i am really sorry for your experience. i think it is entirely wrong that your OB proceeded as she did, and especially given your background i can't even imagine why she needed to do a cervical check in the first place. i do not think you are overreacting at all, i think it is important for you to validate how you are feeling about what happened to you and to trust your own judgement.
stripping membranes are never "necessary", they are a tool that can be used in specific instances but it's just a tool, and it drives me nuts when women feel pressured into them or are subjected to them without giving consent in the first place. i have seen that as a midwifery student and it horrified me.
i hope you can find the peace and healing you deserve but i don't think you are being ridiculous.
Midwifery student , Mama to my 4 amazing kids.
I don't know how the doctor could justify talking to your sister about this, regardless of your sister's profession. Your OB knew that was your sister, she should not have disclosed that personal information.
I had my membranes stripped without my permission, and it was very painful. Then she did it again at the next visit, and it was just as painful. Yes, VERY painful, this is not my imagination, I can still remember how it felt. And my doctor didn't tell me what she was doing, nor ask for consent. She just said "she was getting things started" when I asked her what she was doing. She never did specifically tell me what she was doing other than to use those vague words.
I talked to my sister about what I wanted for my birth during my first pregnancy. She had 6 children by that point, her first when she was 17. She sounded almost angry when she told me that I won't have a choice about an episiotomy, they just do it without asking. I told her I thought that was terrible and that shouldn't have been how it was, and it isn't going to be how it is for all of us.
I think especially in childbirth, women are told to just be quiet, to listen to the medical experts and to not do anything that might be seen as jeopardizing the baby. Anything else would not be self-sacrificing, and women seem to be held to higher standards in that regard when it comes to children. There is this anger that you might call into question something they had to undergo, that they might not have had a choice about, and that if there were any other choice they should have had it. So, yes, it makes them mad.
I'm torn between thinking you should tell your sister about your rape, as an explanation of why you particularly have such an emotional reaction that she wouldn't have, or not tell her, since it will not change her thinking about ethical treatment of patients, she will just chalk it up to you being overemotional. I don't think what the OB did was ethical, and your sister as a PA should know this. It's very frustrating to me when it comes to family, because it seems like family more than any other has a sense of schadenfreude towards each other. The fact that you are hurting shouldn't be a cause for your family to feel angry towards you and tell you to get over it--it should be a clue for them to question the behavior and to acknowledge it could be damaging. But people are usually too self-centered to be able to do that, they always relate it to how they feel about the situation.
I think in your case, you should come up with some non-emotional phrases to repeat when this topic comes up. Something like, "She hurt me, she deliberately went against the agreed course of treatment without any explanation beforehand, she violated my privacy, what she did was wrong." And don't get engaged in any emotional argument with your family.
When my mom was dying in a rehabilitation center in North Carolina and was completely non-responsive, the nurses would always clearly explain to her what they were doing and why, even at the very end when I doubt she could understand them. I don't think doctors should just do things in a non-emergency situation with no consent or explanation, especially when they've agreed not to do so.
I think your doctor was acting very unprofessionally. I don't know anything about stripping membranes, but you had already had a conversation in which you told her that you didn't want it, and she should have respected that. If she felt that it was necessary, then she should have talked to you about that. A surprise attack is a terrible way to go about it, imo. I would think an OB would want to do what she could to build trust in such close proximity to the birth rather than tear it down.
My guess is that the extent of your feelings about is because of your past, but I don't think anyone would be happy about it. And it sounds to me like what she did really tapped into those old feelings in a bad way and she should have been much more sensitive about that since you had also talked about that with her. And the fact that she talked to your sister seems insanely over the top. I cannot believe that a doctor would do that!
Are you thinking about filing some kind of claim against her? On the one hand, that could keep this issue in the forefront for you for a while and make it impossible to really get past it until your case is over. But I filed a claim with the dept of education against my college for something that really upset me in a way that I think might have been similar to what you're feeling. Everyone kinda thought I should just get over it, but I think the fact that what they did to me made me feel helpless and vulnerable was just too much for me for some reason. So, I filed a claim and I won and I think it did help me work through it. When we got the decision in the case I really felt a huge sense of relief. For me, some of that was because I had started to doubt myself and here was this court saying that they had officially done me wrong, there was no doubt about it. And I really, really wanted them (the bad guys at my school) to realize they had seriously f'd up. If I had never brought the case they would have just continued to believe that I was just being whiney and they were the voice of reason. There was something very comforting to me about having an impartial court make a formal decision that in fact they had done something wrong to me and it was important to right that wrong. Of course, neither in my case nor yours could what happen be changed, but there are damages and other remedies to make you "whole". In my case the person who messed with me at school was fired and the school had to actually hire a full time lawyer who had to be on staff for five years to make sure they didn't do such a thing again. I got my tuition back for one course. So I didn't get much at all in the way of money, but I cannot tell you how good it felt for the court to think it was important enough that they were going to force the school to take those steps to make sure it didn't happen again. It went a long, long way toward making me feel like I wasn't so helpless and vulnerable. So, I think if you want to take her to court, there is a lot you could get out of it.
