St John’s Lutheran Hospital and Kalispell Regional Medical Center: FAIL!!! (Pic at the end of the post!)

I know I do not speak kindly about the health care in this little town and some who do not live here say I am “overreacting”. So let me share this birth story with you to give you another example of how horrible it truly is. Especially if they think you don’t have insurance.

History on Previous Pregnancies
Crystal’s first daughter was born at 37+ weeks. (I forget the number of day, I think it was 37 weeks and 4 days). Her contractions were never so bad that she couldn’t walk or talk through them. She labored and delivered with no meds, no hysterical scream or eye-gouging. If all labor and deliveries were like her’s, we’d all be like the Duggars and have 20 children. To compare, if all labors were like mine, the human race would go extinct.

History on THIS Pregnancy
A little history on this pregnancy. Crystal has had complications through this whole pregnancy. From water leaking at 29 weeks, to early contractions, infections, admissions to the hospital and more. I can’t remember all of it. She was put on Terbutaline but her insurance wouldn’t pay for it saying that it “wasn’t necessary”. I guess they’d rather pay for the hospital stay? The doctor called and got her on Nifedipine instead and the insurance agreed to pay for it after the doctor talked to them.

All was going well, for the most part, until about a week and a half ago. They got a letter stating their insurance had been cut off. They called and found out why, sent in the form and are waiting to get the reinstatment letter. The insurance said they would cover everything during the time it was shut off because it was an error.

So, on Nifedipine, she continued to contract but was able to make it to 37 weeks. The doctor told her she could stop taking the nifedipine.  And that is where this story starts…

Friday, April 6
My friend, Crystal, is 37 weeks pregnant. She starts having contractions 3-5 minutes apart. Her significant other takes her to the hospital. They check her and she is 3 cm dilated. They send her home and told her that when she is 4 cm they will admit her. She returns home, still contracting consistantly 3-5 minutes apart.

Saturday and Sunday she continues to contract 3-5 minutes apart and doesn’t sleep except for a passed out moment of 3-5 minutes here and there. Nothing significant as far as sleep goes.

She calls me on Sunday night and we chat about how she is doing. (We saw each other all weekend, but we talk a lot at night after kids are in bed). She says she is having bloody show, lots of mucus discharge and STILL contracting and can’t sleep through them. She wanted to wait until the morning because the sweetheart that she is, she didn’t want to drag everyone out in the night to be released from the hospital again and have everyone exhausted for nothing. I told her to call me AT ANY TIME! She said she didn’t want to wake me and I told her WAKE ME! This is worth missing sleep! She agreed and I dozed off feeling better about giving her permission to wake me.

Monday, April 9
Crystal calls me and I answered right away because I slept with the phone near my head, just in case. She said she was still contracting and miserable. She’s had no sleep, she couldn’t eat and she was exhausted. I love ya, Crystal… But she looked like she had been hit by a Mack truck when I got there. We grabbed the kids some clothes, dropped them off with a friend and headed to St John’s Lutheran Hospital.

They hooked her up to the monitors and she was contracting 3-5 minutes apart, 5 cm dilated and 70% effaced. She got excited! YEA! Active labor! But the Doctor wasn’t going to keep her. Funny, she was going to keep her when she had insurance… anywhoodles! She said to go home and come back when her water breaks. You know, I am not a doctor but even I know that not every’s water breaks right away. Some women’s water doesn’t break until the baby is coming out.

As Crystal got dressed, I stayed in the hall. I love my friends, I don’t want to see them naked though. I don’t love them that much. While I am out there, I hear the doctor telling the nurses she is NOT in active labor “she just really WANTS to be in active labor”. I have never gone past 4 cm and contracting consistantly without being admitted. I was a little confused.

What is Active Labor then?
Blog pause… What is active labor if not 5 cm, 70% effaced and contracting consistantly? Let’s google that!

This website says… “A standard rule is 5-1-1. Contractions are less than 5 minutes apart, 1 minute long, and have followed that pattern for at least an hour.” Check!… 3-5 minutes apart, 1 minute long and has lasted for 4 days. I think that counts. This will make your cervix dilate… check! And since Crystal could always talk and walk through contractions with her first, we weren’t really counting that.

But hey, websites can be wrong! Right? So here is another website description of active labor and another and another… oh but what the hell do they know. It’s the internet. So, on with the story…

Released from St John’s, going to Kalispell
I took Crystal to my house and frankly, I was calm on the outside, but inside I am freaking out and visualizing delivering a baby on my couch or in my car, on the side of the highway in an area with no cell phone coverage. I called my friend who had the kids and finally convinced Crystal to let me take her to Kalispell Regional Medical Center. It’s the hospital I go to unless I am about to die. She called Jared at work and he came right over from work. We stopped by their place and grabbed the hospital bag and carseat and headed to Kalispell.

She was checked into Kalispell Regional Medical Center Birthing Center and was 6.5 cm, 85% effaced and at station -1. They were all ready to admit her until they talked to Donna Smith, her doctor in Libby. I have no idea what the hell happened there. They ended up releasing her. Being so close to 7 cm, I was not about to drive back to Libby.

