Posts tagged hospital

*This* is why I have a hard time trusting hospitals…

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“Yes, we do make bets on when your doula will leave, your birth plan will go out the window, and you’ll beg for an Epidural. And we go ahead and set up the OR. Happy Nurses Week!”

So one of my Facebook friends is a labor and delivery nurse, and she posted this on Facebook as a meme. I’m not friends with her per se… it’s one of those things where we’re friends on Facebook because we went to church together 15 or so years ago.

I take great umbridge with what she posted. I think it’s highly disrespectful and demeaning to make a game out of a laboring woman’s discouragement. You know *why* laboring women in hospitals will sometimes throw their birth-plans out the window and beg for epidurals? One of the biggest reasons is because we are forced into a “standard of care” rather than evidence-based care.

Many times, we go into a hospital and are immediately turned into sheep. We have to dress in hospital gowns and are subjected to “routine” interventions that studies are showing as questionable medical procedures. We are hooked up to I.V.’s and continuous fetal monitoring, and have our labors either induced or augmented with Pitocin, which means that we have to labor in bed. Sometimes that’s even the hospital’s standard of care anyway; the laboring woman must stay in bed. When we aren’t “allowed” to move about freely, we can’t accommodate the pain. It hurts WAY worse to labor laying down in bed. Not only that, but when you aren’t allowed to move around during labor (think sitting on birth balls, swaying, walking, and just moving around), the baby has a harder time moving down into the birth canal. *Gravity* is a laboring mother’s best friend. Also, movement during labor helps baby get into an optimal position for birth. For example, if the baby is sunny-side up, then movement will help him shift to face down.  I came across a very interesting Consumer Reports article saying EXACTLY what I’ve been saying for years about how some of these interventions are completely unnecessary and only increase, rather than prevent, our risk of things going wrong.

Also, birthing on one’s back is the worst possible position ever. Not only are you pushing against gravity rather than with it, but your tailbone has a harder time moving out of the way to accommodate baby, making the birth canal 20% smaller, and leading to the widely-embraced misconception that the baby won’t fit, labor has stalled, or mom’s body is unable to give birth. Granted, sometimes these things really DO happen, but women aren’t given a chance to birth in different positions or move around to give themselves & their babies a chance.

Of course there are exceptions to every rule, and I don’t want it to sound like I am painting everyone with the same brush. However, I truly believe that for the vast majority of us, our bodies won’t make babies we can’t deliver ourselves. Once our labors and deliveries are turned into a medical event and become medically managed, we are saying our bodies are incapable of handling birth without medical aid. This introduces doubt and fear, and it disempowers us. When we introduce drugs such as Pitocin (which is man-made Oxytocin used to induce or augment labor, mentioned above) into our system, we don’t get the endorphins Nature gives us through the Oxytocin our own bodies make while in labor, and neither does the baby, which can have a serious impact. And even more disturbing is the term “Pit to distress” that I’ve come across lately. When you think about it, such high levels of Pitocin causing such strong contractions can’t be safe. When contractions are unnaturally strong, the baby can’t get enough oxygen. What happens when our brains are denied sufficient amounts of oxygen? Parts of our brain can die. This is just me talking, but think about all the neurological problems that occur with oxygen deprivation to the brain. In fact, Autism is a neurological disorder, so how do we know drugs such as Pitocin, especially when it’s “cranked up,” doesn’t play a part in the staggering rise of Autism that we’re seeing? Likewise with immediate umbilical cord clamping. The baby’s blood is in the placenta, and when the cord is clamped and cut immediatey after birth, how do we know that denying the baby the iron-rich, oxygen-rich placental blood doesn’t contribute to lack of oxygen to the brain?

This is why I feel it’s so important to do birth the way God and nature intended. By changing what nature intended, we really don’t know what we’re messing with and what the long-term consequences are. And yes, sometimes these medical interventions are necessary and life-saving, and we are fortunate to have them when we need them. But using them when it’s not an emercency is just a risk I can’t take.

So yeah, I find the quote I started this post with incredibly offensive, disrespectful, and arrogant. And blithely saying they have the OR prepped for the inevitable c-section is just awful. America has an astounding c-section rate of one out of every three women. That’s about 33% of babies being born surgically. While many are medically necessary and save lives, most others are not. There is nothing “wrong” with c-sections or women who choose to have them, but it’s a major abdominal surgery and comes with serious risks. And each c-section a mother has increases her risk of serious and life-threatening complications. VBAC’s (vaginal birth after Cesarean  also come with their own risks, but seems to be less risky overall with way more benefits than repeat c-sections.

