Fly On The Wall (Part 2): Comparing Hospital Stays

In this three-part podcast, we capture the candid conversation of three women on their obstetrics experiences. Let’s get into part 2, where they go into detail about their hospital stays.

Stream Part 2 above, or read the transcript below.

Kadesha: We all delivered at different hospitals, and I think that’s good because then we can all give different perspectives. What factors did you consider for choosing the hospitals that you decided to ultimately deliver at? Lauren, start with you.

Lauren: I always go for a teaching/learning hospital, so one affiliated with a university. I delivered at Northwestern. Obviously we looked at—because we live in the city of Chicago—convenience, how fast can we get to the hospital, that kind of stuff. I looked for if they have a neonatal unit just in case, and the right resources close and on hand to handle any challenges that may arise.

For me—of course, and also we went through insurance—it was the choice between Rush and Northwestern, and my doctor actually had a preference. She preferred to deliver at Northwestern based on some experiences she had, and I had a couple friends who delivered at Northwestern. They were really comfortable with that and had a really great experience, so that’s how I got to Northwestern. And obviously, they have an amazing reputation. We toured the hospital. It was comfortable; it was fine. That’s how we got to Northwestern.

From when I checked in from home and all the way until I checked out, I had a great experience. The staff was amazing. The nursing staff was exceptional. They made me feel really comfortable; they made my family feel really comfortable—my husband and when my daughter came to visit, everybody.

I have a challenge with hospitals in that I’m a very light sleeper. I have a couple challenges. They met all of my challenges. For example, it’s hard for them to find a vein when they take blood. They pulled in the best person to do that because otherwise I’d end up being a pin cushion. They listened to my concerns and my challenges and made accommodations for those, which has not always been my experience with other hospitals. That was really comforting.

I mean, surgery is surgery, and when you go in for a c-section, you want it to go as smoothly as possible. That was really helpful. I had full access to my doctor the whole time I was there, which was great. Everything rolled on time, which was also very nice. My anesthesiologist and everybody was great.

I’ll say, the nursing staff I said was exceptional. They did a lot to make sure that we could rest while I was recovering. They checked on the baby. I mean, anyone who has spent any time in a hospital knows that they are always turning on lights. They are always checking monitors. There’s beeping, and there’s all this sucking and poking and prodding.

The nursing staff at Northwestern did the best they could, once I told them I was a light sleeper, to make sure they didn’t disturb me when I finally got some sleep. They tended to the baby. They were respectful of the fact that my husband and I were sleeping on a couch. They just did everything they could to accommodate us while they were doing their job. They were as helpful as possible when I struggled with breastfeeding. They got supplies that we needed. I didn’t want for anything while I was in the hospital. It was excellent. I can’t say enough great things about them.

I will say my one challenge was with the lactation consultant. There was a lot of confusion around scheduling and there just wasn’t available resources to help me with that. So that was my one challenge that didn’t get the attention I wanted. As far as the pediatricians they sent up, the physicians that saw me, the nursing staff, and the accommodations were excellent. I had a great, great experience.

Kadesha: Cool. Aneesa, what about you? You delivered at what I call the “Gucci Hospital.” How was it?

Aneesa: It was wonderful.

Kadesha: I bet it was. Louis Vuitton Birthing Center. Tell me about how you ended up choosing that hospital and what your experience was like from the time you got there to the time you were discharged.

Aneesa: Sure. I had a short experience with Elmhurst Hospital before. My father had surgery there awhile back, and that was my first experience there. I really liked the care he received, and of course it’s brand new and all of that. It was just really great, so that’s pretty much where I decided I wanted to deliver. We did the tour, we did all those things as well.

One of the things that’s very important to me when it comes to being in a hospital or any medical facility is how do the people treat you? I know I’ve had experiences where the person checking you in to the nursing staff, they act like they don’t want to be bothered with you or they act like you’re annoying them at different times. I didn’t have any signs, there were no signs of that whatsoever.

Everyone from the person who’s at the front desk when you walk into the hospital to the nursing staff to my anesthesiologist—everybody was just so nice, smiling, welcoming, and very attentive.

I don’t think Elmhurst has a Level 1 NICU Center, so in that event if it was something serious that would have taken place, there would have been the possibility of having to be transferred somewhere else, but we were willing to take that risk, and we just trusted that everything would be fine as it was. I didn’t have a high-risk pregnancy, so we were pretty confident that we would be fine at Elmhurst.

Everything was great. I actually plan to write a letter to the hospital and highlight the nurses that we had and the anesthesiologist and the on-call pediatricians because everyone was just so fantastic. I really want to let them know that. That’s on my to-do list. But yeah, it was great.

