The first time I met the consultant whose care I was under when pregnant with Sofia, was after I gave birth to Sofia. Lying numb in a private room on the maternity ward, she came to visit me, together with the registrar who had rushed in to supervise Sofia’s delivery.
The apologies she conveyed were brief and quite distant. It soon became clear she was more concerned about testing me to find out what had gone wrong… what had gone wrong with my body. She wanted to take blood, do internal tests and check my placenta. ‘You want to make sure you’re fine for your next pregnancy,’ was her reasoning.
Right then it was more the case of not wanting more intrusions on my body (I’d just given birth for christ sake) that made me say ‘tomorrow’. Thankfully when tomorrow came, we had moved into a room off the Special Care Baby Unit and the only medical staff we then saw were those taking care of Sofia.
I think it was the next day the neonatal doctor looking after Sofia told me she’d been sending all the maternity ward staff and also my consultant away to leave me in peace. When I said why they were probably asking to see me, she took me aside. ‘What happened had absolutely nothing to do with you or your body. This is NOT your fault.’ They were exactly the words I needed to hear.
It’s been difficult not to blame myself or give myself some fault for what happened. It’s human nature to ask yourself ‘what if…?’ What if I’d read up on misoprostol instead of assuming I was being given a licensed drug? What if I’d listened to my instincts telling me that an induction was the wrong thing to do? What if we’d demanded the midwife communicate with us instead of spending her time fiddling with the equipment in the corner of the room? What if…? What if…? What if…? The list could be endless. And the list is pointless. Either there are no answers or the answers are worse than the questions.
After the hospital had done their internal investigation into Sofia’s death, we had a meeting with them to go over their report. They wouldn’t allow us to bring our solicitor, so we brought our trusted friend Lorri instead. At the end of the meeting, Lorri asked the question that had been the main ‘What if’ in my head since Sofia died: ‘What if Anne had been monitored properly? Would Sofia have lived and been ok?’ Some ‘What ifs’ don’t have any answers. Others have answers you don’t want to hear: it was a unanimous ‘yes’.