Childbirth. It’s lovely in theory, a precious moment where tiny humans first enter the world full of promise and possibility. We often call it a miracle. After all, this is the beginning of a new person, so that's not a bad choice of words.
Of course, it’s also painful, pretty gross, complicated, and probably lengthy. The lengthiest, torture-iest miracle around. And that’s when everything goes according to plan.
See, despite it being 2015, there are still horror stories aplenty from the world of childbirth. Tragedies great and small, all ruining that special day when (hopefully) a loving family welcomes a new member of the family. Some are accidents, and others are just unavoidable quirks of genetics, but all of them are awful.
Here are a few of the choicest horrifying childbirth stories around. If you’re expecting, take solace in the fact that these are not the norm.
Warning: Graphic content
10 A Man Found His Wife Dead And Alone In The Hospital After Giving Birth
Liu Hsiung and his wife, Zhang Chun, went to the hospital to have their baby. There were complications, which isn’t in itself a giant shock. However, Hsiung was kept completely in the dark, which isn’t so common. Finally, after waiting for hours, he managed to get in to see his wife. But he found her dead, and alone on the operating table.
According to the Daily Mail, the hospital claims there were complications caused by Chun’s refusal to get a caesarean. Why was she left alone on an operating table? The hospital simply said “We admit that not everything went as it should have done in this case,” which might be one of the biggest understatements of all time.
As of 2014, Hsiung was negotiating compensation with the hospital.
9 A Healthy Baby Became Brain Damaged Because Of Negligence
The regular refrain from expecting parents is that they don’t really care what the gender of their baby is, just so long as it’s healthy. Surely the parents of Vasili Kalisperas were pleased as punch when not only was their baby born healthy, but everything had gone so well that Vasili and his parents were able to leave the hospital an hour after delivery. The baby had a bit of jaundice, but about 60 percent of babies do. Nothing to worry about.
That is, unless the jaundice worsens to the point that the baby gets permanent brain damage. Jaundice is something to worry about when it presents itself within 24 hours of birth, which, in this case, it did.
Thing is, as The Daily Mail reports, the midwife sent to check on him the next day didn't raise the alarm, and so he wasn't brought back in for care. Now a baby that could have remained healthy can’t walk, or see, or hear.
8 A Home Birth Ended In Avoidable Tragedy
Despite humanity’s longstanding mission to establish safe places to receive medical treatment, there’s a big home birthing movement out there. You know, for people who would rather not deliver their baby in a place where doctors are. Thing is, there’s a crucial difference between your home and a hospital. When childbirth goes wrong in your home, you have to go to the hospital.
Or, in the case of Caroline Lovell, you bleed out in your home while midwives watch you. According to The Age, this happened after she told them that she needed to go to a hospital, and that she thought she was dying.
Post-partum hemorrhaging is not unheard of, so the midwives, who were trained, should have been able to spot the trouble and get Lovell to a hospital. Instead, they waited until she became “unresponsive” before getting an ambulance sent over, and Lovell died in the hospital later that night.
7 A Newborn Was Decapitated By A Doctor
Typically, we think of decapitation as a thing involving guillotines or try-hard zombie hunters with katanas. Doctors decapitating babies just aren’t part of the equation. Understandably, the parents of the newborn that was victim to this weren’t thrilled when it happened.
In 2011, Arteisha Betts was scheduled to deliver her child via caesarean, as the fetus had a larger abdomen than was considered normal. The physician who was handling the birth, Dr. Gilbert Webb, decided trying a traditional vaginal delivery was a better idea. When the baby’s head made it out but the body remained stuck, the doctor tried to pull the baby out... and decapitated it. And then he shoved it back into the birth canal to deliver it via caesarean. Seriously.
Unsurprisingly, the couple decided to sue.
6 An Irish Baby Was Decapitated While Being Delivered
Any infant death is a terrible thing, but decapitation is (was) an unimaginable nightmare. It’s just so brutal. The fact that this has happened more than once is absolutely terrifying.
