Choosing A Hospital
“No one ever thinks medical neglect will happen to them. We have this belief, or at least I did, that when there is a health problem (either mentally or physically, or both) we will be treated and helped. I had to learn the hard way that unfortunately there are nurses who should not have ever been nurses.
I found out that I was pregnant with my third, and final, child on December 16th, 2021. My husband and my two older daughters were so excited! My daughters hugged my stomach and immediately started talking to the baby.
My husband was very excited at the prospect of having one final chance at having a son (spoiler alert: our final baby ended up being a girl). I went into this pregnancy with so much confidence as I had been pregnant twice before, had healthy pregnancies, and two healthy daughters.
I found a hospital near my rural home that was highly rated in their labor and delivery department and known to have nurses who were very kind and patient with their new mothers, often going above and beyond to help with the babies! I thought this was great, as I had experienced this with my oldest daughters and wanted that again with this baby since the original hospital I attended had closed down. This new hospital seemed like it would be a dream.
I was about to have my confidence taken away and the rug ripped out from under me very swiftly. This pregnancy ended up being my worst pregnancy due to my symptoms and due to being neglected by my midwife and most of the nurses during my four-day hospital stay after having to have a c-section.
I went to my first appointment on January 20th, 2022 and found out that everything was going well with the baby! The doctor asked me how my last pregnancies were and asked if I had any concerns. I said that I was having awful morning sickness (there were days I couldn’t eat or drink or even get off the couch) and I was already gaining weight and my thighs felt bigger.
The doctor did not seem too concerned because at the time my blood pressure wasn’t high and she had told me I might gain weight quicker with my third pregnancy. She did have me do a twenty-four hour urine sample collection to check for protein and she gave me tips for my morning sickness. I booked my appointments for my whole pregnancy at that appointment and after meeting the doctor I felt I had made the right choice with this hospital!
From there it just went horribly. I would come to find out midwife, who ended up treating me instead of the doctor, seemed to not take anything I told her seriously at all.
When I was four months pregnant, I woke up with extreme back pain. After two hours, I could not stand the pain any longer so I went to a local prompt care. The on-call doctor looked me over and said it might be my kidneys and that I should go to the emergency room in the hospital I would be delivering at.
After arriving at the hospital and being checked in, the on-call physician checked on Abigail (our baby girl) first and then checked me over and concluded that my kidneys had filled with fluid and my right kidney is presenting with medullary sponge (a non-serious problem that would have to be monitored). They decided to send me home that day and said I would need to see a local urologist to continue to monitor my kidney and ensure it did not become more serious.
While I was in the emergency room, the on-call physician called the midwife and asked her to inform the doctor of everything that had happened. She said she would but I later found out that she did not because she didn’t think the doctor would need to know.
At five months pregnant, I started to have swelling around my ankles, calves, hands, and wrists. I was also having headaches and cloudy urine. I knew what a pregnancy was supposed to feel like and I knew something was wrong. I could feel something was not right with this pregnancy.
I made a list of symptoms that arose after my morning sickness ceased and presented them to the midwife. The midwife was unconcerned with my list but she laughed and said she would humor me by having me pee in a cup. She looked at my cloudy urine and determined it would not need to be tested because she could see that I had a urinary tract infection. She prescribed me antibiotics and sent me on my way.
In my sixth month of pregnancy, I contracted another urinary tract infection that was ignored by the midwife and once again it only got detected because I had to take myself to the emergency room and get tested.
With my first two pregnancies, every time I went to an appointment I would have my urine checked, my weight checked, my blood pressure checked, and then the midwife or doctor would listen to the heart beat or do a sonogram. I would then get measured from my pubic bone to my belly button so they could determine fundal height.
During my third pregnancy, my urine was not checked and my blood pressure was not checked either. I told the midwife numerous times that something was wrong and I did not feel okay. The midwife would always tell me that I was fine and I was just being a nervous pregnant woman. When I would tell her I was not being hysterical and I knew in my heart something was wrong, she would tell me she’d been treating pregnant women for years and she knew I was fine.
I would come to find out later that the midwife was under strict orders to check my urine, blood pressure, listen for heart beat, and check the fundal height. These orders were from the doctor that was in charge of the midwives including the one I was seeing for my appointments.
At this point in time anyone reading would be yelling at me to go find a new OBGYN and asking where my husband was. I live in a rural area and the only available OBGYN that was close was the one I was seeing for my appointments. Now, there are new gynecologists in the area which makes me happy because now women can be safer. Also, my husband had just started a new job, with a toxic company (we didn’t know was toxic), and the boss would not let him take time off to come to appointments. He has since left that company.
When I was seven months pregnant, I complained to my midwife at two appointments and told her my back was hurting and that it was hurting to pee. I showed her my wrists, hands, feet, and ankles and how swollen they were. I told her that my feet were so swollen I had to buy larger shoes so that I could have shoes that fit me. Again, the midwife just laughed me off and sent me away.
