“If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans”, expresses a popular saying that alludes to the impossibility of having control of the events of our lives. Barbara Harvey experienced it in the worst way: a birth that she - with Monday's diary she would discover was not properly assisted - turned out completely different from how she had idealized it; a baby who was born hypotonic, without oxygen and with serious neurological sequelae and a completely unexpected maternity, dedicated solely to ensuring that this baby, loved and desired, could spend as much time as possible in this world.
A much desired pregnancy
Barbi's story is one of those stories that nobody expects to happen, but that, as she herself would discover the day she dared to tell how Joaquín's birth had been, before the 25 thousand followers she had on Instagram at the time, It happens to many women, families and children, in many cases due to insufficient or unfortunate professional interventions and, unfortunately, as in this story, they do not always get redress. Joaquín lived for two years depending on mechanical assistance to be able to breathe and feed himself, he fought as much as he could, but finally, he died.
But, let's start at the beginning, the one in which one day, a young 24-year-old girl from Corrientes, happy, full of enthusiasm, in love with her, felt the happiest woman in the world when she found out that she was pregnant. She was a wanted and desired child with her partner, who had also received the news with great joy. All of Barbara's extended family, her five brothers, her husband's three sisters, their parents and even her favorite niece who starred in many of her Instagram videos, were excited.
“Like any new mom, obviously one idealizes pregnancy, labor, birth and what parenting itself entails. I had downloaded the Baby Center application, I was seeing week by week how my son was growing, I was very moved when I began to feel his movements, from the first moment I already began to feel that he was a boy. We debated the name a lot throughout the pregnancy, although we finally chose it during labor; We had traveled, we took advantage of the outlets and we bought him a lot of clothes, we had his room ready, ”recalls Barbi. She also watched many videos of births, the part that she liked the most was how they put the baby on the mother's chest and she cried excitedly projecting what it would be like when they put her own baby on her chest, in that magical moment immediately after birth. . “She was very connected with the illusion of that baby to give her the breast to form a family”, she evokes.
"I had to go out and explain that I didn't have my son at home"
Barbi was willing to enjoy her pregnancy, live what she, she heard, was the best moment of a woman's life. Connect with nature, see her body transform and marvel at the ability to give birth. She never imagined, the paradox, the revictimization that implies for a puerperal woman who returns home with her son on the verge of death, alone with her husband but without any type of assistance, that she was going to have to go out and give explanations. Corrientes functions as a small town. Rumors had reached her that people blamed her for what she had happened to her baby, even gossip that Joaquín had died, that she had refused a cesarean section, that she had been reckless.
“This respected delivery is not because I did not want a caesarean section, do not misunderstand. I didn't want an unnecessary C-section, I didn't want to have a C-section because it was more comfortable for the doctor. Only that, I was not against having a caesarean section if necessary, ”Barbi feels that she has to clarify once again. “When I got pregnant I tried to try to return to my center, connect with myself and with the baby, try to try a normal delivery; as if to say 'leave everything on the pitch'; if I have to tear, I will tear, if I have to suffer pain, I will suffer. Like saying 'I want to give everything for this baby' and for me at that time that was giving everything, ”she recalls.
When the moment of delivery arrived, she took her bag with everything prepared and calmly went to the clinic assigned for her hospitalization, simply to have it, far from imagining the series of unfortunate events - negligence, violence, abandonment? - that she was finally going to go through .
“When Joaquín was born I deleted myself from Instagram, I isolated myself from the world. He was born in April and during the two months that he was in Neo I did not appear. Here, in Corrientes, people began to say that he died, that I had him in my house and I had to go out and clarify that it had not been like that. So, when he was already at home I started uploading photos of him, but at first I didn't clarify what happened to him, I couldn't assimilate it. Only when he was five months old was he able to go out and tell what had happened and put the responsibility where he was, ”recalls Barbi.
“The pregnancy was super healthy, I had no fluid retention, no pressure or gestational diabetes, on the contrary, I felt very well. The labor was prolonged, in a very important clinic in Corrientes, the doctor only applied an analgesia to my shoulder to calm the pain when I was 3 centimeters, neither epidural nor anything. I was delivered. It's not that I didn't want one thing or the other. At a very advanced moment in labor, she offered me an epidural but I didn't know what to do, I was taken by the pain. I remembered that I had had a talk with her at week 37 where she talked about childbirth and she had told me that it is something natural for her body. That's why I put up with everything that hurt during labor because I thought it was normal.
