I was told to share my story as if I would have to present this in front of a jury one day. Here I am, writing this all out to the world's jury, declaring and begging #justiceforasa. Please join us in this fight!
Sign our petition: https://www.change.org/p/mcduffie-investigators-criminal-justice-for-baby-asa
More updates: Instagram.com/thehumblesoles
I hired Cindy back in November of 2018. The reason for finding a midwife, later in my pregnancy, was because we moved from Nicaragua back to the U.S. Cindy did all of my prenatals and checkups on pregnancy. I did have ultrasounds during my pregnancy, which always showed that Asa was in perfect health. I was deemed to not have any complications with my pregnancy. The doctor we went to see was Dr. Bootstaylor at Emory. He was my back-up doctor in the case I needed a planned C-section, should issues arrive prior to me beginning labor. This was a doctor that Cindy recommended and worked hand in hand with her other clients.
My contractions began Wednesday, but became very strong Thursday morning around 10am. We met with Cindy because I notified her that I was having trouble feeling baby girl moving/kicking. I was 39+ weeks pregnant at the time. We met, she listened for baby girls' heartbeat, and she heard the baby's heartbeat with her doppler. Baby was moving afterwards our meeting and we headed back home. Before we left our meeting, Cindy called herself our 'illegal midwife' and we were so confused as to what she even meant. Thursday evening, I told Gabriel he needed to get home from work and that he needed to contact Cindy. I called Cindy and she told me to track the contractions and to call my doula. Later in the evening, I lost my mucus plug and had bloody show. We told Cindy to come on to the home and I have messages showing that we were expecting for our midwife to be coming around 9:45 pm With packing up, grabbing her assistant, and driving to us, we expected an arrival through verbal confirmation about three and half hours from that timing. Midwife had not arrived and Gabriel began to become concerned since the midwife had not come. Gabe called Cindy, letting her know my contractions were tough and she could hear me in the background. Cindy said, "Oh! It sounds like it may be go time." Gabe asked, "What do you mean?" Because Gabe thought she had already left....
They arrived, to our home, around 2:30 am. Every time she checked on Asa's heartbeat or my blood pressure, she always said it was perfect. It was never told to us that it was difficult to find her heartbeat (which she later listed that it was hard to find via her notes). We would even ask at times, if they got the heartbeat or what her heartbeat was and the response was always "Oh it's perfect. Baby sounds great." After they checked on me, they both went to bed in our home.
5:50 am I was going through tough contractions and my water broke. The water was tinged green. We told Cindy, she came in the room twenty minutes later. She wanted to get ready before coming in to check on me. Said everything was fine and she went back to bed for a bit because she was extremely tired. Cindy and the assistant Zoe, left to go have breakfast, somewhere. They left us for about two hours. Gabe called Cindy and said Ashlyn is having a lot of pain with her contractions and that she needed to come back and check on me and baby. When she came back, she checked my blood pressure and then just sat around the house, on a book or on her computer etc. ((By 10:30 am on Friday, I have been laboring for over 24 hrs.)) The entire day on Friday, I kept asking where is Cindy, what can I do to progress, I'm wearing out. She just always kept telling me to keep laboring. Around 1 pm I was 6 cm dilated and 80% effaced. Cindy told me I had been in transition all day long. Cindy came in the room and told me that Zoe and herself were going to go and get a hotel room. *She was always suppose to be at our home. She had always communicated that when it came to a home birth, she would pack for a three day stay and be there til baby arrived.* She asked Gabe to keep track every two hours of my blood pressure.... he's never done that before and didn't know how. Cindy told Gabe to call her if he needed anything and his response was," Well, we will always need you." Cindy did not once call or text to check on me during her leave.
During the evening, my doula and Gabriel switched back and forth in taking care of me. Gabe asked our doula how she thought I was doing. The doula said she thought I must be progressing but she wished Cindy would've been there to actually take care of me and to be checking on me. The doula came out of the room and told Gabe someone needed to be checking Ashlyn and the baby's heartbeat. Gabe then called the midwife and said she needed to be at the house. She came back around about 1.5 hours and saw my blood pressure became higher. We were never told numbers... she would just say oh its good or the blood pressure is higher. At this point in the evening, I had been in labor for 36 hours. That evening, Cindy was telling me that I was about 8 cm dilated and that probably by morning I should be pushing.
