The poor little lamb hasn't been putting on weight as we'd have liked, despite our best efforts at breastfeeding and well regulated formula top-ups. We even started importing formula from Australia as a local alternative wasn't available. This was obviously hugely expensive, and we wanted to be certain that we were doing the right thing. Fortunately on Saturday we were able to see a paediatric allergy specialist and went to take some blood.
Our doctor had recommended someone at the hospital who she trusted with taking blood from an infant, but, of course, she wasn't working that day and we had to deal with the regular staff. Now I'm certain that the nurses are perfectly capable of taking blood samples from grown humans, but when it came to our baby and her tiny little veins, they were at a loss.
We had specifically requested that someone senior, preferably with this kind of experience, do the draw. Of course, we were met with the typical "yes sir/ma'am" and the vacant stare of the nurse who could've been 12 years old. Of course, no one with this experience came and the nurses that were there tried to withdraw her blood (and a few who just wanted to check out the white baby, like she's some sort of unicorn). What resulted was three unusable vials of haemolysed blood, a crying mum, and one very, very upset baby. I've never heard such screaming - the haunting type that you'd expect from some horrendously violent crime that scars all who hear it. Of course we weren't told that the sample was useless until well after we'd left the hospital and were trying hard to forget her blood-curdling cries. We had to go back the next day.
On Sunday, it wasn't much better. We were already mad that they'd messed up the first sample and they weren't doing anything to help themselves out a second time. Again we demanded that someone competent be there to draw blood, and again, we were told that the pre-pubescent nurse before us was the most senior person in the building. Eventually someone in a lab coat turned up, who at least looked credible. She and her team went about searching for veins in our baby's little arms, and again, looked at us as if to say "where did you put them?". Less than impressed, I helped to hold her down and Meg tried to escape her terrible wail. I don't know why it takes three people to restrain a two month old baby, but it did, and again, a vein couldn't be properly located. Instead of starting again, the nurse began to move the needle around in the hope of literally landing a 'stab in the dark'. Eventually, after another nurse had a crack at our little ball of agony, they worked out that the sample again couldn't be used. They went on to tell us that her screaming had affected the sample, but they'd be willing to try again after a few minutes...
I don't get mad very often at all, but when a doctor finally turned up and told us that they'd do the exact same thing again, and anticipated a different result, I almost lost it. My inner Hulk was beginning to rear his rabid green head. Eventually they conceded that it could've been a lack of skill from the nurse that was affecting the sample, our baby didn't have haemolysed blood running through her veins, and that the sample was sufficient to complete some of the tests we'd paid for, just not all. My rage was subsiding, but it wasn't going to disappear. Not without a lot of wine.
In the end we got her out of there and met some friends for lunch (and lots of wine). With little cotton balls taped to her junkie-like elbows, Ava slept like I've never seen. She must've been exhausted by the experience, and was probably doing her best to delete the whole weekend from her very limited bank of memories.
Already a few friends have shared with me their very similar horror stories. Although it doesn't make me feel any better, it's always good to know that we're not alone in this. It also gave us a great indication as to what to expect in the future... It does inspire me to dust off my old medical books though. I'd much rather do it myself than have that experience ever again!