On August 25, 2017, Charissa VanDine headed to Summerlin Hospital in Las Vegas with loved ones to give birth to a son. What was supposed to be a happy day, however, turned out to be a horrifying, traumatic experience.
Inside the labor room, Charissa said she was hooked up to pitocin, a drug used to help the uterus contract, despite progressing on her own—and she continued to be given the drug until she was at max dosage. "Why? I’m not quite sure. They didn’t ask me if I wanted it and I didn’t ask why they were doing it. I walked into that place fully trusting my doctors and nurses to have mine and my baby’s best interests at heart and didn’t question it," she said. "Maybe I should have."
Charissa also claimed the nurses asked her multiple times if she wanted to get an epidural—which she had undergone already with her first baby and purposely didn't want for the birth of her son. One nurse even told her mom she thought Charissa should have an epidural and said she "had nothing to prove" by not getting one.
As she waited patiently for her baby's arrival, Charissa said she felt really good. "I was bouncing and rolling around on a yoga ball I had brought in, working through my contractions, eating ice chips, up laughing and talking with my husband, best friend and mom."
Then all of a sudden, at about 2 a.m., the on-call OB came in and manually broke her water for her without explaining why.
Things sped up and only got worse from there.
When her body began to prepare itself to deliver the baby, the nurses scolded her to wait for the doctor and to not push. "I kept telling them I could not control it and I wasn’t trying to. My body and my baby was ready. A nurse checked me and stated that she could feel my baby’s head inside the birth canal. I already knew … It’s not an easy thing to overlook," she said.
What followed when her baby's head started to emerge was the most horrifying part of all. "One of my nurses sat at the end of my bed, held her hand inside my vagina to physically block my baby’s head from coming out, and made me hold my legs shut. I was paralyzed with pain and fear. I was crying and begging them to let him out. I told them he was ready to come out," she said.
According to Charissa, the nurse forcibly held her son inside her for 10 minutes until the OB came in her room and let her deliver, and has timestamped pictures proving it all happened.
Son Archer was born August 26, 2017 at 4:30 a.m.
Ever since that day, Charissa said she's been in pain—physically, mentally and emotionally. "Painful intercourse, problems urinating, making bowel movements, digestive problems, excruciating abdominal and pelvic pain. I have lost sleep, missed work, [had] countless doctor visits [and] a few ER trips because I think I’m dying from the pain," she wrote. "I often need help just to take care of my own kids. I’ve had CTs, a colonoscopy, ultrasounds, pelvic exams. FINALLY, after months, it is decided I am suffering from pelvic floor dysfunction. On top of all that, I am also suffering mentally and emotionally. I now live with severe anxiety and PTSD centered around my children."
She shared that she's tried to take legal action, but had difficulty finding an attorney who would help. Still, she insists what happened to her was assault. "Labor and Delivery nurses are trained to deliver babies in the event that a doctor can not be present. There is no excuse or medical reason for this to be justified. This should not have happened."
By posting her story, Charissa hopes she'll be able to reach other women who have gone through the same experience. "I am speaking out in hopes that my story will encourage more moms to share theirs and advocate for themselves. I can only hope they have used better judgment going forward to prevent this from happening to somebody else. Childbirth should not feel like a traumatic event. It should not feel like a medical procedure done at the convenience of a doctor. It should not feel like a gross overstepping of boundaries. I am now paying for these mistakes in more ways than one, but what hurts me the most, is how lucky I am to still have my son, because babies have been killed or permanently disabled after going through what we did."
She also said, "Now looking back, I fully believe they were trying to rush me and speed things along, and bring my baby into the world at their own convenience."