Missing Liam

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)

Hi Jenny,

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.

Amanda

**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.

Ryan and his Daughter

Ryan and his Daughter

Ryan and his Son

Ryan and his Son

21 Comments

  1. Danielle

    Amanda your’s and Ryan’s strength is amazing. I hope that you get the answers you need fast and that they find the flaws in the hospital policies so that they can be corrected and no other families have to go through what you both have. Love and light x

    • Thanks Danielle, yes we have some answers, more are still coming…I don’t think it will be a quick process, but hopefully we can help prevent it from happening to even just one other family, then it would be worth it. By rectifying some of the issues hopefully babies will just be born, and those families will never even realise that there could have potentially been an issue with the birth of their baby, they will just have happiness and know no different, they will have no idea that a little boy called Liam lived and died and helped enable their baby to come into the world safely, they will just have a healthy happy baby…and that is how it should be, and that it how it should have been for us, some of the issues that happened were so obviously wrong that in policy meetings within the hospital they should have been rectified before our little boy had to suffer.
      Love to you as well
      Amanda x

  2. Ashleigh Chambers

    I think of you and your darling family (all 4 of you) daily. I have and will continue to spread your story to create full awareness. This happens far more than ANYONE ever knows.
    Love & regards,
    Ashleigh

    • Thanks Ashleigh, I agree this happens far more than what I would have EVER thought of, so many families in pain, so many suffer, I wish that no one would have to go through this.
      Love to you
      Amanda x

  3. Mornè Chapman

    Hi Amanda, I have been following your blog since the article in the Manly Daily and I have nothing but respect for you and how well you have handled the situation with the hospital, I think I would not have been as calm and diplomatic as you have been. You are a great inspiration as a wife and mother. I have 3 teenagers and I can’t imagine what you have been through losing Liam, he is so beautiful. We live in the area around Liam’s final resting place and it seems like I know him from your blog and his beautiful photos, so this afternoon my daughter and I went to visit him, it is a very beautiful and serene resting place. Keep fighting for answers! Don’t give up, there are many who respect your actions and if your determination can save just one baby then it will be worth it. Nobody ever deserves to say goodbye to a baby and feel the pain your beautiful family has been through. Keep your head held high and fight for answers and accountability, no matter how far you have to go!
    Love and Hugs
    Mornè

    • Hi Mornè,
      Thanks for your beautiful message. Thanks for not only to reading our journey but taking the time out of your day to go and visit our little boy, I agree it is rather a calming place to visit, I feel very grateful that you would go and visit him. I do try to keep fighting for answers, and I appreciate that most of the time they just want us to disappear. I think if the whole truth had of been given to us at the hospital and an apology given while we were in hospital then I would never have felt as angry or as nasty as I have had to feel trying to fight for the truth, but instead we were told by everyone except the paediatrician that it was just “bad luck, or horrible luck and a horrendous situation” I often wonder how many parents would just accept this as truth from the professionals and leave it at that, I wonder if I didn’t have a hospital background whether I would have just left it and believed them, or whether I would have know that something wasn’t right.
      love to you and your family
      Amanda x

  4. Kate

    Another beautifully written piece and more tears shed for your darling boy Liam.
    Your strength amazes me.
    Sending love and hugs to your beautiful family. Xx

  5. sending all my love from Wales x

  6. Daniela Arbelias

    Hi Amanda,

    A friend of mine posted a link to your blog on her Facebook yesterday evening, I stayed up reading your story until late last night and as soon as my own children were in bed sat down to keep going. I have just finished your recent post. Your grief and the unimaginable circumstances you have had to walk through have torn through my own heart. I don’t know if I have ever cried so much in my life, I am so sorry to hear of your loss, Both you and Liam have been in my thoughts all day.

    When my daughter was four months old I sat in the waiting room of a doctors surgery and the women across from me asked me her date of birth and when I replied she said “yes she is about the age my little boy would have been, but he died at birth, the doctors told us that they could never have predicted it, it very rarely happens”. I didn’t know what to say or do, I told her how sorry I was to hear her news and chatted with her for a little while. But i felt so horrible sitting there with my baby when she couldnt have hers. I wish I had read your story earlier, it is such a taboo subject. I love that your fighting so hard for answers, for change, I think most people do accept what they are told because there is a belief in the hospital system, that they know what they are doing. I will share your story, I will continue to follow your story and The Four of You will be in my thoughts for a long time to come.

