Warning: This story contains details and images of child loss, which may be triggering to some.
1 in 100 babies is born still every year. Like most women, Katie Spinks never thought she would be that 1 in 100 statistic. Not once, but twice.
In 2021, Katie gave birth to two babies, both possibly born still due to a previous birth injury.
Katie shared her heartbreaking story in the hopes that other women who have been a victim of medical malpractice find the strength to speak out.
You learn to live with the pain
As Katie writes,
Losing a child is the most physically and mentally painful event any human can go through, and it does not get easier with time – you just learn to live with the pain.”
However, for Katie, the most painful thing about losing her two daughters is coming to terms with the fact that the losses may have stemmed from medical malpractice.
In January 2020, before Emmy, before Meadow, Katie gave birth to her fourth child, also a girl, named Jolene. Her birth was incredibly traumatic and, as Katie explains, is possibly the reason for her body’s inability to carry her babies to term.
As Katie explains, she was scheduled for an induction on 1 January 2020. Up until the day, she’d been so excited but something that felt off the moment she arrived at the hospital.
My husband and I both just felt very uneasy, the air was thick, and our intuitions just kept trying to warn us something was off.
Neither of us could figure out why. We just knew something wasn’t right.”
Katie went ahead with the induction and things were progressing smoothly until she hit 8 or 9 cm. That’s when things started to go downhill for both Katie and her daughter.
It started with a shooting, stabbing pain in her abdomen, followed by a dip in the baby’s heart rate. Katie, who has three other children, knew her body and knew this pain wasn’t normal. However, the nurses dismissed it.
When Katie felt the need to push, there wasn’t a doctor nearby so she was told to hold the baby in.
When the doctor arrived, it was someone Katie had never seen before but she followed the doctor’s lead, despite being in intense pain and knowing something was wrong inside.
With every push, I would pass out. The nurse held an oxygen mask over my face so hard it was making me vomit in the mask. The doctor proceeded to try and vacuum my child out – three times, it didn’t work.
I eventually just passed out and didn’t wake back up. They called an emergency c-section.
When I woke back up, four hours later, all I remember is the pain. I was in SO much pain and I was shaking from head to toe.”
Without oxygen for 47 minutes
Katie and her husband, Robbie, were then informed about what exactly had happened during the birth.
Katie had a complete uterine rupture in the spot where she felt a stabbing pain. This occurs when all three layers of the uterus: the endometrium (inner epithelial layer), myometrium (smooth muscle layer), and perimetrium (serosal outer surface) split.
The uterine rupture tore her placenta completely and her baby was found in her abdominal cavity, dead.
I had internally bled out and needed almost an entire body’s worth of a blood transfusion, along with a four-hour surgery to repair all the internal damage.”
As for Jolene, she had been inside the abdominal cavity without oxygen for 47 minutes.
When they got to her, she was purple from head to toe. It took almost two hours and multiple rounds of CPR to get her stable enough to transfer her to the highest level NICU, an hour away.”
‘It tore my family apart’
Jolene spent the next 68 days in NICU undergoing cooling procedures, MRIs, surgeries, multiple tests, over 1000 needle sticks and multiple rounds of code blue. She spent every single day fighting.
The NICU stay is honestly still way too hard for me to type about. It tore my family apart.
My older kids lived with their friends for 68 days. For 68 days I didn’t sleep. For 68 days I cried on the bathroom floor every day. For 68 days I watched my baby fight harder than any child should ever have to fight. To this day, it still tears me apart.”
Any parent who has spent time in the NICU knows how hard it is to watch their baby fight. But, for Katie, what really killed her was the fact that it could possibly have been avoided.
Had that nurse just called an emergency when I told her something was wrong, my baby would have a working brain.”
‘Light of our family’
Jolene now lives with severe global brain damage, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, hypertonia, global developmental delay, feeding tube dependent, severe dysphagia, and a list of other disabilities.
She is 2 years old but is mentally a 4-month-old baby. I am her caretaker. I am responsible for her 24/7. She can’t walk, talk, sit, stand, crawl, eat, or do anything she should be doing.
It’s terrifying, but I love her endlessly and I would give my life for her.
She is the absolute light of our family. She has changed all of us for the better and made us such a close family. It’s still hard some days to know her life shouldn’t be this way, but she wears it so well.”
Katie spent the first year of Jolene’s life getting used to this new role. However, she and Robbie also decided to expand their family. They were due with another little girl in May 2021!
In January 2021, just one year after Jolene’s traumatic birth, Katie went into spontaneous labour. She was around the 17-week mark of her pregnancy.
Katie immediately went to hospital but it was too late.
My uterus, again, was tearing undetected, and not only was I in labour, but I was in septic shock. My baby had already died and I was on my way out as well.
I had to deliver my little girl and immediately after that, I was in surgery to repair. This time was a lot easier, I woke up in no physical pain, but mentally, I was dead.”
It was during the surgery that Katie discovered her birth injury from a year ago was the cause of her stillbirth.
The doctor who did my surgery didn’t sew me together right. My uterus was sewn in half and wasn’t near strong enough to carry another full-term pregnancy.”
After the surgery, Katie was able to see her daughter, Emmy and say goodbye.
As soon as they brought her in, the room just got so cold and I knew my life would never be the same.
I spent 3 days in recovery and I kept her by my side the entire time. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do, to go home empty-handed. We went home empty-handed with Jolene, but this was different.”
Fast forward a few weeks later and Katie got pregnant again. But this time, through the excitement there was a sense of terror. Katie had two doctor appointments every week to make sure her baby, another girl, was okay.
Until one day, at around the 18 week mark, Katie felt the familiar pangs of labour and knew it was happening again.
When I got to the hospital, I was in so much pain it was almost unbearable. The baby was still alive so I had some hope. After 2 hours, they told me there was nothing they could do except keep me comfortable enough to deliver.
When it was finally time to deliver her, I had the most heartless doctor. She told me she had babies to deliver and since mine was dying, I needed to make it quick. I felt so violated and abused.”
Meadow Maye joined her sister, Emmy in heaven and, again Katie was left with a cold room and a baby she wouldn’t be able to bring home.
I spent the next 24 hours willingly alone with my baby, just sobbing until I gave her to the nurse and just walked out. I couldn’t be there anymore. Listening to all the newborns crying. It killed me inside.
Telling my kids, again, that God took another sister, was another blow to my heart. It was awful. It’s still awful.”
After Meadow, Katie had a complete hysterectomy.
I couldn’t risk putting myself and my family through that again. We wanted a large family, we wanted a lot of kids. It hurts to have to close that chapter, but we can’t change what happened. We have to keep moving forward.”
Katie openly admits that the past two years have been an absolute struggle, starting with Jolene’s birth and the medical malpractice that occurred that day.
Katie struggles, her kids’ struggle, her husband struggles:
[My kids] miss their sisters, they don’t understand. I can’t sleep most nights, I stand in the living room just staring at their urns, wondering who they would’ve been.
The only thing that has helped me is sharing my journey through social media. I love advocating for all my girls and myself after all we’ve been through. If my stories can comfort just one person, then I know I’ve done everything for a purpose.”
You can follow Katie’s updates on Instagram.