After eleven months living with anxiety-fuelled thoughts of “could this be the one”, “maybe next month” and even the inevitable consideration of resorting to a fertility clinic; Naomi Jones woke up on the 19th October 2019 to get ready for work and took the pregnancy test that had become as habitual as many people find brushing their teeth, however this time the faint pink line that writes a new chapter every woman’s life slowly appeared in front of her.
Eleven months isn’t an overly long time to be trying to conceive but for Naomi it was eleven months of having her hopes smashed to pieces month in and month out and she had finally found what she had been wanting to see for so long. the next nine months should have been the most exciting if albeit daunting of her life, this unfortunatley was not the case as little did she know – things were about to take a very ugly turn. this is Naomi’s story in her own candid words.
Up until week 17 of Naomi’s pregnancy it was all plain sailing as her and her partner Brad were loving spending time with bump as a parents-to-be, oh how things can change in a week, as she entered into the 18th week Naomi knew (as all mothers know when things aren’t as they seem, like a sixth sense) that things weren’t right, yet every nurse, midwife and doctor she spoke to in the south of England refused to listen to her concerns.
what were the concerns Naomi was experiencing? in her own words;
– Anterior placenta (not a major concern and in no way unusual but for Naomi it did cause her issues).
– Head down from week 18 (again not unusual but it was considered to be an “early rotation”).
– Extreme itching of the hands, feet and belly (this was the major cause for concern for Naomi and the itching was apparant mostly during the night and early morning). Now when she described the itching it was in her own words; “going out of your mind itching, scratching so much you leave paper cut tears all over the palms and soles of your feet” yet when she brought said itching up with the midwife – she was shot down and explicitly told it was nothing to worry about, as a first time mum-to-be and going through her first pregnancy Naomi thought “well she must be right…she is a professional after all”. Oh how wrong she was and if the moral of this article is anything it would be; trust those maternal instincts!
We fast forward the article a few months forward to February 2020, Naomi and Brad made the decision to move house due to issues with their neighbours such as loud music blaring at all times of the night and day and the possibility of potential drug use – they decided this was unnecessary stress that they didn’t need whilst Naomi was pregnant and quite rightly so. Again we fast forward one month to March 2020 where the nation was plunged into the first (of many) National Lockdowns. Not many people realise or can relate to how hard it is being a pregnant woman and facing the isolation that the fascist lockdowns have neednessly caused. Regardless of the lonliness caused by the restrictions on their freedoms and human rights – Naomi and her partner Brad managed to enjoy what they could of the pregnancy and newly found peace and quiet of their new home…the peace didn’t last long.
At the 32 week milestone Naomi was visibly heavily pregnant and making final preperations in the anticipation of meeting her baby. A few days after the 32 week milestone Naomi noticed a change in herself; she wasnt feeling her usual bubbly self, her whole body was in a severe amount of discomfort and to make matters worse she had noticed that she had started to bleed. She immediately called Brad and he rushed back home from his night shift at work in a blind panic that would take over most fathers-to-be.
Naomi and Brad rushed to the Nevill Hall Hospital, Abergavenny, Wales. Unfortunately due to the newly enforced “Covid Regulations” Brad was unable to accompany his distraught partner in the hospital and was forced to wait outside – this is the point in the article in which we reach the cold facts which verge on neglect, breaches of the duty of care and just outright abuse. Naomi was made to wait SEVEN hours on a ward with several other women (some of whom were giving birth to their babies whilst Naomi had to sit and listen), those seven hours must have felt like an eternity for Naomi and even longer for Brad who was still outside and oblivious to the neglect his partner was facing.
The following morning at around seven an ambulance arrived at Nevill Hall and transported Naomi to Prince Charles Hospital, Merthyr Tydfil, Wales – A hospital that Naomi was informed by staff; “Were more specialised to deal with premature babies”. To add insult to injury Prince Charles Hospital is only a 40 minute drive from Nevill Hall yet Naomi was made to wait over seven hours for the transport to arrive.
Naomi describes in her own words the seven long hours spent at Nevill Hall as; “Emotionally draining and downright unfair on us both as we were not only worried but separated”.
Upon arrival at Prince Charles Hospital Naomi was now having regular contractions, don’t forget all this takes place whilst Naomi is 33 weeks pregnant. She was admitted to a ward and the nurses managed to stop the contractions (Which Naomi now realises was a mistake on their behalf), upon being officially admitted as a patient at the hospital and due again to “Covid Regulations” this meant that Brad yet again had to wait outside whilst unbeknownst to him his partner was about to give birth to their baby at 33 weeks, the thoughts racing through his mind must have been unbearable.
Naomi’s stay in Prince Charles Hospital amassed to almost six days, six days stuck in the same bed, staring at the same four walls and drab curtains whilst expectant mothers came and went with their new families. The staff at the hospital never really thoroughly explained to her what was going on and as she approached the sixth day of her duration in there she decided to discharge herself (with the doctors permission) not only for her own mental well-being but for Brad’s also.