According to IrishCentral, in 2013, Patrick McCormick’s girlfriend Louise went to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, where they were told their baby had very low odds of survival because of “trapped fluid in his stomach.”
That didn’t prepare them for the horror that lay ahead. Their child’s head separated from his body mid-birth. It’s unclear what the cause of the incident was, but the couple claim that they had “repeatedly asked for a caesarean throughout the pregnancy,” and demanded an investigation of the circumstances that led to the tragic accident.
5 A Water Birth Gone Wrong Led To Brain Damage
Water births are another trend nowadays, this one, naturally, involving the baby getting delivered into a pool of water. It’s meant to be a calming experience, and the water can offer an amount of support to the woman who is delivering, helping prevent tearing and pain.
Thing is, it’s not proven to be safe, and bad things happen when it goes wrong. In 2011, a water birth process was used to deliver Luca Marino. Unfortunately, there were complications with delivery, and so, according to The Oregonian, “Luca Marino now has cerebral palsy, hearing problems and other serious disabilities, and will need lifelong care.“
His parents are now suing the Legacy Health System for $35 million and to get water births banned in those hospitals.
4 A Midwife Didn’t Show Up And The Baby Died
Some people don’t go in for doctors. Maybe they’re put off by medical degrees and state of the art equipment. Not so with Emma Kilby and Paul Gent. They so wanted to give birth in a hospital that they moved specifically so that they could be close to one. The hospital, though, recommended they enroll in its midwife program, and so they did – presumably with the expectation that a midwife would show up for the birth. When the first one didn’t, they contacted the hospital, which promised another was en route.
Unfortunately, the baby was born before they arrived. According to The Herald Sun, by the time the midwife arrived, baby Chloe required resuscitation. She died in the hospital days later.
3 A(nother) Newborn Was Decapitated By A Doctor
Yup, turns out there are several doctors stupid enough to decapitate an infant while it’s being born. We’re talking people with medical degrees.
Maria Viera Alcilne Amoin of Brazil was giving birth to a 14 pound baby boy whose shoulders got stuck in the birthing canal. Once again, the doctor’s reflex, apparently, was to give the baby a yank. According to The Huffington Post, the head was separated from the baby’s body and the mother had to be rushed to surgery “to remove the child’s body from her pelvis.”
The hospital claims the fetus was dead before the head was removed, and that the head was removed because it was the only way to get the body out of the mother.
2 Yet Another Newborn Was Decapitated At Birth
Apparently birthing decapitations are a thing. A horrifying, nightmare-inducing thing.
This one is from back in 2006. According to AZ Central, doctors had used a string, called a “cerclage,” to keep Micheatria Donelson’s cervix closed and hold off the birth for a while. When it came time to deliver the child, the cerclage was allegedly forgotten, and the baby was decapitated when its head was caught on the string and the doctor pulled to get the baby out.
Doctor Joseph Bilotta contests that assertion, saying it would not be possible to deliver the child through the string. Just a run-of-the-mill decapitation, then.
Unsurprisingly, the two doctors involved in the case were ordered to pay Donelson $1.4 million in damages. As of 2011, Donelson claimed to continue to suffer from panic attacks and depression.
1 A Baby Died Because There Was No Anaesthetist On Duty
Caesareans shouldn’t be a first choice for childbirth, but when necessary, they are literal life savers. Sure, they’re surgery, and that comes with a number of risks, but the trade-off is far worse. Take the unfortunate story of Clare Russell. The Mirror explains that she was unable to receive proper care simply because she went into labour late at night, when there was no anaesthetist on duty at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital. No anaesthetist meant no caesarean, and so when her son Dylan’s umbilical cord wrapped around him while he was being delivered, there was nothing that could be done in time to save him.
The lack of anaesthetist was thanks to budget restrictions by Britain’s NHS, which, according to Belinda Phipps of the National Childbirth Trust, made this understaffing a scarily common phenomenon back when this incident occurred in 2003 – and even when the Mirror wrote about the incident in 2009.