“I thought all that pain was normal”
The story of the day of Joaquín's birth is chilling. “When I felt like pushing, she told me to push but she was not 10 centimeters dilated and it was never time to go to the delivery room. She until she told me that we could go now and I walked; In the delivery room I pushed for another hour, apart from what they had already pushed in the room, and she told me 'hold on, don't scream, breathe and look at your navel', but she didn't help me much more than that. There was no one else in the delivery room, no nurse, no midwife, no pediatrician, no one; at that time it was her, my husband and me”, she says and adds that at that time she did not realize that a professional team was missing to attend to the situation.
"Being the first baby, you don't have any previous experience and you say 'it must be like that', really I was a girl, inexperienced, I trusted", reflects this woman who grew up suddenly and who is told that with everything she lived and everything who learned to care for a child like Joaquín, should study medicine. “When, after so many hours, the baby's head comes out, I scream very loudly because I felt how it was tearing me apart and I told him 'Help me because I can't take it anymore' and only then did the obstetrician move the baby's shoulders and finally he came out, but he came out hypotonic , as fainted, without crying. When he passed it to me, he was slipping in my arms and I thought it was because he was bathed in amniotic fluid but it was because he was not well. Just then the pediatrician came and wanted to take it out and I asked him to leave it for me, but they exchanged a knowing look and cut the cord and they both left and my husband followed them. I was left alone after giving birth, I got on the stretcher alone with the cord and scissors, until the nurse arrived. Joaquín was already in the neonatology room, where they revived him; He was there for two months, he couldn't swallow, he had epilepsy, he had severe damage that wasn't in the last two or three minutes, ”says Barbi.
“The possibility that something could go wrong never entered my mind because my pregnancy was very healthy, I was fine, the parameters were fine, everything was going smoothly, in my mind it was going to have it. The last thing I would have imagined is what happened. That is why at that moment it was very difficult for me to realize everything that had happened, that the doctor had mishandled herself, that she had treated us badly. It really took me time because I trusted her, that she did what she had to do and, voila, I was unlucky. Later, when I just show my whole story and testimonials from other mothers begin to arrive, I end up thinking that this doctor does not handle herself well, to have as many cases as Joaquín's. And there I said, 'I have to do something with this'”.
An Instagram account to treasure every moment
What Barbi did, against her family's recommendations that she face a trial for malpractice, was to concentrate her efforts on trying to ensure that Joaquín had the best possible quality of life within the challenging circumstances that had affected him. . Thus, after two months absent from Instagram and the world, one day he joined forces and began to show photos and share stories of the day to day of his life in the care of a child who, as his kinesiologist told him "was a time bomb ”, but for her it was a beacon along the way, the object of unconditional love and strength that she did not know she was capable of developing.
Like that Aerosmith song, Don't wanna miss a thing, he began to treasure each one of the moments that, within the state of fatigue from not sleeping more than two hours a day, the suffering and the pain, were small miracles along with Joaquin. A smile, a day that had passed without seizures, a family outing, something that in her condition involved much more exhausting logistics than packing the diaper bag.
In a short time, the 25 thousand followers who had come to see her funny humorous videos that she had published since 2017, grew to 79 thousand. She no longer made humor, now she showed the beauty that she found in her despite the harsh reality that she had to live: a different baby, hugs and love above all. The followers commented on the sweetness of Joaco's photos, they left messages of encouragement, prayers and were attentive to each of the small daily progress they made in the struggle to survive. Suddenly, they began to call him "El Joaco de la gente", a child with his own light who transmitted pure love, without complaining for a second about the harsh circumstances with which the world had received him: he was breathing thanks to a tracheotomy (a perforation in the neck) and fed by gastrostomy (perforation in the stomach); In addition, they had set up a complex home care device in their house that their parents, faced with an exhausting bureaucracy, managed to set up, in accordance with the laws in force in Argentina, which protect health and disability by guaranteeing the necessary health care.
Showing the life of a mother, a father and a son with a disability suddenly became a mission. "Before this, I would never have followed an account about disability, but I discovered that we have a lot to learn, perhaps for that reason, and because Joaco had a special light, people gave us so much love, it was something unthinkable", concludes Barbi and summarizes: “I learned not to complain fully”.