Jayne, sewing up a storm mama to ds1 9/03, ds2 2/09, and 2 sweet furbabies.
Also, have you thought about doing EMDR therapy at all? I have several friends and colleagues who have been very happy with the peace and healing they've found through EMDR. Wishing you the best.
I am nearly in tears for you. You are NOT overreacting. That must have been hell for you, and for your family to act like that? Oh, lady...hugs.
Talk to your mom, though. Cry. Get her to - MAKE her see your side.
I am so so sorry.
Congratulations on your new baby.
Certified Crazy™ Wife to my Spiderman husband (Aug '01)
Super proud Momma to DD (Jan'00), DD (Apr '02) and DS (Jun '04)
Always loving and missing our Baby James born sleeping at 19 weeks (July '03).
In addition to what has already been said... I have never, EVER heard of a case in which stripping membranes was in any way necessary to any woman or baby's health or safety. It's just not that kind of procedure. In fact, it's generally not terribly effective. While not the riskiest procedure ever, it does include risks, and with minimal benefit, I honestly don't believe 99.99% of people have much use for it. IMO... either induction is really necessary, in which case you use something likely to provide some benefit (pitocin honestly being one of the better choices) or induction is not necessary, in which case, there's no reason for even a "mild" form.
As for your doctor's behavior, continuing to perform an invasive procedure on the genitals (particularly one not immediately necessary) WHILE SOMEONE IS EXPLICITLY STATING HER NON-CONSENT is, well, pretty much the definition of sexual assault. I am beyond livid on your behalf. It doesn't matter that "some people have it worse" and such. Someone ALWAYS has it "worse." "Well, at least I was 'only' sexually assaulted, not raped. Well, at least I wasn't raped repeatedly. Well, at least I wasn't killed..."
WAHer & Wannabe, Wife to DH 1998, Mama to Buko, Born at Home March 2013
I'm so sorry for your terrible experience! I have never experienced intercourse against my will, and I still have had very strong reactions to procedures being done to me without my informed consent. In fact, I have made the choice to use the phrase "birthrape" to describe my cesarean births. (I hope that doesnt offend you as a survivor of actual sexual rape.) Things that were done to me in labor 10 years ago still cause me great anxiety and trauma to this day. So please don't feel that you are being overly sensitive because of your past history.
In your shoes, I would immediately stop all discussion with my sister about this experience. Reporting the doctor for her breach of confidentialilty would give me a feeling of power. It would be something I would do to help the healing process along. And then I would build for myself a reliable support system, whether it be a counselor to help me process the prenatal "care"/birth experience, a midwife whom you trust to help guide you through any future pregnancies, or even just a bunch of strangers on a forum who will listen and not judge.
Best wishes to you!
Your emotional reaction towards what happened is totally understandable. I would have been livid at that sort of invasion without explanation or consent. It is a violation and in your case, coupled with your previous horrible experience, it is absolutely emotionally damaging! I am sorry your mother and sister think you are over reacting and are not supportive. Stop seeking comfort from them and find it else where. They are only going to cause more hurt. I suggest you avoid that conversation all together with them.
Glad to hear your DH is supportive. Be gentle to yourself. I hope you find peace soon.
