Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Loss of Trust: My Experience with Hospitals in the US- Part 4

This is the final post in this series (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 can be seen if you follow their links).  It does elaborate a bit more on what happened here in Florida and is a little less sugar coated.  You may want to turn back if blood or sad stories bother you...

With the first trip to the ER here in Florida, the doctor came into the room after my ultra sound and asked me if I knew what was going on and if the woman who’d done the ultrasound had told me anything.  I told him she hadn’t said anything, but that I’d been able to see the ultrasound screen and I was pretty sure there wasn’t a heartbeat.  He told me he’d find out.  The next time I saw him was when he came into the room and told me I was discharged and could go home.  I waited for the news.  As he left the room I stopped him and asked if I was right about the heartbeat.  He said that I was and that I should expect a “spontaneous abortion” in the coming days.  He then left the room.

Many of you have already read the story of the physical miscarriage, which took place six days later.  I went to the hospital.  I was berated by a nurse until I was in tears for “not knowing my name” when she mispronounced it when she called me.  When I went back into the ER I was treated as if I didn’t actually know that the baby had no heartbeat and might just be confused (despite the fact that I’d been at their sister hospital and the info from the earlier trip was all available to them).  

I got to walk across the hospital, in my gown, for the pelvic exam, past a heckling teenage boy.  During that fun walk another nurse, who had just given me pain killers, started arguing with the nurse who was walking me, about whether I should be on my feet, and then was visibly angry when I wouldn’t join in the argument (I was kind of busy staying upright). 

I was told I wasn’t dilated and returned to my room.  And ten minutes later when the contractions were a minute apart and were lasting over thirty seconds and I was bleeding profusely and I called for help, a nurse came and told me help was coming and no one came.  Actually, that’s not entirely true.  A nurse came and was called away by a voice outside the room who said she was “taking care of me” but never came.  I waited for another five minutes.  I finally got up, dripping blood, and walked across the room to move the in-room commode, where I delivered my baby, by myself. 

The nurse came in and told me the baby was just a blob of tissues, but did finally help me (still standing and bleeding) to baptize the baby.  They insisted they take the baby to pathology despite the fact that I wanted to take the baby to be cremated something that we got yet another sizeable bill for.   And I was released a short while later (think within half an hour), still bleeding heavily, without knowing whether or not I’d actually passed “everything.” 

The last two pregnancy tests I’ve taken, one at two weeks following the last hospital visit, came back immediately positive, a sign that everything might not have been passed (I’m going to take another one today, because if it’s still positive we have a problem…).   We don’t really know.  The doctor they recommended doesn’t take our insurance (shock) and no one really wants to see an OB patient who’s having problems (one reason to establish care early!). 

If you’re read this far… I’m sorry for this rambling.  I guess I’m trying to explain to myself why I’ve lost complete faith in hospitals. 

I’m not a homebirth girl, but I’d give anything now to find a birth center that takes VBA2C.  At some point, when I was between contractions, at the hospital during the miscarriage I asked, half knowing the answer, if the hospital did do VBACs.  The nurse proceeded to lecture me on how VBACs are incredibly dangerous and how I was going to have a very hard time finding anyone around here who did VBACs.  Her outraged tone, at the question, told me not to push and ask her if she thought 10 c-sections (or however many when you don’t use contraception and you’re open to life and you hopefully still have quite a few childbearing years before you) were more dangerous than a VBAC?

I know there are amazing doctors and nurses and tech people out there.  I've met some of them.  But the horror of the experiences that have also occurs gives me pause.

I just don’t trust any longer that I’m safer in a hospital than I am with someone who actually understands childbirth and doesn’t look at it as a disease (I'm sure there are people out there that do... I just haven't met any...), at a birth center…  This is a pretty radical change for me… and I have no plans for a homebirth if we ever are blessed with another little one… but I also can’t imagine going back to a hospital to deliver either. 

My dream, a birth center near hospital, that takes VBACs...  Finding such a place and having them say they'd take me (someday if I'm ever pregnant again!) would make my year!