I loved the nurse that ended up being my labor and delivery nurse because it was her shift. She was absolutely wonderful and encouraging. Again, I like to make personal connections with people, so I’m the patient that’s gonna be like, ‘Oh, how many kids do you have?’ while in between contractions. You know, no one was annoyed by it. She was like, ‘I’m from Poland.’ That kind of short, personal connection just makes me feel more comfortable.

Even the anesthesiologist, he came in and his name was Dr. Yousif, and it just so happened that he had a 17-year-old daughter named Aneesa, and he was thrilled, absolutely thrilled, that my name was Aneesa and it was spelled the same exact way he spelled his daughter’s name. He was just so cheerful and happy when he entered the room, which was great.

What else? I think the only thing I will say—the main difference between first child and this child with the hospital stay was the food. When we delivered in Mississippi, the food was great, and to say that about hospital food, you know, is something to be talked about. The food at Elmhurst was not the best in terms of taste was not the best, but hey, I didn’t go hungry. That would be the only minor complaint if you even call that a complaint.

Then, what else? I don’t think I had any surprises so to speak. I think that everyone, like I said, was great. The only thing that I think was hard for me was breathing correctly. I think when the nurses realized that I wasn’t, because it was affecting the baby’s heart rate and stuff, they really got serious and were like, “Look. You need to breathe correctly because if you don’t, this is what’s happening…” so on and so forth.

I think that was more of a personal struggle just because it hurt, but everyone knew what to do. And as you know, there were three doctors in the practice. I was very thankful that Dr. Acharya was the doctor on call. He did end up delivering. He was great. He was calm, and like you said, you could just tell he’s been doing this forever. I think I pushed six times, and in 20 minutes of pushing, the baby was out and here.

Kadesha: Woo hoo!

Aneesa: Dr. Acharya lingered around. He stayed, and he took pictures with us.

Kadesha: Oh wow!

Aneesa: I was freezing after I had the baby. He went and got the warm blankets for me and covered me. I was really impressed by that. He didn’t ask the nurse to do it, which would’ve been totally appropriate, you know? It was nice.

Knowing What You Want

Kadesha: Well I delivered at Rush, which you guys know. And I think I chose Rush just because it’s home for me. I was born at Rush; I was there for my godchildren who were born at Rush; my mother, any surgery or medical care she’s needed has been at Rush; my first son was born at Rush; and Sharon, the nurse who was my doula for my first pregnancy, she’s a nurse at Rush. So I was just like, ‘I’m going to Rush. That’s it.’

Aneesa: She’s the one that recommended Dr. Acharya, right?

Kadesha: She recommended your OB, Lauren’s OB, and my OB. She recommended everything that we did. She is the expert on having babies, and because I knew she would be there, that made me more comfortable. And she asked her nursing colleagues to look out for me, which I appreciated.

You know, Rush is just comfortable. I know how to navigate their campus, I know where to park, I know where to go eat. It’s just a comfortable space for me, and I think when you’re having a baby, there’s already so many unknowns, I didn’t want my environment to be another unknown, so I just wanted to go where I was comfortable.

Like you, Lauren, I like a teaching hospital. I actually like chatting with the residents and learning about their goals, asking them why they want to deliver babies and things like that. I think that’s fun. I like having other people my age around too, so that was always good.

Then, when I got to the hospital, I went for a non-fetal stress test because I had gone past my due date. Basically, they were like, “You’re not going home. We’re delivering this baby tomorrow.” And I was like, “OK.” I guess my amniotic fluid was getting low, so Dr. Acharya was like, “I’m coming home from vacation.” He was in Wisconsin with his wife, who I felt terrible. But he was like, “Nope, I’m coming in. We’re going to do the c-section tomorrow.”

It was so funny, the next morning when I woke up to do my c-section, you know I did my makeup first because I was not about to be in the OR looking crazy. There was this whole team of nurses and residents that came to get me in my room. They were like, “OK, are you ready?” I’m like, “I’m ready!” We were walking down the hallway, and I promise I felt like Floyd Mayweather walking to the ring because I had this whole team of people behind me, cheering for me, talking about, “You’re gonna do great! Your eyebrows look fabulous!” And I was like, “Wonderful.”

Then we get in the OR, and Dr. Acharya is in there, and he’s in there laughing and giggling. He’s high-fiving my husband. He’s just really happy and excited about something that he does every day.

And I asked him, “How many c-sections have you done?” And he told me his first c-section was in 1973, before I was even born. I’m like, you clearly do this. It put me at ease to really see how comfortable he was in the OR. He was laughing, joking, whatever. I guess it’s supposed to be a very serious thing, but the fact that he was so at ease, put me at ease, and I really appreciated that.

I remember with my first son, in the same hospital, the thing that I remember most was Chad. Chad was the anesthesiologist who did the epidural while I was in labor. Chad was wonderful.