Second Trip to Kalispell Regional
After a nice walk through Wal-Mart (I was starving) and a visit with friends, she was still contracting and they were getting stronger. So we back to Kalispell Regional. They acted like we were crazy but decided to keep her overnight for “observation”. The discharge paper says “…due to contractions the patient found very uncomfortable.”

She labored all night long. I have to say, the nurse was awesome. Very kind. Once she realized that Crystal really was in labor and not just in “false labor” as they kept telling her, she gave her tips on how to help the baby get into position better, how to get a little more comfortable and kept a good eye on her. Crystal sat in the tub for awhile, sat on the birthing ball and walked a little. Still, she could always talk and walk through her contractions. There were a few times she had to pause during sentences to breath, but if that was me, I would have been screaming and wrapping my IV tube around someone’s neck. Crystal? Nope, she so calm and composed through the whole thing.

For a little bit, Crystal laid in bed and dosed off for 3-5 minutes at a time, waking up through contractions and breathing through them. At 6 a.m. they said she was 7 1/2 cm dilated, 90% effaced and fully engaged at stagoe 0. I was getting excited!

At shift change, Crystal got a new nurse. She was told to order something to eat and had breakfast. I was thinking “WTF!? They are letting her EAT???” Okay, so things probably changed since I delivered my three boys 13 years, 16 years and 21 years ago. But she was staying so I wasn’t worried.

Then the doctor came in and I’ll be honest, I instantly hated her before she said a word. She told Crystal she was 6 1/2 cm and she was sending her home. No mention of effacing or station. At that point, I had to step outside or I was going to kill someone.

The discharge paper says:

“She was checked multiple times… with no cervical change” (oh really?) and “Discussed with pt [can’t read this part] and understanding of how uncomfortable false labor can be. Offered her an ambien for sleep, as she reports no sleep for days (did sleep this a.m.). Pt does not want to take meds…”

False labor? Really? Hold that thought…

Released? Are you serious?
So she was released that morning. We sat in the car trying to figure out what to do next. I was REALLY not comfortable driving back to Libby at 7 1/2 cm, 90% effaced and fully engaged. I was mad, no… I was pissed, I was worried sick and I really wasn’t sure what to do now when Nikky called and screamed into the phone “TAKE HER TO WHITEFISH!” and told me about the hospital there.

Crystal insisted on going to Wal-Mart… and who am I to argue with the pregnant lady? So we went, got more food to eat and got her a drink, went tinkle and headed back to the car. The whole time she kept saying “I don’t feel good” and “I just don’t feel right”. We talked a little more about just heading home but in my heart, I just knew it was wrong. So I headed to Whitefish.

Fainting Mom and Why the hell did they release her???
On the way to Whitefish Crystal was talking up a storm in the backseat complaining about the hospitals and how her contractions were hurting and then… silence… I looked back and she was passed out, slumped over on the door and PALE… her lips and cheeks had NO color to them at all. I didn’t bother stopping since I could see she was breathing and could see her contracting… I also didn’t bother watching the speed limit. I figured they could follow me to the ER and give me a ticket there. That was the most nerve-wrecking drive ever.

She did wake up just before we got to the North Valley Hospital and walked in. The ER sent her straight to the Birthing Center. Once in the Birthing Center, she was barely coherent. She knew name but couldn’t remember how far along she was or when her due date was. Then she said “I feel like I am going to faint” and started swaying. The nurses ran to her and got her in the room.

We explained that she was at 7 1/2 cm, 90% effaced and station 0, then they changed that and released her and I was NOT driving her to Libby (and thank goodness I didn’t!) They looked at us with a WTF expression and then said they would see if her water was leaking. Her water was not leaking so they checked her. The nurse explained to us that she gives ranges instead of definite numbers… but her range is… ready for it… 7-8 cm. She was staying!

The doctor broke her water since… SHE WAS IN LABOR! and then went out to get changed into scrubs. (She kinda soaked him LOL)

Investigation and WELCOME ELIJAH!!!
Within an hour of breaking her water, the baby was ready to come out but since he was posterior positioned (facing the wrong way), the doctor got the baby turned around. Crystal, who didn’t scream or cry or kill anyone while in labor, only let out a couple cries during delivery. Nothing major. Not trying to break anyone’s fingers or punch anyone. Seriously, she did awesome. She must have the highest pain tolerance ever. He was born at 3:13 p.m. And only needed a little oxygen (aren’t you glad we didn’t deliver in my car on the side of the highway!) He cried beautifully and nursed very well.

Mom went from pale and sickly looking, like she was going to die… to full color and full of energy. Proud dad got to hold the baby! We were all so happy everything turned out okay considering the care (or lack thereof) that Crystal received.

Speaking of which… The doctor told us he had called Kalispell Regional and told them how disappointed he was with the care they gave her and there is now an investigation going into why they released her that close to delivering. I am very happy to hear that.

And now! Here is little Elijah…

THANK YOU! A huge thank you to the nurses, the doctor and the pediatrician at North Valley Hospital for taking such good care of Crystal and Elijah. Not just that, but they were there for my mini melt down out in the hall after Crystal was in her room. They did such a good job, I can’t even begin to say enough nice things about them.

Thank you North Valley! You guys are awesome!


I am that crazy lady that lives in the bell tower with all the bats. I keep blogging to keep what little sanity I have left.

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