BOISE -- The parents of Cailey Anna Harman said they held their baby girl only a few times before she died at two weeks old. She spent most of her life connected to machines at a Boise hospital.
"She never opened her eyes. She never cried. She never made a sound," said Greg Harman, Cailey Anna's father. "She basically was not functioning on her own at all. There was a lot of damage, not just to her brain, but to a lot of her organs." said Greg Harman.
Natalie Harman said they had hoped Cailey Anna would have some quality of life, until doctors told them otherwise.
"When we realized that, even the doctors telling us, we just still couldn't believe it," said Natalie Harman.
The Harmans had Cailey Anna in 2010 at The Baby Place, a birthing center in Meridian. Midwives Jerusha and Coleen Goodwin attended the delivery.
"They started to realize that something definitely wasn't right because she was just pushing and pushing. They could see the baby's head, but they realized she wasn't really coming out," said Greg Harman.
Greg Harman said his daughter was born unresponsive.
"The baby falls out completely limp. She was completely kind of a grayish color, completely limp," said Greg Harman.
The Harmans said doctors at the hospital later told them Cailey Anna was born with a lack of oxygen. A 2012 investigation by the Idaho Midwifery Board reported the midwives failed to clamp the baby's umbilical cord before a student midwife cut it, resulting in a significant amount of blood loss.
"Blood was literally falling everywhere. Just a huge trail of blood from the table,” said Greg Harman.
Cailey Anna's death is one of three investigated by the Idaho Midwifery Board. The report says all three deaths resulted from care at The Baby Place in the last two years. The Goodwins have been sued over a fourth case, a baby who suffered severe, permanent brain damage. Attorney Eric Rossman represents that family, who settled the civil case last week for $5 million dollars. Rossman said the cases call for stricter statutory regulations for Idaho midwives.
"Idaho has started to look into it. In 2010 the legislation was adopted, but I don't think it goes far enough," said Rossman.
Idaho law prohibits midwives from providing care to women with histories of certain disorders or conditions. If specific complications arise during labor, midwives are required to facilitate an immediate transfer to a hospital.
"Although the regulations cover some high-risk situations now, it does not cover all. And so my position would be that I think the legislation needs to be amended to exclude any high-risk deliveries outside the hospital," said Rossman.
Jill Henggeler with the Idaho Midwifery Council said there are standards of care for the midwifery profession which are separate from standards mandated by law. Henggeler says the professional standards include high-risk deliveries.
"Midwives know that when a woman begins to deviate from normal then the best thing to do is to collaborate with a health care professional, discuss what her options are and come up with maybe a change of plans," said Henggeler.
The Idaho Midwifery Council advocated licensure laws to establish legitimacy for its profession and safety for families. Henggeler said with the 2010 law in place, there are now means for discipline and penalties for midwives who don't follow the law.
"The parameters of care that a licensed midwife can give are very well defined," said Henggeler.
Numbers from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare report midwifery-assisted births at Idaho birthing centers have increased 48 percent since 2008. The majority, by far, have been successful, healthy deliveries.
"Through monitoring, most of the times, many times, almost all the time, true emergencies are avoidable," said Henggeler. "Certified professional midwives, licensed midwives are experts in caring for low-risk healthy women," said Henggeler.
But Rossman is concerned about midwives who may deviate from the midwifery profession's standards of practice, those who choose to deliver high-risk pregnancies in out-of-hospital settings. He believes if state law were amended, there's a better chance cases like those at The Baby Place could be avoided.
"Very adverse, negative outcomes coming from the same facility in a fairly short period of time, that's way too many," said Rossman.
The Harmans said their faith won't let them be angry at the Goodwins, although they believe the midwives should be held responsible for their actions.
"They're the ones who attended thousands of births. We trusted them," said Greg Harman
"You're putting your baby's life and your own life in their hands. We trusted them completely," said Natalie Harman.
Almost exactly one year after Cailey Anna’s passing, Natalie Harman gave birth to Elaina Christina. The Harmans said she is their bright, shining light. And if there is reason her big sister was taken too soon, the Harmans believe perhaps it is to help prevent other tragedies from happening.
"I want people to know the story so that they can be informed on what to do if they're ever in a situation like ours," said Greg Harman.
The Idaho Midwifery Board suspended Jerusha Goowin’s license and Coleen Goodwin’s right to renew her license, pending the outcome of administrative hearings.
The Goodwins were licensed as certified professional midwives, which are different than certified nurse midwives. Certified nurse midwives in Idaho are regulated by the state Board of Nursing. They have nursing degrees in addition to a master’s degree in midwifery. There are four certified nurse midwives who are credentialed to practice at St. Alphonsus in Boise. They work alongside health professionals.