Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Trying to Get Over It

I have to make an appointment with the Ob-Gyn for a little issue (I won’t bore you/gross you out with the details). For months I’ve been meaning to switch doctors from the person who delivered me to the person in the same practice who helped me with the whole piece of placenta still in my uterus thing. But I’ve been sick to my stomach with worry about making the call. Can you switch doctors within a practice? Should I just suck up my discomfort? Do I have to tell my doctor that I felt like she let me down? I couldn’t face all that stuff and did what I do best—procrastinate until something happens that forces me to act.

I am still waiting to hear from the practice to see if the switch can be made, which is kind of a bummer because now there is an urgent matter at hand and if I can’t switch I need to find a new doctor pronto and this all could have been avoided if I had dealt with it in a timely manner, blah, blah, blah.

After I got off the phone with the receptionist the weirdest thing happened. I started crying uncontrollably. And when Z asked if I had called the office last night and I told him yes—you guessed it. I started crying uncontrollably.

T turned 8 months old yesterday. It got me thinking, why am I still so upset about the circumstances surrounding his birth? Every birth has its issues, and mine was not that bad. But I really can’t seem to get over it.

Here is what I came up with: It isn’t the medicalization of my childbirth that I can’t get past, but the dehumanization.

I had preeclampsia. My blood pressure was worrisome and I had to be induced a week early. T’s birth was very medicalized, but I understand why the doctor made the choices she did. If a piece of my placenta had been left behind and I had been treated with compassion I think I would have been cool with the whole thing. I get that mistakes happen and no one is perfect. So I had to go back in and get a D&C. You know what? In the scheme of things it wasn’t the worst experience. It made me stop bleeding. It would have just been another part of his birth story if I felt like the doctor was listening to me.

But I feel like the nurse who helped me deliver, Z, and I all voiced concerns about what was going on and we were all ignored. The nurse was worried about my heavy bleeding less than 2 hours after T was born and she contacted my doctor who was no longer at the hospital. My doctor says that she requested an ultrasound, but one was never given and she didn’t follow up to make sure it happened, or to find out if I was OK. Every morning during the hospital stay you get a visit from your doctor or member of the practice and the baby gets a visit from a pediatrician. The morning after T’s birth I didn’t get a visit. After inquires, the doctor finally sent someone to see me at 3 in the afternoon. Then after I got home I called the office for an appointment because I was worried about the amount of blood I was losing. My doctor’s nurse told me she spoke to my doctor who was sure I was fine, but if I really wanted to come in I could get an appointment with another doctor at the practice for the following day. Through all these events things were going wrong and she wasn’t listening to us. I have never felt so helpless.

Thank God the other doctor realized what was going on and got me some help. He sent me right to the hospital, and to my doctor’s credit she came in to do the procedure though it was her first day of vacation. When she saw me she said she was sorry, but the next thing out of her mouth was she couldn’t believe this happened, it was her first D&C for a left behind placenta in more than 5 years. It was like she had no comprehension that the situation needed to be about me rather than about her.

Again and again she made me feel forgotten. When things started to go wrong it felt like she couldn’t be bothered. If she had acted like she gave a crap or listened to what we were saying I don’t think I would feel so awful about my experience. I wonder if I am obligated to let her know how I feel, or if I can just leave her care without an explanation. Am I a coward for not wanting to have it out with her?

The bigger question is how do I get over it? As my shrink recently pointed out to me it would be wrong to let an awful experience rule my decision to have another child, but at this point it is. If I do decide to have another child at least I will understand the importance of finding a doctor who is completely engaged. I can handle medical bumps in the road if I feel like my doctor gives a shit.


  1. Karen,
    I have had situations like his before, please stand up for yourself and inform a doctor EXACTLY how you feel. Release the inner bitch, remember they work for YOU!!!!! SPEAK YOUR MIND!!
    two things to remember:
    1-They call it PRACTISING medicine for a reason...10 doctors will each give a different answer to the same set of conditions...

    2-Do you know he difference between god and a doctor??? GOD DOES NOT PLAY DOCTOR!!!


  2. If it will upset you to confront her, I think you should just change docs and never look back. I went from one group practice to another for similar frustration with doctors, and I am still freaked out about a birth that happened three years ago. The thing is that the birth issues can impact your relationship with the kid, so it's really important to deal with them, as it definitely sounds like you are. So maybe if it would help you to let this doctor know that what she did made you feel like crap (I am a big proponent of writing for such situations), then maybe in the long run that could make your relationship with T even stronger (and it's obviously strong).

  3. Karen: It's your body and you have every right to be selective in who treats it. I can't imagine you would put up with shoddy care (and the ob/gyn who delivered you was shoddy at best) when it comes to T or Z's doctors -- you do not need to do so either. Whether or not you choose to tell the doctor your reasons for switching is your decision. Quite frankly, it doesn't sound to me like she'll care one way or the other. Do what is right for you. xoxox, Your Healthcare Communication Professional and Loving Friend

  4. I think Janine has a wonderful idea. You could change doctors and write her a letter explaining why you made the change. Doctors need to know this information in order to become better doctors. Your feedback is a gift to her. (Even if she doesn't like what you have to say, it will, hopefully, impact who she is professionally.) It will be a gift to all of the other women who have her as a doctor in the future.

  5. I'm not sure you EVER release feelings about a child's birth. With Jeremy, all went well but when I pushed, a torrent of fluid shot out. I could hear the doctor swearing because he was soaked. He left to change, leaving me embarrassed and uncomfortable. Jeremy was only 5 lbs 10 oz but I had been told he was full term...I changed doctors without a thought directly after. I asked my new doctor what happened? Why so much fluid? Why was Jeremy so small? She checked my records and told me I had a second sac for a twin that never developed. All that fluid was meant for two...I cried for weeks...not for a child that never existed but for how vulnerable women are in this process and how I was left so alone in the dark...
    I never let my doctors think they're Gods...someone had to graduate bottom of the class and YOU might be HIM so dazzle me or I search for the answer from someone else. I say it clearly to them and if they are insulted, they can practice their craft on someone else...hee hee

  6. Preeclampsia sucks.

    I too burst into tears when I called the doc afterwards. I hear you. I really hear you. Yes.

  7. i don't know if you ever talked to your doc, but i find it is worth mentioning something, even if it's cathartic for you. if possible, i think it's best to remove the emotion from the conversation, b/c i think when you tell people off, they don't really listen b/c they figure you're off your rocker. but that's me.

    but in other areas, ugh, i'm sorry you had to go through this! and sorry for what you're dealing with now!