Thursday, January 27, 2011
Mary Beth's story
(as told by her mother Bambi)
On June 5th 2008 (24 days before my due date), after a very long labor, I gave birth to a 5lbs 8oz 21 inch long baby girl. Throughout the labor, I had kept my midwife, Brenda, posted on my progress. Of course, she didn’t bother to hurry up and get to me when she knew contractions were only 3 minutes apart. She received a phone call from me at 4:10am. She arrived here at 5:45am. This woman lived 20 minutes away.
My husband was forced to call medics because it became obvious that delivery was imminent and we would have no midwife here. As soon as he hung up with them, he had to catch our daughter, then minutes later let the medics in. If I recall, one had been at a delivery and the other never had, so this tells you how much birthing/newborn experience they had. They thought, planned homebirth, but just a few days shy of term, shouldn't be an issue so they waited for my midwife to arrive so she could assess the situation. They thought she was fine.
An hour later, in waltzes Brenda. Of course, our daughter is healthy and there is no need for transfer! She helps us to bed and proceeds to do the newborn exam. We bring up our daughter’s breathing and are told it's just mucus. Ok. The odd bluish purple coloring around her nose is just bruising. Her sleepiness was due to the long (18 hour) labor. Her floppiness was due to just being a tad early. I was also told she wouldn’t be able to regulate her temperature so she needed lots of skin to skin contact. Her jaundice could be helped by spending time in front of the window. She wasn't interested in nursing because she was tired. Everything was explained away and none of it seemed far fetched to me. I believed her when she told us Mary was healthy. Brenda then left.
I then took an hour nap with her as I had been up for 26+ hours, with 18 of them being in labor. When I woke up I tried nursing her and no latching. That concerned me, but I figured if I just pumped she would take a bottle. So, I sent my husband off to the store to buy a bottle for her. When he got back home, I pumped and she wouldn't take the bottle. Maybe she was just tired.
We spent time as a family while letting our other children hold and love on their baby sister. They were quite proud!! Around 10, my husband offered to let me get more sleep while he kept Mary in the living room with him and the kids so she could be in the sunlight. That sounded fine with me. Little did I know, this would be the last time I would see her alive.
At 11, my husband woke me up because he didn't think she was breathing. He thought she had just went to sleep. Mary was lifeless. I remember calling 911 and doing CPR. One of the medics from just a few hours before came running up to our door, took her right out of my arms, and ran to the back of the ambulance while I got in the front. I remember thinking "This can't be happening."
When we arrived at the hospital, her room was filled with doctors and nurses. I was set on a chair in the hallway watching the commotion. There was a social worker who was keeping me posted on everything they were doing. She told me that they had given her two shots of epinephrine, but if they got her back, she would be brain damaged. After what seemed like forever, I was told there was nothing more that they could do and a time of death was called. How could this healthy baby be laying there dead? How could this be happening?
Mary was then wrapped in a blanket and handed to me. At one point I was asked about having our pastor come in and I gave them his name so he could be called. I don't remember if this was before or after she was pronounced. Dr Bailey arrived, then my husband James arrived. While we did CPR and called 911, we had our oldest son, Cody, call my mother at work to tell her what was going on, so James had to wait on her. A photographer, Teresa, arrived to take Mary's pictures. While she took photographs, James and I took turns being questioned by a detective and medical examiner. The chief from the fire department also came to give us his condolences.
Dr. Bailey held our daughter and baptized her. The social worker asked me her name and I chose the name Mary Beth. Our oldest daughter, Paige, had mentioned the name that morning while we were discussing names. So, when James arrived, he learned of her name. When he held her, he completely broke down.
While we were at the hospital, my mother had had my sister Jaime come down and then the police showed up to our home to ask them questions as well. Once my mom knew that our daughter didn't make it, she rushed to the hospital. When she walked in, she came up to us and hugged us both. I then asked her if she wanted to hold her granddaughter ad she did. I had never seen my mother like that. When she learned Mary’s name, it hit her even harder as they share a name.
By this time, we had the medical examiner breathing down our necks to just hand our daughter over. He had been at the hospital for several hours and was tired of waiting around. So, just 4 hours after our daughter was pronounced, we left the hospital with a brown paper bag containing her belongings. I called Brenda on the drive home to tell her, but she already knew as the police had already been to her house. She then asked what happened and I told her.
