My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:15,16

Then Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"
John 11:40
See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands… Isaiah 49:16a

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Zoe's Birth Part 2

The OB/GYN was very kind and sympathetic, apologizing for our loss more than once. He quietly talked to us a bit about what we were facing, asked me some questions and told me he would examine me to see if I was dilated. With many tears and my heart aching, I climbed onto the bed. After examining me, he determined that I was not yet dilated, but something was definitely happening as far as the bleeding was concerned. He said because there was no way for them to predict how long it would take for the baby to come, that I could wait at home until we were closer. My husband and I agreed that we would go home and wait. He again said he was sorry for our loss and that if we had any questions we could call. We went out into the hall after I got dressed. The same nurse who had escorted us in then asked me to follow her back into the room. She said she needed to take my blood pressure. She got out the blood pressure cuff and at that point she did say she was sorry about our loss and if we had any questions to call.

While she was doing my blood pressure, with what sounded like annoyance in her voice, she said "Now when you come back in to deliver, you need to go to Emerg. DO NOT (strong emphasis was put on these words) come back to Women's Health because you will get sent back down again and we wouldn't want you to have to be shifted between departments now would we." She put things away and then again, before I walked out the door, she repeated " Make sure you go to Emerg, you do not need to come up here when you return." Again, it was not so much the words that she used, but the tone with which she said them.

I felt very much like she did not want me on her ward, even though the situation I was dealing with seemed to belong there. That is where women go to deliver a baby after all. I left there feeling very small, unwelcome and like I was an inconvenience to her.
We headed home to await the event we were so wanting to not happen this way, praying for a miracle even still. My contractions strengthened and came more often as the afternoon went on. I swayed through them, remembering back to my previous labors, tears pouring down my face knowing what was coming. Shortly after supper, I went to the washroom and felt pressure. Zoe had moved into the birth canal and if I pushed, she was going to be born. I “held her in” with my hand and called my husband. We phoned Women's Health to see if we should come in or deliver her at home. They said to come in, and to bring the "products of conception" with us. My husband repeated that the baby was not born yet. I wanted to scream. I wanted to say our baby is not just the products of conception. She is my BABY. She is a person and she is a member of our family. At least give her that much dignity. My heart begged, please do not call her that again! My husband helped me into the van and we headed to the hospital.

We found a wheelchair as soon as we got in the front door and my husband wheeled me to admitting. We registered again at admitting after telling the lady at the desk what was happening. She handed me my papers and said to head up to Women's Health. I told her that I had been in that morning and was told that I was not to go up to Women's Health, but that I had to go to Emergency when I came back in. She made a phone call, I believe it was to Emerg and was told that yes I needed to go up to Women's Health. I said "Ok if you are sure."

My husband pushed me to the elevator and we went up to Women's Health. The elevator doors opened. Scared and agonizing over what we were about to go through, we made our way around the corner to the nurse's station. The nurse from that morning was standing there by the desk with the other nurses. When her eyes made contact with mine, there was no welcome in her eyes. I slowly held out my paper to her hoping that she would take them and that this would not have to be any more horrible than it already felt. Her response to me was, "I told you not to come up here when you came back. They have to see you in Emerg. You belong down in Emerg not here. I am sorry but you are going to have to go back down." Her sorry was very empty and cold. I said "We registered at admitting and the lady told us to come here." She said "No, I told you to go to Emerg." So there I am, trying not to push as the contractions still continued and praying that my baby won’t be born into my pants, sitting in a wheelchair. The world started swirling around me. I looked down the hall thinking, maybe the rooms are all full up here and they just don't have room for us right now. I was hoping to find a valid reason of some sort for her sending us away, because surely there has to be something other than this. The delivery rooms were all dark, doors open and did not appear to be in use at all. I could see that the hopes of a birth with dignity and honor for my baby, and memories, as good as they could be, were going down the drain. My husband turned the wheelchair around. We headed back to the elevator, tears poured down our faces, hearts breaking and hurting even more because we had just been treated like our baby was not worthy of being delivered in a labor and delivery room. I felt broken, humiliated, let down, embarrassed, hurt, angry and very disappointed. I wanted to tell her that she could at the very least have been more sensitive and kind in the way she spoke to us given the situation.
There was no "I realize this is difficult and I am really sorry about this, but we just can't deliver your baby up here," or even "let me make a phone call just to confirm why they think you need to be up here." She just sent us away.

We went down to Emerg. Let me just stop and say right now, thank God for the nurse that we had talked to in Emerg earlier in the day. She was still on shift that evening when we arrived. She was wonderful. She was so kind and sympathetic. I told her that Women's Health had sent us back down and she looked puzzled, but took my paper anyway. I told her that the baby was ready to come out at any moment if I pushed at all. She took me right away into a room and got me a gown. I told her I just wanted to be able to hold the baby and say goodbye once the delivery was done. She promised that she would make that happen and then, with tears filling her eyes, said how sorry she was for my loss. She assured me that she was going to be there to help me through this. Then she helped me onto the bed to deliver our baby. The baby came out almost immediately when I pushed, but then the bleeding started to get worse. The placenta was not delivering easily and the bleeding was getting heavier. She assured me that my baby was still there on the bed and I could hold the baby but they needed to get the bleeding under control before they could let me do that.

