Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Calling out a negligent Midwife

What can you do when your child dies due to a midwife's negligence?

Let's see, we attempted to consult a lawyer only to have nobody want to help because midwives don't carry insurance.
The police wanted to charge her with Negligent Homicide, but the detective refused to go on a "witch hunt".
The midwife review board did nothing but give us shit. Funny enough, they also have sat idly by while multiple babies die under her care.
A reporter was going to help us but after an interview, we never heard from him again.

After much thought I am going to publicly share the emails and as much info as I can dig up.

Email 1

There is alot of mis-truths on this. A Baby born at 37 weeks is not pre-mature by anyones standards, not even the medical community. Respitory distress is a common label for any reason the baby stops breathing. That doesn't mean its the reason she died. The baby didn't start getting jaundice under after I left. You didn't even notice it yourself until after the pictures came back and it was still a slight case. You are very aware there was no respiratory distress while the medics were there or while I was there. Sweetie, if you thought Mary Beth was breathing funny or having any trouble at all, because you are such loving and attentive parents I know in my heart you would have never gone to lay down and take a nap, you would have called me or someone for help. James said "we addressed all of our concerns with the midwife." Why did he say that? There were no concerns when I left. If fact, no one ever called me at all afterwards, for anything. You never brought up a concern with me. I even asked you yesterday if you got the M.E.'s report and you said "not yet."

You both realize midwives don't carry insurance. You also realize what the legally is in the state of Ohio, and it's not illegal, it's unregulated. We talked about this multiple times way back when you came to talk with me during your first pregnancy. This is not your first homebirth. Bambi you are a very knowledgeable lady concerning birth. You spent many hours researching before making a decision about anything.

J, I suppose you could be angry at lots of folks because of Mary Beth's death. You could try and sue the radiologist, they usually carry insurance. You could sue me. But do you really think throwing me and my kids out on the street will make you feel better? Because there isn't any money at my house. You've known me too long and that I struggle just as you do. I'd bet I make way less income than you do. You could try and sue the medics. They thought everything was ok the first time they were there, and couldn't save her at all the second time. But, medics have immunity in Ohio. You could even get angry at each other and end up in divorce court. Lots of families do break up because of a traumatic situation. The anger you feel comes out onto each other and the family. I pray you don't allow your broken heart to control your emotions. You have a wonderful family. You are some of the best parents I've ever known.

Bambi, when you both first came to me we discussed all your questions and concerns. We talked about legal status. We talked about what happens when a mom or baby needs transported to the hospital. We talked about what possible outcomes can happen at home and at the hospital. We even talked about the possibility that a baby could have problems that no human being can fix. That would be a decision that only God makes. You could get angry at Him too. He's big enough to take it. But it still won't bring us any answers or bring Mary Beth back.

J, it seems you are trying to hurt me by writing that letter to other midwives. As far as accountability goes, I already volunteered for a peer review. (If you feel you need to be there to hear the review, you are welcome to be there.) I realize you probably want me to hurt like you are hurting. I can only assure you my heart is bleeding right along with you both. My tears don't stop just because weeks go by. I love your family. Your children are some of my kids favorite people. Bambi is someone I love and cherish and have for years.

Before you continue, please, I beg you, think about the long term harm that would come. Lawsuits never bring closure, and usually not even the money you feel would make you happy. Legal action will only allow anger and bitterness to fester and overflow onto your children and your relationship as a couple. There are times in life we simply don't get the answers we desperately want. Trying to find a place to unload blame doesn't give the answer and it doesn't heal the hurt. But it can destroy everyone in the process, including yourself and your own family.

Please talk to me.

Email 2

Sheryl told me this evening the coroner wrote "respiratory distress caused by a home birth." She said you had posted that on one of the chat sites you both share. In the years I've known you, your wisdom and willingness to research everything has always been amazing to me. You take no ones word for anything. You investigate it yourself. Thats why when hospital births were not giving you the opportunity to birth your babies in the way you knew was right....you did the research and found another way. You never once simply took my word for it. You studied and examined everything to make sure you were making the best decision for your family. I admire that. I'm counting on that wisdom now. Please think about what the coroner is saying. A home birth cannot possibly cause respiratory distress. That can happen at home, in a taxi or in the hospital waiting room itself. That is a general label and term used for a person who stopped breathing. It is why Mary Beth stopped breathing that is the cause of death. Where she was born had nothing to do with that. I know you know that.

What the coroner is doing is exactly what any doc does when they want people to follow the hospital path, the place the blame on a homebirth or midwife. Repository distress can be a lung defect, a choking, or even a SIDS death. You can have that diagnosis at the moment of birth, several hours later, or even as an old man. It is a very loose term to say in medical lingo we don't have an answer. So the way to get good people angry is to blame midwives.

