The baby I almost missed

The astute amongst you may be aware that we added a new small baby to the family on New Years Day. Well, I say we, I obviously mean wifey, my involvement was about 3 minutes almost ten months ago. NHS cuts meant our local hospital, the QEII in Welwyn Garden City, no longer has a maternity unit, so we had a longer trip up the road to Stevenage. The Lister hospital has a brand spanking new maternity unit. Which is 30 miles away.

Not that it would have mattered of course, if a little bit of common sense had been applied. Wifeys waters broke at the usual time, 2am. I actually heard them pop as I’d just nipped to the kitchen to get some cold & flu and was just settling down. We had an abortive trip to the hospital for a bit of monitoring in the morning and were home for lunch. I don’t know why they got us in, I just think they take a perverse joy in it.

We ended up going back in late afternoon as wifey was running a bit of a temperature. On the ward there were a couple of other labouring mum’s making varying degrees of fuss. One lady seemed to have been there for a week or so and was even on first name terms with the cleaner, the other woman hadn’t even got a softening of her uterus but was screaming, panting and making a fuss like a woman about to give birth that very second. I’m a man, therefore I wasn’t in any sort of position to call her a drama queen but wifey did. Quite loudly too. Not that she would have heard over the panting and shrieking of course.

So far so good, even though on New Years Eve the cafe closed 45 minutes before it was supposed to have, leaving us to subsist on Walkers Crisps and chocolate. Then things took a turn for the weird. The hospital leaves it 24 hours from the waters breaking before inducing a pregnant lady. Since wifeys waters broke at 2am, they decided to induce her at 8pm. The Labour ward’s visiting hours finish at 8pm. You can see where this is going can’t you?

I was allowed to wait about half an hour to see if there was any effect from the pessary and then booted out. I popped out of the hospital complex in the car, racking up more carparking charges in the process and failed to get a Burger King from the local restaurant so had to settle for a McDonalds. I then returned to the secure access lobby to wait. Around ten thirty, I hunkered down on the sofa for a bit of a kip as I had an inkling it was going to be a long night. Each of the wards was also behind a secure door, so I was a bit confused when I was woken up by a midwife and ten past midnight and effectively thrown out of the hospital. Apparently I was a security risk. That’s right, I’d be let into a secure access lobby and with my wife all of thirty feet away, I was now a security risk. In hindsight I think it had a lot more to do with the hospital wanting to charge me at least £100 to stay in one of their amenity rooms rather than any security issues but there you go, a return to the bad old days of a two tier health service for the haves and the have nots. I was grade A fobbed off, told that nothing was likely to happen overnight if it hadn’t already and that it didn’t matter that it was our third one jot.

I did complain but not too vigorously as I didn’t want to be refused re-entry. If they were going to be jobsworths, they could really stuff me up by refusing to let me in when the baby was actually born. It was about twenty past twelve at this point and although it was mild, it was far far too cold to sleep in the car (did I mention the clutch was on it’s last legs? No? We thought it would make things more exciting but I couldn’t actually let the engine run to keep warm for fear of breaking the car). And so it came to pass that I was at home on the sofa at quarter past one in the morning. I’d literally just taken my shoes off when my phone went. “I’m in labour, they’re taking me to the delivery suite, hurry!”

Since this is a public record, I did exactly 70mph on my return trip to the hospital, and not a mile an hour more. 22 minutes later I was pegging it up to the entrance. My phone shows that at 1.48am I tried to call wifey to get the staff to let me in- they hadn’t answered the entrance intercom on any of the four wards for over 5 minutes. Of course I later found out wifey was giving birth at that exact moment, so was unable to answer her phone. She wasn’t even on twitter, so it must have been intense. Fortunately a new dad needed a ciggie and let me in on his way out. I got into the delivery suite just in time to see the baby’s arm follow his head out.

So I more or less saw little Danger (it’s his middle name) being born but the hospital robbed me of the chance to be there for my wife and support her during her labour. Yes it was a quick one and the midwives actually told her to cross her legs in the lift, but since it was our third baby and they knew we lived 40 minutes away, should they really have sent me home ? Personally I feel massively let down by the treatment I had at the Lister. It made me feel that dad’s are genuinely second class citizens, as well as guilty for not being there for wifey.

Still, at the end of it all we have a true miracle baby and I suppose that’s whats really important isn’t it?

  • Congratulations again on lil’ Danger, he’s gorgeous. I can’t believe that you were not allowed to stay whilst she was in labour, no-one knows how quick things progress and it was only by chance that you got there at all. Terrible!

  • Congratulations again on lil’ Danger, he’s gorgeous. I can’t believe that you were not allowed to stay whilst she was in labour, no-one knows how quick things progress and it was only by chance that you got there at all. Terrible!

  • Fiz

    I still think you should sue the b***rs, A.

  • Anonymous

    That’s terrible. Glad you didn’t miss it, but really they shouldn’t have kicked you out – I didn’t think visiting hours applied in maternity wards!
    L’il Danger is very scrummy.

