Because what the internet needs is more wittering about rubbish parenting

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

It Is A Good Thing....

... that I am not prone to a) anxiety, and b) suing people, otherwise A Certain Hospital would be in trouble. I know I don't normally write about serious stuff, but I thought I would share this with you, as it is, in its own way, almost comical...

I had quite a rough time of it after giving birth to The Toddler, which I will spare you the details of, but it involved a lot of blood loss and some botched stitches, and was really quite painful and unpleasant. Once the newborn haze passed and I thought about it a bit more, I got a bit cross and had a vague notion that I would DO SOMETHING about it. I got as far as requesting a copy of my records from the hospital and taking down the name of the woman at the complaints department, before, being the lazy sod that I am, deciding I couldn't be bothered.

Anyway, after my nice, straightforward delivery of The New'un, where I was cared for by a lovely, lovely midwife, I thought I had managed to escape any more instances of hospital ineptitude. In fact, I felt quite reassured when the midwives on the ward told me that they wanted a paediatrician to check The New'un's face over - she came out at an odd angle, so was pretty battered and bruised. The paediatrician told me that she thought the baby looked fine, and she didn't think there were any problems, but she wanted us to take her to a clinic with the consultant in a few weeks time, just to be on the safe side. All fine and dandy, we thought, can we go home now please? But then shortly afterwards, the doctor came back and asked did I know why she had been asked to check the baby over? I replied that I thought it was because of the bruising. Oh no, apparently not. Apparently, the midwives who delivered her had been concerned that she displayed some of the facial characteristics compatible with Downs Syndrome, but they weren't sure because of the bruising. WTF?! Because she had already told me that The New'un seemed totally fine, I wasn't really worried, but still, it's not a great thing to hear is it?

A few days later we received a copy of the referral letter, in which the paediatrician stated that The New'un seemed normal, and that she didn't have certain characteristics, but did have a couple of them. The ones she had were a flat nose (which I have), deep eyelid folds (which I have) and an increased distance between the first and second toes (which I have. I didn't even realise this until I was about 17, and a friend looked at my feet in sandals and said "Urgh, you could fit a whole extra toe in there!". No idea it was a marker for Downs Syndrome either). I decided not to worry about it. The doctor said she was probably fine, she seemed fine, and if by some chance she did have Downs Syndrome, well, it's not like we could take her back to the shop or anything. We would worry about it if and when we knew.

So our appointment with the consultant was today. When we got there (eventually, FYI, hospital, it is not helpful to send letters out with the name of the unit on them, and then have all your signage with just the ward numbers on), he was reading The New'un's notes with a perplexed look on his face. The conversation went something like this...
Him: "I must say this is one of the most bizarre referrals I have ever seen"
Me: "Yeah...."
Him: "Can I see the baby's face?"

I show him the baby's face

Him: "That baby does not have Downs Syndrome. It's as simple as that"
Me: "Oh good. I didn't think she did"
Him: "I have no idea why anyone would think she did"
Me: "Well she was very battered when she came out, and I think the doctor just wanted her checked when it had all gone down, just to be on the safe side"
Him: "I hope you don't mind me asking, do you have any Oriental heritage?"
Me: "Yes, I'm half-Chinese"
Him: "Ah, that explains some of the characteristics they will have seen"

He then proceeded to ask me where my mother was from (Malaysia) and ask if I'd ever been there, or to Singapore, or if I spoke any Chinese. I was a bit baffled by this slightly awkward attempt at conversation, but I think possibly he was trying his best to draw out the appointment, so that we hadn't been dragged down to the hospital just to be dismissed again within 10 seconds. The consultant then proceeded to dictate a slightly narky letter to the original paedetrician, saying that the baby had been "inexplicably referred" to him, and that there was no evidence of Downs Syndrome, and that the "pseudo-characteristics" they had seen could be explained by the fact that I was half-Chinese (which, by the way, was IN MY BLOODY NOTES if they had thought to investigate that). He seemed quite embarrassed and cross about the whole thing, and apologised repeatedly for any worry it had caused us. I reassured him that we hadn't really been worried.

And we hadn't. True, we are no doctors, but even to us it seemed that the whole thing was a bit ridiculous. I suppose these things need checking out, but it could have caused us three weeks of untold worry and stress. Oh well, at least I have been able to tell my sister she can stop obsessively Googling "signs of Downs Syndrome" now.

(Sorry if this was a bit boring, and not my usual style, I just felt like writing about it. I'll post about The Toddler smacking her face off stuff or something like that.


  1. We went for our 6 week check up at about 11 weeks and of all the babies the doctor saw that day ours was the one she heard a slight murmur with! She was not overly worried about it and said when we visited the consultant at the hospital in a few weeks they would probably not hear anything. Like you we were not particularly concerned and my sister is a pead and said my baby showed no signs of having heart problems...very useful having a sister who is a doctor! For me though what is the frustrating bit no matter the weight of the worry is the fact that you always have to wait weeks before you get your appointment! Glad to hear all is well with your new'un and look forward to hearing the story of 'the Toddler smacking her face of stuff', a compelling post title I think!

  2. That should be "off stuff", of course! It was rather late last night and I was typing one-handed!