You are not being ridiculous at all. Not even a little. Birth and pregnancy trauma are serious things. That ob was way out of line. Way way way way out of line. I have noticed that Dr's people reccomend are never the ones for me. I am so sorry that all of this happened to you and that your family is being ridiculous. I had some issues with ym MIL when my son was born and everyone just tells me to suck it up and I hate it. I fell better talking about it. I would definatly distance from your sister at least and your mom maybe too just so you can heal a little without the constant reminder that they not only are not supportive but are literally in cahoots with the person that caused you this pain (Your sister). Im sorry.
thank you so much everyone who posted - i know it was a long post - everything was so helpful & supportive - heart-warming that strangers can sometimes say just the right things - i am so sorry for everyone who mentioned having difficult birth experiences - they can be so intensely personal and lasting - it would be humbling if it weren't SO unnecessary sometimes - i wish it were not about something that is suppose to be so joyous - i'm not sure what to do - it was over 5 mo ago so i think filing a complaint is a little after-the-fact right - i could see it helping me feel like closure - but it may just draw it out more too - i don't know - i didn't even really think i wasn't crazy in feeling upset- reading everyone's posts have been so comforting - just knowing that i am not crazy for feeling this way - thank you so much you guys!
I am so sorry this happened to you!!
You are a victim and this doctor victimized you again, twice. Performing a procedure on a patient without their consent is legally considered to be assault and battery and you could file a complaint. And discussing your case with your sister is a clear violation of your privacy rights under HIPAA and, once again, you could file a complaint.
It sounds like you might be experiencing post-traumatic stress from this horrible experience.
You are not wrong for feeling violated, and the fact that "some people have worse things happen to them" is irrelevant.
Maybe you need to find someone in your everyday life that you can talk to? Are there some support groups around you for victims of rape or assault? I'm so sorry that your mom isn't being more supportive...
Your feelings are completely justified. Sorry that your family is of no support. They are way off the mark.
No dr or other health professional had the right to perform this procedure on you.
In this case, you were explicitly clear about a procedure you did NOT want to have done.
This OB has egregiously violated ethical standards on two counts:
1. she intentionally performed a procedure on you (an unecessary one, at that) that you had clearly stated, in advance, that you did not want.
2. She obviously shared information about you, a patient, with someone who was not involved with your care. Total privacy violation.
You have a valid compliant against this OB, and her superiors and her licensing board REALLY need to hear about what she has done.
Since your husband was present when it happened, is he willing to pursue this, too?
Would it make you feel better to confront her directly? Are you willing to document how she violated ethical standards? Could you contact her superior or her practice? Do you feel comfortable contacting the medical board?
I'm not sure where to start, but in my personal experience, it has made me feel A LOT better to pursue things like this. Documenting what she has done and sharing it with her colleagues or superiors may really help you feel like YOU have taken control of the situation, as opposed to her violating you and being in control.
A couple of things:
- The doctor violated the standard of care by performing a procedure on you that you not only did not consent to, but told her to stop, and she refused - this REALLY needs to be reported
- The doctor violated your confidentiality by speaking about your care to your sister. This one is more complicated, and I wonder whether it was more your sister talking to the doctor than the other way around. It's probably still worthy of a complaint - let someone else look into it at least
- I had my membranes stripped - by consent - and it was way more painful than my most painful contraction during labor, and I was in labor for 36 hours, 28 of which were unmedicated, so that's really saying something. It was one of the worst experiences of my pregnancy and I cried during it because it was so wretched. I won't be doing that again because it didn't even have any effect on me at all - didn't induce me, didn't dilate me, nothing. I would rather do ANYTHING than that ever again. I can't imagine someone performing such a horribly painful procedure on me WITHOUT MY CONSENT. I am terribly sorry that you went through that
- If you believe that your sister won't support you if you tell her about your rape, don't tell her. I disagree with the previous poster that you should cut off all contact with her, but definitely make all birth and medical care related issues strictly off limits and set some very clear boundaries with her
- If your mother's behavior was out of the ordinary and she is usually capable of supporting you, I would maybe send her what you wrote on this forum so that she understands better why you were feeling the way you were - and how important it is to you that she starts supporting you now. There is no way to change the past, but if your mom can get on board now, it will likely go a long way to resolving some of it
- It sounds like you could really use a counselor to talk to. Having children is like being on an archaeological dig - you find new stuff you thought you had addressed every day. It makes you look at the world in a different way. You were the victim of a violent sexual assault, and you felt victimized before, during, and after giving birth. It's totally normal for you to have powerful feelings about that. You don't have do handle it all by yourself though, and although your husband sounds great, having a supportive therapist provides something he can't - an unconditional one way relationship where you get all the support you need when you need it.
Good luck, your feelings are totally valid and I hope you can find some peace.
Happy , delayed/selective vaxxing, WOHM to DD1 4/10 , DD2 8/12 and partner/wife for thirteen years to SAHD DH.