Wednesday, November 19, 2014
The Day I left AMA
“Confidence rests upon the knowledge of perfect preparation.”- Dr. Michel Odent
Today I taught myself a lesson that I thought I already knew. I failed to "practice what I preach" and what I discovered is what women face every day with modern medicine, first hand. I can now truly empathize, and relate when I advise women to "stand their ground" and "have faith in their own bodies".
I failed to listen and after my labor stalling out twice within 2 days, I found myself curious, what if my baby wasn't in a good position, what if he was "too big" the same concerns I hear every day from women, and the same concerns that I assure women are no reason to worry. Yet here I was feeling what they feel and I allowed myself to be okay with an ultrasound at the regular OB-GYN. I am planning a home water birth, but had to go to a OU Women's Center for the ultrasound. The U/S went great. Baby was head down and growing well. Fluid levels were great. Then they wanted to do my check up. I should have left right then, looking back I should have made an excuse, just walked out,...something, anything... but yet I found myself blinding following this nurse like a sheep into an exam room. Why? This is so not like me.
I immediately became nervous. My last encounter with these drs resulted in me flustered and heart racing as they argued with me on why I should induce because I had one episode of tachycardia 5 years ago in a previous pregnancy. Keep in mind I have been 100% healthy this pregnancy, they agreed it's been text book, and the cardiologist himself said my heart episode was a fluke.. not a concern. Nothing to worry about. Yet here was this resident hell bent on inducing me at 39 weeks "just in case". Nevermind the fact that induction itself can effect my heart, no, they just wanted to induce and they refused to even listen to me.
So there I sat, reliving my last office visit with these people, the visit that made me hire a wonderful and loving midwife for my home birth. I could FEEL my blood pressure rising. My body trembling. Of course when they took my BP it was elevated. Not terribly, only 136/89, but elevated. Which I EXPECTED. Dr visit with the first resident went seemingly well but I was still nervous. A few minutes later they took another BP and it was now 150/72. Another Dr came into the room and started in telling me that they were inducing me for preeclampsia.
I was shocked.. "excuse me?" Keep in mind I have no swelling, no headaches, no upper stomach pain, my urine is always clear, my BPs are always good and I told them this is anxiety induced. YOU are what is making it go high. I check my BP at home and it's always great. That didn't matter. Did they want to monitor? No. Did they want to CHECK MY BP MANUALLY. No. They were relying on two DIGITAL BPs to diagnose me with pre-e and induce.
I argued until I was red hot and shaking. I finally compromised to let them run labs to see if I had Pre-e. I KNEW the labs would be normal. I WANTED them to see that, and little did I know, it was just a trick. They didn't care what those labs said. Their mind was made up. I was a dollar sign, and if I delivered at home, they lost money. They lost the POWER. They would have to admit they were wrong. The third dr who was now in the room with me, crowded around my little bed table, using as much intimidation as possible. Telling me about all the things that would happen, including my death, my baby's death, how induction happened in almost every woman and how it was now the "standard of care in America." Did they hear their own words? Did they truly believe in what they said? I relented on the labs, on the condition that if they were normal I was free to go. They would be satisfied. She was smiling and seemed sincere. We care about you, she said. Just let me see the labs normal and all will be well and you will be on your way. They then told me, it will be much faster if you go upstairs to labor and delivery to run them as they can get them right back. An hour or 2 tops. I agreed. I was escorted like a child to labor and delivery and stripped of my humanity. Naked in a gown, strapped to a bed with monitors, a cuff and IV. I had been stripped of my rights. My modesty. I peed in their cup. I gave them their labs, I laid there and did as they said, telling myself "just show them. Show them you know your body. Prove you don't have pre-e."
“The way a culture treats women in birth is a good indicator of how well women and their contributions to society are valued and honored.”
― Ina May Gaskin
The next 8 hours were hell. I have a lot of pelvic pain from symphysis pubic dysfunction. The bed kept my legs lower than my hips, no support for my pelvis and I laid in pain. No one offered me water, or food. No one helped me to the bathroom or even asked if I had to go. Eight hours I laid there. My BP cuff went off every 15 minutes and every single reading when I was alone read 120s/60s. One reading was even 118/57. One reading, while a dr was in the room, went up to 133/79. As soon as they left, the next reading was right back down to 122/63. The pattern was obvious. When they came around, my blood pressure rose. Obvious anxiety induced. Nothing more, nothing less. By hour three, (remember that lie about hour or two tops?) I was told drs were in with emergency c-sections and my labs were back and they would be in when they got back upstairs. Hour 4, saw no one. Hour 5, I requested a glass of water, my request fell on deaf ears. Hour 6 I asked for my IV to be taken out, I wanted to leave. They could call with lab results. Hour seven, I requested again for my IV to be taken out so I could leave and a glass of water.I was told they were in ANOTHER emergency c-section. Hour eight. Towards the end, rounding to hour nine, a Dr came in and told me "you labs are back and they are normal." Great I'm thinking, now you will let me go and they can eat their words. My BPs had been beautiful, I have no other symptoms, my labs are normal. Then she said "But.."