    With warmest regards,
    Daniela

    • Thanks Daniela for your lovely message, for reading our journey and sharing our story.
      I agree it is such a taboo subject to talk about, and if I were in your shoes and I had of met that mum in the doctors surgery I would have felt just as you did. I too look at babies around Liam’s age and try to picture what he would look like and the sorts of things that he would be doing now, as time goes on it gets harder to imagine because life with him would have been totally different. For us, apart from our grief, nothing changed, our lives stayed the same, there was still Ryan, Alethea and I at home, and we still did the same things day in and day out…whereas when a new baby is brought into the equation your whole life changes, and it is now really hard to comprehend what that would have meant for us.
      love to you and your family
      Amanda x

  7. Andrea King

    You are nothing short of amazing! What you are doing for you, Liam and the rest of your family is just extraordinary. You are going to change one part of this world for the better. For future parents I thank you.
    The way you have handled this situation is to be applauded.
    Keep fighting Amanda xx

    • Thanks Andrea,
      I really do hope that we can make a difference, that the loss of Liam will help others to take their babies home, but who knows, what people promise to do and what they actually do can be two different things…I hope we have the fight enough in us to make sure all the promised changes actually do occur, these things always take time!
      Amanda x

  8. Lisa

    Reading your story brings back so much. Our first daughter Teagan Elise was born in similar circumstances to Liam. Due to the lack of care at her birth, she has cerebral palsy, epilepsy and other complications. We were blessed to have her for three years three months and 28 days, but every one of those days was a struggle. We had started investigations into what had happened-all we wanted was for someone to admit they had not made the right decisions, and to say sorry, and put some protocol in place to avoid this happening to another mother and baby. When she passed away the hospital and legal professionals were all of the opinion that it didn’t matter anymore.
    We have since been blessed with two gorgeous healthy children now 12 & 16 who have grown up knowing and loving their big sister.
    Liam will always be a special part of your family, spoken of often-missed always.
    I hope you get your answers and find some peace (if that is possible).

    • Hi Lisa, I am sorry for the loss of your daughter Teagan, since Liam’s death I have often thought that I am sure the hospital, Dr and nurse etc were all secretly happy that he didn’t make it, because if he did have even a glimmer of hope he would have needed similar or maybe even more care than your Teagan, and yes while our little ones live that poses a problem for these people, but once they die they seem to be able to wipe their hands clean of everything (which I think in a way is the wrong way to go about it….however for families of little ones who do need care I understand their need over all else) Why is it hard for an apology to come…especially when in our circumstance it means nothing to them, ie no financial or legal repercussions, as I have already stated we can claim for nothing, why then do they feel the need not to apologise, I can’t work this one out at all!
      It is sad that more than one mum has had to fight for changes to happen, especially when it happened to you more than 16years ago…when will change come, and how many more people have to endure this heartache before policies are changed?! (rant over!!)
      I hope in the coming few weeks we have a few more answers to our questions, and I too hope that it brings us peace.
      Love to you and your family
      Amanda x

  9. Jennifer V

    Hi Amanda

    I just wanted to thank you for having the courage the write this blog. I know you’ve said it helps you but I truly believe it helps so many others. I started reading your blog while I was pregnant with our third baby. I have to say it made me even more nervous than I already tend to be (we had three miscarriages). Regardless I felt such a connection to you and your family that I couldn’t stop reading your posts. Even when our bub was born, Liam and your family popped into my head. I think you are an incredible wife and mom and though you may not see your strength in the same way others do, it’s incredible. You inspire me to be a better mommy everyday. In those moments when it’s chaos and crazy (and I need arms of an octopus to get it all done and patience of a saint LOL) I remember that I am amazingly blessed with all this beautiful chaos around me. So thank you for your sharing your family and your thoughts with us all. May you all find the answers you are needing and the comfort that you need. Big hugs always x

    • Thanks for your beautiful comment Jennifer, I feel quite humbled to have received such kind words from you. Congratulations on the birth of your third baby, and yes from what I am told when you go from 2 up to 3 kids you do need the arms of an octopus! The chaos in our family would be nothing compared with yours, however when it does occur I always try to step back and have a chuckle and realise how much I LOVE what I have been given.
      Love to you and your family
      Amanda x

  10. Bec

    I have read every post in your blog and my heart breaks for you. I’ve been in tears over your loss, the way you write shows so much courage and strength. I wish I could hug you, cry with you, make it better – but I can’t.

    I am so sorry for the loss of your baby boy. Liam is beautiful, so so beautiful.

    Thinking of you and your family. Liam knows how much you love and miss him – he loves and misses you too xx

    • Thanks Bec for reading all of our journey…I have tried to do it a couple of times but I can never get past around 4 posts, I read them and it feels like it happened to a different person. Liam was a very beautiful baby, I know that I am biased, because I am his mum, but for a newborn he truly was beautiful.
      Gosh I hope you are right, I hope Liam knows how much we love and miss him, and would do anything to have him here with us
      Love to you
      Amanda x

  11. The heart of the grieving father who is the silent strength in this tragedy yet equally in need is so often overlooked. You are an incredible wife. I’m so proud of you, your strength, your love, your determination… Whats interesting is that remembering back to our childhood, you displayed the same qualities the whole way through. So proud to know a woman like you my love x

    • Thanks Resh.
      Chatting to you the other week has given me lots of hope. I hope my daughter has the strength of character that you have when she is a grown woman, I hope my daughter acts the same way as you did when she is a teenager.
      Love to you xxx

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