Once again: I am (still) working on my PTSD from what happened in the hospital(s) with my therapist. I feel the need to write it down as well, but I want to preface this by saying I do not expect comments or anything, just listening and maybe sharing with someone who might have gone through someone similar. I’m neither looking for sympathy or a rally cry against what happened. I’m not bashing them, just telling my story. And please, no advice. There isn’t anything I can change about what happened and someone saying, “You should have…” really only causes me to feel more pain and guilt as I work this out. I’m just writing this to heal. xo
(Also this is quite long. Really – like a novel. Sorry.)
After being transferred from the first (horrendous) hospital, I was in the L&D unit of the one where everything else would happen. I’m not going to link names or locations, you can find it easily online but that’s not the point of this. It’s just for me to get it out.
I don’t remember a lot of those first few hours Friday afternoon/evening. I had a kind resident who knelt by the side of my bed and explained what was probably going to happen. I would give birth to the twins soon. I remember this hit me as unrealistic, surely he didn’t mean “birth”? I was 19 weeks. It couldn’t be like that. Not like having Bella.
When it hit, I begged for a c-section so I wouldn’t have to go through it all. He told me there was no way they could do that. I didn’t really want one, but I certainly didn’t want to go through labor and have babies. I didn’t want anything. I wanted it all to be over and me to be at home; all big and uncomfortable.
That evening when the shift change came, I was assigned a female resident who wanted me to make a choice. It had been hours since my water broke, I was now facing infection and all kinds of complications. She didn’t understand our hesitation and told me I should be induced asap. Sam and I began to talk this over again and again. We had no idea what to do. It seemed pointless to lay in a bed if they would die or suffer inside me. We agreed to start labor once she said if I was infected I could lose my uterus or die.
As the staff prepared, we put our decision on Facebook. As I’ve said before, someone somewhere posted a comment about how we had a choice in the matter. How there were some people who waited and made it to viability. At the time we felt as if there was no choice, but reading that, and Sam feeling the babies kick, we knew we had to try.
I knew, in my heart, I could never, ever live with myself if there was a shot of them making it.
Once the resident came in, we asked her what the odds were of us making it to viability with the boys. She hesitated and said, “Not good at all.” Yet that answer told me there was a chance, and I couldn’t play God in this situation.
We declined to have me induced and said we’d like to wait.
She flipped out. We were told all the risks to me (again), that I was being irrational, that I didn’t understand what I was saying, that the chances were so low and even if they did make it they’d have severe complications. I remember her saying over and over, “You don’t want your babies to have all kinds of problems do you?”
We were terrified but stuck to our choice. Our only agreement was that if I had any kind of infection or start of, no matter how minor, we would immediately induce. She told me as she packed up her kit that she would’t be seeing me again and that I was to have no IV or intervention of any kind because there wasn’t a point.
We asked for a pastor, but hours later were sent a Catholic priest who spoke rough English. The poor man had no idea about what was happening, and assumed the babies had already passed and we were just waiting for labor now. When we told him the full story, he agreed that waiting was a good choice if we were ok with it, but to also think of the daughter I had that needed me.
It was that painful choice that haunted me the entire coming week.
The next day was full of residents parading in and out, each asking me if I knew what my decision meant and that I could die from this. Each saying over and over, “You realize the chance of viability at this point is extremely slim?” I knew, I honestly wanted to scream at them all but I wasn’t sure how hospital procedure worked. My nurses were by far the most incredible. They would come in and find me sobbing at night and read me scripture. Hold my hand. Hug me on the bed. Cry with me. I’ll never forget those women who went out of their way and out of I’m sure what was hospital policy to know my decision mattered to them.
I still cry thinking about their kindness in those tough moments.
Saturday night I finally was able to fall asleep after nearly 48 hours of being up. At 1am I was woken by two nurses (new ones) who came in, flipped on the lights, and informed me that I was being switched to the anti-partum rooms down the hall since I wasn’t going into labor anytime soon. I struggled to wake as they piled all my flowers and things from home around me on the bed, unhooked the IV I’d finally gotten, and wheeled me down the hall to a new room. Then they unpiled it all and left me there.
Sunday was a blur. I don’t remember a lot but it was more of the same. Our chaplain from the Army came to visit, my mom was in and out with Bella, Sam was there on and off. I glanced in the mirror at one point and realized with a shock how much my stomach had decreased with my water breaking. I stood in that bathroom and bawled my eyes out in total disbelief that this was really happening to me. I would have given anything for it to be over and rewind time.
