The OB practice that I went to for my first pregnancy was not a good match for me, but I wouldn’t really know this until my son was stillborn and I later had top-notch care during my subsequent high-risk pregnancies.
In my first pregnancy I felt unheard but choiceless. I now know that I could have fought back harder or found a different OB practice when I was laughed at, belittled and made to feel inexperienced, naive and uneducated despite my researching and strong instincts. At almost every step, I tried to seem rational while making sure they were aware of my concerns as I was dismissed, accepting too easily that I was worried over ‘nothing.’ But I didn’t realize the power that I had then, and everything came to a crashing halt when my baby was gone but still with me at 24 weeks.
I was sent to a bigger hospital to deliver him, Tufts Medical Center in Boston. After a traumatic induced labor and then spending time with our son, I was wheeled out of Labor and Delivery and into the Mother/Infant Unit the following morning to start recovery. They gave me a private room that was far away from the others; I never heard any new babies during my 6-day stay.
I was the patient that every attending doctor in the unit met, making their rounds each morning and checking in. Yes, I’m still here. Yes, my lifetime low blood pressure that had skyrocketed during my undiagnosed severe pre-eclampsia episode that caused a placental abruption was still dangerously high. They were all so caring and knowledgeable, especially the one who had delivered my son. I also met many incredible nurses and resident doctors.
A couple days into my hospital stay, an attending doctor came into my room and introduced herself, Dr. Britta Panda. She is the medical director of Labor and Delivery at Tufts and a Maternal-Fetal Medicine physician. As soon as she started talking to me, the clouds in my head seemed to clear for the first time since finding out that my son Brayden was gone. She said she had looked over everything, including my OB office’s records. She said everything I needed to hear that I hadn’t realized I needed to hear, that there was NOTHING I did wrong or could have done differently.
She said she could be my doctor next time – I hadn’t even thought of a next time – and that she is a high-risk doctor. I could come in often, every day if I want. As someone who felt that I was bothering my first OB’s office by even just calling them, this was music to my ears. Upon discharge we scheduled a 2-week follow up and she became not only my doctor but my hero in the medical community.
I saw Dr. Panda every two weeks until 20 weeks during my pregnancy with my first rainbow, and every week thereafter until she delivered my daughter. There were several weeks when I went in extra times due to anxiety, feeling less fetal movement, or having a ‘feeling’ that something was wrong.
Dr. Panda said I could call or e-mail her with any concerns, so I did, and she listened. She answered my questions, took me seriously, and reassured me. I made it safely to the finish line because of her, and I honestly didn’t believe that I could have otherwise. She’s the reason that my daughter and I made it to 19 months of nursing, and the reason that I left the hospital, this time with a baby in my arms, with all of the hope and confidence in the world that I could do it again.
I was delighted to let her know we were expecting this baby, our second rainbow. I saw her right away and we have had the same appointment schedule again, although this time I haven’t needed to call or e-mail her as often between appointments, nor have I had as many extra appointments (yet). I fully trust her and I’m more trusting in my body and judgement now, too.
Due to a uterus surgery I had last year, I’ll have my first C-section this time. I’m really nervous about it because it’s a change from my past two deliveries. But Dr. Panda said she will be performing it and that we’ll do it together. I have new questions about the C-section nearly every week, and every time she answers them calmly and reassuringly.
To say I am grateful for her is a huge understatement. For me, having someone I truly trust in the medical field has made a world of a difference in my pregnancies.