Your hurting and pain is so hard to face right now. But please do not allow yourself to be sucked into one medial doc's statement. Please participate in the review process with us. Come with me to one of my own back up doctors and we'll hash out together what could have been going on, what we might have missed or done differently. At least an OB will have the most experience in birth, life and death and babies in trouble. A medical examiner will only have experience in death.

I want so much to come over tomorrow and hold you. Can we go over his report together? Can we find a way to work thru all this pain by supporting each other? Can we please lay out all the issues and walk thru them one by one until we find true understanding of how Mary Beth died?

We are both Christian familys. And in that spirit of friendship can we work together to find the truth. If we allow anger and bitterness to reign we loose sight of our friendship and love as friends, we'll lose sight of the goal to find the real reason the breathing distress came on and bring closure. We lose sight of our familes and husbands as we start throwing mud and insults and stinging words. Then everyone loses. Please don't do this to all the familes involved. Protect your family and your marriage above all buy not allowing the anger at the unknown destroy. God have a wonderful plan for sweet Mary Beth. Lets find that goal for her life together.

Please Bambi, Please call me, write me back or I'd love to come over. I wold be thrilled to come tomorrow to talk if you would be gracious to invite me. We'll talk, we'll investigate ideas and share what we fond and return on the path of continuing to be friends.

Please, please talk to me. Can I come over for awhile to visit?

Email 3

I keep trying to talk to you and I'm getting a wall of silence. We are friends. Please don't shut me out of your life. Especially based on one lone doctors opinion.

I will be able to send your birth records tomorrow. Even though it seems you want them to try and use against me, they are your records and I will not keep them from you. I do, however, need to hear from you that you still want them and acknowledge them coming still you are not talking with me.

Please, please, think about what you are doing. Mary Beth is a beautiful little daughter and would not want fighting or destruction to midwifery being done in her memory. There is always a risk with life. We don't always understand why life takes the turns it does. It doesn't mean it was anyones fault. You have been a mom and baby advocate for many years. You know the advantages in midwife care and home births for families. What James is contemplating doing will destroy midwifery for moms all over the state. You've seen the ACOG statement, they want midwifery destroyed in all 50 states by next year.

Please talk to me.

I've had a few minor "run-ins" where I was questioned by the hospital doctors and/or the coroner. But once I was in enough "trouble" that I was required to be at a few police interviews and it was eventually taken to the Stark County Grand Jury. I delivered a set of twins. This mom had been my friend for 12 years and I delivered 5 of her other 6 children. She always goes 3 weeks over her due dates, and always gives birth to huge babies…10.5 to 11.5 pounds (never diabetic though).

In this case her twins were born 10 days early, but in my mind she could actually have babies that were almost 5 weeks early…regardless that they weighed 8-8.5 each. When one baby started having breathing problems two days after birth we got him to th e hospital. He was fine after transporting, but died the next day in the hospital under the doctors' care. The doctor and coroner both adamantly insisted I was a nutcase, this baby was only 10 days early and couldn't have had immature lungs. Yet the de ath report states just that.

They tried to charge the parents with child abuse and neglect (for – believe it or not! – obeying the midwife!). They tried to charge me with manslaughter. Although I was never formally charged, the prosecutor tried every angle to blame the death on me. The grand jury refused to charge me with anything and it was all finally dropped.

At the beginning I started bringing my own tape recorder with me to each interview. Partly because I thought if I would just cooperate they would see I had done nothing wrong and would not need an attorney, so I wanted my own record. That thoroughly pissed off the police. Since I hadn't been charged, they were told they had to allow it. That was the best thing I could have done and saved my butt several times when they tried to make up statements and comments later.

Second, I made copies of everything from the first afternoon the baby died. I copied all my records, copied all pictures taken at the birth, and made copies of the videotape the grandma made of the birth. I labeled the tape "Christmas Vacation 2000" and then handed three copies out to friends, instructing them to hide or give away the tapes and not tell me where they are. That videotape would be confiscated by the police and I wanted nothing edited or deleted.

I also started storing my birth bags at another house. It was a real pain to have to travel there to collect things before getting off to a birth, but I wasn't willing to lose a life's work worth of equipment just because the police would come in and do a sudden sweep of my house. The parents and I are still friends (they too were found innocent).

Anyway, that is my two cents. Copy everything, store your stuff elsewhere until all danger is passed, and take your own tape recorder to all interviews (especially if you don't have an attorney the first time you talk to someone!).

Brenda Scarpino


Brenda Scarpino-Newport, you are a negligent midwife and did cause my daughter's death.

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