Tuesday, August 6, 2013

My Not so Happy Baby Story

If you're just tuning in now to this blog, first let me say that I did not recently have a baby.  The story I'm about to share took place ten years ago.  Even though I blog, I'm actually a very private person.  What you see on this blog  usually just scratches the surface.  I like to keep this place fun and predominantly about crafts.  However, recent events have pushed me out of my comfort zone.  So today I'll be sharing about my baby story.

Recently my sister in law gave birth to a baby boy.  Of course we were all over joyed for her and planned a trip to  Walnut Creek Kaiser to see her. And that's when the memories came flooding back of when I had to take my new baby boy to Walnut Creek Kaiser.  Only they weren't happy memories.  A wave of emotions swept over me from sadness to anger to resentment.  That's when I realized just how traumatized I had been from the experience.

Back track ten years ago, I had my son at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center.  There were a few complications with my delivery but nothing that bad.  After the normal stay, I brought my son home and thought everything would be fine.  The next day we were visited by a nurse and learned that he had jaundice.  Unfortunately it got worse as the days went by and I had to bring him to Walnut Creek Kaiser.

I went there thinking it would just be another Dr. visit but instead found out that my son would have to stay at the hospital.   I had to stay there too.  I was completely unprepared for this.  I hadn't packed any bags.  I was assured by the Dr. that they had a room for me and that my husband would be able to say with me.  When I arrived there, that was far from the case.  I was stuffed in a room that was obviously being used as a storage closet for medical equipment.  And worst, I was told my husband would not be able to stay with me.  I can just remember crying.  I knew I was going to be alone.

A very rude nurse checked us in which was a foreshadowing for what was to come.  The nurse began to fill out the paperwork for my sons charts as asked what ethnicity he was.  I explained that he was Caucasian and Japanese.  Her reply, "so he's a half breed". At any other time I would not have accepted this answer but I was sleep deprived and had no fight in me.

I remember it was around evening when I entered my son's hospital room.  I was forced to say goodbye to my husband and left alone in the room with my son.  He was placed in a container for light treatment. In that little box he had to wear an eye mask to protect his eyes.  He was to stay in there at all times and I could only take him out to feed him and change his diapers.  I couldn't just hold him.

Later in the night when I woke up to feed him, I realized the eye mask slid down covering his nose and mouth.  It completely scared me and I decided I would have to stay up all night and watch him to make sure it didn't happen again.

The next morning I told the nurses about the eye mask but they brushed it off like it was no big deal.  Throughout the day nurses would come in to check on my son.  They would just ask me if I was nursing him.  One nurse came in and told me he was not getting enough milk and brought in a breast pump for me to use.  A couple hours later a second nurse came in yelling at me that I had enough milk and questioned why I said I didn't have enough milk.  I had no idea why she was saying this too me.  I was too tired to even try and explain that I never said that.

The whole day things like this went on.  All day I was rudely treated by nurses.   In the room I sat alone with my baby.  I had no immediate family close by.  No family or friends came to visit me. All I did was feed my son and change diapers.  I don't think there was even a TV or phone in the room.  I was sleep deprived and weak from not eating.  Because I was not the patient, no one brought me food.  It was not until the evening that I was able to eat when my husband visited me.  His stay was too short and once again I would be alone all night and day.  It was truly one of the loneliest times in my life.

The next day I was exhausted after not sleeping for two full days in a row.  With my short window of time, I took a shower.  My next goal was to go down to the cafeteria and get some food.  Every time, I had my little 1 1/2 hour window from feeding the baby I tried to get something to eat.  Instead I was trapped with a nurse.  By lunch time I thought for sure I would  finally be able to get something to eat.  As I was about to leave for the cafeteria a social worker was sent in to talk to me.  Yes, a social worker!  To this day, I still do not know why.

In the evening as usual, a nurse was sent up to take a blood sample from son's heel.  I remember her clearly.  She looked like she dressed to go out to the club.  She also was on a personal call while she took the blood sample.  I just remember my son crying through the whole process.  Thankfully my husband was there this time. There was finally someone to speak up for me on my behalf.  But soon he would leave again and I would be alone. 

