“My Hemorrhage” – with Ruchie Langner and a Surprise Guest

Ruchie shares her story of delivering her fifth child. After two previous miscarriages, Ruchie chose a high-risk OB/GYN and took hormones through her pregnancy, but otherwise did not face complications. However, she began bleeding after the birth. She and a special guest discuss the decision not to perform a hysterectomy and what her treatment was like.

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Dr. Fox: Welcome to “High Risk Birth Stories” brought to you by the creators of “The Healthful Woman” podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Nathan Fox. “High Risk Birth Stories” is a podcast designed to give you, the listener, a window into life-changing experiences of pregnancy, fertility, and childbirth. All right, Rohi, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. It’s great to talk to you. I appreciate you taking the time to tell your story.

Rohi: You’re welcome.

Dr. Fox: So you got roped in by your daughter, right?

Rohi: I got roped in by my daughter, which is interesting because my daughter kind of lived the story. You know, her perspective is probably fascinating. I remember about three weeks before I delivered…I don’t know if you’re familiar with, you know, the parsha of the week, the weekly Torah portion.

Dr. Fox: Sure.

Rohi: So it was the parsha [inaudible 00:00:53] It’s the last portion in Bereshit. What’s Bereshit in English? Genesis.

Dr. Fox: Genesis, yes. Book one.

Rohi: So, [foreign language 00:01:03] the matriarch, Rachel, she dies in childbirth.

Dr. Fox: Right.

Rohi: And I remember Suri saying to me, “Ma, [foreign 00:01:09] died in childbirth.” I said, “Yeah.” She said, “That’s not going to happen to you. Right?” I said, no [foreign language 00:01:13] that doesn’t happen anymore today.” She was 8-and-a-half going on 9.

Dr. Fox: All right.

Rohi: And the thought that mommy wouldn’t come home just freaked her out, and I remember re-assuring her, “No, no, that doesn’t happen.” And then after the birth, I was a mess.

Dr. Fox: Wow.

Rohi: And she always says that she remembers my husband calling it…you know, it was a girl and then things fell apart afterwards.

Dr. Fox: So she remembers this?

Rohi: She remembers that, she remembers my mother-in-law was babysitting. She got very nervous and she sat the kids down and they all started saying [foreign language 00:01:41].

Dr. Fox: Oh my God.

Rohi: So she knew something was wrong.

Dr. Fox: Oh my God.

Rohi: I sometimes think the kids knew things were wrong before I did because I was just very weak and kind of out of it.

Dr. Fox: Wow, we’re we’re talking about the birth of your daughter Simi…

Rohi: Simi.

Dr. Fox: In 2002. And so Simi is your fifth child and Suri is the oldest? Right?

Rohi: My fifth child, and my youngest daughter. So if anyone remembers what happened that night the clearest, it would probably be Suri.

Dr. Fox: Yeah because she was…So she’s your oldest so…

Rohi: She was the oldest.

Dr. Fox: So thank God, you have eight children and we’re talking about…

Rohi: I have eight children, I’m very, very lucky, and four grandchildren.

Dr. Fox: Thank God.

Rohi: Those are very important.

Dr. Fox: Absolutely. And so Simi was born in December of 2002. And the doctor was Dr. Silverstein, of course, who our listeners now know.

Rohi: He was great.

Dr. Fox: He’s been on the podcast and you obviously know him very well.

Rohi: He is great, in a word he is wonderful. He’s the best.

Dr. Fox: He’s the best. So I want you to take us back to that pregnancy, right? So it’s 2002, or I guess potentially to end of 2001. So tell us, where are you in life? You’re married to Hashi, and…

Rohi: I’m married to Hashi, I have four children…

Dr. Fox: And at the time you’re in your 30s, right? Your early 30s?

Rohi: Right. I was about 33.

Dr. Fox: And you had four children. And how were those pregnancies like? Before this pregnancy, what were your pregnancies like?

Rohi: Before Suri was born, I had had two miscarriages. It kind of, sort of, corrected itself after the first pregnancy. I wasn’t making enough progesterone. So I was taking hormones, which back in those days was a very messy business. They were suppositories, you had to pick them up from the pharmacy, they had to be refrigerated. I was picking up at a pharmacy in Brooklyn, I lived in Lakewood. I was bringing dry ice and a cooler in my car because I was commuting to school. I was going for my master’s in speech. And I was going to school at Brooklyn College. But my husband was in [inaudible 00:03:30] Lakewood. It was just a big mess. You know, suppositories were the messiest thing ever, you can only get them in certain places, and I was also told to take a baby aspirin. Which Dr. Silverstein still laughs at me about, but I’m a big believer in my baby aspirin. Every pregnancy I took my baby aspirin religiously until my ninth month.

Dr. Fox: Right and you were not seeing Dr. Silverstein for the early pregnancies?

