As a first time mom, I was nervous, anxious and excited about having my first child. I had talked to numerous of my friends who had already had children about their experience and on the whole, I felt confident that everything would be ok, and my beautiful baby boy was the light at the end of whatever tunnel I had to go through to get to him. I was, of course, hoping to not have any complications or end up having a Cesarean. I hadn't considered the thought that my complications could be due to incompetence or lack of compassion and work ethic on the part of my labor and delivery nurse.
I had been having contractions for a couple of days, and they had started to get closer and closer together and I was growing more and more uncomfortable. We decided to go ahead and go to the hospital late in the evening even though I knew it wasn't quite 'time' yet. However, I thought that I could at least get my epidural started and I would be able to sleep so that I could be rested for the birth.
We arrived, were put in a room, and the night nurse got my I.V. started. She didn't do a very good job because my hand hurt for the next two days and was sore for a week after. She also gave me some kind of drug to make me relax. It not only made me relax, but made me hallucinate. I was seeing cartoons in my head and cracking up laughing trying to tell my husband the hilarity that was going on in my mind. Finally, I got the epidural and thought I would be able to sleep. No such luck. The blood pressure cuff that was around my arm kept going off every 20 minutes, even though my blood pressure stayed around 108/60 the WHOLE TIME. Then, the batteries in my epidural pump were dying, and kept beeping like a dying smoke detector. I told at least 3 hospital personnel who promptly forgot and so I didn't sleep at all between the beeping, my aching hand and the blood pressure cuff.
The next morning, the nursing shift changed and I met the woman who would be with me throughout the delivery. She changed the batteries immediately in the pump and I thought I had found my guardian angel. However, the moment my doctor came in for rounds in the morning, the nurse started an argument with her, and it was downhill from there. She upped the pitocin because I was not dilating fast enough. Meanwhile, my epidural had run out but since the nurse was waging war with my doctor, she never came in to check on me. My contractions were off the charts, back to back, no break in between, I was shaking like a leaf on a tree from head to toe and my nurse was nowhere to be found. My husband was coaching me, talking me through each contraction and getting me through. My mom finally went and found another nurse to try to get me some help, and I finally got some relief when the anesthesiologist upped my dosage and refilled my pump.
Finally, it was time to start pushing. I could see the end. I got to the point where my son was crowning, and they called my doctor. The nurse took this moment to again bash my doctor for not being close by and go on and on about how she should be there and shouldn't have gone back to her office. I'm laying in the bed about to cry wondering why my doctor had abandoned me, to hear the nurse tell it, and then random people start coming in my room, like it's social hour. Talking about things that have nothing to do with me, while I'm spread eagle on this hospital bed trying to have a baby. I have heard that when you give birth that all dignity goes out the window, but I ask, why is that acceptable? I am a very modest person, and I expected the doctor, and nurse, and was even ok with the giant 'scrub tech' GUY, but I didn't expect Admin ladies coming in and talking about their lunch plans.
At long last, my doctor arrived and it was time to finally meet my son, just in time, my epidural ran out again. I felt EVERYTHING. Later, my nurse told me that she knew it was running out but didn't get it refilled. Even women who go the 'natual' route have the option of having a local anesthetic for the crowning. Nope, not me. My nurse let me suffer the crowning, tearing and stitches because she had some issue with my doctor. She even told me, as she was wheeling me down to recovery, that she was taking an extra amount of time with me because she didn't want to deal with her next patient because she was being a 'diva'.
I talked to my doctor about what had transpired at my follow up appointment. She was very sympathetic and urged me to file a complaint, which I did a couple of weeks later. It made me feel better to have my grievances heard, but I was still bitter. I couldn't watch delivery shows on TV, and didn't want to hear about other women's positive experiences because it made me want to cry. I had envisioned this amazing experience, and don't get me wrong, once Lincoln was placed on my chest, not much else mattered, but I suffered more than I had to and I will always look back on that experience as stressful and unnecessarily hard. I did not know my rights as a patient. I did not know if we could request a different nurse. I was scared to cause a problem and so I kept quiet. I know that next time, I will make sure that I have a nurse that is attentive and that I feel comfortable with. We (and our partners)have to be our own advocates to get the care that we deserve.