Mom Tells Doctor She Has Postpartum Depression & They Call the Cops on Her

Mom and baby
Jessica Porten/Facebook

After a woman gives birth to a newborn, she's often pretty much left to her own devices to physically and emotionally recover. Despite everything that her body is going through, postpartum care is seriously lacking and many moms are forced to suffer in silence, thanks to the stigma around postpartum depression. Many people don't realize how hard it can be for new moms to get the care they deserve, and what happened to one woman shows just how much the system is failing those who bring children into this world.

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Jessica Porten debated not sharing her outrageous experience but decided to post it on Facebook in order to show the world how little support moms get from the current health-care system. She explained that after giving birth to her second baby, she didn't have her first OB/GYN appointment until four months later because they kept canceling it. "Which is inhuman in my eyes," she wrote on Facebook.

After finally getting to a day where they didn't cancel on her, Porten arrived to the appointment with baby Kira and was kept waiting for over an hour before being called back. "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."

Mom and baby
Jessica Porten/Facebook

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According to Porten, after she disclosed her struggles, the nurse rushed through her pelvic exam, barely spoke about medication, and then left the room because she "needed to talk to the doctor" about her postpartum depression. Here, Porten thought that she was finally going to get the help that she needed -- but the complete opposite happened instead. "They called the f*cking cops on me," she wrote. "They had a staff member sit with me for over an hour waiting for the police to arrive."

When the police showed up, they had to figure out how they were going to escort Porten to the emergency room because she had her baby as well as her car seat. "The cops can clearly see I'm of sound mind and that this whole thing is bullsh*t, so they allow me to drive to the ER with Kira in my car while one cop drives in front of me and one follows behind."

At the emergency room, Porten was assigned a security guard to "babysit" her while she was triaged and had blood drawn. "They take me to the bathroom so I can give a urine sample. They make me remove all of my clothes (including my flip flops, which they replaced with socks) and then take them away from me and lock them up," she wrote. By 10:45 p.m., Porten and her husband were finally seen by a social worker who declared that Porten didn't need to be put on a psychiatric hold, so the hospital processed her discharge.  

"Not once during all of this has a doctor laid eyes on me. Not once. Not even before they decided to call the cops on me," she wrote. 

Baby and dad
Jessica Porten/Facebook

The social worker handed her some papers that she deemed "good resources" for Porten and she was finally released. "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," she wrote. "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."

As Porten still processes all of the emotions that she's dealing with from being treated this way, she's hoping that speaking out will help others. "I am deeply hurt and upset, and above all angry and disgusted and disappointed by how this whole thing went down," she wrote. "Ladies and gentleman, our healthcare system."

After her post went viral, Porten shared in an update that she will not be taking any legal action against the California hospital or doctors for what happened. "I want this to spread far and wide so that awareness can be made. And then I want to fix this broken system," she wrote. "Because the fact of the matter is, even if I was mentally unstable, suicidal, and unfit to parent (which I am not), the way the situation was handled is not helpful to people. Let's do better."

Mom protesting
Jessica Porten/Facebook

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Porten tells CafeMom that she hasn't heard from the hospital since her story went viral and she's undecided on whether she'll stick to her OB/GYN practice. "I might stay with them to help them fix their systems and do some training," Porten says. "That particular office sees a lot of low-income marginalized communities, so rather than shutting them down or suing them, I want to be sure they serve our community better instead."

Now, Porten hopes to inspire others to be the change for all new moms who are neglected. "I am both amazed and humbled at the amount of support and solidarity from all of you wonderful people!" she wrote in another Facebook update. "I am happy to report that my family is happy, healthy, and safe, and I am getting all of the help I need. The help ALL mothers deserve."

To all of those who offered her free services and support, Porten has asked that instead they give that offer to a woman of color. "I may be marginalized as a woman, but I am white and heterosexual and hold privileges in these places. I am scared for our mothers of color and our LGBTQ mothers who seek out help in these situations," she wrote. "I encourage you to take actions to lift up the marginalized members of your community and use the hashtag #Action4Jessica to encourage others to do the same!" 

It's not just about "access" to postpartum care, Porten tells CafeMom. "I'd like to urge anyone who thinks they have PPD to tell something that they TRUST," she says. "And for a lot of people that's their doctor, and that's wonderful." But it's a serious problem that not everyone can turn to providers who have their back. "For too long, we have been talking about access to postpartum care," she adds. "We're expecting women to advocate for themselves, when we should be advocating for them. It's time for systems and protocols at a legislative level to take place."

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