A post over at Niobe’s blog a few days ago has left me thinking.

I have the order of things confused in my mind, but I know that after Natan died, while I was still in the hospital, we were visited in the room by a flood of people. The doctors who’d been present came by, a social worker came by numerous times and hung around until the cantor from our synagogue came by, doctors who’d treated me but not been present came by, nurses came by, and the new doctors at shift change. Finally they left me alone, put to sleep by sleeping pills but I know a nurse was in the room within moments after I woke up. The nurses didn’t even leave Josh alone while I was delivering. They all asked for permission to come in to speak to us, but especially if Josh wasn’t in the room, someone else was.

Point is, it wasn’t the same for Niobe. She was left alone in the hours after. And at first I was thinking, wow, I guess my hospital was extraordinary. But the more I think, the more I just don’t get it.

Does anyone know if there are general rules as to what is supposed to happen? Were my doctors extraordinarily kind? Or were hers negligent? Because I feel really pissed off on her behalf and I want to know the depth of this problem.


11 responses to “Questions

  1. There might be some information in I know it is not from the US, but from what I understand the policies should be similar to US hospitals. Most of the time there is some sort of support mechanism for the parents, especially the mothers, after the loss in the form of a bereavement team that usually consists of medical professionals, social workers/psychologists, and clergy.

    Medical and nursing students are supposed to be trained in reporting deaths and caring for the survivors. However, many only pay enough attention to pass a test according to my friends who went to medical school. Sounds like Niobe unfortunately ran into those people.

    Some other websites that might be of help on how to handle the death of children are below. I am not sure if it has the information you are looking for.

  2. I delivered Alex at Un!vers!ty Hosp!tals in Clevel@and. After delivery, they disappeared and we slept for three hours before the morgue guy came in to ask what we wanted done with Alex’s body. Then a nurse reappeared.

    I delivered Travis at Clevel@nd Cl!n!c and we were rarely left alone. Though I did pass out after delivery and don’t remember much until I woke from my Demerol-induced slumber several hours later. But I know they checked on us frequently…and sent in a nurse who works with the loss support group at the hospital.

    I haven’t read Niobe’s post…off to read it now.

  3. The concept you are looking for is called Family Centred Maternity Care. Google it and there is a group who teaches this concept to hospitals all over the world, based in the US. I’ve gone to some of their training sessions.

    These are the guidelines for Canada. (Chapter 8 covers grief and loss.) The rest of the world considers this book to be the gold standard of care.

    Niobe should NEVER have been treated like that. Joining you in feeling pissed off…

  4. Though I had a pretty bad hospital experience, we were offered a lot of support after the delivery.

    It was before the delivery that I was ignored – when we waited 4 hours for the u/s, when alarms were beeping, when I needed pain meds – because I was apparently in the remote part of the wing, away from all the other deliveries and newborns. Sigh.

    This loss has honestly been the worst thing in my life thus far and it is so unfair that I wasn’t treated better. And others aren’t treated better, either.

  5. I’ve written before about the extraordinarily kind care we received at the hospital. And I remember reading Niobe’s blog before I had mine and being more than a little pissed of about the care she received. And also wondering which treatment was the norm. I have since found out that my hospital has a bereavement committee and that two L&D nurses are on it. I assume they do training for everyone else, because we were treated with so much kindness and care that I had thought, even then, of how much harder it could be if you are surrounded by insensitive morons.

  6. Y’know another point to consider is that it may have been (though I have absolutely no recollection of this) that I was somehow communicating to people — either explicitly or implicitly — that I wanted to be alone.

    I think I mentioned that the same thing happened with my synagogue. I left a message for the rabbi, telling him my baby had died. I don’t remember exactly what I else said, but the rabbi interpreted my message to mean that I didn’t want any contact whatsoever from anyone at the synagogue. While that certainly was not what I meant, I must have said something that gave that impression.

    When I called the rabbi a couple of months later, he told me that the reason that no-one from the synagogue had visited or called or sent cards was that they were respecting what they thought were my wishes.

  7. Thanks, Aurelia. I knew you’d know exactly what I was looking for. I found the group on Google. Interesting.

    Niobe, whatever you were communicating it seems like ultimately, as professionals, the nurses and doctors ought to have shown more compassion and concern. I don’t think I communicated some desire to have everyone and their student drop in on me, but it happened and I’m glad of it now. I needed that immediate and communal acknowledgment that a very real tragedy had occurred and that there were people who cared and wanted to help. I hate thinking about how you and Mary J. were treated.

  8. I/we were left alone alot, and there wasn’t much support available. Of course that was in France so i have no idea what the guidelines are in the states, i will have to read Aurelia’s link. In any case i didn’t mind being left alone…and the people who did interact with us were by-and-large quite compassionate.

    I had a similar experience to niobe with regards to telling people and having my comments misinterpreted. I asked a colleague to let people know what had happened (professional aquaintances), and somehow he interpreted what i asked him to do as stating that i didn’t want anyone to talk to me about my loss at all. Which is what he told everyone else, oops.

  9. See Kate, your comment about your colleague misunderstanding makes me wonder whether he and Niobe’s rabbi understood it in such a way because of their own discomfort. Because they think it’s an uncomfortable subject.

  10. we were very supported so long as the baby survived, but afterwards, things got a little shitty.

    Finn died in the early hours of a Saturday morning in the NICU…about eleven hours after his birth. the NICU nurses were wonderful.

    but when we eventually got to bed, it was about, oh, 4:30 am. and the cold s.o.b who’d delivered the baby the day before (and had refused to do a crash csection because i was only 26 weeks despite the nurses’ rather panicky urging) barged in at 6:30 am to do his rounds, and woke us just to ask how we were. not offer sympathy, or even examine me, just ask brisk questions. fuckhead. because i’d been on bedrest for weeks, they kept me in for a couple more days, and it was pretty awful – no ward clerk on the weekend so we had nurses come into the room who hadn’t been briefed that the baby had been born or died, and on Sunday afternoon they had a frigging baby shower on the ward which no one warned me about so i walked smack into the middle of it (i spent two whole months there the year following waiting for Oscar to be born and there was no shower during that entire time).

    so overall, no, not a great experience. i felt as though the system seriously just didn’t have a protocol for dealing with us, at least not over a weekend when the usual stronger players in the support system were’nt around

  11. My god Bon could they have been any colder? I don’t understand how they could be so clueless and dismissive. I’m sorry you were treated so poorly.

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