But anyway, I said all that because it really bothers me that my Facebook friend posted something like that. That is *exactly* why I’m going with a birthing center this time around, as long as everything goes well of course, and seeing a midwife. Thankfully, there are MANY wonderful, supportive nurses out there who advocate for their patients, but unfortunately there are those who are like my Facobook friend, and I don’t want to take that risk. It seems like she has little respect for laboring women and spends her energy “making bets” rather than being supportive and encouraging when a laboring woman is feeling discouraged. Me, my baby, and my choices for birth are more likely to be respected at the birthing center I’m going to. Interventions with little to no benefit to me & my baby won’t be forced on me as a routine “standard of care.”

Its really heartbreaking the amount of disrespect that’s rampant towards laboring women in hospitals, mostly by some power-happy OB/GYN’s. It’s almost as if we’ve been turned into cows on an assembly line. Get us in, get us out so that we don’t interfere with the doc’s golf tournament or dinner party. It’s as if once we go onto labor, we lose our autonomy, our right to make informed decisions and informed refusal of certain interventions and procedures based on what we feel is best for us and our babies. Nowhere else in medicine is this evident except in obstetrics. It’s sad.

I hope things are better when my children are having children.

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Getting even closer!

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Taken when I was 8 months pregnant!

Taken when I was 8 months pregnant!

It’s getting closer! I am officially full-term (37 weeks) which means that the baby is developed and should I go into labor at this point, it would be safe to deliver him. Since the majority of babies arrive within + or – two weeks of their estimated due dates, he could pretty much arrive anywhere from now to 5 weeks from now. I suspect he’ll be here sooner rather than later because my body is definitely gearing up and preparing with practice contractions. They’re quite painful and can be pretty intense. So I’ve been almost in panic-mode… there’s so much left to do! Get the house organized & cleaned, (which seems to be next to impossible… as soon as I clean it, it’s messy again), get all the baby gear from Nathan’s infant years out & cleaned, sort through Nathan’s baby clothes & get them washed & put away (almost done!), and lots of other stuff. I’m trying not to let it all overwhelm me and instead keep thinking about how exciting it will be to finally meet this baby. The contractions are keeping me up at night, but they’re not regular enough to be considered active labor.

We still don’t have any names picked out yet. It looks like it’ll be one of those things where we wait til the baby’s born and then after we see him, we’ll decide. I don’t particularly like that idea all too much because not knowing gives me even more anxiety than I already have! I like to have everything in order and ready. Sigh.

I’m really looking forward to going to a birthing center this time around as opposed to a hospital. Speaking from my own experience, a birthing center is way safer… there is only a 2% chance of something happening &  me ending up with a medically needed c-section, for example. Hospitals, however, have a much higher rate… a 33.3% (and upwards) rate of c-sections- many of them not even medically necessary. That’s one out of every three women having a major abdominal surgery with very real risks such as life-threatening infections and problems with the placenta in future pregnancies. Thank God VBAC (vaginal birth after cesaerean) is an option for many women, as opposed to repeat c-sections. I really believe the high rate of c-sections is attributed to the cascade of interventions laboring women are subjected to. Pitocin and inducing labor, doctors putting labor on a timer (hence, instead of it being “failure to progress,” it’s actually “failure to wait” on the doctor’s part, constant monitoring of temperature, blood pressure, etc that force women to lay down rather than moving around, epidurals, I.V.’s, birthing in The Worst Possible Position- laying on one’s back… birth has been turned into a medical procedure that requires medical management. I’m sure many women are fine with that, and that’s cool. But not me. Nope.

At a birth center, I am free to eat and drink to keep my energy up. I can move around, which helps the baby get into the correct position. I can wear whatever clothes I want instead of a horrible hospital gown. There is no timer for my labor; baby will arrive when he’s ready as opposed to arriving on someone else’s schedule. I can labor and birth in water if I so desire. My baby’s umbilical cord will not be immediately clamped and cut, thereby allowing more blood and oxygen to tranfer to him from the placenta (where his blood is stored). I will start breastfeeding the moment the is out of my body; he will be placed directly on my chest immediately after delivery. He won’t be taken away from me for someone else’s convenience and his measurements etc. will be taken while he is on my chest after we have breastfed and bonded.

A birth center birth is everything I wanted but didn’t get with Nathan’s birth. His birth was scary, traumatic, and it took me a long, long time to come to terms with it. The whole ordeal & details of what I endured are not something I talk about, much less publicly, but it was more than just not getting the birth I wanted. I had complications that lasted months and months. Additionally, I feel like I was deceived; when I went on a tour of the labor & delivery floor of the hospital, I was told that they treat birth as a normal, natural event. Well, that’s the opposite if what I experienced there. It was 100% medically managed. I was subjected to interventions I didn’t want but was told it was “standard procedure.” One intervention led to another, led to another, led to another, etc. And before I knew it, it had gone incredibly awry.

