a guest blog by Lauren Ferrari
I was living in Puerto Rico during the course of my pregnancy and the birth of my daughter. The hospital where I received my care was horrendous- it was small, cramped, overcrowded, understaffed- it was awful. Because my husband is in the military it was our only available option at the time.I went to a prenatal appointment at just over 36 weeks, and my doctor told me to go to the hospital for observation overnight. He said my BP was "high," while it was only 130/90 and I'd been crying (I had to wait 4 hours to see him every appointment and was beginning to lose it!!). I went, and heard nothing for 24 hours. They wouldn't let my husband stay with me, made me lie in bed with an IV and fetal monitor, made me use a bedpan, wouldn't let me eat or drink, gave me no call button, etc. I spent 24 hours sobbing in fear for my unborn child, and wanting my husband! The next day, my OB stormed in, yelling that I should have been "QUIET AND HAPPY TO BE IN THE HOSPITAL!!" What?! It was shocking how mean he was. He went to look at my test results, then came back and said that I had pre-eclampsia and was going to have a C-section. He even said I could be induced, but "it could take a few days." To this day I'm shocked he just went right for surgery, when ALL resources about pre-eclampsia recommend attempting induction first if the pregnancy is nearly full-term!! He just wanted to be over with it faster and get more money from my insurance company. Truly sick. I had NO symptoms (and believe me, I had read about pre-e and was well aware of the symptoms), and he didn't show me my test results. I don't believe I had anything wrong with me at all. During the C-section, my OB never spoke to me or offered any comfort, even though I was scared out of my mind for our daughter's lungs, what with her not even hitting 37 weeks. He also didn't come check on me ONCE during my 3 days recovery in the hospital, only dropping by for 2 minutes on the last day to sign my release forms!! I never saw him again, and refused to have him see me at my post-partum visit.
I didn't like the Obstetrician allocated to me at all. He berated me about wanting a natural, drug free birth, saying "you'll be begging for an epidural! "I even asked the Obstetrician about midwives but he told me "There are no midwives in Puerto Rico." (In retrospect, he was probably lying.) I really hated him but could not switch doctors- in Puerto Rico, after 20 weeks you cannot switch care providers. No one will take you; you're considered a liability. I begged, cried, called every doctor around- nobody would help me. I had the choice of flying to California to be with my mom, but I was scared my husand would miss the birth (military leave is hard to organize). There was no other option. I wasn't aware of freebirth and I had no-one around me normalizing birth. The irony is that the day of my 36 week appt, I had just gotten off the phone with my insurance company, telling them I could not take it anymore and wanted to fly to California- but my plans were thwarted that very day.
After the surgery, they sent me off to recovery, alone. My daughter was put in the nursery and my poor husband kicked out into the waiting room. I didn't see him for 8 hours, and he was only allowed one glimpse of her at 6 hours old. She was perfectly healthy, as was I, and we were kept apart for TWELVE hours!!!!!!!
My beautiful daughter, before I had even seen her.
I begged to see her over and over, and the nurses ignored me, and every so often just said NO. It was excruciating. They also refused to give me pain medication, even when I was convulsing from the agony. I remember nurses coming up to me and PUNCHING my stomach like a ball of dough, with no warning!! I was screaming and begging them to stop, pushing at their hands. It was horrific.
When they finally let me see her, I held on to her for dear life and kept her with me. Before they even brought her to me, some nurses showed up claiming she was "starving" and needed to eat. I was alone and in a drug haze, so I freaked out and said okay!! They gave her a BOTTLE before I even got to hold her!! To this day I'm very surprised we nursed easily!!
Once I had hold of Sophie, I wouldn't let her go. I was so happy just to have her in my arms.
NO one helped me take care of her, even though I could barely move from the pain. My husband wasn't allowed to stay overnight the 3 days I was in the hospital, since I was in a shared room, and of course no one on staff bothered to tell me my MOM could stay and help me!! She had flown all the way from California to Puerto Rico to be with me the moment she found out about the C-section.
Needless to say, I suffered from PTSD for several months afterwards, and would sob hysterically if I saw a happy Baby Story on TV, or talked about my experience.
It's been 4 years now, and I can talk about it without crying. I refused to be a victim again, and studied normal birth for a couple years to prepare myself for a natural VBAC. It did not go exactly as I'd hoped, but it was actually a healing experience nonetheless. My body is not broken, and I had my child the way I was meant to. :)