Here’s the story so far.
Nadia called me 7am on Wednesday to say she’d gone to False Bay hospital, water had broken. I met her there.
By 12, sister decided she should be transferred to Groote Schuur as baby’s head wasn’t engaged properly, contractions weren’t that effective but water had apparently broken. The False Bay staff were lovely, nurses and cleaning staff alike. I went with her in the ambulance. EMT man asked if we were lesbians. In hindsight, I should have said yes.
We sat in the passage at GSH for nearly 6 hours, no beds available. Contractions were moderate.
Eventually she was seen, she’d only dilated 2cm and they decided the membranes hadn’t ruptured in fact. They moved her out of the labour ward and down to the maternity ward at about 8pm because they needed her bed in the labour ward. I had to leave then, as I wasn’t allowed to stay with her in that ward. They said I could sit downstairs at the entrance and wait for news of her being moved back up to the labour ward. I prepared to wait on the bench overnight.
After 9pm, security informs me I can’t in fact wait there and must go down the road to the trauma waiting room and wait overnight there. After being there an hour I decided to go home and called my dad to pick me up.
Called hospital at 7am, gave them my phone number and asked them to call me as soon as she was moved back out of maternity ward to labour ward.
They called just before 8am, said she was 5cm dilated, back in labour ward, and I should come back.
I went back, after some confusion about them actually having a patient by that name, they found her. I spent the morning with her, she was given morphine for the pain twice.
At 11am, the boyfriend arrived but they wouldn’t let him see her. Only one person is allowed to be with a mother in labour, no swapping or taking turns allowed, because of the risk of baby abduction. So he left. I promised to call when there was news.
By 4pm, she was still only 4cm dilated but contracting strongly. She was distraught, in a lot of pain. One doctor suggested a pitocin drip to improve the effectiveness of the contractions. A second doc was consulted who said no, it wasn’t necessary, that they should let it happen naturally. They said she should have been at home all this time. Perhaps, but fact is that False Bay thought it necessary to refer her. She didn’t pitch up at Groote Schuur by herself.
I had to leave again at 5pm. They said they’d call me back as soon as labour started progressing more. She was asleep between contractions anyway because of the morphine. I said they should call me even if it was the middle of the night, they said fine. She said she was ok with it, I left her phone with her so she could call me herself if necessary.
This morning, called again. Again with the confusion about who and where she was. Nobody had heard of her. Eventually tracked her down, in active labour they said, but can’t give me any more information cos I’m not family. Bearing in mind it was me who signed all the indemnity forms when she was admitted.
I explained I’d been there for 2 days. Sister put me on hold to ask Nadia. Came back and said “She’s given me a different story about who you are. You two better get your stories straight. Phone her directly if you want to speak to her.”
I immediately phoned on her cell. Phone went dead. She tried to call me back. Phone went dead. There’s no signal in that room and her battery was probably dead after being on for 2 days. Straight to voicemail from there on.
If she had changed her mind about having me there and didn’t want to see me, why did she try and call me back? Why did they not just TELL me this and asked me not to call again? I would have left it, if I knew that was her choice. I have no reason to think this other than their attitude.
Spoke to boyfriend, told him to phone and demand answers. He called me back eventually to say she’d just gone in to theatre for a caesar.
Since then, both my sister and I, and the referring sister from False Bay Hospital have tried to get information. Nobody has been successful. She’s had the baby and is back in labour ward, not in maternity /recovery ward.
Is she okay? Can’t tell you that. Is baby okay? Can’t tell you that. Why is she in labour ward still? Can’t tell you that. Can I visit tonight? No, she’s still in labour ward, no visitors. When will she be moved? Can’t tell you that. Can I speak to someone else? No, they’ll just tell you the same thing.
Get her mother to call, they say. She doesn’t have a mother, dammit. She’s got NOBODY except me.
Boyfriend’s phone just rings now. Maybe that means he’s with her. God, I hope so.
Is she okay? is baby okay? I have no idea. Next step is to call again when shift changes and we don’t speak to the same people.
I haven’t even mentioned the general treatment of patients by nurses and especially doctors. Medically, it’s probably fine. But from a human point of view – yikes.
Patient dignity is about way more than just closing the curtain when you examine them.
I get that they’re busy and understaffed. I understand they need rules to function efficiently. But every one of those women are more than just a file number.
I really don’t know what to do next.