  1. I don't know for where you are, but to give you hope there ARE some stellar midwife run places like this one(where I had my first born):

    Austin Area Birthing Center
    4100 Duval Rd. Building #2 (downstairs) and 2500 W. Wm Cannon Ste #503, Austin, TX 78759 and 78745 · Get Directions

    They are also on facebook!

    I do not trust medical persons either... too many have lied to me and I caught it, too many have been incompetent, too many have failed to LISTEN to what was wrong before making an assumption, too many have written off what I know as irrelevant, or ignored symptoms to make their diagnosis fit. Then there are the nurses who do not pass messages to the doctor, or who do not call the patient back but when the doctor asks tell him that they did... they ought to KNOW that the patient will speak to the doctor at the next appointment....

    I have a very good OB/GYN whose skills I respect but the other OB in the office... well, lets say I despise that one for assuming that the call I made after hours was for nothing-- ah, i HATE to bother the doctor and would not have if there wasn't something WRONG.

    So yeah, I am totally with you about not liking medical staff and hospitals.

    Like public school teachers who HATE home school and insist it is horrible for the children, most nurses are trained for hospital work and hate the midwives and will insist it is frightening etc....

  2. We're in Florida, but I am wondering if we might go out of state if no one will allow a VBAC here... although that's all way out in the future with a hypothetical pregnancy! Who knows where we'll be the next time we deliver! But I appreciate all the info, because it could definitely be useful in the future!

  3. I'm so sorry that your experiences with childbirth and loss have been so horrific. I guess we are blessed with a wonderful Catholic hospital here so we have been blessed in every aspect there. When we lost our little one in May everyone at the hospital was more than wonderful (with the exception of one woman who treated me like I was crazy when I ended up at the wrong place to sign myself in for my D&C...come on lady, I wasn't exactly thinking clearly!") I pray that you'll be able to find a fantastic practice and a wonderful hospital or birthing center in the future. There are wonderful ones out there and I hate to see you loose faith in all of them!

  4. It is nice to hear that it's not like this everywhere. Hopefully someday we'll live near a hospital that everyone says is wonderful (that also takes our insurance when we have insurance again someday! We just lost ours) and be able to trust it.

    I can kind of relate to the treatment when you went in for your D&C. Every time I'd say I had a miscarriage everyone would ask how I "knew" and I had to explain over and over again that there'd already been a sonogram, at their hospital. It got a little frustrating!

  5. I have found my doctors by using midwives who have birthing centers / home births for referrals ~ these doctors are generally much more open and many times more experienced (and compassionate, I have found), than others. Pediatricians also.

    Let me encourage you with the VBAC: My mom had a friend who had two c-sections, then went on to deliver her next 4 naturally, at home, with a midwife. There are doctors and midwives out there who will do a VBAC.

  6. That's so awful Jana! And the comment about the painkillers make me want to hit him too! I think the painkillers and pitocin pretty much cause my c-section, so if you had taken them you'd likely be wondering if they were the reason for the c-section. And I really can't imagine not having a private room after a c-section. Especially the first c-section. Ugh! I hope your next birth is better than this one was!

  7. O Cam! I wish you could come to see my OB. He's just so amazing and loving. I know he would take you in a heart beat. I'd seen him with someone that a councilor came in with from an abortion mill. She was yelling at him that she didn't want to have this lump of tissues. He was just so calmly telling her that the baby she had just seen on the sonogram was a real life with a heart beat and fingers and toes. I could hear his heart breaking. He is the most loving person out there. To bad he's all the way back in Louisiana. I can't take the chance living here and having him 5 hours away. I'm in the process of finding NFP only practice here.

  8. Oh Jana I wish I could give you a hug! I'm tearing up just reading this. I'm so sorry you went through this. The pressure to take pitocin is so huge!

    If you're like me (and I think we're a lot alike because you have the INTJ personality type up on your profile and that's what I am! And I hardly ever meet other INTJs!) the labor will start to feel more far away with time. And I'm amazed that you were able to refuse an epidural! You're such a strong woman! I wish I could give you a real hug, but here's a computer hug and prayers because it does get easier.