That Monday morning at 5am was when everything really blew up. I was in bed, asleep, compression stockings on my legs hooked to a machine that pumped the blood since I wasn’t able to get up and move around. Completely out, I suddenly heard the door open and a man walked in and stood next to my bed. Every light was off but a corner one so I couldn’t see him well, and he had a thick accent. I had no idea who he was when he started speaking angrily to me.
“Why are you still here?” he asked. “Do you understand there is no chance of your babies surviving? What are you doing here? There is nothing we can do for you, you should be at home. Do you have any idea how much this hospital bed costs a day?”
He left while I laid there trying to come up with some kind of rational response. As soon as that door closed, it was like the fury of hell lit up inside of me. I’d been fairly compliant and tried to not be a bother the last 3 days with everyone, despite being treated like one. But this? This was too much.
I tweeted out my anger and as soon as the responses started coming in I realized I did NOT deserve to be treated like this because I’d made a decision others didn’t agree with or understand. I pushed the call button and my sweet nurse came in, where she received the build up of my wrath.
“I have NO IDEA who that man is, or why he is in here, but I DO NOT want him in my room again. Ever. I have asked for 3 solid days to have an advocate here or to talk to one and you people have blown me off. I didn’t even get a pastor from my own faith. I know what I’m doing is considered stupid and unsafe (this is when I totally lost it) but THEY ARE MY BABIES AND THIS IS MY CHOICE.”
Poor thing. She was so flustered and kept saying she didn’t know he had come in to say those things to me, that she would figure it out, etc. I called Sam and told him he needed to get down to the hospital asap, that I wasn’t going to spend one more minute alone there. My sister found the number of the patient advocate for the hospital and ended up calling him at home at 7am, where he assured her that he was on his was immediately to see me. Sam came and found the morning resident, confronting him in the hall about his treatment to me. I could hear every word and the resident said he, “knew how pregnant women were” then told Sam that our religion was coming into play and that I had gotten “aggressive” with him.
You know. After I yanked my compression stockings off and all. O_o
Screenshot of my Tweets from the Babble post
Twitter exploded. Katherine Stone wrote an article up for Babble. In turn, the hospital started to receive feedback about my treatment by email and phone. We were contacted by the local news, and various calls of support came in telling me to hang in there.
It was overwhelming. In fact, I was so terrified of the hospital taking it out on us that I begged Sam to calm everything down and get it resolved asap. Once we talked to the patient advocate, he asked Sam to step outside and said, “So we are receiving a large number of emails and phone calls, so much that we’ve had to set up an auto response in regards to your wife. Apparently she has a blog…?”
When Sam came back in he told me this while laughing a bit. It didn’t make things easier, but it helped with some of the stress.
The woman who oversaw the entire nursing staff came in along with another woman from the OB staff to assure me the proper steps were being taken in my case. Residents were banned from my room unless they came in with a doctor or nurse. Sam and my mom agreed to take shifts to stay with me from that point on.
My stress level was over the moon. The resident was made to come back in and apologize but held up his hand when I tried to speak, saying he “had already heard enough.” I never saw him again. Later that day, one of the nurses told me that his wife had just had twins 6 months to a year ago after a fairly rough pregnancy.
I still have a hard time comprehending that.
My own doctor arrived back that night from a trip she was gone on. She was assigned shifts that entire week and took such good care of me. Other nurses brought me in literature on how to make more amniotic fluid and how to eat so the twins would gain weight – maybe enough to survive.
The night I lost them, my doctor and the nurse I loved were both on shift. It was unexpected and fairly sudden. I’d made it one full week and we had started to get our hopes up since the first 72 hours are so crucial after Pprom. We’d beaten the odds. It was going to be ok.
And then it all very much wasn’t.
I want to say something no one talks about much – when you lose a baby(ies), you go into labor. Mine was just like with Bella only not as long because my cervix didn’t need to widen as far. It was incredibly painful and horrible, but it was birth. Contractions and all. I delivered the placenta hours later and never had any kind of pain relief because there wasn’t a way to get it to me at that point. It was incredibly scarring to have that as a “natural” birth for my first time. I am working so hard to make sure that whatever happens with this labor, I can get past that mentally and be able to be an active participant in a happier situation.
This is so long. I hope you all were able to read and understand more of why there isn’t just the loss behind my struggle in this pregnancy and in my life. It’s so much more than loss, which in itself would have been horrible enough.
I wanted you all to know what happened so you can read my thoughts on here and know where I am coming from a little better. I wanted to document this so I can reread it a million times and start to heal even more. Maybe grab a bit more courage before I do this again, in another hospital, but know I don’t have to be treated like I was. Nor does anyone else.
Thank you for reading. It’s taken over a year to write the full story but it was worth the wait until I could do it without (a lot of) anger, without a lot of sadness, and without any intent except to just share what took place. I hope that came across.