Kate Austin-Rivas and her husband Didier Rivas have struggled with getting pregnant.
“I had had miscarriages previously and I had a stillborn the year prior,” Austin-Rivas said.
The Coquitlam was thrilled to welcome their first daughter, Elle, six years ago. Then in 2013, they got pregnant again. Austin-Rivas carried the baby to term.
“We went in for the delivery and it was basically a situation where anything that could go wrong, went wrong,” she said. “She was born with severe oxygen deprivation, which resulted in cerebral palsy, the worst they’d ever seen. My uterus ruptured during the delivery.”
Austin-Rivas was on the brink of death, so was their newborn daughter, Ireland. For a month, it was touch and go. Kate survived. Ireland did not. She passed away November 14.
A doctor at New Westminster’s Royal Columbian Hospital apologized and said a cascade of complications occurred. The couple has launched a lawsuit against the hospital, Fraser Health, four doctors and a nurse.
“We still replay the images on a daily basis. It’s something that we’ll never forget,” Rivas said.
Over the past three years, the family has done a lot of healing. Last year, Austin-Rivas reached out on social media and their lives were changed.
“I just took a chance and posted my story just to kind of educate people about what happens and what goes on out there. I had a few responses from surrogates.”
One of those surrogates was Christine Hale.
“It touched me, and I really empathized with them.”
Hale offered to act as a surrogate for the couple. Here is how she explained her decision to her three children.
“I explained that Kate’s tummy was broken and that my tummy works fine,” she said. “I wanted to help her out so the doctor was going to take their baby as an egg and put it into my tummy.”
Four weeks ago, Kate and Didier got a call telling them their baby was coming early. They were there when their daughter Scarlett was born.
Mixed in with joy of a new birth is the pain of their loss. They say the lawsuit is their way of making sure no other family has to experience the grief of losing a baby.
– With files from Randene Neill