Tuesday, November 20, 2007

George’s Birth

The actual operation was brief and well managed. Lisa was conscious throughout – within a few minutes the baby was out. I got to watch as they pulled him out. The anesthetist said “know you know you’ve got a boy” but all I saw was blood, entrails and a curled up dead looking thing… I didn’t have time to register what I was looking at.

Seconds later, George was lying on Lisa’s chest and the surgeon was shoving all the bits back into the incision and sewing her up.

It seemed like only a few minutes (about 5:30am) and we were sitting in the recovery room drinking champagne and eating chocolates in celebration. It was only later that we were told Lisa wasn’t allowed to eat… not that anyone told us when she was allowed to, so as far as we know she still isn’t 4 weeks later.

A couple of days later, with Lisa still in hospital, George wasn’t feeding properly. The hospital has a policy of promoting breast feeding – and they were doing just that. However, try as they might, they couldn’t get George to feed. They checked his blood glucose levels and everything seemed fine, but he was becoming dehydrated.. by the end of the day, I was trying to get drops of water into his mouth on my finger.

Eventually one of the midwives (a trainee) finally suggested formula milk. George drank very well, and she said it would be best to feed him with another dose later that night – a little sanity

When it came time to feed, about 2 am, Lisa called the midwife in, but the trainee had gone off duty and been replaced. The other midwife was very sniffy about feeding George and basically told Lisa she’d come back in a couple of hours and she should try breastfeeding again

The reason I mention this is that it’s all very fine to have a policy that breast milk is best. However, it’s not acceptable to place this dogma as being more important than the health of the child. This insistence against the wellbeing of the child when the child is clearly dehydrated is unacceptable.

So much of our care was good – where intervention was needed, it was there and done expertly. However, I can’t help thinking that somehow the sophisticated complexities of medicine have somehow become disconnected with the routine everyday work and staff. So that while the doctors, surgeons and experts performed perfectly, the midwives mostly appeared to be ticking boxes rather than anything else and basic needs such as being told what we needed to do and what was going on was sorely lacking. In addition the midwives seemed to be left overstretched and understaffed and following procedures even when they were inappropriate just to get the job done.

Anyway, we were eventually discharged on the Saturday, but not before the doctors had checked George’s heart and found he had a hole in his heart and a heart murmur.

They gave the impression lots of babies had holes in their hearts which generally closed up very soon. However, they told us to book an appointment with St Thomas’ hospital.

That appointment was today.

It turns out that it’s a bit more serious than we thought… George hasn’t gained any weight since he was born. The hole hasn’t closed up and his lungs are filling with fluid. We now need to put George on medication. If that doesn’t work, there will be a stay in hospital and more medication. If that fails, it’s open heart surgery – on a 12 week old baby.

We left despondent. I really hope the medication works.

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