Rohi: No.

Dr. Fox: Okay. Got it. So he didn’t give you the baby aspirin. Right.

Rohi: I had used the same doctor for the first two pregnancies, and when the second one went wrong, he was like, he wasn’t sure I was devastated. I always…even as a child I loved children for years, I’ve worked as a speech therapist for the 0 to 3 population. I love kids and kids always liked me back. And I always wanted to have a large family. I was devastated. My mother had a very good friend who was expecting her first child right around when I had the second miscarriage. She was married for 40-something years. And it seems she had been miscarrying her whole married life. She went to this doctor and he said to her, you can still have a baby, and did. The boy’s name is Jonathan, and he is a miracle child. You know, you see this child, you make a [foreign language 00:04:39] on him.

Dr. Fox: Right.

Rohi: So my mother got…her name was Renee, Renee’s doctor. His name was Dr. Sher[SP], Jonathan Sher. Jonathan’s named after the doctor.

Dr. Fox: Sure.

Rohi: His sub-specialty was miscarriages. And he looked at me and said, “Oh, you’re easy. You’re an easy problem. We can fix this. You can get pregnant. You’re going to have a baby.” So I stayed with him for Suri, Zipporah. After Zipporah, the family switched insurance, and I had such aggravation getting my money back from Mount Sinai and the doctors and the insurance company after Zipporah. But I figured, okay…Dr. Sher was on his way to retirement. So I figured I’ll use a different practice. So I had used, I think his name was John Snyder at NYU, he came highly recommended. And I knew I wanted to use a high-risk doctor because, because of the miscarriages, I was always considered high risk.

Dr. Fox: Right. But your actual birth, like once you got pregnant, the pregnancy…

Rohi: My actual births were textbook. Once I got pregnant…okay, I stained a little with Suri, and it was a little awkward because my sister got married, and it was [foreign language 00:05:46] and I was staining and there was no way I was losing this baby. So they told me, stay off your feet. I sat in my seat the whole [foreign language 00:05:54], something was wrong.

Dr. Fox: Right.

Rohi: So I wasn’t getting up, I was not losing this baby.

Dr. Fox: Right.

Rohi: And [foreign language 00:06:01] thank God, I didn’t. But other than that, I’d vomit a lot, but not as badly as my daughter does. I managed to vomit and still gain weight.

Dr. Fox: Okay. After the two miscarriages, you had the four pregnancies, again, they were considered high risk, but the actual births were fine they were…

Rohi: Everything was pretty textbook.

Dr. Fox: They were normal births, pretty straightforward recovery for all of them. Your first three were girls, and then your son?

Rohi: Uri was interesting. I didn’t have a good due date for him, so they were in no rush to induce me. Uri was probably two weeks and change overdue. He was massive, he was an ounce shy of 10 pounds.

Dr. Fox: So there you are. Now this is your first pregnancy with Dr. Silverstein, right?

Rohi: Right. Because after I had…I used Dr. Snyder and then my luck, he didn’t wind up delivering any of my kids, because, with one of them, his father, his whole extended family was going back. His father had served on the Arizona, or had served on one of the ships in Pearl Harbor. They were taking a trip, his father and his uncle, there were two brothers together on the ship. He kept warning me, you know, “Have your kid on time because two days after your due date, I’m leaving.” And of course, the kid was not interested.

Dr. Fox: Right, okay.

Rohi: And then, I don’t know why I wanted to switch doctors. I can’t remember. I needed a high-risk doctor. I wanted to stay at NYU. I remember calling one of these doctor referral services. I was a speech therapist. I work Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. I needed someone who had office hours on Wednesdays. And that’s how I picked Dr. Silverstein because he came very highly recommended and he had office hours on Wednesdays.

Dr. Fox: Perfect.

Rohi: So I went to him with Simi, and he could tell you, was a textbook pregnancy. I vomited a lot. I was nauseous a lot. I had heartburn. I don’t gain crazy amounts of weight. My legs didn’t give me too much trouble way back then. My hips hurt, I don’t know, normal.

Dr. Fox: Yeah. Normal. I mean normal fifth baby. And so what happened at the time of delivery? You were past your due date, right? You were like a week past, I think?

Rohi: Uri was the latest, and then we started swinging back. So [inaudible 00:08:00.312] I think was born around his due date. Maybe it was early. Simi was still late. It was a Wednesday. I wasn’t feeling well. I had some, you know, family drama in the morning which didn’t help. And my husband kept saying, “Let’s go call the doctor. You’re in labor.” I kept saying, “No, we have to wait for the kids. It’s Wednesday. I pick them up from the school bus.” Because I wasn’t home the other days of the week, it meant a lot. “Mommy’s by the bus stop on Wednesday.” And Hashi’s like, “No we’re going to the doctor.” We had an engagement party that night, I was like, “We have to go.” He said, “Rohi, if we’re going to the doctor, we’re going now.” So we went. And he must’ve seen, you know, orthodox women, you know, you’re going to an appointment, you look like a human being, but you think going to the hospital and you’re not wearing a wig, you’re wearing your glasses, you look like a dishrag.

