[Editor’s Note: Warrior Mom Stacey shares how little her obstetrician did to help her when she shared how much she was suffering from postpartum anxiety and panic attacks. Another in our series about reaching out for help and not getting much of it. -Katherine]
Dear Dr. C,
You seemed knowledgeable enough when I first interviewed you to be my obstetrician. We were having fertility problems and you prescribed me Clomid; we were pregnant the next month!
I should have seen it coming when you made me wait one to two hours in your waiting room at every visit, just to talk to me for five minutes. I understand that you have to be with your patients who are in labor, but that long of a wait every time seemed ridiculous!
When I went into labor, I looked for you constantly. I wanted your reassurance that everything was going to be okay. After a relatively quick eight-hour labor, you showed up basically to pull my daughter from my body and into the world. Then you sewed me up and walked out, with a shake of the hand to my husband and father. But hello? What about me, your patient?
I started feeling overwhelmed and anxious in the hospital. By the second night, I couldn’t sleep at all. The nurses called you and, even though I was formula feeding, the best you could give me was a shot of Benadryl. Really? Of course, all that did was make me drowsy during my postpartum panic attacks, which was not the result I was hoping for.
We took our beautiful daughter home, and for six weeks I experienced basically one solid panic attack. What if we ran out of diapers or formula? What if I’m screwing her up for life? I looked forward to discussing all of this with you at my six-week check-up. Again, I had to wait more than an hour, and when I told you about how miserable I felt, you prescribed me .25 mg of an anti-anxiety medication. That was it. The medication did nothing for me.
My friends and parents saw how “off” I was and helped me find a therapist and a psychiatrist so that I could (and did) get REAL help. As I recovered, I made a pledge to myself to educate you and your staff about postpartum depression and anxiety. I was fortunate enough to find Postpartum Progress, and they had downloadable awareness tools. I made several copies and then made an appointment. I ended up seeing your physician’s assistant, which was a turn of good luck. She was sensitive and empathetic, and was eager to learn about what I went through. Last I heard, she arranged for a presentation to be done at your office about PPD and its related disorders. As a result, you now know about these diagnoses and what to do about them.
I’m still sad that I had to be the one to make the move to educate you, but I hope that your present and future patients will have a much better experience with you and your staff.
~ Stacey Glaesmann