Have I ever told you about the time…

10 Aug


Genesis Medical Center (in Davenport, Iowa) swapped my baby?   No?  Seriously?   (Warning: long post ahead)

For the last year I’ve wanted to tell the world, anyone who would listen, about the terrible experience that our family had at Genesis Medical Center – East Campus when Adeline was born.  For some reason or another I haven’t used this avenue of proclaiming the unprofessional behavior of the hospital and its staff.  But because many of you have never heard the story and will or have had babies at that hospital, I think you ought to know.

Adeline was born via c-section after two days on bedrest, an induction due to pregnancy induced hypertension, twelve hours of natural labor, an eventual epidural (ony received, I might add, because my cervix would not dilate any further and my midwife was desperate to help me deliver vaginally), and my body going into shock .  The entire staff of the hospital was absolutely fantastic during the two days before her birth, my labor (besides the one nurse that I couldn’t stand who mocked my desire for natural childbirth and the fact we had a birth plan…during hour ten of pitocin induced, camel-backed contractions!), and c-section. I will rave and rave about my midwives, the anesthsiologist, and doctor that did my c-section. 

But I didn’t write this post to rave.  Adeline was delivered at 10:44 pm on Wednesday night.  After I was stitched up, reunited with my baby, nursed her for the first time, moved to a recovery room,  was asked one million questions by nurses, had blood work done…etc.,  I got a late start on resting.   Because Adeline woke quite a few times, I couldn’t get out of bed on my own, and the many joys that accompany labor, delivery, and major surgery I did not sleep.  By morning (when I experienced a thousand new joys from the above mentioned labor, delivery, and major surgery) I was exhausted.   The post partum and pediatric nurses were fantastic the next day.  But still, I was exhausted.

Matthew insisted that I send Adeline to the nursery the next night.  (He couldn’t stay with me because he was working on getting the house ready to sell as we were moving to Wisconsin in two weeks!)  It was against both of our better judgements, I think.  We had talked previously that we would keep her with us at all times, but I really was exhausted, I was never going to get this help again, and it was so painful to move around on my own.  I agreed.  The nurses promised to bring her to nurse when she woke and only take her back when I was ready.  I waited until very late and finally allowed the nurse to take her.

So Adeline woke once.  Cathy, the nurse (name not changed to protect the guilty) I had all evening, brought her to me.  She checked my band with Adeline’s, with Adeline’s bassinet, and then made me state my name.  I nursed Adeline, doted on her, pondered how this beautiful creature could be mine, and then sent her to the nursery. 

 This scenario occurred once more and then 4:30am rolled around. The same nurse, Cathy (in case you missed her name…man, I hope she reads this) brought the baby in without doing this process.  I didn’t think anything of it.  It was 4:30 am, she was wearing the same thing as she was at the last feeding.  So groggily and by the nightlight,  I began to nurse nurse the baby, but she fussed in a manner that was unlike her and wouldn’t really latch correctly.  I stood up (winced) and went to the bassinet to change her.  I noticed that there was a pacifier in the bassinet.  I had stated to the nurses that no pacifiers or bottles were to be given!  I was angry and just as I was undoing the diaper, Cathy rushed in and threw the lights on.  I looked down and said, “This isn’t my baby!”  Cathy said, “Hi, I just need to check something.”  I repeated that this wasn’t my baby.

I stepped back, amazed, as the nurse finished diapering the little girl, I noticed that the bassinet was Adeline’s. She told me that she would go get “my girl”.  She whisked the baby away and came back with Adeline.  I was angry, confused, and scared by this time.  After all, I’d started to nurse that other baby!  What if she or her mother had some sort of communicable disease?  I (dumbly) asked Cathy what I should do.  She said, “Wash your breast and nurse your daughter.”  As she answered, I realized that I oughtn’t take her word for anything!  When I told her I wasn’t comfortable with that or her advice, she raised her voice and repeated herself.  I, crying, demanded to speak to her superior.

As I held my crying child and waited (fifteen minutes) for the charge nurse to come in, I called my poor, exhausted husband, and hysterically relayed the situation.  He assured me that he would be there shortly. As I hung up, the charge nurse and Cathy walked in. I expressed my concerns about nursing and demanded they call Adeline’s pediatrician and my midwife immediately.  The charge nurse asked me, “How could you not know your own baby?”  I lost it!  I explained that it was 4:30 in the morning and dark, I was highly medicated with pain meds, had only known my baby for a day, and they were wearing identical hats, blankets, etc. The charge nurse continued to be rude and get me to take responsibility for the situation.  That wasn’t happening.  I then asked what the other mother thought of the situation (I would have been far angrier to be in her situation – having my child nursed by someone else!).  They then told me that they hadn’t told her….yet.

So they left my room when I demanded to speak to the charge nurse’s superior.  Matthew came in shortly and told me that he saw all the nurses and babies lined up in the nursery and the charge nurse was speaking harshly and checking each child with the bassinet he/she was in.  Both my midwife and the pediatrician stopped in and told me it was most likely fine to nurse Adeline and that they would suggest it.  By this time she had missed a feeding but really didn’t seem to mind, though I did.

Throughout the day various people stopped in…but never when Matthew was in the room.  When Matthew left to go get some dinner that evening and I was trying to eat and nurse Adeline, the Assistant Nurse Manager (I believe that was her title) came in to discuss the situation and have me sign some forms for the HIV/Hepatitis tests both I and the other mother had insisted on.  For my “trouble” she left on the tray two $10 gas cards and two $5 (expired) Whitey’s (local ice cream establishment) gift certificates!  Whooohoo!  That makes up for losing my child.

Cathy was (obviously) forced to apologize.  She looked more scared than sorry and I couldn’t feel even a little sorry for her.

Has the question arisen for you that was hanging over us during the next few days?  Where was our Adeline when we had the other baby?

We didn’t find out until AFTER we were discharged two days later.  This is what they said must have happened (they wouldn’t show us the nursery footage we asked to see – too many HPPA violations…and they were already one big violation into the week):

Sometime after her second feeding of the night, Adeline got fussy so a nurse sat and rocked her for a while.  Another child was put into her bassinet (one violation).  Adeline was put into the other child’s bassinet (violation #2) and given a bottle of formula (violation #3 and why Adeline wasn’t famished when she missed a feeding). Then the other baby was brought to me (violation #4) and given to me without verifying our information (violation #5).  It should also be stated that the other baby was breastfed, not formula fed, so I’ve always wondered if there was another baby involved.

So that’s the story. The high-ups in the company were less than helpful, didn’t return phone calls, and never contacted us when they said they would.  Only one or two offered an apology.  We asked one of their accrediting agencies to investigate and we were assured that they would.  We never heard more.

I don’t want to scare new moms but I will always regret sending Adeline to the nursery. I’ve factually accounted for the time, but emotionally, I can never explain to you the anguish I felt.  This child had only been in the world for a day and I had lost her!

Moral of the story:  These things still happen!  If you choose to send your child to the nursery, be sure that the proper checks are made to ensure the safety of your child.


One Response to “Have I ever told you about the time…”

  1. Brenda Massung August 13, 2009 at 11:06 pm #

    We obviously had to leave Brie – but we NEVER let Sadie leave our sight. We went with her down to the nursery, we went with for her hearing check, EVERYTIME she left the room we went with (well one of us did). And we insisted that vital checks be done ONLY in the room, that way they didn’t have to take her out. I am sooo sorry for that situation you went through, how frustrating for an already crazy high on who-knows-what hormonal woman. Whew.

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