Saturday, May 26, 2007

Hospital Rant

I was planning to write an entry about all the things I couldn’t do during pregnancy that I now can do, and the ones I’m still looking forward to. An appreciative piece about the body that’s not quite back in working order yet.

But I just spent the past two nights in the pediatric ward at the Yale New Haven Hospital. And now I’ve got other considerations balancing in my mind.

N’s umbilical cord fell off on Thursday morning, right before her 10 to 14 day check up. The belly button had worried one of the pediatrician’s her first week, and I had called in when it seemed to suddenly turn red in a few hours, but I’d been reassured that it looked fine on her previous (Monday) visit. However, Thursday’s pediatrician was very concerned and sent her for tests and consultations.

What followed was 5 hours in the ER. This is a horrible place- despite having a private room, I got nervous about their handwashing, and there was construction, literally just on the other side of the wall we were leaning against. I spent about 2 hours without seeing any of the doctors, and finally, desperate to pee, and not able to just leave the baby (hooked up to an IV), I had to prop open the door and flag down someone to find one of the consulting doctors. Who informed me that they were indeed going to admit her, and thus, me.

Now I don’t want to seem too critical. The doctors seem very conscientious and err on the side of caution. In the pediatric ward, all the staff was impeccable with their handwashing, gowning, gloving. The nurses were really kind, helpful, and attentive to my concerns and, more importantly, to the baby.

But the communication in the hospital was lousy. I might not have been real happy to hear what they were going to say (thus discouraging them from telling me), but they kept forgetting and neglecting to tell me what was expected of me and what was going on in their consultations. Example: I was admitted Thursday in the early evening. Around 8 pm on Friday, one of the nurses informed me that I wasn’t supposed to take the baby out of the room (we’d brought her onto the patio play area so Q could run around), and that I should be wearing a gown while in the room. (Naively I’d assumed that the gowns were to protect N, not to contain the germs to her.)

I found myself being increasingly frustrated by the conversations I had with the doctors. It was like being told, ‘Well, we’ll have to see what your father thinks’ in a cyclical pattern. Each time I was told ‘well, if her belly button looks good, we’ll let you take her home’ or ‘if her ultrasound is clear, you can take her home’ it was to meet with another obstacle, which, despite passing, all culminated in ‘you can’t take her home’. The very nice (I’m sure) chief resident seemed to want me to agree with the treatment, which I found ridiculous. I wasn’t consulted, it wasn’t discussed with me, I was simply told she had to stay. I’m not going to say I think that’s fine when I don’t. I can’t change it, and I’m not happy about it. (This same unfortunate resident had to break the news to me that the blood sample they took at 2:30 am had to be repeated because it had clotted.)

Ultimately, I’m a tired new mother, frustrated and unconvinced that anything was so wrong with my baby that she needed to be hospitalized. Their priority is the health of my baby, and I appreciate that. But leaving me hanging, wondering what was going on, and misleading me when I did get to talk to individual doctors was a serious disservice that left me more fragile and hostile than before.

J and I are grateful our family is all home and healthy again. I’m not even really sure how to resume my normal life- but I’ve realized that if some laundry isn’t done tomorrow, there will be dire consequences…

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