A Father without his Son
So it is slightly later than my promised post of mid January! I had planned to write on my break, but we had so much fun, so much family time together that I didn’t. I do hope that in the next few weeks I can bring you all up to speed on everything that has happened, and then I can continue from the here and now! Here is my request from you, from anyone who has read our blog and gained a greater insight into what parents like us go through….that you share our initial post with your friends/neighbours your facebook friends or other social network friends, you may just help someone in the most unknown way, maybe it informs them on organisations like Heartfelt, Bears of Hope, Pillars of Strength (which I will get to soon) or gives them Debs/Belinda’s name so that they can contact them, maybe it lets others know that they are not quite so alone and that the emotions that they feel are normal, people have been writing to me over the holidays requesting that I get my blog even more “out there” and I am not quite sure how else to do it, so maybe with all your help I can.
Here goes…The first Sunday of September is celebrated in Australia as Father’s day, so on Sunday 2nd of September Ryan had his first father’s day without his little boy. The lead up to father’s day had me in anticipation, this was Ryan’s day and I was not sure how he was going to cope, he is the strong one out of the two of us, and I was fully aware that I needed to step up and be the strong one for us both on this day. We had planned to see Ryan’s dad that morning and head down to Dee Why for some breakfast, however a few days before father’s day Ryan’s mum told us that she had invited some other people to come along as well, which at the time we agreed to, however as time drew near, Ryan decided that he didn’t want to see anyone else on father’s day, he didn’t want to have to pretend to be happy in front of people, he didn’t want to be making small chat, and he didn’t want people staring at him wondering how he was doing, so either the night before or the morning of, we cancelled going and stayed at home with just the 3 of us. Alethea and I made Ryan pancakes for breakfast, Alethea had bought Ryan the box set of the Game of Thrones books, (Ryan loves a good read, it transports him into another world, and while he reads he is able to block out everything else that is happening in his world and just focus on the book) I can’t remember too much of what happened that day, I know that we had lovely family time, I know that we both played with Alethea as if we too were kids again, and I know that we visited Liam at the cemetery. I have no idea what time we went to the cemetery but what I do remember is my anger. Alethea was running around being a typical 3 year old, and I watched as my husband collapsed on his knees with his head hung low to the ground, shaking his head in disbelief ‘It is so wrong to have to come here on father’s day and visit my baby boy, no dad should have to do this’ he said. I cuddled him and kissed his head and felt torn for him, but I could not fix him, instead I went off with Alethea to amuse her while her daddy had his own time with Liam, I didn’t want him to feel like we had to go quickly because Alethea was bored or too noisy, so us girls looked at all the pretty flowers, while her daddy talked to his son, I knew what Ryan was saying, he was telling Liam that he was sorry that he was not here, that he was proud of him for how hard he fought to stay with us, that he was missing him and that he wished he was here, and that he loved him to the moon and back. Watching the love of my life so absolutely broken made my anger build and build, the hospital had rung me a couple of days prior to say that due to how extensive the investigation was, it was going to take another 5 or 6 weeks to be completed (if you remember they had initially promised it would take 5 weeks, and that time was already up) how dare they tell me this, it made me feel like they were not using every effort to complete their investigation, which fuelled my anger because if Liam had died due to a calamity of errors, and the hospital hadn’t recognised this nor tried to put into place systems that changed their practice this could happen to some other family, for me it was imperative that the investigation be concluded asap so that this could never happen again, and seeing my husband bent over his sons grave made my blood boil. Driving home from the cemetery that day felt like that fateful day when we drove home from hospital without Liam, our eyes were full of tears, all the other cars seemed to be flying by us and we were in absolute silence, there was nothing to say, there was just pain. I got home and wrote an email straight away to the hospital saying (again names are changed and hospital name deleted)
You spoke to me on Thursday and informed me that the RCA on Liam was going to take another 4-5 weeks, at the time of the phone call I was busy with my daughter so didn’t have too much time to think about what you were saying.
Please be informed that I think this is unacceptable, it has been nearly 10weeks since Liam died and 5 weeks since I brought to your attention that things required investigation.
As I know that Liam’s death was a direct fault of the “emergency delivery” or lack there of, it is unacceptable for your investigation not to be completed yet. I am fully aware that comments from my obstetrician have not yet been obtained, and while I understand that there is an “extensive investigation” under way please be informed that if there are not people working on this full time rather than 1-2 hours per week then this needs to be rectified.