Dr. Fox: Right.

Rohi: So off we go to see Dr. Silverstein, and he says “Well, you know, you’re having contractions, you’re in labor, no baby yet.” We’re not having a baby now. So I turned to Hashi and said, “Good, we missed the bus stop. The kids are going to be upset. Let’s go. We have this engagement party.” And Dr. Silverstein says, “No, no I didn’t say we’re not having a baby today, I said we’re not having a baby now.”

Dr. Fox: Not in my office.

Rohi: He says to Hashi, “Take your wife to dinner and then come back.” I looked at him, I was like, “Take your wife to dinner? Dr. Silverstein, look at me.” I didn’t say that though. And he’s like, okay, “Let’s go out to dinner.” So we go to this fancy Manhattan restaurant. And I’m in my glasses, my snood, I feel like a complete idiot. And we go to dinner, and in the middle of dinner is like I said, “Hashem, we need to go back to the hospital. I really don’t feel well.” So, you know, we finish up. I don’t remember eating much of anything. I don’t remember where we went, but I remember it was a place that I like to go and had good food. And we tried to get a cab back to NYU, and we cannot. Cab after cab is passing us, and they’re all full. And Hashi keeps telling me, “Rohi, walk.” And I like to walk, and I guess on a normal day, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world to go to the hospital. And those days I could still walk when I was pregnant, that changed with the last three. But we can’t get a cab and some Orthodox guy on his way home from 47th Street pokes his head out of the sunroof of a spanking new white Lexus and says to Hashi, “Are you okay? Do you need help?” And Hashi is like, “My wife’s having a baby, please take us to NYU.” So we climb into the backseat, turns out I know these people, Hashi didn’t.

Dr. Fox: Oh my God.

Rohi: They were relatives of my father.

Dr. Fox: Oh that’s so nice.

Rohi: I’m sitting in the backseat trying to keep everything together.

Dr. Fox: Trying not to break your water on their new Lexus.

Rohi: See, when I’m in a lot of pain, I [inaudible 00:10:36.029] a lot. That’s how I deal with life. But when I’m really in pain, I get very quiet. Dr. Silverstein can tell you that too. And as we’re pulling out, as he pulls up right in the front of the hospital, Hashi gets out, you know, as Hashi always do, he gets out, he helps me out, and after leaning I say, “Thank you, Mr. Lipshitz.” He says, “Do I know you?” I said, “Sure, I’m [inaudible 00:10:52] daughter,Rohi.” “Is this Rohi? Oh my.” He panicked and he was like, he was about to come to the hospital with us. It was hilarious. It’s like, now that he knew us, he couldn’t leave us. I’m like, “No, no Lipshitz, the doctor’s waiting.” This whole time I’m thinking, great I’m gonna show up there, Hashi, this guy’s son, and Mr. Lipshitz, and he was like flipping out. In tow, this isn’t going to be pretty. So I convince him he can please go back to Brooklyn. I thanked him profusely. To this day, every time Suri’s mother-in-law, one of her best friends is Mr. Lipschitz’s daughter, her name is Schwartz now. And every time I see her, I tell her, your father is a hero in our house because otherwise, I would have had Suri on the streets.

Dr. Fox: That would have been bad knowing what we’re going to know soon.

Rohi: Yeah, it would have been a disaster. That was a disaster. So we get into the hospital and I’m really not doing well. And I say, I need an epidural. I needed it like three hours ago. So you know what it’s like. No one’s in any rush in the hospital, with anything.

Dr. Fox: Right.

Rohi: It’s like, I’m dying and everyone’s in exquisite slow motion.

Dr. Fox: Was Silverstein there already, did you see him? Because he’s never in slow motion. He’s consistently in fast-forward.

Rohi: What I love about Dr. Silverstein, you can always tell when he’s around because everybody’s laughing.

Dr. Fox: Yeah, and he’s loud.

Rohi: No, he’s funny.

Dr. Fox: He’s funny.

Rohi: He likes to make people laugh. He’s lots of fun because he’s funny. In Hebrew, we say [foreign language 00:12:11] like a joy…

Dr. Fox: The joy of life.

Rohi: Yeah, but it doesn’t sound good in English.

Dr. Fox: So you’re there. You’re waiting for your epidural, you’re in a lot of pain.

Rohi: I’m waiting for the epidural, I’m in a lot of pain.

Dr. Fox: Silverstein is keeping everyone happy.

