Yesterday, Sonja Jamsek lay on the sofa and cried until she could cry no more.
“I still haven’t been told the truth. I don’t want money – I just want to know what happened to my baby girl so no other parents have to suffer the way I have,” the broken mother tells Kidspot from her home in St Kilda, Victoria.
Coroner Phillip Byrne found Summer, who was born on April 4 in 2010 at Melbourne’s Frances Perry House, died from pulmonary hypertension. But he was unable to determine whether it was caused by an infection which should have been treated earlier with antibiotics prescribed by Summer’s paediatrician.
After years of desperately searching for answers as to why her newborn daughter Summer died the coronial findings were handed down on Tuesday. And they haven’t provided the 44-year-old, who now has two other children, with any closure whatsoever.
The autopsy couldn’t find any traces of infection but independent experts who gave evidence for the Jamsek family said that could have been due to the fact that Summer was given high-grade antibiotics just hours before her death, when she was already severely ill.
It is still not known why Summer died 16 hours and nine minutes after she was born on April 4 in 2010.
Summer didn’t cry for the first seven hours of her life
Sonja is absolutely destroyed by the inconclusive findings in the report.
“The result is so much worse than I expected,” Sonja says.
“The expert witnesses said they believed it was sepsis which caused pulmonary hypertension and she should have had antibiotics earlier. Nobody could say whether she would have survived or not but she never had the opportunity to survive.”
Little Summer didn’t cry for the first seven hours of her life. The precious little girl only lived another nine hours.
“She had a high heart rate, low blood sugar levels and she was in respiratory stress – all of this points to sepsis but she didn’t get antibiotics until 14 minutes to 11pm that night – and she was born at 4.01pm,” Sonja says.
“She needed oxygen when she was born and they had to resuscitate her three hours later – but they still didn’t give her antibiotics.”
Summer’s skin kept changing colour from purple to red.
“I knew something was not right”
Although Sonja was a first-time mother, her maternal instincts told her that her gorgeous girl was in trouble.
“Even though I had never seen a newborn baby I knew something was not right. I asked on several occasions if she was OK because she was purple yet the obstetrician said he gave her 10 out of 10 for colour,” she says.
“My mum approached the nurse, then my stepmother approached the nurse and was fobbed off – she wasn’t even answered – and my sister approached the obstetrician and he yelled at her.”
Summer can be heard making a strange clicking noise on a video taken straight after her birth, however the obstetrician said he never heard the noises.
Here is the video of poor little Summer struggling after being born:
“This baby looks sick, get her to special care now”
In the footage, Summer’s skin looks blue and she is very lethargic – yet despite Sonja’s concerns the midwife can be heard reassuring her baby was just “a bit slow to wake up” and that “it could be a little bit to do with the epidural.”
A couple of hours later, another more experienced midwife came into the room and expressed concern about Summer.
“She said, ‘this baby looks sick, get her to special care now’,” Sonja says.
Instead, her baby was taken to a nurse’s station where Sonya says a supervising midwife “saw Summer change colour” but chose to “leave and not convey any of that information to the paediatrician”.
The inquest heard it wasn’t until much later in the evening when the paediatrician witnessed Summer change colour right before his eyes that he decided to transfer the baby to the Royal Children’s Hospital, the ABC reported.
Although the paediatrician was asked twice in an hour by paramedics on the phone whether Summer had been given antibiotics, they weren’t administered until the paramedics arrived.
Summer was baptised before the ventilators were turned off.
The heart-wrenching goodbye to Summer
Summer was rushed to the Royal Children’s Hospital but it was too late – a doctor broke the unbearable news to Sonja that her darling girl had no brain function.
Sonja had to prepare for her final goodbye to her beautiful baby girl.
“I gave her a bath and I still remember her beautiful soft little bum,” she says.
“I read her Guess How Much I Love You? and I had her baptised and we all sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”
Sonja read her Guess How Much I Love You? to her baby girl.
“I just live it all the time”
Then the ventilators were turned off and Summer died in her mother’s arms.
“It’s just heartbreaking – I just live it all the time and I just got kicked in the guts on Tuesday.”
Once the ventilators were turned off, Summer died in her mummy’s arms.
“I promised Summer I would give her a sibling”
Through all of the pain and suffering, Sonja went on to have two more beautiful children, Sienna, 5, and Spencer, 2.
“It was hard because I originally didn’t know what happened to Summer so I was scared Sienna and Spencer would die too. My pregnancies were hell becasue I was expecting another baby to die.”
Sienna, 5, and Spencer, 2, mean the world to Sonja.
“They are the reason I go on every day”
But now she has come through the other end after having successful births with both of them and is so grateful that she has her two beautiful kids.
“Sienna and Spencer are my everything – they are the reason I go on every day. I promised Summer I would give her a sibling,” she says.
“They make me laugh, give me kisses and cuddles and make me feel loved. They are busy little people that keep me on my toes constantly.”
Although Sonja absolutely adores her children – nothing will change the fact that Summer died without being given a fighting chance.
“A mother who loses a child never moves on, they just go on.”