Some things are a blur but I believe by day three my son was ready to go home.  He was healthy again. I was happy and thankful for that.  And I was thankful to be leaving the Walnut Creek Kaiser. 

I'm sharing this story for all those moms who didn't have their "dream" baby story.  I also hope that others reading this will see the importance of supporting new mothers.  I really felt all alone during this time and I don't believe any of my family members (including my husband) understood the torture and loneliness I went through. 


Deanna said...

Wow. I did not have a good experience either. As a matter of fact out of 4 I only had one really easy and good experience. I did have great nurses though an that makes a difference. My sister who has a chronic illness and many many hospital stays has horrible hospital/staff stories. Truly sad that when most people need the most compassion that the services are lacking.

Karin said...

I feel so sorry! My first daughter had to stay in hospital for her first year and after that we had to stay there periodically. Luckily we have only few bad experiences with hospital staff.
The hardest time were the first days but later staff and ourselves as parents got used to each other. So we had the chance to talk about problems.
The best to get through such bad experiences is to talk about.
My daughter is 28 now, married and happy. Her health condition is not perfect but the can enjoy her life, and that is the main thing I believe.

Best wishes from Germany,

zakkalife said...


Thanks for sharing. It's truly sad that services and bedside manners are lacking more than too often. Even in the most frustrating times I try to remind myself that I'm blessed to have health coverage.

zakkalife said...

Hi Karin,

Wow, a year is so long. It's nice to hear that you had a good experience with the staff. And I'm glad your daughter is healthy and can enjoy her life :)

You're so right about talking through bad experiences. Another reason I wrote this was to be able to tell my story and get it out of my system. When I've shared about it the past with family, I never felt like they understood.

Leigh said...

So sorry to hear you had such a bad experience at what should have been a joyful time. I hope that sharing with us helps you to heal. Lots of love to you xx

onegoldensun said...

Sending you hugs and caring thoughts. I am sorry you experienced such a difficult time and thank you for sharing your story. I hope expressing it as you did brings a wonderful sense of healing and peace.

Christine said...

How awful! I am so sorry that you had to go through this ! I had a mostly good experience. I don't know why certain people go into nursing, if they lack a compassionate outlook and treat people in such a rude manner when those patients are in such a vulnerable state. Hugs. Enjoy your new Nephew!

tracylee said...

We took our son at 5 days old to the children's hospital in the area for jaundice, too, and unfortunately had some of the same experiences that you did - I was unnecessarily berated to just give him formula and not nurse him at all (I agreed to pump instead). The residents had no education about breastfeeding at all, the staff told me on the last day I was able to order meals as a nursing mom, and when I was upset (5 days postpartum and a newborn in the hospital, of course I was upset), I was asked if we needed a social worker (perhaps just a tissue and some kindness, please).

I was lucky that I had my husband with me the whole time (I think they bent the rules on one parent only staying with newborns), and we did have some great night nurses and aides. The woman who brought me towels was the most encouraging and informed person about breastfeeding I saw during the whole visit. This was a little over 2 years ago.

Hopefully things have changed for the better since you went through that awful experience. I'm sorry it was so traumatizing, but I can understand why and thank you for sharing it.

I'm having another baby in September, and we already plan for him to get lots of indirect light from the start!

Nikki said...

Thank you for posting this personal mothering story. I hope that you are able over time to heal.

Nikki said...

Thank you for posting this personal mothering story. I hope that you are able over time to heal.

Glenda said...

What a sad time for you. Being a nurse professional I want to aologize for the rudeness of the nurses. A lot of us do not condone this but some nurses do get away with it.
I hope you never have to go through this again. So glad your son is alright.

Amy said...

I am so sorry that you had that experience! 2 1/2 weeks after my healthy twins were born, my son ended up in the NICU with RSV and then a week later his twin sister was admitted. Thankfully, we were very lucky and had some great nurses and doctors both in the ER and the NICU. I also had an 11 month old at the time and the staff were wonderful when we had to bring him with us when both kids were hospitalized. The worst experience I had was not being able to hold my daughter for the first week she was in there even though I could have no one told me it was possible.
It's awful to have your child hospitalized, but when there is not a supportive or nurturing staff, it makes it so much worse. My twins are 4 1/2 now and doing great. It's hard to remember them so sick.

abbyglassenberg said...

