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A Challenge For All In Healthcare

Melissa Cote's picture

Eleven years ago, my youngest child, {Z} came rushing into this world like nothing I had ever seen. I wasn’t shocked. I had a feeling she would grace us early. I knew, a mother always knows. 


I was a high-risk pregnancy, with both of my girls. Unfortunately, signs were missed by my OB and their medical team. Big signs. Signs that could have made a huge difference for my family. To be honest, these missed signs created the trajectory that we are on today and it’s one that not only affects my family, but that of society. You see, some disabilties can be prevented. Especially if the signs are not missed. 


It was a traumatic birth, for me and baby. Both births were to be truthful. {Z} our youngest, She came so fast, two and a half weeks early. We would learn after the birth of our oldest, {A} that I can never safely birth a human naturally. A sign that should have been caught, long before delivery. That missed sign resulted in a four day labor followed by a cesarean delivery because of fetal distress and elevated blood pressure for both of us and {A} admitted to the NICU for a two day stay. 


Our second, {Z} she was a scheduled cesarean. So there was a panic that washed over me when my water broke at home with her. I was terrified. I knew that time was not on our side and that we were in danger. After a mad dash to the hospital our second child was delivered via our planned cesarean. After both of us were settled in our room, she in the hospital bassinet while I lay in my hospital bed. My mother eagerly walked over to catch a peek of her newest granddaughter. 


“She’s not breathing right.” said my mother. 

She immediately said something to the nurse who in turn quickly said, “Oh yes, she is, I bathed her myself, she’s ok, I promise.” 


Two hours later, her pediatrician walked into our room to do the newborn assessment. 


“This baby is laboring to breathe.” He said. 


She was quickly transported to the NICU while I lay in my bed, terrified and helpless. My husband at home with our toddler while I lay alone in my hospital bed. It was one of the most emotional experiences of my life. I can tell you, there is no greater hurt having your newborn in the NICU. Your heart literally crumbles and you can feel it crushing you from the inside. It left me feeling wounded and helpless as a mother. 


That whole week was a whirlwind, truly. So much happened. It started with {Z} coming into the world two weeks early, then there was the NICU. If that were not enough, there we were, my husband and I sitting in a hospital conference room with our realtor, a closing agent and the sellers of our new home. All while our new baby gain weight and strength in the NICU just four floors above us.  It was intense, to say the least. 


Six days after her birth we were sitting in our new home surrounded by moving boxes and all of our hopes and dreams …. Two days after that, I would be rushed to the hospital for a migraine. A blood pressure of 216/103 and the ICU team in their navy-blue jackets wheeling me away to ICU on a crash cart – “we’re taking her with us” said the lead nurse. 


“Why did they release you?”

“Where is your baby?”


These were the questions asked when I was safely being monitored in ICU. My husband answered them. 


One of the ICU nurses grabbed the phone, immediately calling my OB’s office and I heard, “you never should have released her. Pre-eclampsia.”


How are we doing now? 


A month before {Z’s} second birthday she would be diagnosed with multiple disabilities that profoundly impact her day-to-day life. As for me, my heart has never fully recovered, physically or emotionally. Do I think it’s a coincidence that our lives were changed by disability? I don’t believe in coincidences. I do believe that an inadequate healthcare system is what set the tone for our lives. By not addressing and or properly profiling and assessing women’s maternal health, it's contributing to an increase in disability, that includes mental health issues for mothers and our children. 


I am a mom rising to a challenge. I am challenging the healthcare system to do better. You can do better. Please do better. 


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