Lauren: I think Chad did mine actually.

Kadesha: Chad did yours too?

Lauren: Chad did do mine. Chad and I are buddies because he could not find the right spot for my epidural so he and I spent a long time together.

Kadesha: Chad is wonderful.

Lauren: That’s so funny.

Kadesha: I labored with my first pregnancy, and he came in like, “Let’s take you down off this cliff here.” And I’m like, “Thank you goodness.” He was rubbing my shoulders. It was great. That was my experience.

I liked it. I would definitely go back to Rush. The food wasn’t great, but it was fine. I think the one thing that really stood out to me were the nurses. They were so hands-on, so caring. Service was excellent. They got you whatever you needed. Even just them sitting and chatting with you for awhile in the middle of the night when you can’t sleep was helpful. I appreciate that.

Anything else about your hospital stays?

Expressing Gratitude

Aneesa: What I will say about my hospital stay is that I was so impressed with all the doctors, the on-call pediatricians, that it actually persuaded me to explore options for my oldest son and obviously the new baby in terms of changing pediatricians and looking at doctors that are affiliated with their practice.

Lauren: The one thing that was really helpful for me was the same nurses—and I know that this is a product of scheduling—but the same nurses were on with me the whole time that I was here in the hospital at Northwestern, which was nice.

I had the same—Connie was her name—and she was there the whole time. She obviously went home during the day, but she was with me night after night, and that’s when the struggle gets real, at night. She stayed on until the day I discharged because she wanted to make sure she had everything I needed, and she left. I think that was amazing.

Then I had a question, and I called back to the nurses station after I was discharged, and she was there. I was like, “Do you remember me?” And she’s like, “Of course I remember you! You just left!” It was great to have somebody who was familiar with me. We had spent so much time together that it was like we were friends. I was like, “I’m not a nut. Can you just answer my question please?” And she was like, “Of course! Call me back if you have anything else.”

That was nice to have a connection point where you could call back. I mean, you can call your doctor anytime, but it was nice to have a nurse that was just available.

Kadesha: You know what? One other thing just came to my mind about the nursing staff at Rush is that I appreciated that they let me recover from my c-section at my own pace. Anybody who knows me knows I do not like being down for the count. I do not like being out of the game. I wanted a quick recovery from this c-section.

I’ve read all this stuff about what you can do, and one of the things they say is to try to walk, that night after the c-section, at least walk to the bathroom. And they were very open to that. I told them I did not want a catheter. I want to walk. I want to try to be up and mobile as soon as possible. And they were like, “OK, let’s get the patient technicians. Let’s get a couple extra nurses. see if we can get you out of the bed, see how we can dose your pain medications so that you’re not completely zombied. You’re able to still be coherent and try to walk around.” I love that they respected that and worked with me on that. I definitely have heard of experiences where sometimes the nursing team is like, “Oh no, you need to rest. Oh no, you need to do this.” In this case, they really listened. They were like, “OK, you want to try to walk? Let’s make it happen.” So I appreciated that they were good about that.

Lauren: Yeah, I don’t think you can say enough to me about the nursing staff. I mean, I think the nursing experience that you have when you have a baby is the thing that sticks with you for the longest.

For me, you’re someone who likes to get up and go. I don’t really. I kind of know what I like and what I don’t like as a patient, and I’m somebody who’s about discretion. I don’t really want a bunch of people in while I’m not dressed. I don’t need my husband to see every nook and cranny of the post-surgery experience. Keep some of that mystery alive in our marriage.

The nurses worked with me on that stuff. I just had to feel comfortable, and the nurses—like how you—this is what I want to do. Can you just help me do what I want to do, and I will do what you need me to do to recover? We’ll meet in the middle. That partnership—that patient-nurse partnership is so important to me. It was like, after a c-section, they cut you in half, they take the baby out, put your organs back in, and they sew you up. It’s painful and it’s messy, and it’s all this other stuff. But the stupid stuff is what matters to me in that moment.

Obviously, I need to be healthy, and the baby needs to be healthy. But stuff like—I don’t want people to see me nursing, and I don’t want my gown draped open when my dad’s in the room, that kind of stuff. So the nurses brought me extra gowns and extra clothing, and if I had to go to the bathroom, they helped me clear the room and get up in a way that doesn’t flash the world.

I’m just a discreet person, so they worked with me with that kind of stuff so that I could heal quickly and do what I needed to do in terms of recovery, but also maintain my sense of personal space and discretion, so that was really important to me.

Kadesha: Excellent. Yeah, definitely.

Read part 1 of this series here, and stay tuned for part 3 of this series, when the women discuss their hospital stays and the realities of breastfeeding.