During all this time, I was pretty out of it. My body was completely exhausted from laboring. I was never being told by Cindy how many hours of laboring, or it's been this long from your water breaking, etc. There was never any concern shown to me...
Cindy and Zoe then both left again to stay at the hotel. Gabe was asking if she should be here and they kept saying that Ashlyn was fine and progressing. They told our entire team to leave us alone for the night; doula, photographer, assistant etc.
Around midnight, I wake up in pain and had no idea everyone had left us alone. I immediately told Gabe he needs to call Cindy and I wasn't feeling okay and in a ton of pain. He called and told her to come back and about two hours later they arrived. Checked my blood pressure, heartbeat and went back to sleep at our home.
In the morning, they had me in the birthing pool but told me to get out because they thought it was stopping my contractions. I got out and started walking around the house and I felt something between my legs. It was a bulging bag of water, so she popped it and said this is probably why I had not progressed fully. Water was still a tinged green color. I felt as if there was another bag possibly and so she did another cervix check on me and said she was feeling another bag... but we later found out that wasn't another bag... it was the top of baby girl's head.
Saturday afternoon, she was telling me it was pushing time because I was 10 cm. I kept asking her how did I know when it was time to begin pushing and she told me that I would feel like I needed to or I just would start because I'm 10 cm. "Some wait for 16 hrs because they don't need to right away." I thought she was crazy because I was completely out of it and so over being in labor. I did not feel like I needed to push ever, but I began pushing. They're telling me how to but not if I should be and no progress was happening.
Midwife and her assistant went outside and started talking. Gabe came outside and they immediately stopped talking and seemed bothered that he interrupted. They told him to go rest and that they were going to try and help me progress. They asked him to leave the room, three separate times. During these times, they were checking my blood pressure and baby's heartbeat. I asked where Gabe was and they told me he was resting and that they were going to take over. They were not letting Gabe come into the room and would not answer when he asked about my blood pressure and baby's heartbeat. Always hesitantly responding, "Everything is okay."
I ended up coming to the hot shower to try and find some comfort. Gabe is now helping me in the bathroom. He leaves to go ask Cindy if he should call the birth photographer, since I am 10 cm. Cindy immediately said not to call her. Right as she was saying no, her assistant Zoe kicked her under the table. Zoe then looked at Cindy and was telling the midwife like hey, she's 10 cm.. so we should probably call... right? Then Cindy told Gabe to go ahead and call. So Gabe calls and birth photographer arrives while I am still trying to push. She's telling me that the baby isn't descending while you push so just keep resting.
During all that time, nothing is progressing and so Cindy came into our room to speak with us. I was laboring in my master bathroom and Gabe and Cindy came inside to talk to me. She said that she thought we ought to head to the hospital to maybe get an epidural to help me better progress since I had been laboring for so long. She always kept telling me.... "This isn't an emergency. Everything is fine." She wanted me to travel to a hospital that was 2.5 hours away, in ATL traffic. The key to this hospital is that this is where Dr. Bootstaylor is. The doctor who is for midwives and home births. She's close to him and wanted to be there for whatever reason. Even her assistant was boasting how this could be the greatest story if I were to give birth while in the car... Gabe told her we weren't going there and that this far away hospital was never my back up plan while in labor. There was no way I was going to go in a car ride for over 2 hours while in labor. That's insane. Gabe asked her to leave so he could speak with me privately. He said he was taking me to my actual backup hospital which is only 20 minutes away. We left the bathroom and I continued to labor and he went to get the SUV ready to go. The assistant started packing my bag. When done, I asked if she would pack Gabe something. She told me no and that he would come pack once he finishes prepping the SUV. I told her to go ahead because we didn't need to keep delaying. During this time, Gabe went outside to speak to Cindy to let her know that we were going to the hospital close to home that was always in the emergency plan. While she was on the phone, Gabe asked who she was on the phone with. She immediately hung up and walked in the house without answering. I kept asking Zoe, if he was ready and she kept telling me he wasn't done prepping the SUV, which I thought was crazy. So I left the room myself to come into our second living space and finding Cindy and Gabe discussing. She was having him print out the records she had been keeping on me, but they wouldn't print from her computer. She had to share access through google to the forms so he could print them from his phone. What she doesn't know is he saved those files because he had a feeling he would need them later.
