A Dublin woman has wondered how her perfectly formed baby, born four years ago after a normal pregnancy at Dublin’s Rotunda Maternity Hospital, died within half an hour of birth.
Emma McEvoy wept openly at an inquest today as she recalled the events surrounding the birth of her first child, Molly, who died on July 14, 2018, after what she described as “the best pregnancy ever”.
An inquiry by the Dublin Borough Coroner found that Rotunda medical staff had attempted to resuscitate the little girl when they were diagnosed with breathing problems almost immediately after delivery, but efforts were halted after 25 minutes.
Ms McEvoy, 32, of Casement Road, Finglas, who went on to give birth to a baby girl and triplets, proved that Molly’s caesarean delivery was uncomplicated.
“She looked good and shook a little,” she recalled. “For me, I had made it over the finish line.”
Fighting back tears, she added, “It makes no sense for a baby to be born perfect and then die.”
Ms McEvoy, who took a photo of Molly and her teddy bear to the witness stand, said she thought it was her fault her baby died before discovering months later that Molly had pneumonia and could not be revived.
She said she was never told by the Rotunda doctors how her baby contracted the infection.
Ms McEvoy also said she should have been treated with antibiotics after telling a midwife in the rotunda that her waters had ruptured around 29 hours before Molly was born.
When she arrived at the hospital on the morning of July 13, 2018 – the day before Molly’s birth when she was nine days overdue – she said a midwife didn’t believe her waters had broken after she noticed a cream-colored discharge got what was “strange and worrisome”.
She recalled being told by the midwife, who was “really reckless,” that the discharge didn’t mean anything and her water wasn’t leaking.
However, Ms McEvoy said she was told to go for a walk and come back an hour after a test to check if her membranes had ruptured and showed “a faint positive”.
She was told that two midwives believed she was leaking water while two other midwives were unsure.
Ms McEvoy said a second test after she returned to hospital was negative, prompting the same midwife to comment: “Look, I told you your water wasn’t leaking.”
She told coroner Cróna Gallagher that she told herself “they know best” and returned home “confused and frustrated” and angry at having been “fobbed off”.
“I knew being sent home felt wrong,” she noted.
The inquest found she was told to take paracetamol and stay home as long as possible before her scheduled admission three days later when she turned to the rotunda at 7pm that evening with “severe stabbing pains” in her stomach .
Ms McEvoy decided to return to the hospital just after 10:30pm when she thought her labor had started.
She said the midwife, who saw her returning to the rotunda, believed her her waters had ruptured earlier that day.
Ms McEvoy said she continued to throw up until her baby was born around noon the next day, when a midwife jumped out from behind a sheet “holding our precious little girl”.
“She looked bigger and more beautiful than we ever imagined,” she added.
Ms McEvoy said she wasn’t worried in the immediate seconds after Molly was born, but she and her husband Joe had been advised that the baby might not cry immediately and don’t be scared.
However, she said they were then told doctors were “working on her,” though she “still couldn’t imagine in a million years that she wouldn’t be alive.”
“The thought never crossed my mind. I had the healthiest pregnancy – what could go wrong?” said Ms McEvoy.
After what felt like an eternity, she said a doctor informed the couple that “she couldn’t make it.”
“The rest of the day was a blur and our lives changed forever,” she noted.
A pathologist, Anna Doyle, who performed a post-mortem, said Molly died of congenital pneumonia after inhaling infected amniotic fluid from her mother’s uterus.
dr Doyle said the most likely cause of the infection was “after weighing the probabilities” when Ms McEvoy’s membranes ruptured.
The pathologist said she couldn’t say exactly when the infection started, but it was likely “at least hours to days”.
She agreed with McEvoy family attorney Roger Murray SC that the longer Ms McEvoy’s ruptured membranes were not treated with antibiotics, the greater the risk of infection.
dr Doyle also agreed with Rotunda attorney Conor Halpin SC that she was not surprised that baby Molly was difficult to resuscitate given the severe congestion in her lungs.
The inquest found extensive evidence from several Rotunda doctors about their efforts to resuscitate the little girl, while Mr Murray claimed several hospital policies relating to newborn resuscitation were not being followed.
A neonatology registrar, Neidin Bussmann, agreed with Mr Murray that the guidelines should activate an emergency baby collapse beeper after 30 seconds if a newborn’s heart rate was below 100 beats per minute or if the infant was not breathing.
The investigation found evidence that the alarm was not activated until two to three minutes after Molly was born.
Consulting neonatologist David Corcoran said Molly’s death was a devastating loss for Ms McEvoy and her family in a “truly unusual situation” after her condition deteriorated rapidly following her delivery.
dr Corcoran said staff at the hospital are very experienced and have “an extremely high” rate of successful resuscitation of babies with a difficult birth.
The consultant said medical staff took every step possible to resuscitate Molly, including intubating and ventilating and administering medication.
dr Corcoran said doctors were unaware at the time that the baby had a serious lung infection.
He told the inquest that what happened was “extremely rare” and he could not recall a similar death in a full-term baby in his work experience.
The inquiry has been adjourned and will resume tomorrow morning.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/courts/i-had-the-healthiest-pregnancy-what-could-possibly-go-wrong-devastated-mum-still-left-with-questions-over-babys-death-42125831.html “I had the healthiest pregnancy, what could go wrong?” – Devastated mum still has questions over baby’s death