    Any chance Matt would go along with a midwife if you're blessed with another after the hospital experience? Although it seems much harder to find one after a c-section...

  9. You should check these out:

    I'm in Louisiana and I found a fantastic birthing center here. Good luck!

  10. Cammie, I would recommend you start asking women at your new church who their doctor is, once you're comfortable enough. You could even ask your priest if he could put you in touch with a reputable mother from your parish. I know all the mommas with numerous children (and fewer too) at my parish go to the same OB. And the OB goes to my church. Can you believe he prays for his patients, refuses to prescribe contraception and has a great bedside manner? The best way to find a doctor is to ask people you trust. So get to know some mommas at your church!


  11. Cam, according to this site here: , VBACs are illegal in birth centers in Florida. They do recommend an OB who works with them who is very VBAC friendly and the only one in the area (Cape Coral, which I believe may be near you) who provides VBACs. I know this might not be what you want to hear, since you were hoping for a birth center birth, should you be blessed with another child. I'm not sure if VBAC homebirths are legal there, but if so then that may be a valid option (especially since you don't have insurance), since it's not really more dangerous than a birth center, if you think about it. As long as a hospital is nearby.

  12. I was just reading about that earlier today too. It kind of makes me wish I lived in Texas because I hear the most stories about VBAC friendly doctors coming out of Texas! I'll definitely have to see who they recommend as VBAC friendly...

    I also have a way-out-there-never-gonna-happen dream that the next baby would come during summer and that we'd be able to take a month off and go to a VBAC friendly birth center I've read a ton about in Tennessee (and save enough to go there). The c-section rate there is something like 2% and I just feel like I'd be super confident that they knew what they were doing... However I'm thinking it's probably just a dream and finding a VBAC friendly OB who's willing to go against the hospital policy would be the next best (and more realistic) thing.

  13. *hugs* And good luck.

    You might already know this from my blog, but I wanted a birth center birth before I had my first but dh and circumstances (a lot of misinformation too) ended up with us in the hospital. I didn't have as bad an experience as you, but was lied to and treated pretty badly. I also had hemorraging from them pulling the placenta out instead of letting me deliver it like we're meant to. That and seeing the price diff convinced dh to do a birth center this last time and it was so much better. He now recommends midwives to everyone lol. Homebirth... before ZJ I couldn't imagine having one either, just wasn't my thing. My cousin had 2 and loved them. I just preferred the BC idea, which I still like. I'm a lot more open to the idea now but unless something happens where I need to have one it prob won't happen.

    Haven't researched it like Amanda but agree with her statement. Home is no more dangerous than a BC... and it does have some advantages if yall are comfortable with it.

  14. Yikes about them pulling the placenta! That's so dangerous. I'm so glad you got to do the birth center the second time!

    And what stories I could tell to #3 (God-willing!) if we were to do a homeboirth... You were born at Ave! LOL! I think Paul would need some convincing.

  15. I was born at a hospital, my two brothers at birth centers, the next two sisters were home-births (I was there for those, and that was amazing), and my youngest sister was born at a hospital. I am too young to have kids (I'm 13), but I think that if I were to get married and have kids instead of entering the religious life (which is my ultimate plan right now), I would probably do it at home. The hospital experiences you've have had sound awful, I'm so sorry. I would not feel faithful in hospitals like that again either if I ahd gone through that.

  16. You give me too much credit, MK. My "research" consisted of a 5 minute google search on birth centers in the area. :)

    Cam, this is the part of the page that I was thinking would be most helpful to you:

    "We can recommend our "back-up" ObGyn, Dr. George at Physician's Primary Care for VBAC. Dr. George is currently the only obstetrician in the area offering women the option of VBAC. Births take place at Cape Coral Hospital, which is also the only hospital in the area offering VBAC.

    Dr. George enthusiastically supports VBAC and is willing to meet the strict hospital requirements that he be physically present on the labor unit while a woman with a prior cesarean is in active labor. Women who desire VBAC must be screened, but most healthy pregnant women have the option to avoid another cesarean.