I come out of the room and ask if we are ready. Cindy looks at me and says she needs fifteen minutes to pack her things and finish the paper work. I looked at Gabe and he told everyone we were leaving and she could catch up to us later. Reluctantly, she told her assistant to finish packing for her, changed into scrubs herself, and left with us. Gabe was driving like a wild man trying to get to the hospital while Cindy is in the back still telling us this isn't an emergency and he didn't have to drive like that.
On the way to the hospital, Cindy told us this exactly," When we get to the hospital, I am going to tell the front desk I had called ahead to let them know we were coming. But I'm not actually going to call." Gabe was so focused on driving and I was going through contractions that we didn't even respond, because we were pulling into the hospital. Cindy was adamant about being the one to walk me into the hospital. Gabe went to grab a wheelchair but Cindy stopped him... "She's fine walking. It'll probably even help the baby move down." (Thanks a lot Cindy) Gabe drove mad to park the car and we entered the hospital. Of course I'm loud inside because I'm going through contractions. Two suited nurses started to make their way to me, asking if it was 'almost time'. Cindy curved around me immediately and acted like she was helping me through a contraction... but I wasn't having one at that moment. She peered back and noticed those two nurses had proceeded to walk away and we began walking. Front desk clerk asked where we were headed. Cindy replied," To the L+D floor and the clerk told her that isn't how this works. The clerk immediately called the ER to let them know to send someone with a wheelchair to pick me up. They came and we began to check out at the front desk of the ER.
The immediate question the front desk nurse asked was, "Why didn't you call to let us know she was on her way here. We could've been ready for her." Cindy lied in her response by saying," I called the desk but no one would give me the number to the L+D floor." The Clerk looked at Gabe (who had now arrived) and the nurse next to her and replied,"That's not how this works here. No one called." They began to ask questions and Cindy just kept telling them to look at her forms for the answers. (Thanks for the effort, Cindy.) Someone came and brought me to the L+D floor where lots of people entered to start checking for baby's heartbeat. The entire time the doctors or nurses asked anything she was getting in their way or delaying us getting to speak to the doctor. We eventually asked her to hush so we could communicate to the staff.
According to Cindy's notes, which I have, Asa had a heartbeat of 120, an hour before we arrived to the hospital. We arrived around 8:45 pm. The nurses wrapped a monitor around my stomach and was searching hard for a heartbeat. The doctor came in and began asking what happened and for my information. Cindy, as helpful as could be with her efforts, handed them the forms and said it's all in the notes. She would not once answer any of their questions about last time they got a heartbeat, stats on mom, etc.
They continued to get a doppler for the heartbeat. Nothing. They used another type of doppler. Nothing. They brought in a sonogram tech. Nothing. The Doctor came and did a cervix check and said I was only 8 cm and baby was stationed at -2 not +2 which is what Cindy documented. She then said she wanted to do a sonogram because no one was picking up a heartbeat. I immediately told her to stop wasting time and that we needed an emergency c-section. The entire time they are saying my HR is 121. Gabe is telling them that the midwife said the baby's HR was 120. They all agreed in the room she wasn't picking up Asa's HR but rather mine. All the while, I'm looking at Cindy who has her head in her hands. She's whispering to Gabe and I that they aren't really trying to find the HR of Asa and that the machines they're using are old and not sufficient. I'm looking at my husband who is in complete shock and looking at me worried as ever. Before they wheel be back, Cindy comes to my ear and says she believes everything is okay with Asa and that she did have a heart beat before we left for the hospital. They put me out and I had a c-section. Over 60 hours of labor, and 40 hours with my water broken. I was completely dehydrated and septic. They couldn't believe I had not had a heart attack from my high HR and high blood pressure.
They delivered Asa, and gave her precious body to Gabriel. She wasn't alive and he was in complete shock. He grabbed her and ran over to me because I was having complications as well. The doctor looked at him, once finished with me, and said," You should be going home tonight as a single father. Your wife shouldn't have made it either."
Asa had passed for over 15-24 hrs inside of me. She began deteriorating inside of me which led to a large infection. Her skin peeled completely off at the touch. Cindy and Zoe kept wanting to come back to be with Gabriel but he told security to not let her through. She texted him, "Gabe, we want to honor your request to go ahead and go home, do you know the status of the baby?" Didn't ask about me. Gabe replied, "You know it. Please go." All she replied was, "ok. (broken heart emoji.)
