My name is AB and I identify as a queer woman of colour. I gave birth to my son in 2016 in a birthing room at St. Joseph’s Health Centre. The social worker who works there came into my room, harassed me and threatened to take my baby away from me for no reason.
After the birth, when the midwives left and I was alone in the room with the baby (my husband left to go get something), the social worker who works in the Birthing Centre entered my room unexpectedly. I recall feeling surprised that this stranger was in my room.
She introduced herself. She had a file in her hand, and she read off this file with authority as she began to interrogate me on private issues I had only discussed with my midwife in confidence. I definitely did not want to have a conversation about this with this social worker but I was not given an option.
She continued to ask me very personal, very prying questions and made me feel as though I was on trial; that there would be consequences if I didn’t answer her questions or if I didn’t answer in the “right” way. Her manner felt impeding, pressuring, and interrogative and made me feel very scared.
I was too scared to ask her to leave, but I definitely did not want her there.
I remember very clearly that she sounded like she was implying that she could take my baby from me; she implied that she had the power to take my baby because I have supposedly behaved badly. I recall being terrified and shifting my body so as to prevent her from seeing the baby behind me in the bassinet (as if hiding the baby from her would keep her from taking him).
She asked me questions about my mental health and my relationship with my husband and I was not sure why or for what reason. I am still not sure what triggered her to do any of this. I found this to be especially terrible. Why was my mental health on trial out of nowhere? I had been in labour for 45 hours and this was 3 hours after the birth.
After this, I don’t recall how the conversation ended, but she left on her own. By the time she left, I was shaking.
A few minutes after she left, my husband came back to the room. He told me the social worker spoke with him outside my room, and that she told him to “watch” me without my knowing and if I showed any signs of post-partum depression he should call the social worker right away. He was confused as to why she did this.
After this experience, I was left with many questions. What prompted her to come to my room and say these things to me? It turns out that she didn’t even have the power to take my baby away but I did not know who she was or what her role was and she led me to believe that she could do this. Once I started talking to people, I realized that this is not the first time she has done something like this. A friend who works at CAS told me that this social worker is well-known to CAS as she calls CAS far too often for unfounded reasons.
I was too afraid to file a complaint because she implied that she could come after me. I didn’t know how or for what reason but I was so scared of her that I didn’t say anything until my son was 18 months and I was back at work. I realized that there’s nothing she could do, and I filed a complaint with the hospital. The managers at the hospital who met with me downplayed my concerns and questioned my memory of the occasion. This makes me distrust the entire system at St. Joseph’s Health Centre.
Submitted by AB