Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Get that baby out of here!

I was going to write my first post for RD last week, and I had intended to describe the various pros and cons of having a baby in North London, but events got the better of me.

A couple of gallstones, which had been grumbling around inside my gallbladder for the past ten weeks, decided to make a bid of freedom at 5am last Tuesday. Unfortunately, they did not get far, and took up residence in my bile duct turning me an interesting shade of orange. Thankfully, they were removed on Friday and I was able to return home from hospital on Saturday evening in time to prepare for Millie's Christening the following morning.

The drama of the episode was not so much about what was happening to me, but how unprepared the hospital was. As a breastfeeding mother of a 13 week old baby, I needed to be accommodated in a family room. Which the hospital does not possess. I cannot believe that I am the first ever mother to be admitted in this condition, and yet we had every ward manager, bed manager, head of family and women's health and countless others running around in various states of panic trying to work out what to do with us. It came down to this:

  • Hospital policy is to promote breastfeeding;
(Millie would not take a bottle at all and would rather starve than drink formula)
  • Hospital policy would not allow any member of staff to help me with the baby at all, and it was strongly suggested that my husband should take her home;
(My husband was on hand to help with changes, feeds and hold her while I was in scans etc)
  • Hospital policy would not allow Millie to stay in an unlocked ward in case of abduction;
  • The only locked ward that would accept me with Millie was the gynaecological ward;
  • No men are allowed to stay on the gynaecological ward.
Since I was in no fit state to care for the baby on my own, and their own policy stated that they must promote breastfeeding, the multitude of managers eventually relented and allowed my husband to sleep in a chair in the room with me. Had I been a single mother, or if my husband had been abroad, I can only assume that they would have taken Millie into Care rather than help me with her.

I was completely baffled that there were no provisions for this sort of circumstance, and that Millie had to sleep in a cot designed for a newborn, while my husband spent four nights in an upright chair (after 2 nights they gave him a blanket). I hope that this may lead to a change in policy somewhere, but I won't hold my breath. I'm due in again soon to have the offending gallbladder out, so watch this space...

Here's Millie, just fitting into the cot that they provided:


  1. Welcome aboard, Tanith! It is good to have you writing on RD and especially good to have you out of hospital.

    Won't it be good when Millie can post as well and we can be three generations of randomly distracted women?

  2. You know, this gallstone problem happened to the daughter of a friend of mine just a few months after *she'd* had a baby. Are pregnant or newly delivered women women prone to gallstone problems I wonder? I don't know whether they tried to take the baby into hospital but I do know that my friend looked after her grandaughter (bottle fed I assume), so if they did try they obviously failed. In your case I find the hospital's attitude to be beyond understanding.

    M: I bought 'Not Now Bernard' by David McKee for Scott (our grandson) today. It's a bit of a classic and I think he's going to love it.

  3. I'll look that book up, Cath. It isn't one I know.
    Re the connection between gallstones and pregnancy - you can imagine we have been looking it up everywhere! - apparently the raised levels of oestrogen in pregnancy can trigger them.

  4. Hi Tanith. So glad to hear that you were able to escape in time for the Christening. But what an appalling state of affairs at the hospital. Really sorry that you've had such a rough time of it. Let's hope they've sent themselves a collective memo re getting their act together when you go back in for the op. Millie looked so gorgeous in her Christening dress, and has a really winning yawn!

  5. I'm just stunned. It sounds like a hospital out of the 19th century. Sorry you had to go through the stress of it. Millie was my mother's name, and it thrills me there is a new baby in the world with that name. I'm guessing it is 'the' name, not Mildred, as my mum's was.

  6. Thanks for all the good wishes.

    I don't know if all NHS hospitals have similar problems, or just this particular one. It is the hospital I gave birth in, and they have a large maternity area, so you would have thought that they would have some facilities for families in times of crisis!

    nan - her full name is Amelia, but Millie suits her well at the moment.

  7. I've just got back to Devon and caught up with everyone's blogs - what a time you have had Millie's Mum (with more hospital fun to come). But delighted that the christening went ahead and that Millie was able to take centre stage in her first starring role.

    My great niece, Amelia Rose, is also known as Millie. Such a lovely name . . .


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