I was glad to see perinatal loss given such prominent coverage in Tuesday's edition of "Canada's national newspaper." This story was prominently featured on the front page of the Life section and continued for a full page inside, with several photographs included. (The link should remain active for about a week.)
At the same time, though -- and with the utmost of all due respect to the family featured -- there's something about the presentation of the story that bothers me.
I think a lot of it has to do with headline: "Baby's death, unexplained." As in, ONE baby's death, unexplained. Like this is an anomaly -- the only baby whose death (at least of late) cannot be explained. The only one that's newsworthy.
Well, not in my world it's not. Tell me something I don't already know. Yes, this is absolutely a sad, tragic story, & it deserves investigation. But it's just one of the many, many such stories I have heard in 10 years as a bereaved parent, support group volunteer, & online community member.
Yes, I realize that the average reader does NOT know what I know. I don't think people realize (a) just how many babies DO die, & (b) just how many of those deaths are unexplained -- and always will be. And I'm not sure that they are going to get that message here.
The story does say that "each year, the Ontario [Maternal and Perinatal Death Review] committee reviews about a dozen newborn deaths," and that "According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, 962 babies died from various causes in Canadian acute-care hospitals in 2007-2008, excluding Quebec."
But that figure is only for acute-care hospitals, & only for neonatal deaths. It doesn't include stillbirths.
Please, please don't get me wrong -- I'm grateful to see this issue receiving coverage (any coverage!!), not to mention in the Globe and Mail, and I think the story does a good job of conveying the depth of this particular family's loss and grief, as well as the bureaucratic hoops they have had to jump through to try to get some answers. I was glad to see PBSO quoted, and the cautionary note that finding a concrete reason for your baby's death does not necessarily relieve the pain or bring "closure." The photos are heartbreaking. And I wish the family well with their case -- I hope the reporter does a followup story so that we can find out what happens. Also, as a journalist myself, I am well aware that many details do get edited out to ensure the words and photos fit the available space.
I just wish all of the heartbreaking stories I've heard over the past 10+ years got full-page coverage in the Globe & Mail. And an equal commitment from the authorities to finding answers as to why they died.
Maybe this story will help to bring that about. I hope so.
Am I wrong? Am I nitpicking? (I'm not sure I'm expressing myself very well here.) What did you think of the story?
(Comments on the article are closed -- I don't think they were ever open. I wonder why?)