'He's half out of me and half inside me and he can't breathe'

'He's half out of me and half inside me and he can't breathe' »Play Video
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Watch KVAL.com and KVAL News at 5 on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday for more on midwives in Oregon and legislative efforts to require licenses.

ASTORIA, Ore. - On August 4, 2009, Mindy and Phillip Bizzell were in the middle of a nightmare; Mindy Bizzell was laboring with their second child in the back seat of their car, with Phillip behind the wheel.

"We get on the Astoria Bridge, which is a 4.5 mile-long bridge, and the baby is being born on the bridge," said Mindy Bizzell.

But baby Henry was feet first, something the Bizzells say their midwife never checked for at any point. So in the middle of labor, Henry got stuck.

"He's half out of me and half inside me and he can't breathe," explained Bizzell.

When they finally got to the hospital, it took a doctor three tries to extract Henry with forceps. After CPR, Henry's little heart starting beating again, but only for 3.5 more days.

"We removed him from life support because he was, he had no brain activity. So he was gone," said Bizzell.

The Bizzell's midwife -- Tamy Roloff -- is licensed in Washington, not in Oregon, but practices in both states.

"We put our trust in her, we expected a level of care, I think we expected a level of care similar to what we had at a hospital. We weren't educated enough between the differences betweeo those two things," said Mindy Bizzell.

Because Roloff is unlicensed in Oregon, the Bizzells have no recourse after Henry's death, no consequences for the midwife, or even an investigation. A year after the death, the Bizzells gave birth to a daughter, but she could never replace their son.

"We always have a missing seat at the table, forever," she said.

Kristine Andrews' story is different; she walked away from her birth with her son. But he is disabled, which she blames in part on her midwives from Motherwise in Bend.

Andrews said her midwives didn't take her medical tests seriously, like when her blood pressure soard at the end of her pregnancy.

"They said 'no, you're fine, we just want you to eat a cucumber every day,'" remembered Andrews.

On the night her contractions started, Andrews said the licensed midwife with her at the time (Motherwise has a number of midwives on staff) was distracted by her own baby. That midwife sent her home, saying she had a urinary tract infection. Immense pain brought her back to Motherwise clinic that night.

The next day, when Abel was finally born, he wasn't breathing.

Andrews said the midwives, licensed and unlicensed both, didn't know what to do with a newborn that wasn't breathing.

"They just had the look on their face of like trying to remember what they'd read in a book somewhere, like 'umm, what do we do now?'"

After frantic 911 calls, the baby went to the hospital. Doctors warned, because Abel had gone so long without oxygen during labor, he might be brain damaged. The official diagnosis came a year later: cerebral palsy.

"They didn't know if he'll be able to walk, they don't know if he'll be able to talk, they don't know if he'll be able to sit up, he can't do that now still."

Andrews said she blames her midwives for ignoring warning signs during pregnancy and labor. Now, Andrews, her husband, and Abel take like one day at a time.

"This is a lifetime of hardship for our son," said Andrews. "I worry that he won't forgive us for making that choice."

Tamy Roloff, the Bizzell's midwife, said she did not want to comment on the story. She told KVAL News she is currently not practicing as a midwife. The owner of Motherwise in Bend said she was "unable to comment" on the story.

To read more about Abel Andrews, visit http://www.weareabel.org/index.html.