Jose by Kirsty Bowie

My name is Kirsty Bowie and in August 2001 my husband and I lost our son Jose.

The following is a shortened personal account of what happened before and after his death. I have chosen to share my story in the hope that it highlights how decisions made in this profession can have devastating consequences for a family like mine.

Jose was born on the 2nd of August 2001 nine days overdue. My labour started on the 1st of August early afternoon and continued throughout the night. Despite the pain, I refrained from the pain relief offered, as I wanted to be fully aware of what was going on.

The midwife suggested my waters should be broken as labour progressed. This was done at 7.35am. There was an abundance of meconium. I knew meconium was a sign of foetal distress. It was suggested we do a trace of Jose’s heartbeat. After struggling to locate it, the pattern was irregular, his heartbeat was dipping and wasn’t recovering, at its lowest it dipped to 54 beats per minute. The consultant was called for and it was decided that a foetal scalp ph test would be carried out, this was carried out around 7.45am. I feel it was at this point that things started going wrong.

The consultant had introduced herself, explained the procedure and explained she had a student with her who would be observing and assisting. I felt this was inappropriate given the circumstances. I wanted things to be done swiftly and I feared this may hold things up, which it did. The student dropped, then broke one of the instruments, pulled the steel trolley towards the consultant and a spotlight which was being used flew off the steel table smashing the bulb. My baby was distressed and I remember feeling very agitated at this.

The test was eventually completed and the midwife explained that the results would be with us in a short time. Sure enough only a short time lapsed before the consultant returned. However instead of reassuring me I was now being told “your baby needs to be delivered now”.

Despite this statement of urgency and knowing that Jose was distressed he was delivered by caesarean section an agonising 3 HOURS later. A second consultant had made the decision that I was not a priority.

At 10.35am Jose was delivered with an apgar score of 2. The Paediatrician was called as soon as the resus clock was started. It was claimed it took him 5 minutes to arrive. This is something which I still debate, because he came from Ward 15 which is on the 3rd floor of the infirmary and travelled by car to the old Cresswell. The journey alone takes longer than 5 minutes and this initially had me wondering whether Jose could have been saved had he got there sooner. I now know that the paediatricians presence made no difference to the outcome. It was concluded the cause of death was meconium aspiration due to a considerable delay from discovery of meconium to delivery.

Craig received the news outside the theatre. He compares that moment to being punched in the stomach, a wave of complete panic at the thought of telling me.

He didn’t have to tell me after all.…..I received the devastating news whilst being wheeled back to the labour room, not face to face, just a voice from behind saying in a very matter of fact way ‘your baby died Kirsty’ I can still recall that voice. I will never forget that voice. Craig was re-united with me in the corridor as I was wheeled back to the labour room. We will never forget that moment or that day.

The consultant and the paediatrician sat at my bedside a short time later to explain what had gone wrong, this for me was too soon however, I do distinctly remember the paediatrician saying he was sorry. He seemed genuine and I appreciated that. I also believe that he had tried his best to revive my son.

Having a baby is supposed to be one of the greatest moments of a persons life. Family, friends, colleagues were all awaiting phone calls. Craig was now dreading delivering the news he was dead. How could a perfectly healthy little boy be let down so badly and denied his life. Family still wanted to see him, he was perfectly formed all ready for life.


Kirsty Bowie 1 (Jose)


In the hours that followed I lay in utter shock. I can only describe the feeling as one of utter desperation and gut wrenching sadness. I had to be persuaded to see him. My biggest fear was letting him go. I still remember how much he weighed in my arms, I kissed his forehead, he was so cold, I unwrapped his blankets and looked down at his little chest, it was one of the lowest points of my life. I felt really scared. I asked Craig to take him away. If I had this time again I would spend more time with him. I regret this so much now as we have no photos of us holding him and this still distresses me.

I just wanted to go home and so made the decision to be discharged that day. Craig requested to see Jose again and dress him in what would have been his coming home clothes and then we left, leaving our beautiful wee boy behind.

The death of a child is one of the worst things that can ever happen to a person. Coming home is really just the beginning……..I lay in his nursery and literally howled. Instead of caring for him we were arranging his funeral and choosing his headstone. We registered his birth and death at the same time. Burying him in the clothes we had bought to bring him home in. It is a life sentence. Jose would have been a teenager this year.

Although we have 2 beautiful girls moving on was exceptionally tough. Grief is exhausting. In the early days we went from being a happy fun loving confident couple to virtual recluses, something I would never have believed. We avoided people, situations and just went through the motions of life, carrying heavy hearts and feeling numb. When you stand at the grave of your child you have reached rock bottom. The death of my son is something I will never get over, and there is never a day goes by that I don’t think about him.

Although I initially felt great anger and bitterness, I have had to learn to accept what happened that day and recover enough to accept that nobody is infallible.

Kirsty Bowie is an Assisstant Practioner in Radiography in DGRI.











30 thoughts on “Jose by Kirsty Bowie

  1. Kirsty I cannot thank you enough for having the courage to share this very personal story. It caught my breath this morning and has reminded me how important the smallest of details are in such a time of distress.

    • Thankyou so much for taking the time to read it. It was not my intention to distress others but yes you are so right…at times like that your senses are hightened so the smallest of details ARE so important.

  2. Thank you, Kirsty and Craig for sharing your and Jose’s story.
    Everyone involved in healthcare should read this – it tells us so much of what is important when we try to help people going through the most traumatic events.

