Tressimee Thompson was a teacher before the pandemic, but COVID made her and her husband reevaluate their family situation. She decided to showcase her talents at home as a proud stay-at-home mom to her four children to be more efficient. She’s still teaching, painting, reading, and doing arts and crafts, just with a smaller class.
Each of her children, three boys, and one girl, are uniquely different, and so have her experiences giving birth to them. Tressimee’s labor experience with her second son sticks out the most. Unfortunately, her gynecologist wasn’t available when she went into labor. So she just went to a hospital knowing she would be with an unfamiliar medical staff, but feeling she would get her needs met.
“Different hospitals treat people in different ways,” said Tressimee, a biology major and Jackson resident. “With my first son, I felt like I was heard when giving birth to him. It was an easy labor. My doctor listened to me. This time I didn’t know I could go to a different hospital. I did not know that I could get a different doctor. So, I just went to that hospital and did what they told me.”
They didn’t tell her much. The medical staff initially blew off her concerns of pressing labor and excruciating pain and left her in a room for what seemed forever to Tressimee. When the doctor finally checked her, Tressimee was four centimeters dilated and in nauseating pain.
“The pain was terrible,” said Tressimee, a Medicaid recipient. “They told me to lay down in the bed, and I couldn’t get up at all. But I would keep sneaking to the bathroom to squat just to get some relief. I’ve since learned it’s not good medically to lie down to have a baby. It’s better to be in a natural position.”
They gave Tressimee an epidural to cope with the pain. It lasted for a while, but the pain came back. They gave her another one, but it only numbed her legs. She was in a lot of pain, but she still wanted to document the moment by having her husband record the birth as they had previously done, but the hospital told the family they couldn’t.
“I was in labor for 17 hours,” Tressimee said. “I felt like I wasn’t heard at all during the process. They just really brushed me off. No sense of urgency. I never felt my health was a priority in the situation.”
Prayerfully, she was released from the hospital with her baby two days later, but some of the traumas of not being heard and some of the hardships of motherhood lingered. Depression crept in and dangerously turned into suicidal thoughts. The prolonged feeling of sadness and helplessness led Tressimee to her next agonizing medical experience.
She spoke with her OBGYN about therapy and counseling for the anxiety and the emotional and mental problems she was experiencing. He was supportive and referred her to a nurse practitioner. The nurse practitioner agreed with Tressimee about her depression but only wanted to entertain medications.
“I didn’t want to take it, but I did,” Tressimee said. “The first time I took it, I started shaking uncontrollably. I looked up the side effects, and tremors were a side effect. The nurse practitioner told me to come back if the medicine didn’t work, and she would prescribe me something else, not therapy.”
Tressimee never visited the nurse practitioner again. She dealt with her issues the best she could on her own. It was six years before she made it to therapy.
“I feel like if she would have recommended the therapy, then my anxiety wouldn’t be as bad as it is now,” Tressimee said. “I didn’t want medication. I wanted therapy. I wanted to talk through my issues and learn how to deal with them. I didn’t want to suppress my feelings. I wanted to move through them. I wanted help getting through those thoughts.”
Tressimee does not feel like most Medicaid providers are as professional as they should be. Many do what they want instead of listening to their patients. Medicaid should be held to a higher standard to ensure quality healthcare. They should work harder to tell people how to get well instead of just giving them medication.
“Not getting that therapy that I needed back in 2017 really affected me,” she said. “It affected the way I interacted with my kids. I didn’t want to play with them. I didn’t want to talk to them. I just wanted to lay in bed some days, not wanting to do anything. I couldn’t deal with life sometimes. I feel like the lawmakers should listen to us and know what we need. Put more laws into effect with insurance. Just listen to us.”