  • That is awful… I hope by telling your story it improves the situation for others

  • Rachybaby

    I hate the way dads are treated. They have as much right as the mother to be there! I know she HAS to be there but you absolutely should have been there.

    Our local hospital is excellent. They allow dad to be there for the whole process. It just so happens that I sent my hubby home thinking I’d be having a csection but there was no stopping my son. We only live 5 miles away but hubby only made it back after H’s head was out. Obvs he only drove at 60mph down the road ;-)

    I guess at the end of the day the most important thing is your son is safe (& your wifey of course!). I can’t speak for your wife but when I was in labour I would have liked hubby by my side but to be honest it’s a solo effort that needs all your concentration so I couldn’t have told you who was or wasn’t in the room!

    Baby ‘Danger’ Cool is utterly gorgeous!!!

  • I think that’s utterly awful – can’t imagine how it felt for C to be alone during that time as well. I would be in pieces – I hate hospitals at the best of time, and in labour with ppl ignoring you is very definitely not the best of times. So glad that you made it before the very end but so sorry you missed the experience. Lister Hospital should be very ashamed of themselves.

  • Fiz

    I still think you should sue them A + C!

  • Yes, that is all that matters!

    Shame they thought it okay to send you home though, sounds like a hospital stuck in the 50’s to me.

    CJ x

  • Fiz

    I had a miscarriage at the Lister and they couldn’t have cared less – it says it all, Rally.

  • Danger is truly beautiful. I’d have been livid. You might have well been in New York with Beyonce, of course no noe was allowed in then either.

  • I have one word – bastards. Can’t believe that. Glad you managed to see Danger born in the end though. Thanks for sharing for the Britmums Carnival – trying to manage all the tweets you must have slipped through my baby brain twitter fail but I do remember your post as it was the first ‘Dad’ post I received :)

  • Thanks Heather. I’ve calmed down a bit in the last 8 months, believe me :)

  • How frustrating and annoying. The things they think is a security risk! You have quite a story to share with baby Danger when he’s older. Thanks for sharing. I found your blog via the BritMums Carnival. I’m now a follower :0)

  • Anonymous

    My sister went into the Lister 2 weeks ago to be induced. Her husband got sent home just after she’d been induced, and they wouldn’t let him back. My sister was treated terribly there, her baby was born, and then died two days later. The way that the staff treated my family, my sister and her husband was appalling.

    • I’m so sorry to hear that. We got off lightly by the sound of it :(

  • We saw your post a coupe of weeks ago and asked our maternity colleagues for an update, which we felt that you – and hopefully those who read your blog – might find useful.

    Back in January, we agreed with you that your experience of not being allowed to stay with your wife overnight at the Lister’s maternity unit was not acceptable. Thanks to your feedback, this led to the unit’s policies being changed. Indeed our senior midwife wrote to you in January asking if you wanted to meet with her to discuss your experience, but she didn’t receive a reply. Perhaps you never got that letter? Either way, if you would still like to take this opportunity up we know that she would still be happy to meet with you – just drop us an e-mail to [email protected] and we can get it sorted.

    As for the truly sad case referred to on your blog earlier this month, where a baby sadly died two days after delivery, the Trust is carrying out a very detailed investigation to find out what happened and why. In part this is to make sure the family get the answers to the questions they are asking, but also to ensure that where lessons are learnt these are acted upon.

    Although the family did not raise the issue of the husband being sent home, we have made sure that all our staff are made aware of the Trust’s policy that partners can stay overnight when a women is being induced or starting to have contractions. We are in the process of updating our website pages and will ensure that the policy is made clear to all future expectant mothers and their families.

    Although we can’t undo your experience from January, except to continue to apologise for what happened, we also need to stress that giving birth is not without risk. The new Diamond Jubilee Maternity Unit at the Lister, which opened just over one year ago, has seen a real increase in women’s satisfaction with the service and a noticeable drop in complaints.

    This picture, however, should not be seen as suggesting that no improvements can, or should, be made. Our maternity team seeks to make changes where these will benefit mothers and their babies. For instance, we are in the middle of a three year-programme to recruit an even greater number of midwives to ensure that ratio of midwives to mothers is increased, yet again, to meet new NHS national standards.

    On the increasingly few occasions when something goes wrong for either the mother and/or her baby, either during pregnancy or delivery, our maternity colleagues do everything they can to look in to what happened and if change is needed, make sure that happens. Where a tragedy occurs, this action does nothing, of course, to alleviate a family’s grief, irrespective of the underlying cause. In situations like that described on your blog, our hearts always go out to the families involved and we will do everything we can to help them get answers to their questions.

    • Thanks for your reply. We received no letter or any form of communication back in January; either directly or indirectly (via midwife follow up or telephone), which is odd since you obviously had our address and telephone number.

      I think it is only by making these points that policy gets changed and I am glad that for future parents this is hopefully not going to be an issue.