    • Thankyou David. As you know we have had some toughest of times we never imagined it would happen to us and cannot believe it did but with the help of others we have managed to rebuild our lives. As a couple we couldn’t help each other because we were both suffering but we remain strong.

  3. Heavy hearts indeed, for all those who read this moving account.
    Thank you for sharing ‘Jose’s story’ with us all………and reminding us that events sometimes take different turns in life other than what we would wish for, your daughters must be very proud of you.

    • Thankyou so much. It has never been my intention for those beautiful girls to live in Jose’s shadow they are all loved equally, I know I am very proud of them!! And yes life can change dramatically in minutes but I think it changed me for the better although I would do anything to have him back.

  4. Kirsty, even though I read this with tears in my eyes I am so pleased you have had the courage to share this very personal story with us. It’s such a stark reminder about how compassion and consideration are essential to every single stage in the care we
    provide and receive. Thank you

    • I really apreciate you reading the blog and taking the time to leave a comment. Compassion and consideration ARE paramount. If my blog has highlighted this then it has done its job. Thankyou.

  5. Kirsty, I am deeply moved by your story and hugely admire your courage in sharing this. Everyone in Healthcare should read this, using this account to improve communication is a small legacy to your wee boy Jose.

    • Thankyou. Yes indeed this is true. Sadly he didn’t get to make his mark on this world but hopefully sharing his story will have an impact on somebody elses. Kirsty.

  6. Incredibly moving story Kirsty, clearly showing the devastation losing your much longed for baby has on the rest of our lives. Creating memories at such a tragic event is so important and Sands works with healthcare professionals to try to help those affected, thank you for taking the brave step to bare those raw emotions. D&G Sands are at

    • Thankyou Alison. Yes SANDS played a massive part in our recovery and continue to help us on those difficult days. You are my friend for life and a truly inspirational lady yourself. Thankyou so much.

      • 17 babies A DAY still die in this developed country, I still find this incomprehendable. If it was 17 school children a day people would consider this outrageous but somehow a babies life doesn’t seem to be as valued and this for me is deeply sad. These are children who will never HAVE their first day at school.

  7. Just sat at my desk and cried whilst reading this, really moving, you can’t help but connect with this as a parent and a human being. Well done for being brave enough to share your story.

    • Thankyou for your reply. I don’t feel very brave today, I am in bits at the response from people. Thankyou.

  8. Thank you so much for sharing. Whilst moved to tears, my overwhelming sense is one of outrage and fury at grossly substandard care. Who does a scalp PH with meconium in waters? It was clearly a Cat 1 delivery situation with meconium and fetal heart rate of 54. Utterly inexcusable, and a life sentence for Mum and Dad. Heartbroken and furious for you. I admire your courage, and despair that you are left with a sense of guilt and regret when others are so culpable in the outcome.

    • Thankyou for your response….in order for us to recover we have had to try and forgive but it has been a very slow process and deep down I still have angry days. I lost faith in the service that day and with my subsequent pregnancies and that is tragic too.

  9. Kirstie,
    Just read your very brave and very moving personal account and shed quite a few tears over your family’s loss. Much admiration for you sharing this very personal experience of loss of your son Jose. We need to remind ourselves every day that person centered care is the very first principle for NMAHP’s every single day and all other front line clinical and medical staff.

  10. H i Kirstie,full admiration for your piece of writing.We ourselves lost our child at 17yrs of age(2003) with meningitis and no one knows the pain and hurt we feel and still do..Staying strong is so hard..missing your child is with us at all times..Lovely piece of heartfelt reading

    • So so sorry to hear that. The pain that loss brings is unbearable at times. So grateful you took time to read my blog. X

  11. Kirsty, thank you for sharing your family’s story, it takes great courage and is so powerful to read.

    • Thankyou. I have been overwhelmed at everybodys kind responses. I always wanted a big family and i always wanted to experience natural childbirth i have felt robbed over the years and have wanted to express it for a long time. I am glad you found it powerful when i was writing it i felt perhaps i hadn’t done it justice! Thanks for that.

  12. Yes Kirsty,, very powerful.
    I have tried to look after people for 40 years but still your story brought a tear to my eyes. How you and Craig, and perhaps your daughters too, are still so affected gives those of us that try to provide care a lot to think about. Thank you for that.

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  14. Thank you so much for sharing this, Kirsty. I’m struggling to find any more words to express my sympathy for the pain and impact on all your lives. I’m posting a lot around bereavement myself this year (loss of an elderly parent:: so different): would you mind if I shared this more widely as Dying Awareness Week begins on the 12th? I had no idea of the awful daily loss and would like to help raise awareness.

  15. Kirsty, I have just read this and admire you so much for sharing your loss with us all. I too had a terrible experience in the old Cresswell (in 1990) and delivered a distressed baby covered in meconium, mercifully she survived but the care we received was, I believe, substandard, I had no confidence and didn’t go back there for 2 subsequent deliveries. I realise how close we were to being in your desperate situation and your blog has reduced me to tears today. I can’t believe that 17 babies a day are still dying in the UK.

    • I am in no way attacking the service provided now. I really can’t comment or make judgement but i was badly let down that day. There is so much more to our story and we have suffered more than i feel comfortable documenting. Our girls have shown us what happiness is again. I am glad your outcome was a positive one. Although there are 17 babies a day die i have to stress that not all are due to human error but it is still a significant number. Thankyou for reading my blog. I appreciate your comments. Kirsty.

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