Is this what empowerment is supposed to look like?

Because it seems to me that being a PITA to the medical staff , quibbling over consent forms about medical interventions and needling nurses about tests about which one clearly is ignorant all when one’s baby and one’s self are in mortal danger, is just plain idiotic, not to mention rude.

But hey, she sure showed them!

To translate a Hebrew proverb: “God watches over fools”…

ETA: A review of HELLP syndrome, complete with morbidity and mortality rates, so that you can realize just what this woman was playing around with.

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18 Responses

  1. That was ridiculous, she and her baby were just plain lucky.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but the idea of the general consent form isn’t so that the hospital can force you into doing stuff, right? Isn’t it so that when you decide that you want an epidural, you don’t have to sign forms mid-contraction?

  2. I don’t know (though what you say makes sense), and TBH, the quibbling about that particular clause may have been one of the saner refusals in that story – in relative terms only, mind. But taking your sweet time to write out a new consent form, nixing a CS outright, refusing mag sulfate (because what? Strokes and seizures are a blast and far better than nausea and lethargy?), needling the nurse over liver function test norms (does it really matter if they’re 3X normal or 10X normal?)…during a condition which can leave you with kidney and liver failure, not to mention yours and your baby’s death…and describing it all as “fun”?!


  3. What’s with the woo-tang clan’s love for the hep-lock? Is it so they aren’t tied down but still can have an IV if necessary? When I gave birth I had a regular IV, but then they asked if a med student could practice hep-locking by making my IV a hep lock. I honestly couldn’t see the difference except the hep-lock could come off from the bag for trips to the bathroom.

    Also, why the need to stipulate only EXTERNAL monitoring? I’ve never heard their reasoning against any other monitoring. I suppose they mean the internal monitoring, which I had for about 10 minutes before my son was born, so I’m not entirely sure what it entailed. I was too far into concentration to care.

  4. A lot of crunchy moms don’t want internal monitoring because they feel that it’s unnecessary and exposes the baby to bacteria. I was actually surprised that she let the nurses check her dilation and effacement, because many crunchy moms claim that there’s no reason for it and it just contaminates the womb.

  5. I think general consent also means that when you pass out from blood loss or go into cardiac arrest they can go ahead and treat you immediately without needing anyone’s consent. In her case they might have had to consult with her husband before intervening in an emergency.

    At least it sounds like her doctor knew what to do and how to deal with her, and how to handle a difficult delivery (and difficult patient). The only part of the story I really objected to was that she wouldn’t let them monitor the baby or check him out to make sure he was okay. That seems a bit neglectful, considering the long labor and the number of times the cord was wrapped around the baby.

  6. My personal sticking points were her deliberately annoying the nurse by asking her stupid questions (if she really had a clue about what HELLP is, she’d be asking about her platelets, not the liver functions), refusing the mag sulfate (because having a seizure is, of course, SO MUCH BETTER than feeling nauseous, and why not consent to a CS to “cure” her condition?). And what you said, Basiorana. And of course, the fact that she took obvious glee in stumping the staff by her completely useless objections.

    This was a birth which could have so easily gone south…and all this idiot was concerned about was getting her way.

  7. WTF? And if something bad did happen this woman would have a lawyer in an instance saying she “didn’t understand.” People like that are a nightmare.

  8. What about the husband swatting the doctor’s hands away towards the end? That made me break out in a cold sweat. And the snotty bit at the end: “I shook her world that night in many ways, and I hope it is good for her.” You know, shook the world of the doctor who saved their lives. GRR.

  9. Wow. She seems to have no idea what serious danger she was in, AND prides herself on being a giant PITA. Control freak much?

  10. If she didn’t want any treatment, why did she go to the hospital in the first place?

  11. Pinky, that’s a good question. I know an OB who had a patient whose baby was a footling breech and refused a CS. When he told her the odds of the baby dying, she actually said, “I’d rather have a dead baby than a C-section.” And her husband agreed. The baby did not die, but did spend six weeks in the NICU. The women wanted the OB to attend her second birth and he refused, rightly. I mean, what’s the freakin’ point of having a doctor if you won’t let them do anything?

  12. I think that if you don’t want the “expected” hospital experience for your birth, you really need to find a doctor or midwife who is on board with your ideas. It makes sense because not only do you not have to argue constantly, but a doctor who is familiar with the procedures you want will probably be a lot more comfortable performing them! I think it’s terribly disrespectful to force a doctor to follow a plan that they seriously disagree with.

    If you can’t find any doctors or midwives that agree with your procedures, then maybe you should rethink them because they just might not be smart choices. 🙂

  13. I think part of the problem is that birth is so fetishized. Actually all sorts of things about motherhood are.

    Rather than seeing birth as one experience out of many that make up a lifetime of parenthood, this moment is built up into a HUGE great thing – as if what happens at birth plays some great part in a whole life time. Mess it up and you’ve failed as a mother before you’ve even started.

    I think that’s the root of it. And then because natural is supposedly better the doctor patient relationship becomes adversarial. We have doulas who act as “advocates” – and birth plans that document our wishes. I think it can serve to drive a wedge between doctors and patients that takes the form of doctors seeing themselves as advocates for the baby.

    In my opinion both these outlooks are distorted. The interests of mother and child are pretty much inseparable at this point.

    If we saw it simply a means to an end I think there’d be far less conflict. Furthermore, It’s only when birth is depoliticized that we can really have a sensible discussion about c-section rates, induction, etc. Right now there are so many people who feel they have a stake in the minutia that it’s very difficult to have a san discussoin about it.

    Personally I did not have a birth plan. I’d lost five pregnancies and so, I just needed to have my son, by any means necessary. I told my doctor and nurses, “I trust you. Please help me have my baby and take good care of me too.” As it turned out they did both things. My son was delivered safe and sound by c-section and since my uterus wouldn’t contract – and it took several tries to get it to, they did save my life.

    The details of birth just pale in comparison to the joy of finally being a mom.

  14. The problem is that what’s fetishized, as Nancy puts it, are the trappings, almost to the exclusion of the main event. This concentration on process rather than outcome is something I wrote about in one of my first blogposts.

    I never had a birth plan either, other than the standard “healthy mother, healthy baby”. It’s a good thing I didn’t, or I’d really have been a basket case post birth #1.

  15. The books I read really stressed having a birth plan, but I didn’t see the point. We just figured things out as we went along, and things went well. 🙂 However, I don’t believe that medical personnel are the spawn of Satan, so I guess that might have something to do with it.

  16. I went by the book with my hospital, I regret it immensely.
    I don’t know why the only people who should be holding the “empowerment” are the ones working at the hospital. They are the ones who spent all that time and money studying….human bodies….talk about fetishing! (Gawd!)

  17. Nancy, I am so sorry to hear of your loss and glad now that you have a healthy baby. It is so hard to lose a pregnancy.

  18. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

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