So having this one at a birth center, MY way, is me taking my power back. It’s my body, my birth, and I am the one who says what will happen to me. No forced procedures and lack of informed consent. I’m super happy with the midwives there and how supportive they are. We’re in this together as a team, and they want to help empower me after such a nightmare of a birth the last time. And oddly enough, even though I’m nervous about the pain, I am incredibly excited to have this chance to experience birth the way I’ve always wanted it to be!

So today I am bustling around, getting my bags packed (just in case) and tying up a few loose ends. I’m not sure how much longer baby boy will give me before he makes his grand entrance. I am so excited to meet him!

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Oh how I loathe viruses!

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We’ve had a distressing past couple of days here. On Tuesday, I took Nathan with me to the gym and dropped him off in childcare. He was perfectly fine; he was energetic and happy to be there to play with some kids and the toys. After my workout a short time later, I came to pick him up. To my surprise, he was just laying down in the floor, which is uncharacteristic of him. I called him over to me, but when he got up, I noticed he had a hard time walking. He had a stumbling/lurching gait. I asked him if he was okay, and he said his tummy hurt. At first, I thought he had overexerted himself and was tired, and I attributed the tummy ache to being hungry since it was past his dinner time. When I gave him a hug, however, he felt hot.

As soon as we got home, I knew something was amiss. He normally loves to help me carry stuff inside, but this time he was too weak. He said he couldn’t do it. When we came in, I took his temperature and he had a fever of 102.1. And things just escalated from there. He kept complaining of his tummy hurting and barely ate any of his dinner. We gave him some medicine for the fever and decided to call the doctor if he wasn’t feeling better the next morning.

He woke up multiple times throughout the night and Paul and I would find him curled into a ball, crying that he was hurting. Morning could not come fast enough.

So the next day, it got worse. He was very weak and had no appetite, still had a fever, and his stomach pain was so bad that at times, he was unable to stand, walk, or sit up. All he could do was curl into a ball and cry, pleading with me to help him in between sobs. I called his pediatrician, but they couldn’t get him in until the next day. I felt this couldn’t wait, so I took him to a walk-in clinic.

By that time, the little guy was screaming in agony. The doctor said that she wouldn’t even waste my copay- he needed to go to the emergency room. She said the thing with young kids is that abdominal pain could be anything from a stomach bug to a bowel obstruction to appendicitis; since a youngster can’t communicate very well exactly what’s hurting and where, there was no way to know unless he had some tests run and she didn’t have that kind of equipment at the clinic.

So off to the hospital we went. I was a wreck. I tried in vain to be brave and not cry in front of Nathan, but I was so scared. With the way he was acting, I was certain it was something serious. Then I had flashes of horrible images race through my mind… I had flashes of us getting to the hospital only to discover he had to have emergency surgery for a bowel blockage, and then he got an infection with (MRSA, Staph, or some unknown pathogen), then the infection overtook his little body and he went into cardiac arrest, they tried to rescucitate him but failed… as these unwanted images flew through my mind, I became very nauseous. My heart dropped into my stomach and I had to consciously keep myself from puking. I felt like I ate a twenty pound brick and it was sitting right in the pit of my quivering stomach. I had to fight the urge to turn around and not take him to the hospital. At the very least, I was worried he would pick up another bug and come down with something else on top of what he had already.

So we arrived to the hospital and little man was feeling just awful. He had a fever of 104.0 and I couldn’t get him to calm down and stop crying. Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait long before we were taken back to a room. After a while, we saw the doctor who ordered some x-rays to check out his tummy. Come to find out, she said he had nasty, fast-acting virus causing his fever and body aches, an inflamed (sore) throat, and was incredibly constipated, which was causing his severe stomach pain. I asked her if she was sure that’s what the problem was, and she said oh yeah. The x-rays showed he was clogged up with a ton of poop!

Apparently, constipation like that is quite common in kids his age. Especially when they’re potty training, because the child typically doesn’t want to take a break from playing to go use the potty. And as for the fever, that explains the weakness and trouble walking. The doctor said when a fever hits a child really fast (especially a high fever), it will definitely make the child act different. They could act confused, shaky, and even start hallucinating.

So when she told me his diagnosis, the relief I felt was exhiliarating. It felt like a thousand pounds had been lifted off my shoulders. I was so afraid it was something major by the agony he was in. Oh sweet, sweet relief. I can’t even adequately articulate just how sweet that relief felt.

So anyway, they gave him some medicine to help de-constipate him (is that even a word?) And it worked! With some medicine to control his fever & virus symptoms and his bowels cleaned out, he was like a whole new kid.

