In memory of a baby boy who did not have to die

notburiedtwice black

The ignorance, unprofessionalism, and corruption in the world of homebirth midwifery is beyond belief. Jan Tritten, Editor of Midwifery Today, crowd sourced a life and death situation on Facebook and the baby died. She didn’t think the dead baby was the problem, but when people questioned her role in a preventable death she reacted the way that homebirth midwives typically do. She deleted the Facebook post in an attempt to bury the dead baby twice, once in a tiny coffin in the ground, and then again by erasing him from the public consciousness. And if all that weren’t bad enough, she made it quite clear that she would not disclose the identity of the primary midwife, so that the midwife could be held accountable.

But social media is very powerful and by employing it, we’ve made sure that this baby’s life and death cannot be erased by a midwife who is more concerned with protecting other midwives than whether a baby lives or dies. Because of the publicity, an individual who was searching out where to report this debacle came across my blog posts and learned the story of the Facebook crowd sourcing. Distress at the preventable death of the baby prompted this individual to share as much as he or she knows about it. The facts are every bit as ugly as we surmised.

The primary midwife was, of course, Christy Collins, CPM. She outed herself publicly when she shared details of the disaster on Facebook. I contacted her on her Facebook page and told her that I had details of what had happened and offered her the opportunity to contact me through email to learn those details and correct anything she thought was wrong. She deleted the Facebook post and has not responded.

What really happened? This is what my source had to say (paraphrased):

The parents and midwife had gone for a biophysical profile on Wed 2/19 in the morning. The amniotic fluid was 0, supposedly everything else was normal. The midwife then did a NST with a hand held doppler and told the parents baby sounded good and to go home and drink lots of fluid and take a bath. They repeated the BPP later that afternoon. There was still no amniotic fluid and an NST with hand held doppler was again “good”.

A biophysical profile was repeated the following day, Thursday 2/20. There was still no amniotic fluid, and listening with hand held doppler revealed a heart rate in the 90’s.

The midwife called Dr. X (he provides backup for many homebirth midwives their city) and told him the biophysical profile was normal, but heart tones were “variable.” He told her to immediately come in. She didn’t share with Dr. X that they were at at an ultrasound office attached to Hospital Y. They left that hospital and the midwife got in the car with the clients, put oxygen on the mother and drove 30 minutes to Hospital Z where Dr. X was located. They were immediately taken for a cesarean. They worked on baby for 47 minutes before they stopped.

Christy attended a neonatal resuscitation workshop on Friday 2/21. It seems the case was discussed at this workshop.

Christy’s explanation?

In Christy’s version, it is the physician who is caring for the patient, the midwife is an innocent bystander, and it is the midwife who recognizes that the baby is having a bradycardia.  Christy insists that the doctor declared that the baby had been doomed from the previous day and could not have been saved under any circumstances.

When I asked Christy directly if she was the primary midwife, she told me she would not reveal the identity of the primary midwife, because:

Coming to the defense of others is something I will do if I feel that their actions were defensible. With what I have heard, and with what others posted, they were. It was presented by the midwife poorly, but the actions taken up to that point and past appear to have been within OB protocol …

Coming to the defense of OTHERS?

What information do I have to confirm the source’s claims?

  • The identity of the doctor who performed the biophysical profiles.
  • The identity of the obstetrician who delivered the baby.
  • The name of both hospitals.
  • The details on the workshop where the case was discussed (and where another midwife who also revealed details on Facebook was present).
  • Considerable material in Christy’s own words.

This is not the first time that Christy Collins has found herself in trouble. Christy is one of the “Sister in Chains,” a group documents that the “persecution” of American homebirth midwives, apparently for no better reason than a pile of dead bodies and a few injured mothers. It does not mention a single dead baby by name; in fact, in the case of many of the deaths, neither the babies, not the fact of their deaths are mentioned at all.

According to their Facebook page:

… [T]his group exists for the sole function of supporting persecuted midwives, doctors, students, doulas and families who are facing undue sanction for choosing or supporting birth choices. Nobody is saying anyone is perfect, but we ask only that sanctions faced by out of hospital supporters and parents be equal to those faced in hospital…

The list of sisters is a roll call of homebirth midwives who presided over the deaths of babies at homebirth. It includes:

Christy Collins, CPM (midwife), 2011

Charged with practicing medicine without a license. Took a plea of misdemeanor practicing midwifery without a license. Ordered to pay nearly $10,000 in restitution to the state and put on probation for three years.

Looks like Christy left her troubles behind and crossed the border to Nevada to continue practicing midwifery there.

It’s hard to imagine anything more damning that Collin’s own words (written to a third party):

I wish I could go back in time, and have said stronger words – enough to make you hate me, and fell you had no choice but to go into the hospital the day before. I could’ve lived with you hating me, over this feeling of devastation.

I know we say that we don’t know if it would’ve been any different; maybe he would’ve been very sick, but alive. I don’t know. But I wish I wouldn’t pushed much hard and said the things that we never want to hear the ‘experts’ say…

Instead of … telling you to “be prepared that the perinatologist doing the NST is likely to tell you that your baby could die if he doesn’t come out;” those should have been MY words. You might have been really pissed at me for pushing you into a corner where you felt you didn’t have a choice, but … I wouldn’t care… I am angry at myself for being the midwife who tried to be as firm but gentle as possible when advising to go in when I could’ve waved the dead baby flag…

I wanted so badly to see a change in fluid … while you just wanted time/space to think … If I hadn’t agreed, and used the words “your baby could die because of this …”, maybe he would still be here.

My back up doctor was amazing and the whole team worked so fast. Then the longest 47 minutes of our lives while they worked on your baby who had clearly been soaking in mec for weeks. Acidosis … bad blood gases … the worst of which had occurred in the last 20 minutes. An induction yesterday, just one day after a perfect NST may not have mattered anyhow we were told…

Baby sounded perfect the next morning and we had the same BPP result after you rehydrated. You still wanted more time. I said I didn’t feel we had any, and read to you what even other midwives had to say. That I wasn’t the only one who felt a sense of urgency. Only 20 minutes later, your baby showed distress. And hour later, your baby was out … and gone.

I wish I would’ve been so harsh with my words the day before, that you would’ve hated me. Maybe you would be nursing your baby, angry about your induced birth experience, and refusing my visits. Instead you and the daddy slept with your dead baby all night in a hospital bed …

I blame me. I would rather have you hate me for pushing you harder into a bad birth experience … so you could hold a live baby instead.

Midwifery implies choices. Informed consent. Informed refusal. No woman would refuse an induction if she knew what having a dead baby felt like. In the future, I’ll pressure until my client hates me. I won’t care.

Let us mourn for a baby who didn’t have to die and a family who didn’t have to suffer a horrific loss.

Then let us resolve to hold Christy Collins, Jan Tritten and the homebirth midwifery community accountable for this senseless tragedy.