In late November, Cecily Dantum and her husband Paul were ready to welcome the arrival of their second child.
Her waters hadn’t broken yet, so their midwife at Vanderbilt University Medical Center used an amniotic hook to rupture the amniotic sac, as is standard procedure in some labours.
“She went in and she was like, ‘This is a tough water bag. Oh my god, this is so tough,’ and she was just jamming it in there,” Nashville mum Cecily told WKRN-TV.
Only it wasn’t the amniotic sac the midwife was clawing.
It was the unborn baby’s head.
The couple claim the midwife spent "five to 10 minutes" using the hook to dig and scrape what she thought was a water bag, at the time saying "it was the hardest water bag she'd ever felt".
When Lorelei was born, Cecily says, “She was wailing away, with abandon, with reckless abandon honestly."
Moments after the birth, doctors insisted on rushing the baby to be 'given a bath'. Moments later, the family were informed their daughter in fact had hypothermia and would need to be addmitted to a neonatal intensive care unit.
"After the delivery, [the doctors] mentioned to us [Lorelei] was having trouble breathing, and she had aspirated some of the amino fluid, and they said it was the trauma of the birth. The NICU said they didn’t know what happened; it was probably just the trauma of the birth,” Paul recalled.
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"I asked several times if you are going to tell me that it was trauma of the labour that caused her to aspirate fluid. How many gouges on a baby’s head signifies trauma?"
Images taken not long after Lorelei's birth show multiple deep cuts on the baby's scalp. "I saw her head and my heart just dropped," Cecily said.
After expressing their concerns over their treatment to the hospital, the family received a letter crediting their baby's admission to the NICU to 'low blood oxygen level', with no mention of the scratches on her head.
That's when they decided to share their story on social media, in an effort to warn other parents of their experience.
WKRN-TV spoke to the Director of the Vanderbilt Nurse Midwifery Practice, Melissa Davis, who said it's not common for a baby's head to be scratched when using an amniotic hook, but it is possible.
"When we are rupturing the membranes or breaking the water, if the membranes are very tightly pressed around the baby's head, it can be more difficult than if they were looser and more like a balloon, so it is possible to cause a superficial abrasion to a baby’s head during that process. It can happen," she said.
"It’s not considered malpractice, it’s not considered poor care; it is just something that can occur during rupturing of membranes."
As for the Dantums, who luckily now have a healthy and happy two-month-old baby, they would like an apology for the trauma they endured.
"I just want an apology. I don’t want to have to pay for an injury that was done to my daughter by the hospital staff. That’s not right to me," said Cecily.
"It was a nightmare. That birth was traumatising."