The next day, his fever broke and he was back to his normal little self. And let me tell you, he was as sweet as he could be. He kept wrapping his little arms around my neck, calling me his sweet little mommy. When we sat down for breakfast, he pulled my chair out from under the table and once I sat down, he even helped me scoot forward. After we finished, he helped clean off the table and then ceremoniously picked up his juice and told me he was going to drink it “for Mommy.” All day long, he sat with me, adorned me with kisses, and told me how much he loves me. I think he was making up for being a bit grumpy (understandably!) while he was sick. I was sad that my husband had to work and couldn’t experience this with me!

I tell you, being a parent is hard. Not just the parenting aspect of it, but all the worry it entails as well. Especially when your child’s hurting and there’s nothing you can do to help. I wouldn’t trade being a parent for the world, but sometimes I wish I could be Superwoman and save him from every little hurt. I’m willing to bet that most parents feel the same way.

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Oh my poor little man

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So it’s been a while since my last post. A lot has been going on here! The biggest news of all is that Nathan had another emergency room visit over the weekend.

I had just finished working out and was meeting Nathan and Paul at a nearby restaurant. I arrived first, so I got a table and waited for them to get there. Although I was sitting near the middle of the restaurant, I could still see them through one of the windows when they got there. I watched as Paul and Nathan got out of the car and started to head towards the door, and then saw Paul turn back towards the car to get something. When Nathan turned to follow him, he stumbled and fell. I couldn’t see exactly what happened, but I saw Paul swoop Nathan up and carry him back to the car. I just figured the little guy skinned his knee. And then I saw a woman quickly walk over to them with a roll of paper towels. Worried, I picked up my phone and started to text Paul to see if everything was okay when he called me and told me it was bad and that I needed to get out there. I quickly snatched up my things and briskly trotted out to the parking lot.

Then I saw a mound of bloody paper towels on the trunk of Paul’s car.

“Is he okay?” I asked the woman who was standing there. She gave me a sad smile and may have patted my arm. I can’t remember- I had tunnel vision and my entire focus was on my child. I ran around the side of the car and saw blood pouring like a faucet out of Nathan’s mouth.

“He fell and knocked his two front teeth loose,” Paul said as I knelt in front of my wailing child. With shaking hands, I raised Nathan’s upper lip and could see strands of skin hanging down from his mouth. His teeth were severely loose and blood was pouring from his gums and lips where he had nearly bitten through them. As you all probably know, mouth wounds bleed a lot. There was so much blood, however, that it was hard to see exacly what was going on. We went through so many paper towels trying to wipe up all the blood. After about half an hour, we were able to stop the bleeding enough to get him to the emergency room.

Nathan, being the spirited little boy that he is, was quite angry with the doctor checking his teeth. He screamed and kicked and sounded exacly like a wounded mountain lion. It was heartbreaking. Fortunately, the doctor was very understanding and patient and dealt gently with Nathan. He said that Nathan’s front two teeth were loose and his gums were angry and swollen, but he didn’t hit his head or have a concussion so he should be okay. He said to follow up with his dentist within the next few days so they can see exactly what kind of damage had been done. When he was finished, he hunted down a grape popsicle for the little guy, who tearfully slurped it up.

A nurse then came in who seemed very bitter and was apparently unfamiliar with children. She declared she needed to get his vitals (temperature, pulse, and blood pressure. *insert dry laughter.*)

“Well, we can’t take his temperature when he’s eating a popsicle,” she said with unmasked irritation as she eyed Nathan sadly slurping the icy deliciousness. No kidding, Ms. Smarty Pants. Then she tried to put his finger in a device that would read his pulse, but you’d think a viper was hanging onto Nathan’s finger the way he screamed about it. She kept telling him to sit still… seriously woman. HE’S ONLY THREE AND HE’S IN PAIN. And then? Then she tried to take his blood pressure. THAT was an EPIC FAIL. He kicked and writhed and screamed and frantically tried to get the cuff off his arm while screaming that it hurt. He knocked the wires loose, aggravating Ms. Meanie even more. She said he needed to sit still and calm down or she wouldn’t be able to get a reading.

I may have laughed a little loudly.

Of course, she couldn’t get a reading for his blood pressure because he was way too upset. “Well,” she huffed. “It won’t read because he won’t calm down.” No shit, Sherlock. She pretty much yanked the cuff off his arm, irritation oozing from her pores so thickly it was almost tangible. Apparently, this woman had never been in the same room with a child before. I think she should find a different job.

At any rate, after all that, we were finally able to head home. Nathan’s upper lip was so swollen from the impact that he looked like a pitiful little duckling. His gums were a vicious purple color, and the abrasions on his upper and lower lips were bright red. Poor kid looked like he had been through the mill. We stopped at a nearby ice cream parlor and let him eat his fill of chocolate ice cream, which lifted his little spirits somewhat.

After all that, next on the agenda was getting him to a dentist. That’s another post in and of itself, so I’ll write about that next time.

In the meantime, keep the little man in your prayers.

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