Monica Thompson is suing the hospital that allowed her to bedshare while under the influence of pain killers and sleeping pills.
Perhaps you have seen the heartbreaking story of Monica Thompson, a new mother whose son died in 2012 of suffocation. As Monica recovered from a Caesarean section, she was given narcotic painkillers and sleeping pills by the staff. Then a nurse placed her newborn, Jacob, in bed with her for a nursing session.
Monica woke about an hour later, saying she felt still groggy and drowsy, and noticed Jacob was not moving.
She screamed for help while trying to revive him on her own, and still, he wouldn’t wake up. No nurse came, despite her cries, and so she frantically carried him into the hallway where a nurse recognized she needed help and called a “Code Blue.”
By that point, Jacob wasn’t breathing, and he was stabilized and placed on life support in preparation for his transfer to the NICU in Randall Children’s Hospital nearby.
Sadly, he died six days later, due to going without oxygen for too long and suffering severe and permanent brain damage.
Monica is suing the Adventist Medical Center in Portland, Oregon, alleging that their negligence in placing the baby with her while she was heavily medicated led to her unintentionally suffocating her son. The lawsuit is seeking more than $8million in damages, as not only was Jacob caused pain and suffering but so was Monica, as the trauma and grief of losing her son was devastating.
She is sharing her story so that no other mother has to suffer from a preventable tragedy like hers, and to hold clinicians responsible for ‘loading a nursing mother up with narcotics, only to drop her newborn in her bed and abandon them, hoping for the best.’
For their part, the hospital, which is considered ‘baby-friendly’ claims their prayers and thoughts continue to be with the family in this tragic time. They also say they are reviewing what had happened.
Related: Why We Share Our Bed With Baby
The American Academy of Pediatrics specifically outlines that mothers who’ve undergone C-sections require closer monitoring after childbirth because of the probability they are under the effects of anesthesia or pain relief medicines. Their surgery may make them less mobile and able to reposition themselves while holding their child. The AAP also does not endorse bedsharing because they worry about accidental suffocation, strangulation or trapping of babies in blankets and bed sheets.
What happened to Monica and her son Jacob would certainly be a case that would support that reasoning, but we know that globally, bedsharing is a widely held practice. In fact, Dr. James McKenna with the University of Notre Dame often cites cultures (many first-world) where bedsharing is a cultural norm, and their infant mortality rates are well below those of the U.S.
So was it the practice of bed-sharing, or the practice of bed-sharing in an altered state, under the orders of clinicians who were supposed to care for both Monica and her baby?
We certainly grieve with Monica over the loss of her son, and will be watching the suit.
Photo: Diego Conde/Thompson Family