American healthcare and all the interventions

After an annoying night being hospitalized, I had only a few hours of sleep. A nurse came in every few hours to check on my vitals and to ensure that the fetal heart rate monitor was still in the right place. Pookie Bear clearly knew what was up, as she was far more active during the time we were in the hospital than before; it’s like she knew we were in some foreign place and was constantly squirming and kicking around to signal her distaste for the current situation. Because she wouldn’t be still, that also caused the nurses to check up on me more to adjust the fetal heart monitor on my belly.

Early in the morning, the doctor from my OB practice came to check in on me, and she shared that the good news was that not only did the bloodwork come back normal, but overnight there were no heart rate drops detected. So if all continued through this afternoon, I’d be able to be discharged. I was happy to hear this, though I wasn’t sure what they’d actually tell me at a check-in later. Chris eventually came, and he was also there when the doctor came back to tell me that after consulting with the maternal fetal medicine specialist who originally had me come to triage, he insisted that I stay ANOTHER night for monitoring to ensure the baby was really okay. This was despite the fact that no heart rate drops were detected in this entire 24-hour period. This is NOT what we agreed to and discussed yesterday. And that’s when Chris really lost it. I didn’t even have a chance to react until he went nuts on the doctor.

“This is too much!” he insisted. “Why don’t you just monitor her and have her hooked up until she delivers in a few weeks then? The American healthcare system is known for over testing and doing too many interventions, and yet despite all of this, the outcomes are not better here; they are WORSE!”

The doctor asked if he was an OB-GYN; Chris got even more crazy and retorted back, “Don’t patronize me!” I could barely keep a straight face. My eyes were wide open. This was all happening so quickly and I barely even had time to process what was being exchanged and could not even react. I’m too slow.

Eventually, we agreed to a compromise: I would be discharged, but I would need to come into the triage unit again tomorrow morning for about an hour of fetal monitoring. Then on Monday, I’d come in for more fetal monitoring and an ultrasound at the OB’s office. On Wednesday, I’d come back to maternal fetal medicine for monitoring and another ultrasound to ensure the placenta was delivering enough oxygen and blood to the baby. Did this sound like a lot? Yes, but it was a compromise, and I obviously also wanted peace of mind that Pookie Bear was going to be okay and healthy.

It felt really good to finally go home, though. I felt annoyed and anxious at the hospital, and now I don’t even know if my baby is growing enough. So there are so many unknowns now that I’m concerned about, and only time will tell if we will all be okay. The doctor insisted the baby would be fine regardless of what path we took and her life wasn’t in danger, but I can’t help but have that fear in the back of my mind that something else may go wrong.

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