A California mom who told doctors she was suffering from postpartum depression was confronted by police at an appointment with her obstetrician.
Jessica Porten saw OB staff four months after giving birth to her baby, Kira. Sharing her symptoms, she hoped to receive a treatment plan and support, but instead the clinic took drastic action.
Porten has taken to Facebook to share the devastating experience.
“I had an OB appointment yesterday … I went to the appointment alone with Kira. It was at 2:10, and I was not called back to a room until 3:15. A nurse practitioner comes in (one I don’t particularly care for) and I tell her everything my husband told them when he scheduled me the appointment a week ago. That I have postpartum depression that is manifesting in fits of anger, and I want to discuss my medication options,” she wrote.
“I tell them I have a very strong support system at home, so although I would never hurt myself or my baby, I’m having violent thoughts and I need medication and therapy to get through this. She rushed through my pelvic exam, barely spoke about medication, said she needed to talk to the doctor about my PPD, and left the room. … They called the f—ing cops on me.”
Two officers appeared to escort her to a nearby hospital. In ER, the new mom says she was “babysat” by a security and eventually told that she didn’t need a psych exam.
“Not once during all of this has a doctor laid eyes on me,” Porten said. “Not once. Not even before they decided to call the cops on me. The social worker hands me some papers and discusses the information in them, telling me she thinks these ‘will probably be good resources for you.’ … I leave the ER at midnight, my spirit more broken than ever, no medication, no follow up appointment, never spoke to a doctor.”
“This was a 10 hour ordeal that I had to go through all while caring for my infant that I had with me. And that’s it. That’s what I got for telling my OB that I have PPD and I need help. I was treated like a criminal and then discharged with nothing but a stack of Xeroxed printouts with phone numbers on them.”
The post struck a chord with many, racking in more than 32,000 shares and 11,000 comments since it was shared last week. Onlookers reached out to the new mom to share their disbelief.
“Omg I am so sorry this happened to you,” one commenter wrote. “This is a disgrace. I hope you find a real Dr. with kindness and understanding. My heart breaks for you.”
“I’m so sorry you went through this but wow… how strong you are to stand up and speak out against a COMMON insult to women,” said another. “As an RN, we know better. Yet over and over again, mental health or things unseen are STILL treated with ignorance as if we are ‘crazy.’ This I’m sure was not an easy to post. I hope your story and brings to light something that should no longer be happening to women.”
Porten told Parents.com that she has “mixed emotions” about the response. “It saddens me a little that so many people want me to sue or make the information of the doctor public,” she said. “I’m hoping that choosing not to sue, but rather change the system from within and educate the office so they can continue to serve our community will encourage others to live their life with understanding and compassion.”
In the post, Porten goes on to consider how other women in the same situation may be treated, sharing that while she may be “marginalized as a woman, but I am white and heterosexual and hold privileges in these places.”
“That what happened to me was not an isolated incident, and for many woman, especially women of colour and LGBTQ moms, the same scenario ends with them in a psychiatric hospital for a 72-hour watch, and their children with CPS (or their area equivalent). We need to end the disparity in healthcare that our marginalized communities receive,” she told Parents.com.
Here’s hoping Porten’s experience leads to more conversations around how we address mental health, for the one in nine moms who suffer symptoms of postpartum depression.