Recently, I was called over to the birthing center to register a mama who had come in through the ER and already delivered her baby. This is not a common occurrence and usually this is due to a home birth gone bad. When I say bad, I mean something like a retained placenta or hemorrhaging or respiratory distress for the baby. If a home birth is transfered to the hospital, it’s usually not good and both mama and baby are admitted right away.
So I headed over to see the patient and get her and her new baby checked in. I knew that there would be quite the commotion going on, but I was a bit surprised by HOW chaotic it would be. Registration always takes longer when there are a million questions flying at the patient.
The nurses kept asking her if there was anyone with her, if they could call someone to come and be with her. She was shaking from the delivery and the last thing I wanted to ask her was questions. I actually wanted to drop everything I was doing and just hold her hand for comfort.
After the doctor got situated with her and began cleaning her up, I moved in and got what I needed to get her checked it. My little passionate button for childbirth was through the roof! I was listening to everything the doctor and nurses were saying and asking. Lots of reassuring, positive words that she had done a great job without any medication.
Her baby was taken to the nursery for observation. After the doctor left and I was still working on her file, we learned that she had not known she was pregnant. She had no idea what was happening to her, began to vomit and bleed at home and proceeded to drive herself to the hospital and deliver the baby in her car. Kind of unbelievable!
Physically, the patient was in good condition but emotionally, she was in shock. It was scary and exciting all at once (for me). The stories you hear about women not knowing they were pregnant are most likely true. However, I do believe that there is a certain level of denial involved as well. I am not implying that this patient was in denial, just that some women convince themselves that they are not in fact pregnant and live a normal life until they go into labor.
This experience only made my itch for midwifery stronger. I wanted to be the person taking care of her and reassuring her that everything was going to be okay. Though the baby was in the NICU, she will be okay. Not knowing her gestational age and if she was exposed to any toxins prompts the hospital to do extra monitoring.
This was not my first experience with someone who had no idea she was pregnant. When my son was born, there was a woman in our “NICU babies” lunch group who didn’t know. She thought she had kidney stones, which is a very common complaint from patients when they are in labor and unaware of it. I also worked in a high school where a student went home for Christmas break and had a baby! She was very young and unaware of her cycle, things that an older woman would be more aware of.
All this to say that having experiences like this only help gear me up for what my future holds. The ONLY complaint I have about the entire situation is that the doc did not spend very much time with her after getting her cleaned up, but I suppose most busy OBs are like that.