Dismissive Provider Failed Me

September 20, 2023 By Amanda Castellano-Clark

Dismissive Provider Failed Me

My pregnancy was anything but normal. We found out we were pregnant with our first child in January 2020 and before we’d even really had time to adjust to the pregnancy, the whole world was suddenly in lockdown. The rest of my pregnancy was pretty normal and I thought I had a good relationship with my OB. However, at a checkup appointment around 34 weeks with another OB at the practice, she remarked that my blood pressure was high and had been the last few visits and that I needed to start monitoring my blood pressure at home. At my next appointment with my regular OB I brought up my concerns about my blood pressure, but he brushed them off and said that most women’s blood pressure rose at this point in their pregnancies. During the last month of my pregnancy, my blood pressure started to steadily rise (it was often above 140/90 even at home), I started to swell, and I would get headaches. I would bring up my symptoms to my OB and my concerns about developing preeclampsia, but he would explain away my symptoms as normal parts of pregnancy and that as long as I didn’t have protein in my urine, my baby and I were fine.

We eventually decided to induce on October 13, 2020 when my baby was a few days past her due date. My delivery however ended in a C-section when my baby stayed sunny side-up. While the C-section itself was fine, I did lose more blood than expected and had some worrying symptoms afterwards. I was really weak and lightheaded, would get tired really easily, and my blood pressure was still elevated. I kept asking my OB if he was worried about preeclampsia, but he kept insisting that preeclampsia couldn’t happen because I was no longer pregnant. We were discharged very abruptly 3 days after my c-section, even though up to an hour before our discharge they had been discussing with us the potential of me needing a blood transfusion, and we were sent home with barely any aftercare instructions.

About 36 hours after we were discharged, while my husband and I were feeding our baby, I realized that I wasn’t feeling well at all and checked my blood pressure. It was about 150/100 and I called the after hours line at my OB practice to see if I needed to go to the hospital. The OB who answered berated me for calling and said that I would be wasting my time if I went to the hospital. I finally had had enough and decided to trust my gut and refused to be treated by this practice anymore. I went to the ER at another hospital where my OB practice didn’t have privileges. When I arrived there my blood pressure had already climbed to 190/120 and I was immediately admitted to be treated for postpartum preeclampsia and placed on a magnesium drip. The ER doctors, nurses, and the consulting OB all said that I should never have been treated the way I was by my old OB and that a lot of mistakes were made.

I had to stay in the hospital for 2 days and was unable to see my husband or baby girl due to COVID protocols. They were the worst 2 days of my life, but it was necessary for me to stay in the hospital to receive the care I needed and deserved. 3 years after my experience I still deal with a lot of anxiety from the birth trauma I experienced. It’s hard for me to trust providers and my own body and I don’t think I’ll ever be emotionally ready to attempt another pregnancy again. My OB stole so many things from me and I am still dealing with the impacts of his dismissive care today.