A woman lost her life and her baby did too. We don’t know why. All we can do is empathise and lie awake despairing at the world that allowed such a thing to happen. She left the hospital in slippers, no coat, odd considering it’s almost Christmas, an irregularity that would surely have made someone look up and notice something was terribly wrong. Nobody did though. She was allowed to leave the hospital with the baby wrapped in a few blankets. There was no proud dad by her side, with his chest puffed out like a pigeon, babe in arms, she didn’t roll out in a wheelchair. Nobody checked to see if she had ordered a taxi.
In saying all this I’m not revealing myself to be some kind of undercover nanny state advocate, I’m merely describing every single birth of a child I’ve had the privilege of being involved in, and even my own early induction (medical miscarriage). Especially my own experience being as it was mentally fucked up. Surely someone would have noticed the woman who didn’t look like all the others, one whose eyes are empty, can barely lift her head to see where she’s going. She might be dressed inappropriately for the weather, in hospital slippers minus the usual winter attire. If this wasn’t an immediate concern, then the baby wrapped only in blankets would have raised an eyebrow. It’s not like you can get out of a hospital very fast, there are so many nobs to pull and buttons to press to get anywhere, especially on a maternity ward, measures introduced to prevent people just strolling in and stealing babies. Nurses stations are usually by the doors, they had to have seen her.
Unless maternity services are so stretched no one has any time to see you as a person, just a number taking the total down, if only briefly. Where was the prenatal screening for depression and appropriate support if she needed it? Health professionals, in my experience, are usually on it from the second you meet them, how you must tell them if you’re feeling low, the sort of services they can refer you to and tend to be very sympathetic to the ‘baby blues’; all this at barely 10 weeks pregnant (in my experience and practically everyone I know).
Why didn’t somebody notice? We’ve heard all the judgments this past week, of women who abandon motherly love, how, even if it had been that bad she could have handed the baby in to someone, how selfish it was of her to leave the baby so callously and justice should be served. I have been praying (to something, not sure what) that she would be ‘ok’, though I feared not. It is heart-breaking that this mother and her baby died a death that could have been prevented. An alternate ending where she lives happily ever after, supported by all those she comes into contact with could have been her reality. I know because I have had that support and everyone did the right things and I lived.
This death doesn’t make sense to me. There are so many people in your face about keeping your foetus and to their exacting standards (no smoking, no drinking or evacuating) with no acknowledgment of the hell pregnancy plays on your mind and your body, and yet LITERALLY the second they’re born, they’re invisible. No more badgering mum to watch her eating habits or put on a coat and some shoes, or checking to see if you’ve put the nappy on properly, or teaching you how to breastfeed or bringing you painkillers, or a sandwich, cup of tea or toast. Or the millions of test they do on a baby when it’s first born.
Why didn’t anyone notice? Will ‘lessons’ be’ learnt’ on this occasion?