know that’s easy for a man to say!) Mother, father, baby and grandparents are all doing well.

Apparently, the same cannot be said for a couple from California. In an article earlier this month in Money Magazine the couple claim that an emergency C-section was performed on the mom without anesthesia, with nurses holding her down as she screamed in pain. She is now eight months post-delivery and says she “did not feel connected with my daughter. I was really depressed and my stomach took a lot longer to heal. I couldn’t take care of her by myself at first.”

Not surprisingly, a medical malpractice lawsuit is underway. The hospital denies the allegations and states that pre-surgical anesthesia was administered. It sounds unlikely to me that a surgical procedure was begun without any anesthetic. Maybe she already had an epidural catheter with pain medication flowing. I may never know the whole story, but Laury’s delivery and the California couple’s story do bring back memories…

The birth of our son Michael was not exactly textbook. Barb’s pregnancy was fairly uneventful, but as she progressed well beyond her due date, we and her obstetrician Dr. B., fresh from a conference on post-term births, became a bit concerned. When an ultrasound demonstrated a marked decrease in amniotic fluid Barb was admitted for further testing and observation. A fetal scalp monitor was put in place and we were lulled by the steady beep-beep of Michael’s intra-uterine heart.

Until the beat wasn’t quite so steady. As the heart rate decelerated Dr. B. rushed to Barb’s side and blurted, “We’ve got to get that baby out. Now!!” He ripped off his tie and shirt in a move so dramatic I expected to see that he was wearing a Superman costume beneath his clothes.  “Get her to the OR, no time to lose.”

And then, my medical training stepping to the fore, I mumbled to Dr. B., “Shouldn’t she have some anesthesia?” The good doctor recovered his equilibrium long enough to tell the nursing staff to call the Anesthesia Department. The in-house anesthesiologist arrived quickly, and by the time both Barb and I were taken into the OR, I was the only one of the two of us awake. Michael was delivered and whisked off to the nursery and I was banished to the waiting room (Tigers 3, White Sox 2) while the surgical team stitched Barb back up.

I suppose that sooner or later someone besides me would have reminded Dr. B. to make that call. I doubt he really would have made the first incision without the anesthesiologist having things well in control.

But anytime Barb gets a little angry at me I can always remind her that I was the one who kept her from going under the knife, wide awake. That’s worth quite a few brownie points, don’t you think?
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