But? but what? no, what now?
"your last urine had just a trace of protein. While it's not nearly enough to admit you for, but with the 2 readings you had downstairs and the ONE up here, we feel it's in your best interest to induce now. We will be moving you over to a labor room in a few minutes and getting you set up."
On what grounds?
"well you don't have preeclampsia yet, but it's a silent killer, it's not worth the risk. You are term. This is the standard of care in America."
there were those words again. Was this real life?
"women are induced all day, every day. You're term, there's no reason NOT to induce. You're risking by not inducing."
No. I will no be induced. You have no grounds. YOUR induction, however comes with plenty of risks. I don't care to be a statistic. I don't care to be just another number in america. Especially with no reason. With a pregnancy that is textbook, no problems, healthy mom and baby..... it's ludicrous.
I wanted to cry so badly. I did what they said. They told me if labs were normal I would be free to go.. they would be happy... they lied... they knew the WHOLE time they were going to induce. They tricked me into going upstairs. They tried to make me uncomfortable to wear me down, make me weak, make me consent and comply. They KNEW they would NEVER admit they were wrong. Drs don't do that. I was just a petty patient. They are god.
I sat there. My heart hurt. My heart throbbing in my ears. My stomach digesting what had just happened to me. I felt so violated. So betrayed. This hospital that I raved about being "baby friendly" that spent nearly 9 months coaxing me into believing they weren't like the rest. That they were natural friendly. I had to accept, no, that just wasn't the case anymore. Something changed in the months I went to WV. I came back to a cold OU Children's. New drs, new receptionists, new building... change was not good.. I sat there and in those moments, accepted and then mustered my strength to follow my gut. Do what was right. I refused the induction. I tried to speaking clearly and calmly, I tried to explain about the research I've done, about Dr. Odent, Ina May.... about statistics and science. They didn't even care to listen. They cut me off with a wave of a hand. Literally waved a hand in my face dismissing me like a child. I was nothing. I was supposed to listen to them, but they couldn't be bothered to hear me.
In the minutes following I found myself signing a letter of "against medical advice" with a shaking hand, as I listened to how I was making a mistake. I was killing myself. Killing my baby. All the things that would happen when I left. Funny how none of the risks of induction were EVER mentioned, no... just what my 3 mildly high readings (from a digital machine) and some trace protein could do. That I shouldn't listen to my body, but rather to them. They were the drs. They had the degrees. They were the professionals. They knew best. Not me. Not my midwife.
I walked out feeling proud that I held my ground and stood strong, but as I walked past all those rooms of women hooked up to machines, I felt a great sadness inside me. How many were in there for the wrong reasons? How many felt scared and intimidated? How many would be robbed of a natural birth? How many would.....fail at breastfeeding? Miss their baby's first moments? Hold their baby's hand through a glass box? How many would.....die?
“Many of our problems in US maternity care stem from the fact that we leave no room for recognizing when nature is smarter than we are.”
― Ina May Gaskin
I walked out without looking back. I feel confident in my body. In my midwife. I anticipate bringing my son earthside, in warm water, in my living room. Surrounded by darkness, into my hands, brought to my heart. with only soft music playing and the flicker of a candle.
I trust my body. More than ever before. My faith in any medical "professional" is lost. My faith in OU is lost. Birth in America has been...lost.
“Remember this, for it is as true as true gets: Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine. The Creator is not a careless mechanic. Human female bodies have the same potential to give birth well as aardvarks, lions, rhinoceri, elephants, moose, and water buffalo. Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, I recommend that you learn to think positively about your body.”
― Ina May Gaskin
"What a woman chooses is her right, but it sometimes becomes a battle of what she is willing to partake in on the psychological level versus her most primitive instincts. I would not want to battle with the instincts, personally. You cannot reason with them." Dr Michel Odent