    • Our senior midwife has a copy of her letter sent to you on file, so it looks like it went astray – which did nothing more than compound the problem through no fault on either side. If you feel it is still worth talking with her, then just drop us an e-mail to [email protected].

  • Anonymous

    My wife is due to give birth on may 19th 2013 consultant led at the lister Iam concerned will I be able to stay or will I be kicked out …..can we move our consultant led birth to Barnet

  • Anonymous

    To the east and north herts NHS trust. In response to your reply on 30th October 2012.
    Your comment stating ‘the family have not complained that the husband was sent home’ is factually untrue. It was my husband that was sent home that night and my son that died. I assure you I have complained and am shocked and disgusted by the care I received and the mismangement of my labour. Not only was my husband sent home I had my phone taken out of my hands by a midwife when I was calling my husband to come back as I was in agony and in labour. I was told I couldn’t have him with me until I was tranferred to another ward. I also had two midwifes who failed to identify I was in established labour and kept telling me I wasn’t and wouldnt examine me. The investigation has shown that I was in labour. How can a women go into a hospital and be taken care of by so called experts when they can’t even identify labour is beyond me. Both these midwifes are still working at the Lister. Also during my care at the Lister no one told me I was a high risk labour or had a one to one with me and the midwifes put me on the wrong ward for low risk labours. The care at the Lister hospital is terrible.

  • Anonymous

    I am a midwife at the Lister hospital and I am truly sorry to hear of the terrible experiences being reported here. I am aware of Daddacool’s experience, and he is aware of the full support I gave to allowing partners to stay overnight. there is now a good process to allow this to happen. the unit are now investing in comfortable recliners to make that stay more comfortable.
    to the lady who lost her baby, I am sorry to hear what happened to you and I would urge you to contact the trust, and in particular our bereavement midwife, who is an amazingly supportive midwife and I am sure she will do everything she can to give you the answers need.
    I am glad to say though incidences like those posted about here are rare, and in the main our women have positive experiences of the care they receive in all areas of the maternity department, like a lot of organisations we aren’t perfect, however we are continuously listening to what is said and making changes where we can.
    I have chosen to remain anonymous for this comment due to professional reasons

  • Anonymous

    Is Welwyn GC really 30 miles from Stevenage? Has the A1 suffered a seismic shift north? If you lie about the distance, what else is pure fabrication, I wonder?

  • Its not 30 miles from WGC, Stevenage is 30 miles from where we live in St Albans.when you write your apology, you can use your real name rather than anon okay?

  • Anonymous

    Goodness me as a health professional and mummy to a gorgeous 20 month old I also sympathise with the experiences that have been shared…. I gave birth by caesarean at the QE2 and while the birth was fine the care on the post natal ward was shocking. My husband was told to leave the ward on several occasions for a supposed quiet time which was license for all the staff to have a good old cackle and keep us all awake. I was ignored for 2 days (following caesearan) left in unmentionable baby stuff for an hour before someone came to help. Someone came to take my blood pressure and failed to freak when it read 80 over 35……normal service resumed when I put the cuff on the right way round !!!!!! I was fine. When I was sobbing with fatigue (and anaemia) I told them I was off home…. I was greeted with ….and you are ??
    My advice to any husband (who are fab and very much part of it all) is just refuse to leave…. this is what my husband did stating if they were going to ignore what I needed and give me little support then he needed to be there…. policies and procedures should not stand in the way of special times for families.
    I also had to laugh at the subtle accusation from Eand N NHS trust that they sent you a letter that you didn’t receive that suggests you are at fault…. I too complained and received nothing….
    The culprits are the managers and midwifery tutors who do not equip staff with the freedom and skills to communicate effectively with their patients and families….. LISTEN MIDWIVES NURSES ET AL IT IS NOT THE PATIENTS FAULT IF YOU ARE BUSY….DONT TAKE IT OUT ON YOUR PATIENTS.
    If I decide to risk the trauma again…Addenbrookes hereI come….an hours drive away as opposed to 10 mins to Eand N herts but hey… least I may get a good morning and some TLC/ adequate care.

  • Anonymous

    God im glad im having a homebirth my first two were born at qe2 i was treated like poo and messed about like if i was a piece of meat wen they closed it down i heard nufin but bad storys about lister so had my third at home which was bliss im due on saturday and its gonna be anthr homebirth for me can i just say to the lady who sadly lost her baby im sorry to hear what you went thru i carnt even imagine the pain n heartach you must be goin thru

  • Just catching up on your blog stories – I’m 47 and had my babies in my early 20’s – got a taxi to the hospital, had babies, got taxi home and cooked the dinner on both occasions. With the second, I managed to pick the first up child from school on the same day. Contrary to popular belief , we women can give birth without you

    • Well done you but I suspect that’s more of an exception rather than the norm. My wife wanted me there, and contrary to popular belief, I wanted to be there too :)

      Our first lead to an episiotomy and would have required a blood transfusion but for the fact someone got rushed into theatre for an emergency c section. It was fairly traumatic and took C a long while to get over.