I was so fed up with her that I went to the emergency room. There they tested my urine, blood pressure, weight, they checked on Abigail, and then my fundal height. The on-call physician then told me I had a very bad vaginitis and would need to start antibiotics immediately. He concluded that my vaginitis was probably the cause for my swelling.
After picking up my medicine, I went home and switched all of my appointments so that I could see the doctor. Even though I would have to drive one hour and thirty minutes to her clinic, it was worth it because I had hope that the care could be better. Luckily, my daughters weren’t in school at the time, so I was able to make this drive back and forth without having to worry about dropping them off.
I saw the doctor again at the end of my seventh month of pregnancy. At that appointment we discussed how I was very done with my pregnancy and she agreed that we should schedule a c-section. It was scheduled for August 16th, 2022 and I was so relieved.
I thought this was the light at the end of my tunnel. Turns out, I was just going from the frying pan into the fire.
Traumatic Birth & Postpartum Treatment
On August 16th, 2022 I went to the hospital for my c-section. I got checked in and they did a final sonogram and cervical check to see if there was a chance I could have her naturally. Unfortunately, Abigail had other plans and so they proceeded to get ready for my c-section. I was so happy to be taken back; as the procedure started, I felt relieved because I knew this horrible pregnancy was finally coming to an end!
At 7:48 in the morning, Abigail was born and boy she was unhappy! When they laid her on my chest so I could hold her I started to cry because I thought it was over and I would be going home in two days time. What no one told me is that after a c-section you’re not supposed to overeat or even drink. The nurses kept allowing my husband to bring me food and drinks which I happily consumed because I was starving and thirsty.
Soon, I was throwing up and crying because it hurt so bad. The nurse told me later on, ‘Yeah, you weren’t supposed to eat and drink that much.’ Later, my daughters came to the hospital to see me and meet their baby (as they called her).
They instantly fell in love with her and since then have been very protective of her! After a while, however, they really wanted to walk around as they were restless, so I asked if we could and the nurse said, ‘No. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, you cannot just wander aimlessly.’ From that comment on, I knew my care wasn’t going to be good.
That night, my blood pressure started getting really dangerously high. On the morning of the 17th, I was told that they needed to keep doing blood pressure checks because the doctor was worried and I might not be going home on the 18th. That scared me because I never had problems with blood pressure.
The nurses did not help. They would not explain to me what was going on, why this was happening to me, what they were doing to fix this issue so I could go home. They were keeping my baby from me and not telling me anything about her care. Even when they brought her in to see me to eat, they would coldly remove her from my breast after thirty minutes because she needed to be checked.
All of this added to my stress, which of course did not help my blood pressure. I fell into a deep depression because I couldn’t have my baby. Also, for some reason, they changed my menu to a low-sodium diet, did not tell me they were doing this, and refused to change it back to a normal menu so I could eat.
In Illinois, hospitals are supposed to have patient-centered care and patients can refuse care even if they need it. I was never given the option to refuse or not refuse that menu change. They were also giving Abby formula which led to her not wanting to latch on to my breast or breastfeed. This hurt because I wanted to breastfeed my baby and had made this clear.
I started calling my husband and every time he answered I would sob into the phone. I spent all day every day in that hospital crying. I had no idea what was going on and neither did my husband because they were not telling him anything at all. Finally, on the 19th it all came to a head when I texted my husband and said I wanted to jump out of the window to end all of this.
He drove up to the hospital and demanded a conversation with all of the nurses, not just the night nurses. The D.O.N called the nurses that had been administering my care and they went to a conference room. My husband then demanded to know why my mental health was declining. They denied I had a problem even though I almost had a stroke because of my blood pressure and was obviously depressed.
The director then got mad and told them to give me a suicidal questionnaire. My husband said I was not in my right mind, but they kept fighting him.
Healing From Malpractice
When I got the suicidal questionnaire, I failed it, and they finally informed my doctor as to what was happening. They only called the on-call doctor who did nothing to help and my actual doctor was very justifiably upset. She came to the hospital and spoke to me and then yelled at the nurses.
My doctor even put in an order that I could have my child when I wanted for as long as I wanted to have her. I was finally given psychotropics, blood pressure medicine, and bonding time with my baby!
On the 20th, I was released from my own little slice of hell and taken home. When Abby was two months old my blood pressure evened out and we started giving her formula since she was not getting what she needed from breast milk.
Today, I am still in therapy over what happened. However, I am grateful that I get to see all my beautiful daughters grow up and be in their lives. Abby is the perfect final addition to our family! She is just full of pure joy and happiness. Our hearts are full and my husband and I are blessed!
What I want nurses and doctors to take from this story is this: patients know their bodies and they know when something is wrong! Listening to a patient could mean the difference between life and death.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Audrey Roberts. Have a story of love, kindness, or healing to share? Visit our submissions portal to submit today.
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