March 13 2019 - I was informed that our baby may have a heart condition in my 35th week of pregnancy. Doctor suspected it since the anatomy scan, but didn't send me to a cardiologist until then. Cardiologist suggested a caesarean birth because it was unclear how severe this problem could be. I relented, despite not wanting another surgical birth.
I was scheduled to deliver March 13th at 9 a.m. When we arrived I was told that they would be in to process me as soon as possible and then everything fell apart. When the anesthesiologist came in to talk to me it was discovered no one had informed the surgical team of a prior brain surgery I had. Suddenly they were unsure whether or not they could give me a spinal for the surgery. After I got on the phone to contact my neurosurgeon, it was decided that I would have an epidural as opposed to a spinal. I was finally taken into the operating room around 11 o clock.
They placed the epidural and that's all I remember. I don't remember my baby's first cry. I don't remember her being born floppy and unresponsive. I woke up in recovery screaming for my baby. I was ignored. I was shushed. I was told I could see her in a few minutes which then became 6 hours. It was closer to 9 hours before I convinced them I was going to the NICU whether they were going to help me or not. That was when I was told I wasn't allowed to breastfeed her because the doctor said no. I didn't get to give her her first meal. I didn't get to give her her first bath. I spent my first 24 hours postpartum fighting hospital policy, which led to them calling CAS on me. Then I fought them too.
To say that breastfeeding was a challenge in the beginning is a joke. We are only four months into our breastfeeding relationship and we still have challenges everyday. My postpartum depression is very severe and it lingers longer than I would like despite medication. I still don't remember her birth. I am still angry at the way I was treated when I was upset to hear that my baby was in the NICU. As a doula I take this even more personally because I know that this isn't the way birth is supposed to go. Even taking into account my high-risk status, there is absolutely no reason for mothers and babies to be treated the way they are in our Hospital systems. When I look back on my experience now I am filled with anger and rage because I know that there are mothers in that hospital who are going through the same thing and may not have the same knowledge and background that I do to get them through it.
I believe I was the target of discrimination because of my high-risk status and the fact that I'm a cannabis user to control seizures and pain due to brain surgery to remove a tumour 6 years ago. Having cleared breastfeeding with several Specialists before even considering it, and being incredibly clear and open with every medical personnel involved in my case, it was incredibly disheartening to be treated like a criminal for giving birth.
In the first 24 hours after giving birth I spoke to the hospital counsellor, as well as a patient advocate from the hospital. Those two people are responsible for the CAS involvement that we're now facing. My advice for other people wanting to file a complaint is to do it after you're discharged from the hospital. If you do it while you're still a patient there is a very real possibility that they will call social services on you.
My best advice to anybody giving birth in a hospital is to know your rights before stepping foot inside the hospital. Know the rights surrounding breastfeeding and medication. Know your rights surrounding giving birth. Make sure you have a support system in place even if that support system is a doula that you're paying, because your brain may not let you process everything that happened. Do not go into a hospital birth setting without intense amounts of knowledge and support.
Submitted by Jen Dharmasurya