I woke up from the c-section. I was foggy and kept asking, "Where's my baby. Where's Asa?" Gabe was holding her and brought her over to tell me she didn't make it. All I remember was screaming over and over NO! Not my baby! Not Asa! I wanted to see her immediately and I couldn't believe her skin peeling was so awful and she indeed was not alive. I held her so closely. Looked at every part of her sweet being. I was astonished she looked just like me. She had her father's curly hair as I predicted. She was beautiful and she deserved life.
Following this, we had her funeral but before that her autopsy. Every organ was completely healthy. Every part of her being was perfectly fine. There was nothing wrong with my placenta. There was nothing around her neck or that showed she struggled. Asa was perfect ... which we knew all along.
Some extra details:
- In the forms we turn in for our contract with Cindy, it asks all types of decisions we want to make for ourselves and baby. Once being our emergency backup plan, for during birth. We had this form filled out with the hospital name, address, number to call, etc. THIS was our backup hospital.
- The back up emergency form was on our kitchen countertop before we left for the hospital, along with other forms our doula had given us. When we returned from the hospital, these forms were all taken and a new form we had never seen before, was listed on our fridge. It was an emergency form that gave all my information and Cindy's at a time of emergency contact was needed. This viewed to be in the midwife's assistant's handwriting and would make total sense since she was the one left at our home after we all left for the hospital.
- She does not have malpractice. She's also serving as a midwife, in GA, illegally. Having a home birth in GA is not illegal but her practicing alone, without a doctor present is illegal.
- She once told us that she had called in a prescription (that did get filled) for another mama before. Her following statement was that," I probably just incriminated myself for telling you this."
- She has Dr. Bootstaylor prescribe all of her clients, without needing to see us, Ambien. She also offers to buy whatever we have left from the prescription. This was said in person but the email to show 'donations' is listed below.
- She gave me Pulsatilla, cimicfuga, Valerian, Cramp Bark, Black Haw: When you look these up they say not safe during pregnancy, may affect uterus, etc.
Below, I am laying it all out there. Do not come at me for sharing her personal information.... It's completely out there via her own website and social media.
This was on her Instagram, detailing that I indeed was in labor for 60+ hours.
What a mystery... Cindy. We truly believe you knew on Saturday, before going to the hospital. Post has now been taken down but screen shots last forever.
No help wanted Cindy.
Ok and a heartbroken emoji is all you could say. I'm curious why you didn't respond in surprise since her birth was such a mystery?
I have a feeling her Insta won't last up very long. She became private super quickly.
Gabe updating her the first evening... when she was suppose to already be coming our way.
See that time difference? 12:29 am to 5:14 am ... we were still waiting for her to come.
"Be with you through your pregnancy, LABOR, birth and postpartum."
She use to have a business FB page. She has since taken it down when I left a very visual review, which can't be removed... therefore it left her to take her entire page down.
birth safely. uniquely trained. You most definitely didn't maximize my comfort, safety, or autonomy. My biggest mistake was ever trusting you. We trusted way way way too much.
You can find that this article talks about Dr. Bootstaylor, whom I have referenced a lot.
yeah, this was right after I left my public review on her business FB page.
Just to show I did in-fact meet with Dr. Bootstaylor.
Says donate in email but she offered to buy my prescription if I didn't end up using any.
A lovely letter I received, from Cindy, as I was headed out the door to buy storage bins for all of my baby's clothing and such. You should've listened to your lawyer's advice.
The investigator who is over this case. When we called 911, the police officer (I think his name was officer whittaker) did not even take down the report and turn it in. So when we went to meet with Investigator Adaway, nothing had been previously reported. Get it together guys. I'm waiting to hear back from my phone calls and emails. Luckily, had Gabe and I not been asked to speak at a city meeting, where we saw you face to face... we probably wouldn't have had any answers yet. Let's get to work! Please call and email so they see the urgency!
To show we paid for her 'services'.
I left a review on her page and at the time she only had about five others. Guess she told her community and past clients to go and leave reviews so those stars wouldn't get bumped down. What upsets me the most is her #jobsecurity ....
Yeah, those stars bumped up pretty quickly after I left my review. Quick work --
hey Cindy, ya left all your stuff at my house. Zoe probably missed grabbing these before heading out. Why did you give me stuff that isn't safe while pregnant and can cause uterus issues/miscarriages?
As your mother, I will never stop fighting for you.