    Please contact Physician's Primary Care to schedule an appointment for a consultation regarding VBAC. (239) 574-2229.

    You will need to provide detailed medical records, including the operative report from your cesarean birth."

    It also looks like it may be illegal for midwives to attend home births in Florida, so that may not even be an option for you.

    Also, I think I know who you're talking about in Tennessee. I'd love to give birth at The Farm as well! :) Fortunately I have a decent hospital nearby instead.

  17. I hadn't checked the website yet, but that quote makes me feel a lot better about it, just because it's Physician's Regional. We live near one too, and went to it first (they didn't take our insurance, but they were soooo nice and helpful and even called and found a hospital that did and printed us directions!). I'm hoping we have insurance before too long and if we do they're definitely the hospital I would pick if I had to!

    I wondered about the midwife thing. Seems like things are really strict here. I read that there were studies about VBACs in birth centers going on here before 2009 and I wonder what the results were.

    I think one of the positive results of all of these bad experiences is that I'm a lot more confident that I could go through childbirth without painkillers now. I wish I'd been more confident earlier!

  18. Also, if you're interested in this doctor, I would call now and at least try to get your foot in the door. If he's the only VBAC OB in the area, he may have a waiting list.

  19. Cam, I am so sorry about your hospital experiences. I've given birth all 4 times in the same hospital with the same group of doctors. I love my OB/GYN group. Their mission is faith-based medicine and practice according to Catholic teaching, even though not all of them are Catholic. They are completely worth driving across D.C. to get to Virginia for them. Having moved in June further north in Maryland, they are farther away now but I still think they would be worth the trip should I get pregnant again.

    I have had some experiences with awesome nurses. I've also have had not-so-nice nurses. I think it just depends and that is true everywhere. After giving birth to my 4th child, while in the post-partum room, one nurse didn't ask me if I was done having children, she TOLD me I was done! And she had three kids herself. First of all, it is none of her business whether *I* (God is more like it) am done or not and, secondly, no one should ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever say that to a woman in post-partum. You have no idea what they might have been through having their children. I have been very blessed but I have friends who have been through agony trying to have children. Throw in the natural post-partum hormones and it is just a wretched thing to say. I was over it in about a day but my husband said he would have let her have it if he had been there. (I admit that made me feel better.)

    My honest advice is, as you meet moms at your new parish, particularly moms who are open to life or have a few children, ask them what doctors they use and what hospital they recommend. They've been there longer and probably have standards of doctors closer to yours. That is how I found mine.

  20. Cam,

    I am so sorry to hear about about your hospital experiences and medical staff that doesn't seem to care about their patients. I pray that you find a doctor who truly cares about their patients. The best adivce is to ask the mothers at your parish.

    Being unmarried I haven't had to deal with OB's yet. I know from my mom's experience that the one's were we live (Kentukcy) or pretty bad at least the ones she saw. I was delievered by a OB whom my mom didn't like. My sister was delievered by a midwife, and the funny thing was my mom had more trouble and problems with the doctor than the midwife.

    I pray that if you are blessed with another baby that you have a dr or a midwife who truly cares about you and your baby.


  21. It seems like the hospital you were at wern't up to date with the latest information.
    Perhaps you could print these off and go back and show them these?

  22. How did the last pregnancy test go? Did it come up negative finally, indicating that everything is passed now? I've been praying that you won't have to go back in for a D&C.

  23. Oh Cam, I'm just reading these. That is hideous. I am so sorry. And I hate to ask you this but is there any chance you might send me an email? For some reasons I'd rather not post publicly just now your story terrifies me. I can't find your email on your site. If you don't mind, mine is calahalexander (at) yahoo (dot) com. I'm at least very glad the hospital paid up.


I love comments and I read every single comment that comes in (and I try to respond when the little ones aren't distracting me to the point that it's impossible!). Please show kindness to each other and our family in the comment box. After all, we're all real people on the other side of the screen!