Sunday, October 14, 2012

Walking out of the Hospital

© 2012 Amy (last name withheld upon request)

"I want people to feel compassion for our situation. And I want them to show compassion for others in our position. This topic is so misunderstood and mistreated in our culture.

This is me with my first born son Carlos, who was stillborn at 29 weeks gestation.

His sudden death was an abrupt and unexpected end to all we had planned. Compounding our grief, my mother was not permitted to carry our small, bundled baby through the main entrance of the hospital, because we might have 'upset the other mothers.'

Instead, we were shuffled down a narrow back staircase where an elderly relative tripped and fell. The message here was clear – keep your pain to yourselves; it makes others uncomfortable. My mother lost her only opportunity to walk her first grandchild proudly, sadly, from the hospital. Most families will have many chances to carry their children – we had but one, and for the crime of having been bereaved, we became pariahs.

It has been nearly 10 years since that walk, and I now have two more beautiful, healthy children from uneventful pregnancies. I don't think I can ever stop feeling angry about the treatment we received and especially when I hear about the mistreatment that continues on for other families experiencing losses.

The hospital in which my son was born, in New Plymouth, New Zealand, is – as of last year - reluctant to divulge their policies on stillbirth, neonatal loss and cultural sensitivity in these situations. This is a public hospital paid for by taxpayers. This information is supposed to be freely available under the Official Information Act.

My son is silent, but I will not be any longer. Our hospital failed its most vulnerable patients in their hour of need. Please take a moment to think about those who are making this walk right now...the 1 in 150 who will take steps they never dreamed of, nor wanted to take. Please help in any way to acknowledge them and support them."

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