A couple of weeks ago I was surprised to hear that One Born Every Minute was going to share the story of a family who’s son died at 6 days old. In the last few months I’ve had discussions on my birth forum, my Sands group and another loss forum about weather or not we think that this side of birth and pregnancy should be shared publicly. I have been so for it, and so was pleased to know that such an episode was to air, despite the sad and very difficult time for the family involved.
Having just watched the episode, I think that the story line was handled very well by the show, the staff and of course the very brave family who were all willing to put themselves out there in an effort to raise awareness of baby loss and birth defects.
Saying that, beyond the obvious sympathy I felt for the parents, it made me realise to an even higher extent just how wrong things went in Finley’s birth. Forgive me, but I am about to go off on a bit of a ranty tangent here.
The hospital where Finley was born was not prepared for a traumatic delivery despite knowing from several ultrasounds that he was small due to a pressure problem in one of the arteries in his cord. Despite warnings from the ultrasound technician of the situation. Despite knowing that I had been in labour for a long time, and pushing for longer than was recommended. Despite seeing his heart rate decelerating somewhat abnormally while I was pushing. Despite all of this, they were still unprepared for the eventuality that Finley might need resuscitating.
I think the biggest difference between our situation and the family (Hayley and Pete) on the show, is that they knew from the 20 week scan that there was a physical defect with baby Kaiden that could be life threatening, which meant that Hayley’s labour was very different to mine. I was pretty laid back in labour: I was able to rest and laugh and keep in the back of my mind that the pain was for a reason – to meet my son. I didn’t have the fear that Finley was leaving his safe haven. I didn’t know he could die. I can only imagine for Hayley how terrifying delivering her son must have been. To know that she had to give birth to him when he was safest inside…
Saying that, seeing how the staff at LGI responded when Kaiden was born showed me just how very unprofessional some of the staff were when Finley was born. It was chaos in the room. We went from the highest high of him being born, to the lowest of lows, but it was through our own processing of the situation, and not because there was any staff there to inform us of what was happening. There were people crying, there was a woman on the phone pleading with other staff to come in. Hearing the despair in her voice scared me. The lack of sound coming from Finley scared me. The look on Steve’s face scared me. Hearing the doctors repeatedly trying to intubate Finley, but failing, scared me. Hearing them say they needed a smaller tube than what was available scared me. There was nothing at all positive about that experience, except for the moment when they managed to get him breathing through the tube. At that point I thought everything was going to be okay and I allowed myself to ask the questions about his weight and what he looked like.
And then there was the hemorrhage which robbed me from spending those moments with Finley. I didn’t get to see him in the neonatal unit. I didn’t meet the doctors looking after him. I was stuck in a hospital bed fighting for my own life and then trying to recover enough to see him. The anger I feel towards the universe about this is overwhelming. If he had to go, why couldn’t I have been there for him? Why did he have to be on his own? Why didn’t I get to give him a proper cuddle while he was still alive? Why will we never know what caused this to happen? Why? Why? Why?
There are no answers to the whys. No answers to why horrible things happen. No answer to why we lost Finley or why Hayley and Pete lost Kaiden or why any parents should have to lose their children.
Yesterday was the anniversary of Finley’s death. It seemed almost fitting in a way that this episode of OBEM aired this week. I think awareness is so important in helping people understand what parents go through. I think the interviews with the consultant and the midwives, the parents and the grandmother were all very beneficial in providing even a small look in to just how deeply this affects everybody involved.
But mostly it just made me upset that everything with Finley’s birth and death weren’t handled better.
A big thank you to Hayley and Pete for sharing the story of baby Kaiden and helping to bring awareness to this horror that so many people have to live through. Thank you to OBEM and Channel 4 for showing the family’s story and struggle with such dignity.
Remembering Kaiden Heseltine, 7lb 5oz, 26th July – 1st August 2012.