May vs The Hospital

This might make you angry. If you’re a midwife.

Posted on Nov 27, 2012 | 14 comments

This might make you angry. If you’re a midwife.

300 doctors in a room = polite applause (and a few shouts of “Bravo! Bravo!” Okay, I made that last bit up.) 1 post where I question why anyone would choose a home birth over a hospital = reader RAGE Admittedly, I don’t get it. It seems far too risky to me, during a very risky event: birth. If your toddler stopped breathing, where would you choose to be located: in your living room or in a hospital? Every single parent, in the entire world, would choose the hospital. I can’t imagine putting myself or my baby at risk, even if it was only a 15 minute ambulance journey to the hospital from my home. 15 minutes is a long time when your baby has stopped breathing, or you won’t stop bleeding. Having said that, I’m still reading the research to discover if my opinions have any basis in fact. And – let me tell you – it is hard to find research that is conclusive or unbiased about this issue. Of course, because of what happened to May, midwife-led births make me nervous. Not the midwives themselves, but the fact that there is no team to consult, no life-saving equipment, no hospital and all the resources there. I continue to believe that in a hospital, my infection would have been treated sooner. That, in and of itself, may have saved May. If you want to throw tomatoes at me about it, here’s what I said: Clearly, not all midwives are bad; all doctors aren’t necessarily good. But medical science has come a long way, and the drive away from doctors and the safety mechanisms of a hospital, by many soon-to-be-parents, is one I find completely baffling. I agree with Carol Sarler, writing in The Daily Mail this week, that doctor-led births are not promoted and the reasons why are pretty shocking. As she says, “for the NHS, it’s cheaper, on its current costings: a home birth averages £1,066, a  midwife-led unit birth £1,450 and a hospital birth £1,631. So, seemingly for the sake of a measly few hundred quid, misinformation is routinely delivered and anti-obstetric philosophy deliberately spread.” The phrase birth choice is batted around, with many mothers feeling their choice is stigmatised or refused. For me, there didn’t seem to be a birth choice. I arrived at my local GP’s surgery, pregnant, and they referred me on to their attached midwife clinic. I was a nervous first time mother, but the midwife leading their birthing classes shrugged off my worries as silly. She was as stereotypical as you can get: a hippy who spoke lowly of pain relief and, while she kept insisting that we could have the birth we wanted, promoted heavily their home birth service, calling contractions a “bit of discomfort”. “You may feel like you are about to die,” she once said, “but pain never killed anyone.” Maybe not, but birth can. Romantising it, or glamoursing it, or even shrugging it off as a natural process can not escape the fact that until very recently, birth killed. It still is the biggest killer of teenage girls worldwide. Why isn’t it in the UK? Hospitals.  There’s more. You can read the full article on the BabyCentre...

Read More

May vs The Hosptial, Part 2: The waiting game

Posted on Oct 17, 2012 | 3 comments

May vs The Hosptial, Part 2: The waiting game

A year ago, this week, a solicitor visited us to hear our version of the events leading to May’s brain damage. It was harrowing saying aloud all the moments that continue to torment me. All the more trying because I know it will, most likely, all be for naught. The process is long partially, I think, to put people off doing it. A year on and no further progress? Having to ask and then reask and then ask again when the hospital doesn’t provide all the documentation they should? These are not fun conversations, especially when you know that proving anything will be near impossible even if you get the documentation. Still, two weeks ago, I asked for an update. And, not unexpectedly, there is no update. The experts are still examining the documentation of which there are hundreds, possibly over a thousand, sheets of paper. And yet, strangely, I still have hope that they will uncover something. I walked past a house today, on the way to pick up May from nursery. It had been renovated so that a disabled person could live in it. A modest house, with a ramp leading to wide front doors. Along the sides of the ramp, were new planted flowers. I sighed. How wonderful it would be to know that May’s future was secure and that we had the means to make a house like this, her home for life. The waiting game...

Read More

May vs The Hospital: Part 1, Missing information

Posted on May 20, 2012 | 11 comments

Last autumn, my husband and I sat down with a lawyer to instruct him to open an investigation into May’s birth. The only cases I’ve heard of going through, and I do know personally of a couple, are ones where the hospital admitted fault from the very day it happened. The moment of wrongdoing was that obvious. We can think all we want that the birth did go wrong; unless the lawyer can prove it, forget it. In our household, even with our beliefs that things did go wrong, an investigation will probably not uncover that one terrible moment. As if there is one moment, I believe there are several. But, cases like May’s are notoriously difficult to prove. So, why do it? I want a bit of peace. I want it over. I want to know something, anything about those days that I don’t know already that will tell me why my baby was hurt so badly. Not having an answer, or even an inkling, is hard. It is really hard. Indescribable. Yesterday, I received our first letter from the lawyer about the investigations so far. How long did I stare at that thin envelope? How long did I stand in my hallway with Ieuan crying for me upstairs, as he waited for me to return? Inside, the lawyer sent a copy of his letter to the hospital explaining that the records they sent him were incomplete. Where was the report regarding their investigations? Or, the results of that investigation? In that moment, on the stairs, I realized I’d never seen them either. There were other missing items as well; incomplete records from my personal hospital records and May’s. But, what does this mean? Does it mean they are lying or incompetent? Evasive or just plain lazy? Perhaps it is nothing, an accident or oversight. We will know more once those blanks are filled in. Months will pass before they are. Full investigations into May’s birth will take a long time. Maybe a year, or more. All the while:...

Read More