When we arrived home, our youngest son, Joshua, asked if the new baby was in the van. We had to then tell our children that their sister went to heaven. No parent should have to tell their children that their sibling is dead. My sister hugged me and told me she loved me (and she still tells me this every year on Mary's birthday). My mom sat on my couch and held me like a small child, literally. I was hurting and needed my mommy, but, she couldn’t make this better like she could 20 years ago.
My mom and husband at one point let family know that she was born and passed away. Friday, we paid for her plot at the cemetery and made funeral arrangements. When they walked in the room with this tiny casket, I broke down. There should be no need for caskets that small. We should have been buying her a bassinette, not a casket. On Saturday, we took her burial gown to the funeral home. Sunday, we were allowed to come in and see her and get her footprints. It was a tradition for us to do our babies feet and I didn't want to miss out on it with her!
I will never forget being led into this tiny room and seeing our tiny daughter laying there. It seems like we stayed in there with her for hours and cried. We gave her her part of my mother daughter necklace and one of my husband’s dog tags from his military days. At one point Brenda showed up to my home with a cheap engraved locket for me and gave us her copy of Mary’s newborn exam. We mulled over that during the weekend and noticed several inconsistencies which my husband took to the police early Monday morning. We had multiple visitors that weekend, too. I couldn’t eat or sleep. When I did fall asleep, I woke up hearing a baby cry. Oddly enough, my husband suffered from the same.
The funeral for our daughter was small and intimate. My mother bought a bunch of plants to have there that we could take home and create a garden with. I don’t think I left the casket. I wanted, no needed, to remember everything about her. I still remember the way her tiny hands felt, the silkiness of her hair, the softness of her cheek, and the way she smelled. Having to tell her goodbye forever was probably harder than leaving the hospital. I couldn't walk or breathe.
At the cemetery, my husband carried her from the towncar to the resting spot. There was a small service and we had to leave her there, knowing soon she would be in the ground beside her great grandfather. In a way, it felt better leaving her "with him." There were a few lighthearted jokes that his peaceful slumber would be over with now that he had a baby to take care of.
Earlier that morning, my husband talked to the police. It turns out Brenda supplied them with another newborn exam form different than the one she gave us. When the police found this out, she was interviewed again! This time, she gave them and us another newborn exam form, also different than the other two. The notes taken by medics (people unskilled on newborns and childbirth) were copied by her. Our daughter had been given APGARs of 9 and 9.
Brenda had the audacity to be waiting on our front steps when we stopped at home to drop off the flowers from the funeral home all kinds of pissed off because there was talk about her possibly being arrested. Interestingly enough, it was other midwives talking about this. Just one week later, she showed up to my home begging me to not be angry with her. Three weeks later we got the death certificate. Cause of death, prematurity. Major contributing cause, homebirth.
I called the medical examiner. I got an answer about the "bruising." It was called cyanosis and occurs when there is oxygen deprivation. She should of seen the signs that our daughter was in trouble. Had medical care been sought, our daughter would have lived.
In between the time of our daughter's death and getting the death certificate, Brenda had been telling people that our daughter died from liver failure. When I asked for copies of my records, she obliged, but also asked if we got the Death Certificate yet, to which I told her No. My records were falsified. You could see clear as day where she had crossed out the number of weeks at the top to reflect me being farther along at each appointment.
When my friend shared that I had indeed gotten my records, Brenda flipped into panic mode. One email stated that all babies who stop breathing are labeled respiratory distress, we didn't share any concerns with her, if we sued we would put her and her kids on the street, our anger would cause a divorce, we should sue the medics, her heart is breaking, she volunteered for a peer review, she loves us, and "Trying to find a place to unload blame doesn't give the answer and it doesn't heal the hurt."
Email two was a basic, medical examiners only know about death so I shouldn't take his word for it and we can figure out why she died together. Email three stated that our daughter wouldn't want us fighting against midwives or home birth. All the emails were quite manipulative.
Come to find out, she had had multiple stillbirths just in the months leading up to our daughter's birth, one brain damaged child, and two other babies that she went in front of the grand jury on. Of course, she is still practicing while we are broken hearted.