*** This post needs a bit of a disclaimer: it involves some very heavy subject matter. Sorry in advance for any thoughts or feelings it may provoke. ***
The story I am about to share with you is one that I do not share very often, in fact, I think I have only shared it a handful of times over almost 7 years.
In my first blog post, I mentioned having another very traumatic experience while staying in the hospital, which I was saving for another post, well this is it!
While I was in the hospital, recovering from the traumatic birth experience with my oldest due to HELLP Syndrome, I would eventually be transferred from the labour and delivery room to a semi-private room. I stayed in the same room that I delivered in for 3 days. On the third day I was finally rebounding enough to be transferred to the maternal/newborn ward. I was supposed to be given a private room due to my condition and so that my husband could stay in the room with me to help care for our newborn baby. This ended up changing and I was placed in a semi-private room with another mom and her newborn baby. While staying in this type of room, you are not allowed to have visitors over night.
The first night was ok but I didn’t get a lot of sleep (obviously, I’m a new mom). The other mom already had another child and she was antsy to get out of there, spending most of her time on the phone. She would be released early the next morning and I would have the entire room to myself (yay!). This was short lived until later that evening when a mom joined the room after a very long labour and c-section. She was still frozen from the waist down and needed assistance to get in and out of her bed.
When she first arrived, the middle curtain was pulled back and I saw her face. I could not believe my eyes… I have seen this mom multiple times before, as we had the same OB and it just so happened that our appointments were back-to-back on the same days throughout our pregnancy. We had never actually talked but we recognized each other. She would soon be settled in for the night and her husband would eventually have to leave.
Over night, we would both be up throughout the evening taking care of our new babies. Again, not much sleep was happening. Eventually I would fall asleep, only to be woken up by my little one needing to be fed in the wee hours of the morning. While feeding him I noticed a weird noise coming from the other side of the curtain, not sure what it was, I tried to mind my own business and feed my baby. To me it sounded like the baby was just making grunting noises and was wiggling around in her basinet. I knew the mother had another child and I had full faith that she knew what she was doing and I surely had no clue, as this was my first experience with parenting. There was certainly no way I felt comfortable crossing that curtain to see or ask her what was going on.
I would later learn that the noise I was hearing was the baby suffocating in the bed with the mother. That noise still haunts me to this day.
Remember, as stated earlier, the mother was frozen from the waist down, therefore she was struggling to properly care for her baby and opted to bring her into bed with her. On top of that, she was extremely exhausted from a long labour and fell into a deep sleep that she was unable to wake from and hear her baby.
I struggled for a very long time with the GUILT – should I have said something??? Why didn’t I say something??? I knew in my heart something wasn’t right and maybe I could have saved that baby. I’m actually still not sure I’m totally past it as I type this with tears streaming down my face…
Through extensive therapy sessions, I was able to navigate through those feelings and find a way to move forward. This is one thing I am a big advocate for now; seeking help when you need it. Having a good psychologist to confide in is a true gift. One I never understood until receiving myself.
Needless to say, this experience changed me, in multiple ways. I quickly realized how truly fragile life is… each day is a true gift not to be taken for granted!
If you have experienced loss, I pray you have the strength to share your story. In sharing your story, you will most definitely be helping to heal the wounds, even if it is just one little stitch. You are here, alive, for a reason. That reason may just be that you have a story that needs to be told in order to connect with others so they or you know that you are not alone.
Out of such a tragic story there have been some great impacts made. After having such a traumatic event that impacted not only the immediate family and myself but, hospital staff as well, the hospital was open to having conversations about how to prevent this from happening again. I am delighted to share that actual changes were implemented to provide better care for a mother and her baby, especially after a c-section where there is a greater need for assistance.
Thank you for taking the time to read, this is a deeply personal story that has forever impacted my life. Through every tragic experience, I try to turn it into triumph and personal growth!