A newborn baby is considered a blessing. The ultimate joy which brings a family closer and friends scurrying to get that first glimpse of the new bundle. Twins? Even better. Little miracles. On this day Agatha Atkins and Jeannique Edward are surrounded by well-wishers at their Clarke Street, Vieux-Fort home. Atkins’ daughter and Edward’s mother, Samantha, has given birth to twin boys; Samshorn and Shornsam. But neither Samantha Atkins nor her new babies are at home. Samantha passed away last Wednesday, less than a day after childbirth. Her newborns remain incubated at St Jude’s Hospital. The circumstances surrounding the sudden death are shrouded in mystery.
Last Tuesday Samantha’s private physician suggested that she check into St Jude’s Hospital for observation after noticing that one of the twins was significantly larger than the other.
Samantha summoned her mother to the house and informed her that she needed to check into the hospital immediately. When Agatha got to the house her daughter was already dressed and waiting with a packed bag. Agatha felt uneasy but made preparations to accompany her.
When they arrived Samantha had an ultrasound and visited with her ailing grandfather, who was also a patient at the hospital. She then had a second ultrasound before settling in for the evening. Agatha says that her daughter was in good spirits, chatting with her about the twin boys she was expecting.
On Wednesday morning, Agatha headed back to the hospital, intent on bringing Samantha a home-cooked breakfast. She was stunned to discover from a patient that her daughter had already been operated on and the twins delivered. No one from the hospital had called to inform the family.
“(The patient) told me they took the babies. I said, they took the babies? She said yes. So I said, where are the babies? She told me they took them to get warm. So I asked, where is Samantha?”
The patient pointed her in Samantha’s general direction. “I went to Samantha. She was lying on the bed with all her hair dropped like an angel. I touched her and said Sammy you ok? Then she said yes. Her daughter spoke to her.”
Edward shared their exchange.
“I asked her how she’s doing. She said she’s fine. She’s coming home today. I asked her if it’s hurting her. She told me yes, a little. Then she looked at me and I told her go back to sleep. And then she closed her eyes and we left.”
Edward left to run an errand while her grandmother went home, but returned shortly to check on her mother again. Samantha said she was fine but a bit tired. Edward departed again.
Agatha decided to return that afternoon.
“When I reach by the sea where the road was damaged then I got a call. It was my son. He told me Samantha is very sick. I said but I spoke to Samantha in the morning.”
Edward was also en route to the hospital and received a phone call.
“One of the nurses, I don’t know which one, called and told me “Hurry up, hurry up. Your mommy is very sick. So I said I’m on a bus, I’m on my way.”
Both Agatha and Edward rushed to the hospital fearing the worst. It was bedlam. Other family members were gathered. The news had broken. Samantha was gone.
Edward started screaming. Agatha was in disbelief.
“I asked the doctor what happened? Tell me the truth! Tell me the truth! Then he said she had a good operation but he didn’t know what went wrong. And then the doctor was crying.”
Anguished, Agatha went to her daughter’s room in search of answers. She encountered the operating doctor and some nurses. Still in disbelief, Agatha spoke to her daughter’s lifeless body becoming more convinced that her daughter’s operation had been botched.
“She had a tube in her mouth and in her nose. I said Samantha, I thought I would be going home with you and my grandchildren and now look I going home with a bag in my hand. I turned to the doctor and said, y’all killed my daughter! Y’all killed her! And look I am going home without her. I went back to Samantha and said, give me the strength. Give me the courage.”
Agatha started asking questions. First of all, who performed the operation on Samantha? Reluctantly, a Haitian doctor identified herself she says.
“I said you killed my daughter. And then she said she wasn’t breathing and then the heart wasn’t going up, it was going down. So I told her again, but you killed her.”
A nurse eventually approached Agatha to sign papers giving permission to have the body released to a funeral home. This further incensed the grieving mother.
“I said let me tell you something. Why now you telling me to sign? When you went with her and do the surgery, why didn’t you call us? You have my home phone number. You have her daughter’s phone number. Then she said yes but she can sign for herself.”
Rumours had been rife that Samantha suffered from a heart condition and had been advised against having more children. Agatha emphatically denied the innuendo.
“That’s not true. They’re lying. The doctor didn’t say that. They’re lying. All the rumours they are spreading? They’re lying. The only problem she had was when she was 19. She had a brain tumor but everything else was okay. She had the surgery in Martinique.”
So what is to become of the newborn boys, who will never know their mother? Despite tough circumstances, Agatha is determined to persevere.
“I’m not working but I’m the one. Because I won’t leave the children for anybody. They are my kids. But I am not working so I don’t know how.”
Agatha contends that her daughter was healthy before being admitted to the hospital. The twins were not due for another month. She is trying to understand how a routine observation could have gone so horribly wrong.
Edward is still puzzled by the lack of communication from the hospital’s end.
“I was just thinking, why did they operate on her and they didn’t call. They didn’t say anything. We reached the hospital in the morning and they still didn’t tell us anything. It’s a patient who told us they took the children from my mother and I find that was wrong. Because from what I heard and what I know, when my mother gave birth to me it was she and my father who signed for the operation. And now they didn’t call anybody. Even if she
signed by herself but at least they should have somebody there with her to make sure she’s okay and that she signed the right thing. They have three numbers and nobody called.”
The nineteen-year-old was troubled by the neglect she witnessed during her visits. She says that her mother was attached to an empty drip, which her grandmother brought to the staff’s attention. After replenishing the supply, no one attended to Samantha.
The family plans to pursue the matter vigorously. They are determined not to let Samantha’s death be for naught. But nothing can replace the vibrant young woman and for Edward, her loss has created a major void.
“The way she would give jokes with me. When I went to sleep she would come, she would kiss me and tell me goodnight. She was a fun person. She made you laugh. She was very rude but at the same time she was a jovial person.”
Attempts to speak with hospital officials has proven unfruitful.
In an ironic twist, Samantha’s grandfather passed away that fateful Wednesday as well; dealing the family a double loss as they await the homecoming of their double blessing.