This story really touched me. My first daughter had jaundice and was readmitted like your son. My husband and I were both able to stay and I was able to nurse her, but we were in a strange storage room as well. It was a traumatic time for us since she was just 4 lbs 9 ounces at birth and I'd had preeclampsia. When we were readmitted they said her temperature had gone down too low and she had to be put in an incubator. The day before she had failed the carseat test at the hospital and had to ride in a car bed for the first month. We were very frightened. It was a lot to take in. She is 9 now!

I wonder if the hospital has an ombudsman. Even though it was so long ago, I think he or she may want to read your post.

Joy said...

Thank you for sharing your story, Jessica...and I am so sorry about what happened. It was a crazy ride for us for both boys health wise, so I can totally understand how lonely and helpless it feels... between Jude's periodic surgeries (he had jaundice too) and Seth's stomach/digestive problems, it feels like it will never end, especially when they were so small... The hospital that where we delivered the boys had great nurses which helped. It baffles me how people can be so unkind sometimes...


Anonymous said...

Wow. I'm just completely struck by the complete lack of professionalism of this hospital, I'm sorry to hear that you had such a negative experience. I was also half anticipating a really sad ending so I'm happy your son was healthy after a three day Hell for you.
- Krys

Kems said...

Jessica, I am so sorry to hear about your experience. I knew it was hard for you and your husband to see your baby boy under the light, but I had no idea what you went through. Thank you for your vulnerability.

Even though it was still difficult for us to be readmitted to the hospital, it was also comforting knowing that you had gone through it, too. Your nephew is following in your son's footsteps with the vacuum and jaundice. Now I know about sunlight and supplementing for next time. Praying you'll receive God's complete healing and peace from this painful experience 10 years ago.

Ann Martin said...

I'm so sorry to read your sad story, Jessica. As a nurse myself, I'm ashamed for what you experienced. Sleep deprivation and uncharted territory as a new parent only compounds the angst of being rudely treated. Hopefully the staff has improved greatly since then.

Laurie said...

So sorry to hear you had to go through this. 2 years ago, my newborn daughter had jaundice too and I had to stay 5 days at the hospital with her at Kaiser in SF. Thankfully, the nurses who were with us were supportive of breastfeeding and making sure I had food to eat. It's only because it wasn't a "busy season' that I was able to stay in a room with her and not have to come visit each day. Hope your wounds heal and that continuing to share your story will help both you and others and educate more moms as well.

Danna said...

Okay, that made me cry...

I'm so sorry that you had that experience. Thank you for sharing that story...
I felt quite railroaded during my first birth...with my son. Especially after, when I was all alone on the room and a doctor came in asking me if I wanted to circumcise him. I asked about anesthesia or something for his pain and she blew me off...then just left my room. He was then circumcised without my permission and I cried for days after...just thinking of his pain.

Unknown said...

Thank you for being so brave and sharing your story with us! I work in a shop selling cloth diapers and baby gear, and I hear SO MANY stories like yours. It breaks my heart every time.

Katie said...

I'm sorry you had such a horrible experience.

I had jaundice as a baby; I was born blue and after they got me breathing, I got jaundice. I stayed in the hospital for a week. My parents were very lucky the staff was caring and let my dad into the room as it was only for mothers (this was in West Germany. There were pump machines there so the nurses could use the mother's milk for the babies when the mother's rested.) They had all of the mothers dress and let my dad go in there while I had a treatment because he was Army.

My mom did had bad experiences, but it wasn't until I started having seizures. The doctors would take me away and my mom wouldn't be updated. It caused her a great deal of grief. She ended up giving the hospital nearest us (where I generally went) this big rant about me and not knowing where I was (it was technically policy)...and after that the doctors made sure she knew where I was at all times!

Yea, my mom is kind of like that! If she needs to become the Army wife/soldier that she is (well, she passed basic training and then dropped out. Technically, she is more of a wife), um, she does it in spades. Don't mess with my momma!

Mama Teaching 3 said...

I am so sorry you and your precious baby experienced this. Some people don't belong with new people and their mommy's. One day you will have this knowledge and wisdom and it will help another young mother. HUGS. Keep working through it.

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