On Thursday I received a phone call from a young woman telling me she had to look into making funeral arrangements for her baby that she delivered on Wednesday at the local hospital. I explained the costs involved in having her baby cremated and the procedures that are followed. She asked me my name, told me she had to call her fiancé at work and would get back to me.
Twenty minutes later I received a phone call from her ‘mother in law’ asking if anyone by the name of ‘Jane Doe’ has been in contact with us pertaining to a stillbirth. I explained I had talked with the mother, explained the procedures and costs and that was it. At this point the ‘mother in law’ mentioned to me that they were worried about Jane and they didn’t think she had a baby. I asked her to tell me why she might think this. Here’s the story:
Jane’s fiance John went to work at 9 a.m. on Wednesday morning. At 10 a.m. he received a phone call from Jane saying she wasn’t feeling well and was heading over to the hospital. At 11 a.m. he received another phone message saying they couldn’t find a heart beat, that their son had died and they were going to induce her. At 1:30 p.m. John received another phone call stating that he could come to the hospital to pick her up, everything was done. At 2 p.m. John arrived at the hospital to find Jane sitting alone in the waiting room in the E.R. department without a nurse or social worker with her. By the time he got the car to the front of the building she had walked out freely on her own and easily got into the car. At this point I said it sounded fishy to me as I can’t imagine how one can go from 0-10 cm dilation in the span of 4 hours let alone first have to have the proper tests done to determine that the baby had in fact passed away. There just wasn’t enough time for all of this to occur. I also mentioned that based on my experience when one is informed that their baby has passed away they usually give the mother and father a day, at least, to take all this information in before they bring them back to do an induction. I then asked how far along gestation she was. She said Jane told them she was due on August 9th, so this was a full term pregnancy. Again, I said that it was fishy. I asked about John seeing her bare belly at any point, or if he had gone to any doctor’s appointments, etc. She said he wasn’t permitted to go to any appointments and that Jane wouldn’t even tell him the Dr’s name. Mother in law then told me that John had broken up with Jane and she told him she was pregnant so he stayed with her.
I told her at this point I have no authorization to phone the hospital and that we have to take Jane at face value.
Jane then called me back asking me what could be done if she didn’t want to take the cremated remains home with her (that she just couldn’t handle that as she wasn’t permitted to ‘hang out’ with her baby at the hospital either). This was another flag as the hospital will allow the parents time to sit with their baby in these circumstances. She mentioned again that she had to speak with her fiance and she would get back to me.
I received yet another call from Jane the next day explaining to me that her parents were enroute back from their vacation and that if they call me I was permitted to answer any of their questions. Finally at this point she actually gave me her name, phone number, parent’s names and her baby boy’s name.
Approximately 15 minutes later her parents called me from the car on their cell. They had some questions about funerals and cremation and it was incredibly clear to me that they were devastated at the loss of their grandchild.
Mother in law then called me asking if I’d heard anything further with regards to this baby and I explained I had had numerous conversations with Jane and that I also spoke with her parents. She asked a bunch of ‘what if’ questions and then decided to bring her son into the funeral home so we could see him and he could sign the papers necessary in the event that there was in fact a baby as he didn’t want to come in with Jane.
John, his mother and his sister came into the funeral home and signed the necessary forms and we sat and talked. At this point I learned that she has been diagnosed with a mental illness and that she does have a Psychiatrist but she has not taken her meds for 9 months as they might be harmful to the baby. I also learned that she provided all of her family and his family with framed photos of ultrasound pictures that were traced back to Facebook and the mother’s name was conveniently removed. The numbers on the pictures all correspond with one found on Facebook. John explained to me that when he returned after their break up and being informed of the pregnancy that he wasn’t intimate with her, that he was merely there to support her and she lived with her parents and he lived with his dad so he never actually saw her naked. I mentioned perhaps someone should call Jane’s parents and asked if they knew each other. They mentioned they really only met them at the baby shower. BABY SHOWER!!! Jesus Christ…. After all of this I suggested to John that he call the hospital and tell them he was calling on behalf of Jane Doe to let them know Hulse & English was handling the arrangements. Within 2 minutes we, the funeral home, received a call from the hospital telling up they received a call that we were handling the funeral arrangements for the baby of Jane Doe but they don’t have a baby there, haven’t had a stillbirth there at all that week, perhaps they have the wrong hospital. I don’t know whether it was good news or bad news.
At this point we were all at a loss on how to handle this situation going forward. I wanted no involvement as I’m not trained in this, yet I know I’m going to have to deal with it when she calls me again. This is when I started calling around all the community services out there and got no answer.
Jane then called me back to inquire about baby urns. I answered her questions and remained mum on the information I had just received until I heard back from a trusted source for advice. She then advised me that she wanted her privacy and even if her own parents called I was not to tell anyone anything. Each time she called she seemed to be more and more paranoid/agitated.
What I finally learned from my trusted source is that I have no legal ramifications or recourse. I have not entered into any verbal or written contract with this family and we do not have the same obligation as a doctor with regards to the whole patient/doctor confidentiality. It was suggested to me if she called back to explain we had heard from the hospital following John’s phone call and there is no record of a still birth. Thankfully she didn’t call back.
Fast forward to Sunday when Jane and her mom call the funeral home to question why the mother in law would leave a message for them stating there is no baby. We explained to Jane's mother that the hospital had called us because John Doe called to inform them that we were handling the arrangements but they have no baby there, and no record of any stillbirth that week. We asked the grandmother to be if they had the right hospital and she assured us they did. But it was quite clear in her response that the gig was up.
Today I spoke to the mother in law who called to thank me and informed me the other grandparents to be were devastated and dealing with it on their end. I hope they get her the proper help. At first I thought she was delusional but now I just think she's evil, cunning and vindictive.
I'm so relieved overall that this is over, but a little disappointed because by the end of the weekend I was getting more and more pissed at the whole situation and I was hoping to have a few words with our little mama.
I've had to sit across from many women who have had the misfortune of having to go through this exact situation in real life, not fantasy life. And how dare she minimalize all of this to try to keep a man? Maybe I'm terrible, but I can only hope she eventually has to go through something like this in the future to truly understand the shroud of grief one sits under when their child dies. I honestly don't wish a child to die, but I have to hope somewhere, sometime down the line Karma will strike this girl.