Birth tragedy takes mum and son

MARYANNE TWENTYMAN AND JONATHAN CARSON
Last updated 05:00 24/05/2012
Casey Nathan
FAMILY MOURNS: Casey Nathan, 20, seen with partner Hayden Tukiri, died on Monday night, six hours after giving birth. Her infant son died on Wednesday.

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A coroner has launched an investigation into how things went so wrong for first-time mother Casey Nathan as her grieving family mourns the end of two short lives.

Casey Missy Turama Nathan, 20, died at Waikato Hospital on Monday night – six hours after giving birth at Huntly Birthcare. Her baby son, understood to be named Kymani, died yesterday at Waikato Hospital where he had been in critical condition in intensive care.

News of Kymani's death was delivered to his grandfather, Caz Nathan, at Waingaro Marae at 5pm last night as he spoke openly about the daughter he was not meant to outlive.

"It should never have happened, it should have been me who went before her," he said.

Ms Nathan went into labour at home on Sunday and arrived with her partner, Hayden Tukiri, at Huntly Birthcare about 1am on Monday morning.

It is understood that the boy was born with breathing difficulties about 11am, soon after Ms Nathan became seriously unwell.

An ambulance was called and both mother and baby were taken to Waikato Hospital where, despite the best efforts of hospital staff, Ms Nathan died about 5pm. Her baby son was placed on life support but died yesterday evening.

Ms Nathan's midwife had less than 18 months experience having graduated at the end of 2010. Her family is now questioning whether that was a factor in their "loving" girl's death.

"We are talking about inadequate supervision of a recent graduate to midwifery...we have seen the recent reporting of something similar in Hamilton - we want to prevent this, we don't want this to happen to anyone else - it has to stop here," said Ms Nathan's uncle Tem Ormsby.

"Our hearts and our sentiments go out to the birthing centre - but we are grieving too."

Ms Nathan's partner Hayden Tukiri is said to be "devastated" by the loss of his partner and baby son.

His grandmother, Lia Broughton, said the family was now waiting for the outcome of an autopsy to find the cause of Ms Nathan's death.

"But for now we are all in the dark - it certainly didn't seem like a difficult labour," Mrs Broughton said.

"But that's not to say she didn't have a pre-existing medical condition that we didn't know about - that's what we need to find out."

Ms Nathan's final Facebook post on May 16 clearly illustrated how excited the expectant mum was about the birth of her first baby.

"O.M.G 3 Days left to go B4 i have baby - YAY" it stated, followed by a series of posts from friends and family wishing Ms Nathan well.

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Last night her father paid tribute to the daughter who loved life and loved people.

"Casey was a very strong person, a people's person, she just loved people," he said.

"Just look at the people coming onto our marae here - they come in droves - not just one or two," he said.

Mr Nathan said the family gathered on Tuesday night to "speak about what we need to deal with now and leave other stuff for later".

"Let's celebrate Casey's life and support each other, but also know in the back of our minds that there will be answers through the coroners report and [other] action."

Hospital spokesperson Mary Anne Gill said "our condolences go to the family."

The Hamilton father of a baby boy that died in 2009 is urging the family of Casey Nathan to request all medical records relating to her labour and subsequent death.

Robert Barlow, whose son Adam died after a botched birth, said it was only after the family conducted it's own investigation - including requesting clinical notes – that they were able to find answers.

In offering his "sincere condolences", Mr Barlow said he hoped he would find the answers "to help make sense of the immense devastation that his family is going through".

"My heart goes out to Hayden and his family, and I hope they know that I am here if they need anything at this time for emotional support," he said.

Officer in charge of the Waikato coronial investigative team, Detective Sergeant Michele Moore, confirmed that a post-mortem examination on Ms Nathan's body had been conducted and Police were now awaiting the results.

Action to Improve Maternity spokeswoman Jenn Hooper said her thoughts were with Ms Nathan's family.

FAMILY UNITED IN GRIEF

All is still at Waingaro Marae.

A handful of whanau and friends sit on a fence outside to the right, Caz Nathan shuffles on the gravel to the left. There is no wailing or waiata – just quiet.

It is laughter, of all things, that breaks the silence as a group of kids play on the grass.

Mr Nathan sits down on a fence, then stands up again.

He's dressed in black – black shades to hide the grief, and a leather trenchcoat that reaches down to his unsettled feet.

His daughter, Casey Missy Turama Nathan, is dead; her body lies in a box inside the marae, west of Ngaruawahia. She died after giving birth to her first child on Monday night.

As he tries to comprehend one loss, he gets word of another.

"I'm sorry guys, we just lost baby," a family member says.

Mr Nathan's eyes start to water, he shuffles and turns to walk away.

"See – there you go," he says, his voice rising. "That's two losses now. He'll be coming over here, too, with his mother.

"That's sad, man." His son, Samuel, lets out a burst of air as though it's been physically knocked out of him and starts to cry.

He says he knew baby wasn't going to make it, and that's why he forced hospital staff to let him see his nephew on Tuesday.

He says the family has been ripped apart by his sister's death, and now, two days later, they're dealing with another. In the space of minutes Samuel wavers between grief and anger.

His sister is dead, his nephew is dead, and "we haven't got no answers".

The tragedy affected him so deeply that he slept outside the morgue where his sister's body lay for two nights.

Yesterday evening, the grieving family prepared to head back to the hospital, and as the sun went down on Waingaro Marae, it was quiet once more.

- Waikato Times

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