It is hard to know where to start really if I’m going to go back and explain all the things that have happened, to explain the background actions that have sapped my voice and my ability to write
The wrong approach is probably to just jump in but in the absence of a better plan that is what I am going to do – hopefully it will all come together or at least create the bones of something I can use to build a proper explanation
I did write a little about it last year but I’m going to start at the beginning and lay out the whole ghastly story here in one place
Last January Littlest was born at home – born without anyone being with us – that bit wasn’t planned but had come about after one of the midwives who had attended us but had acted so unprofessionally my stop/start labour had stalled within 10 minutes of her walking in the door.
When I say unprofessional what I mean is that she (I’m going to call her Midwife One) got nose to nose with me and screamed at me right in my face. She was asked to stop, had it explained why we were making the informed choices we were making and she came back again, got right close to me and screamed at me again and made me cry. Again she was asked to stop at which point she threatened to leave us alone, without care, unless I changed my informed position. At this point, in tears, I left the room, curled up in our bed and sobbed. I was so upset my labour had stopped and I felt panicked and bullied.
She had only been in the house 10 minutes and had managed to have a devastating impact.
What we didn’t realise at the time was how much further her impact would be
After we had all agreed that my labour had stopped, the midwives had agreed a follow up care plan and had left us alone, I had breakfast with my family – my parents took the girls away for the day and I curled up on the sofa to snooze.
Some time later, after our groceries had been delivered and we’d agreed to go back to bed and recuperate from the excitement my labour kicked off. As with the girls it went from something to nothing in next to no time and 30 minutes later Littlest joined us.
It was perfect – yes it was painful, yes N would have preferred to have had trained help there, yes the people on the phone were incredibly unhelpful but our son arrived witnessed only by the 2 of us safely and calmly in our living room
Eventually paramedics and midwives arrived (apparently neither had been called much before he arrived despite us calling for help nearly half an hour before his birth) and we all agreed he was perfect although his left leg looked a bit funny (remember this bit, it will be important later)
The long and the short of it is that we curled up together and got to know each other, later the girls joined us and we made a little bubble of baby mooning happiness around our family – we stepped out of it to go to the hospital to have his leg looked at the next day and when various midwives turned up for checks but we had a wonderful couple of weeks – life was perfect, he was perfect, our family was complete and we were just happy to have been blessed by our unexpected, miracle little boy – I really struggle to explain just how right it all felt and how healing it was after all the problems we had had conceiving
What we didn’t realise was that behind the scenes Midwife One had started to cause us a lot of trouble. This woman had never seen my son, had had no contact with us since we agreed there was no point in her remaining since she had stopped my labour and there was alternative care available for us if we needed it later
For reasons I still do not understand, although I suspect were driven by her thinking we would complain about her behaviour, her breaches of her own professional code and her lack of professionalism and hoping to get in first and warn us off*, she made formally raised concerns with social services about us – her referral says that our child, the one she hadn’t seen, was bruised and we had had an illegal birth
Just to be absolutely clear – my son has extensive birthmarks which were identified as such by a consultant at her hospital the day after his birth and not having medical professionals at a birth is not illegal
Once an allegation that serious is made by a healthcare professional social services have to get involved – when we later got hold of their notes we found that they had reviewed our case, talked to our GP amongst others and decided that we weren’t a threat to our children and our case did not merit further investigation
Except it wasn’t and what appears to have happened next is that Midwife One persuaded several of her colleagues to back her up – I don’t know the reasoning behind their actions but I do have our maternity and post natal notes and the files from our GP, the health visitors, social services and the hospital and I can see what was said and by who
I can see that lies upon lies were told about our family to push social services to reopen our case
The lies became so serious that social services had no option but to investigate and quickly
The first we knew was a phone call on a Friday morning telling us social services and the midwives were coming to our house to examine our child. That they had received reports that he was bruised and we had had an illegal birth and that they had to examine him. Our reaction was that he had birthmarks and that we had tried to have an attended birth and to ask if this involved Midwife One
Eventually we agreed to an emergency medical at another hospital at 7pm on a Friday night – what we did not know at this point was that the allegations were so serious that social services had started the legal process to take our children away if the medical showed any signs of abuse
The medical showed a healthy child with extensive birthmarks, as had been identified 3 weeks before
When one of the midwifery team was told this her response was ‘this is not the outcome we wanted’ – make of that what you will
Unfortunately despite having proved that there were no birthmarks and no such thing as illegal birth we were caught up in a process. The allegations were so serious our entire family was subjected to a section 47 investigation – my daughters had to be interviewed without either N or I present, our house had to be visited and the contents of the fridge looked at, the children’s rooms examined, their clothes looked over. We had to answer intrusive questions about our relationship, our finances, our jobs. Our parents were interviewed. It was a nightmare, a living nightmare
At the end of 6 weeks we received a copy of the report from social services exonerating us – we are good parents, our children are well looked after with their needs met, we have strong family support around us, our child wasn’t bruised and we didn’t do anything illegal in our baby arriving before medical professionals
Unfortunately that file won’t be deleted even though it shows that the original allegations were utterly unfounded – those pieces of paper are on our record for ever. We decided that, even though we were exhausted by the process we had been through, that we would push for a full retraction of the allegations and an apology for the unfounded and, in our view malicious, referral
The story of that process comes next
*interestingly AIMS has helped out on other cases where this has happened to other families