Barry’s Story; By our Founder, Veritee Reed Hall’s Husband

Dictated to and written By Cara Aitkins, with comments by Veritee.

Barry found it all very hard. He knows he never gave Veritee enough emotional support but never realized quite how bad her depression was. “ It was only when she got better and started talking to me about it that I knew. Although I did realize that Veritee was depressed, I thought it was due to the depressing birth experience and, thought she would get over it. It took me a year or so for me to truly realize. I still think she is suffering a bit – she is still angry about how things turned out and I know now that she will never get over it.

When Caja was first born, Veritee had her all the time. “I loved holding her at this stage, but, only really got involved with her later on. Veritee was breast-feeding Caja and she would not take a bottle, even if it was expressed milk. She seemed to hate the rubber teat in her mouth so I could not help in feeding her at all. In fact this made it impossible for Veritee to leave her for more than a couple of hours until Caja was over 8 months. This was because she was so small she needed feeding every two hours at least. I must admit I used to panic a bit if Veritee did leave her with me to go shopping or something as Caja as soon as she was hungry would scream and nothing would quieten her except Veritee’s breast. I could do nothing for her. I realize now that it must of been quite a strain for Veritee to be so indispensable. But at the time I knew nothing about little babies and thought this was how things were. I therefore was unable to help her at all with the care or give her a break. Apart from holding her and changing her, I didn’t do much more.”

After the initial five weeks at home, only 2 ½  weeks after Veritee came out of hospital as she was in with Caja for 10 days, Barry had to go away to his job at sea for the next five weeks. “The next time I came home, I had a lot more to do with our baby. I could keep her amused a bit. I do think I was feeling depressed about the whole situation, but it showed in different ways like throwing myself into DIY jobs. It never once crossed my mind that Veritee would do anything silly. I would not of left her otherwise.


Cara’s Comment:
“Although Barry went twice to see a counselor with Veritee, he did not feel as passionate about the situation as she did, or realize the extent of her depression. He did completely back Veritee up all the way despite this”


I was worried when Veritee was ill during pregnancy but not much more than normal as she often, at that time, seemed to feel ill. She has since discovered food intolerance to cheese and yoghurt, which at that time she would eat daily.

For some reason I never really thought that anything would go wrong with the pregnancy and we would not have a healthy baby at the end of it. Although given Veritee’s age and the smallness of Caja I suppose we were lucky. She did complain about having to cope with the animals while I was away and I worried about that. However, when I suggested getting rid of them to make it easier, she said “No” they were needed to make living on a farm worthwhile as that was why we bought the farm in the first place. So I just felt at a loss as to what to do as I was looking a practical ways to make life easier for Veritee but they were all rejected which was very frustrating.

When I heard she had gone into hospital I realised how dangerous high blood pressure was. It took me over two days to get home from a ship in the North sea ( I had to be helicoptered off and I have a fear of this and avoid it if I can) I was worrying all the way home. However when I did get home her blood pressure dropped a bit and I thought everything was OK The next few days were OK then I left the hospital for about two hours to get something to eat, when I came back Veritee had been induced.


Veritee’s Comment:
“Actually I had been induced 20 hours ago – I had begun pessaries the day before and had been in pain ever since. When he came back the panic was because I was bleeding.
I think that Barry didn’t really understand anything that was going on and was completely unable to help me because of this. He thought the pain I was experiencing was normal and although I kept saying it wasn’t, no professional was telling him otherwise.
He therefore, like everyone else, thought I was making a fuss about normal birth pain – until I started bleeding”


From then on it was a nightmare with one cock up after another.  It was unbelievable that I had to wheel Veritee up to the operating room for a caesarean my self as there were no portering staff available I also had to lift her on and off trolleys with her suffering pain at every movement. There was also no anaesthetist on duty despite the fact she had been in pain for several hours.

I was so relieved when it was all over and I was given Caja to hold and was told they were both OK At this point I thought everything was fine and even though Caja went to special care I thought that all the problems were all over. I did not really register that an emergency caesarean was quite a major operation even though when I next saw her she had drains and drips. It was all so new to me and you hear of women having caesareans all the time. I thought it was routine that they took pictures of her and did not realise it was for Veritee, so she registered she had has a live baby. I took the picture home with me to show my friends.

I did not have a lot of choice about going back to work after the birth. Also I was not having a lot to do with Caja at this time. Veritee was either sleeping with her, or holding her, or breast feeding her. I did change a few nappies. There was a couple living in a caravan about 30ft from the house at the time so I did not feel I was leaving her completely alone.

The problems with the knives and Veritee being frightened that she might harm Caja started much later. When it happened when I was coming home every weekend. I was not at sea for six months when Caja was about a two, as I attended a course in Southampton. The fear or knives started when Caja was about two after the case conference and all the other things with Social Services. Their involvement did so much harm to someone who was already suffering from depression.

I always trusted Veritee not to harm Caja. It never really entered my head that she would do anything and throwing the knives away just made her feel safer I think. After Christmas I failed the exams on the course the company had sent me on and I started coming home only every other weekend, which did not help. I could support her less than when I was at sea. But I always trusted Veritee to look after Caja at all times.

I was really annoyed at the social services. We were doing everything we could to get Caja to eat and they were no help at all especially after they took Caja into hospital and gave her a virus.


Veritee’s Comment:
“Barry was away throughout this so he doesn’t really know the course of events. It was actually the paediatrician that took Caja into hospital.
The Social Services became involved when she was in hospital although I now know they were already investigating us without our knowledge. This might have influenced the doctor to put her in the ward. We do not really know as no one has ever really explained their reasons for their actions at the time”


All they could get her to eat was ice cream and she came back weighing less than when she went in. I was away for all of this. As for the home help! (Family aide) all she seemed to do was turn up at meal times and check that we were feeding her, as they could not do it. She did nothing practical to help us.


“We had told them we were feeding her, didn’t they believe us?



We could have done with some practical help at this time when I was at sea so that Veritee could have a rest from the worry of looking after an underweight child but they only seemed to be interested it checking up on us, not helping us.

As for the case conference I told Veritee to try to get it postponed, as she knew how the system worked, so I could attend. I think it is completely wrong that they would not do this and held a conference about my child at a time I had no chance of attending. They did not seem to understand that I could not get off the ship for anything short of death or severe illness in the family. If the ship is left without a second engineer out at sea it can not work and the firm stands to lose thousands of pounds from one mans absence on that contract. I was only able to get back in time for the birth because I had booked it months before when Veritee first became pregnant and I had stayed on board until a replacement was found.

I suppose they thought that if it was important to me I would have attended. But there was no way I could have got my firm to helicopter me off at such shot notice. I was due back in a week anyway; surely they could have rearranged it for then? Veritee told them that I could not get back but all they said was that they were all busy people and they would hold it without both of us if they had to!

I would have nothing whatever to do with Social Services again and would not tell anyone to go to them whatever the problem , after what they did to us. This is despite the fact that Veritee still works closely with social services and is involved in referring children to them from time to time.