Five short days later and Naomi found herself back in the same bed, staring at the same four walls and drab curtains that she did under a week ago, the pains and the bleeding had returned only this time “they were getting stronger and more severe” Naomi described. Upon arrival at Prince Charles Hospital she was sent straight to the delivery suite – her baby was going to be delivered at just 34 weeks. In Naomi’s own words she described the delivery of her baby as; “Pretty laid back considering I have a flat pelvis and a small frame, I was given gas and air and a late-stage mild epidural due to having a high pain threshold”, it’s worth remembering that the high pain threshold Naomi speaks of is probably due to the fact that for the two weeks prior to the delivery of her baby – she was living with what were essentially mild contractions.
As Naomi described; the delivery of her baby was surprisingly quick and laid back apart from having an episiotomy due to her baby having their hands over their face, being distressed and suffering from meconium aspiration. Being a premature baby meant that in the delivery suite there were seven people present at the time of birth and thankfully one of those people was Naomi’s partner Brad, it seems the “Covid Regulations” only apply at certain times or maybe more accurately is when certain people want to abuse their authority.
Naomi and Brads’ baby boy Malahkai was born into the world at quarter past three in the afternoon, weighing a tiny 4lbs and 7oz.
Sadly Naomi and Brads’ time with Malakhai was only minimal as he was whisked off to the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) before Naomi had even had the skin-to-skin contact that the NHS midwives themselves drum into us that is so important for the developing bond between mother, father and newborn. Yet again the “Covid Regulations” were enforced as Naomi and Brad were allowed to go and visit their baby boy in the SCBU before Brad was sent home and Naomi was sent packing back to the maternity ward. On said maternity ward Naomi felt the epitome of the word isolated as she was the only mother on the ward without her baby in her arms, she glanced around the room to see new mothers cradling, cuddling and caressing their babies, Naomi felt this was a cruel and heartless way for her to be treated by staff in the hospital (and quite rightly so) as afterwards she realised that she could have been provided with her own room away from all the other mothers unintentionally rubbing salt in the wounds, because of how low and distressed she was feeling she simply didn’t think about asking.
The following afternoon Naomi discharged herself from the hospital as not only was she not given adequate opportunities to visit her baby boy in the SCBU but she also felt that Brad (who had been home on his own with nothing but his thoughts) needed her with him. “Driving home from the hospital was the worst feeling in the world, we visited everyday for 7 weeks but this was unfair as one of us would always have to wait in the car whilst the other went into the hospital to visit our baby boy, it felt like it was never-ending and all we wanted to do was take our baby home”
Malakhai spent a total of 7 weeks in the SCBU and NICU combined, he came home 1 day shy of his due date but even more poignantly for Naomi he came home on her late grandmothers’ birthday.
So what was the relevance of Naomi’s itching that blighted her later-stages of pregnancy? Well this highlights another breach of the NHS’ duty of care as all the doctors, nurses and midwives she spoke to overlooked her symptoms – Pregnancy Cholestasis or Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy is a condition that affects 1 in 140 pregnancies in the UK and requires immediate medical attention as soon as it is identified (something that Naomi never once received) as the risk of still birth in the later stages of pregnancy are significantly increased. Cholestasis is essentially a liver problem that slows or stops the normal flow of bile from the gallbladder; thus causing itching and yellowing of the skin, eyes and mucous membranes.
It is important to state that not all the midwives and nurses that Naomi dealt with whilst pregnant can be portrayed in a negative light – as she is thankful to the midwives and nurses that helped save her baby boys’ life. Malakhai is now a healthy and very happy young boy who no longer requires a tube-fed oxygen supply through his nose. He still has to have regular X-rays to check on how his lungs are healing and Naomi still has countless disagreements with his aftercare team and still proves them wrong…every time.
Naomi hopes that by publishing her birth story for others to read it will bring to the attention some of the failings and neglect not only by the NHS but also caused by the governments cruel lockdowns and “Covid Regulations”.
“I hope my story has given the reader some insight into how things must change with regards to the NHS and the treatment pregnant women can receive by doctors, nurses and midwives at the most fraught times in their lives. I must insist to all women pregnant or not – if something feels wrong; do not let anyone tell you otherwise! Trust your instincts, our story could have had a very different ending and for some women sadly it does” – Naomi.
“The hardest thing about the later stages of Naomi’s pregnancy and the birth of Malakhai was not being able to see our son. Fathers need to be there just as much as the mother regardless of the “Covid Regulations”, we are all from the same household so I didn’t see the issue, we were also told if we had twins we would both be allowed in to visit together but as we had just the one we had to do an almost shift-like visitation schedule…I don’t see the logic in any of it” – Brad.
Naomi, Brad and baby Malakhai hope this article opens the readers’ eyes into some of the malpractices, misdiagnosis and sometimes lunacy of the NHS and society as a whole that has been reshaped in the last year, if you take away anything from this article they hope that it is the sentiment and age-old expression;
Mother knows best.
Many thanks to Naomi, Brad and of course Malakhai for working with me on this article and providing me with their story. I wish them all the best and hope that if they decide to bring a sibling for Malakhai into the world that they don’t have to go through another pregnancy and birth like the one described here.
By Callum Claffey-McKinnon – Investigative journalist for TheFree-ThinkersTimes.