She talked to me the whole time and was very reassuring. The Dr and nurses started rushing around a little more quickly and my fear level was starting to climb a bit because I had hemorrhaged a few times before. I almost died the last time and did not want that to happen again. They did not have the pitocin in Emerg and so had to call up to Women's Health to have it sent down. Time was ticking, a nurse said "Did they say they were sending it down? They are not here yet." Someone responded "Yes they said they were sending them right away." If I had been up on Women's Health in the first place, that wouldn't have been a problem. The medication would have been easily accessible. The pitocin did come finally and they gave me the needle and put something into my IV which they had started while they were waiting. The Dr. working Emerg that night said that I would probably need a D&C as the placenta was still not delivering despite their efforts. I was told they were calling up to Women's Health and I would be transferred up there to go for the D&C. A stretcher was brought to my door, they moved the chair and table to make space for it to be brought into the room. Suddenly a nurse appears at the door saying Women’s Health had just phoned and said they don't want her transferred there, that she does not have to go from there for the D&C. They say she should be sent straight from here. My Emerg nurse said "The OB/GYN was going to see her upstairs" The nurse at the door said "Well let me call again." Again I was not sure why they seemed so set on not having me up on Women's Health and was left feeling like an inconvenience to them.

In the next few minutes the placenta did deliver on it's own, for which I was grateful. My angel nurse then did her best with what she had available to her in Emerg. She wrapped Zoe in a clean blue disposable hospital bed pad. I can't help but think that if the delivery had occurred in a delivery room, that a baby blanket would have been available to wrap her in. After a little while she brought a towel and laid Zoe in that instead. She said we could have whatever time we needed with Zoe and left the room to give us privacy. We marvelled at how tiny everything was and how perfect.  Right down to her little fingers, toes and nails. The rest of the time we had with her feels too private to share in this letter so I will leave it out. The OB/GYN came down to see me in Emerg and talked us through the next steps, the autopsy, the genetic testing options. He was very compassionate. With his words and actions he cared about us and our situation. It was very much appreciated.

I don’t know for sure, but I think that if Zoe had been delivered upstairs, they could have done her footprints and hand prints for us. Maybe she could have had a little hat on, maybe not. All the things that I know other mommy's got to take home with them from the hospital as mementos of the short time they did get to have with their baby, I was left without. I ended up having to stay overnight because of blood pressure issues and in the morning, my family Dr. came to see me. I heard him talking to the same nurse that was on the day before when we came in outside the door and hoped she was not coming in to my room with him. When my Dr. asked her if I delivered in Emerg, she said something like “I am not sure.“ I thought how could she say that when she was the one who sent me there to deliver. She did come in with him and stood at the end of the bed. My Dr. said he was sorry for our loss, asked how I was, and talked with me for a few moments. Then he told me I could go home, to make sure to get some rest and come see him in a few weeks to go over how things went. I got my things together and in came the nurse again. She did not have any softness in her tone even now. She said "Well, you were never officially admitted so all I have for you is your white hospital card. You can go" I took the card and tried to muster up the strength to leave behind the only thing that was left that had been in contact with my little Zoe. My hospital gown. I held it for as long as I could, tears pouring down my face, knowing I could not take it with me. It took all I had in me to leave it there on the bed and walk out of the room. I had to force myself to walk out.

We left  the hospital with nothing . No baby, no pictures of her, no footprints, no little hat, no blanket, no gown, no hand prints, not even any papers saying that she existed. It was the most empty I have ever felt in my life. I left my heart there that day, it felt like it had been torn out. It is bad enough to go through the pain and heartache of giving birth to a baby that you know is not going come home with you, that you are not going to experience life with him or her. Then to have none of the other things to remember them by only adds to the harshness. I understand that they are just things, but when it is all you have left of that precious life, those things become very important. The nurse in Emerg offered us compassion, kindness and understanding, the nurse on Women’s Health offered me only coldness in what was the single most difficult moment of our lives. Our baby should have been treated, dead or alive, with honor and dignity. The nurse on Women’s Health offered Zoe none of that.

That is most of the story......I would also like to share the moments of her birth with you that we treasure in a later post....

Addition to blog entry:
I did not realize that I had not included the resolution of this situation from the medical field's standpoint so I will post it now.
After my letter was delivered, I received phone calls that morning from the head of L&D, the Quality of Care Coordinator for the health region, and my Dr.'s office.
They all expressed their sincere apologies for the experience and I was assured the situation would be looked into further and the nurse dealt with.  The head of L&D and the QCC both assured me that this was not the norm whatsoever, in fact it was the complete opposite.  I was told that the situation was going to be addressed at upcoming meetings with the hospital board and the staff of L&D, and that policy changes would be made so that this would not happen to anyone else in future.  I was given a little arm bracelet that is normally given and also I was given a beautiful Willow Tree statue of a Dad, Mom and baby. The head of L&D said she knew that by no means did this make up for how things unfolded, but that she wanted to give something to show how sorry she was on behalf of her department.

1 comment:

  1. this is so sad, michelle. i am truly sorry for your loss and i do know exactly how you feel. be thankful you got to hold your baby, even for a little little one disappeared and i never saw him. how can hospitals and personnel be so calloused...makes you wonder...blessings as you journal your way through this. you are a beautiful writer.