It is beyond comprehension how this institution is able to run as a maternity hospital if it is not equipped to handle emergency c sections without causing a healthy baby to die. I believe my husband and I have been very generous in allowing the hospital to conduct its own investigation and giving you 5 weeks since notification and 10weeks since Liam died, however we require answers NOW, or I will involve the HCCC** and I will also email the minister for health and my local member for parliament detailing the lack of care taken by your hospital.
On what should be a very “happy fathers day” my husband and I are left without our little boy, mourning him and knowing that due to lack of care he is not here.
I give the hospital till Friday (6.5 weeks post my notification and 10.5weeks post Liam dying) to present a report to me or I will I have no other option but to involve the HCCC my local member and the minister for Health.
**For those that don’t know the HCCC is the Health Care Complaints Commission, if you make a complaint through them then they independently look into it and see if it is valid or not, and from there make a series of recommendations.
I actually sent the above email to 2 recipients, the first was ‘Jenny’ or the director of maternity services, the lady who had phoned me, and the second was the medical director. I received an email back the very next day from the medical director saying
“We appreciate your direct request to the hospital to provide information about what happened and I agree that you have been waiting generously for this”
The email also told me that ‘Jenny’ would contact me the next day. This made me feel a little better about myself, because I had felt very nasty writing the above email, and reading this response made me feel that even though I had been nasty, I had not been totally horrible as I was letting the hospital conduct their own investigation rather than them being reviewed by the HCCC. The next day when Jenny contacted me via email though she took a different point of view and said
“We are committed to reviewing the role of all those involved in order to answer your questions and to see if in any way we could institute changes which would reduce the likelihood of such a tragic situation happening again. However, we would be more than happy for you to refer your concerns to the HCCC, as they will conduct an independent investigation”
which in all fairness is a perfectly normal response, however to an angry grieving mum this felt like she was daring me to report them, it felt like she was saying we are doing a great job, but if you think someone out there can do a better job go ahead and try to get a better job done. That was the impetus that I needed to make the whole world know that my baby had wrongfully died. It is very hard for me to put into words just how angry I was at this time, my anger consumed me, all I really wanted was someone to own up, someone to say that they had really messed up and that they were sorry, but no one seemed to want to do that, no one had apologised, no one had said that they had done anything wrong, everyone kept justifying their actions to me, my OB blamed the hospital and the hospital seemed to be blaming the OB, and as I had the rapport with my OB, it was him who I believed. No one had told me that if they had of done things differently that night, Liam may still be here today and that is what I really wanted to hear. Still to this day I am not sure why it takes people so long to apologise for wrongful actions, do people not realise that if you apologise the flame/fury/anger in the people that have been hurt die down?
I waited till Ryan got home from work that day and I read him the email, now normally Ryan is a very, very placid, gentle soul, he is normally my calming force, but when I asked him should I make a report to the HCCC he immediately said yes so on the 4th September I wrote to the HCCC sending them exactly the same letter that I sent the first time to the hospital outlining the places where I thought they had failed their duty of care (a copy of it is in ‘A woman on a Mission post’). I really didn’t want to get any one person into trouble, and I believed wholeheartedly my OB when he told me that it was the hospitals lack of operating staff that contributed to our delay so at the beginning of my email I added this
“This is a copy of the letter that I sent to the hospital on 30/7/2012 detailing my complaint, please note that I believe my obstetrician did everything he could to deliver a healthy baby, he was let down by an inadequate hospital which was unable to handle emergency c sections and does not have theatres staffed 24/7, it is beyond comprehension how this hospital is able to act as a maternity facility if they are not equipped to handle C sections at all hours of the day”
Following that I forwarded my letter as above to Jillian Skinner (the Minister for Health) Tony Abbott (Leader of the opposition, and is in our local Warringah area) and Brad Hazzard (the member for Wakehurst) now normally Ryan is my calming soul mate, he is the one that tells me when I am going over the top or overreacting, and as I wrote these letters to the members of parliament/ministers I kept asking him ‘should I do this, should I email this person’ and he kept saying that he thought I was doing the right thing, after I pressed send on all of them I looked at Ryan and laughed saying ‘I can’t believe that you let me do that’ and he laughed too, we had definitely taken our cause to the next level, and people would have to take note of us.
- Posted in: The First Weeks