Rohi: He met us there. You know, he said he was on that night. So he was there. We come in, they say, okay…so I’m getting my epidural, and I remember this so clearly. They had me like curl over, like a backwards letter C. He’s holding my shoulders down because I’m just not in good shape. And I kept saying, “The baby’s coming,” in this tone of voice. And of course, no one believes me. “The baby’s coming.” And he’s telling me, “No, don’t move, they’re almost done with the epidural.” They finally finished and let me…I keep saying, “The baby’s coming,” and lo and behold the baby was coming. Dr. Silverstein always says, “She says in a whisper, ‘The baby’s coming.’ And lo and behold, the baby’s in the bed.” I was like “I told you.” He’s like, “Yeah, but you didn’t scream and yell.” I said, “I was in so much pain, what was I supposed to scream with?”

Dr. Fox: Did you even get any of the joy of the epidural to…?

Rohi: Afterwards, it’s very good they put the epidural in because otherwise, I would have been in pain. My feet were locking because I had the baby and I don’t know what went wrong, or if they notice something is wrong right away, but I never got to hold her, until way, way, way later. Looking back, I remember saying, “The baby’s coming, the baby’s coming.” And after that, everything’s a little bit of a blur. I remember it was a girl. We knew it was another girl. Hashi called the kids, they were all excited. They wanted to speak to mommy. I don’t remember if I even spoke to them or not. He called his mother who was in my house. He called my parents, said it was another girl. And I’m thinking, oh God, now it’s going to be battle royal what we’re naming this child, but that’s a different day’s headache. I’m not sure when things started falling apart, but I think they’ve started falling apart relatively quickly. I am assuming Dr. Silverstein could tell you.

Dr. Fox: Well, it’s interesting. It’s funny you should mention that, Rohi, because someone just walked in and I have a surprise guest for you. Say hi to Dr. Silverstein.

Rohi: Hi.

Dr. Silverstein: How are you?

Rohi: I am fine. Suri is making me tell my story.

Dr. Silverstein: I do appreciate that. And there are so many stories. I mean the stories that you’ve told me in the office about how, despite having a house full of kids, you’re making cookies in the shapes of Hebrew letters.

Rohi: Oh that was for someone’s birthday.

Dr. Silverstein: You never came into my office without a pastry. There was babka the last time.

Rohi: Oh because it was [foreign language 00:14:41]. I like to bake.

Dr. Silverstein: And when you’re done telling this story about donating some blood to the floor at NYU medical center, remember the conversation we had, “That’s it, after this, this is a message from Hashem, I’m not having anymore.” [crosstalk 00:14:58] and then you showed up and, “Oh, well, you know, we thought maybe one more,” and said, “Okay, that’ll be it,” [inaudible 00:15:04].

Rohi: Because I needed a name for my grandfather. You were angry. That’s the only time I ever heard you angry.

Dr. Silverstein: Was I ever angry with you?

Rohi: Yes.

Dr. Silverstein: One moment in my life.

Rohi: When you told me my options are a hysterectomy or this interventional radiology thing and I said, “Oh, let’s do the radiology because I want another baby,” you were angry at me.

Dr. Silverstein: Well…And I’m sure you haven’t gotten to this part of the story yet.

Rohi: No, you got angry at me, the first time in my life I’ve ever seen you angry.

Dr. Fox: I’m here to break up the fight here. So wait, let’s get…

Rohi: No, no fight…

Dr. Fox: Let’s get…

Rohi: So I was saying I don’t know when things went bad. I said they must have gone bad pretty early on because I never held Simi that night. The night before we went to radiology.

Dr. Fox: So Mike, what happened?

Dr. Silverstein: Just, it was never a hemorrhage. There was never an excessive amount of bleeding. There is the amount of bleeding you expect to happen right after a baby comes out. But usually it diminishes after 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, and it didn’t, it just kept on coming out at a steady flow. So we’re never in a desperate situation, but something had to be done. Now, some people with a large family would say, “Enough is enough. Get rid of the uterus, I don’t want to bleed anymore.” But we opted for, you know, a uterus preserving effort, which turned out to be just fine.

Rohi: Right. Because I had three little boys, well, not so little anymore.

Dr. Fox: Wait. So Rohi, when this was happening, and you’re being presented with, you know, you’re bleeding, you’re bleeding, was it a frightening moment or was it just a shocking moment? What was it like for you at the time?

Rohi: I remember being kind of out of it. My feet were up in the stirrups and at some point they started cramping. I remember my legs hurting and I remember the nurse every few minutes saying, “Rachel, Rachel, are you there, are you okay?” I really wanted to strangle her, “I was like, “Who is Rachel? There is no Rachel in this room.” Rohi, my name is Rohi.” But I just said, “Yeah, I’m here, where do you think I went?” And I was so weak, I couldn’t open my eyes and they kept trying all sorts of stuff. And I just was like listening with half an ear thinking, something really isn’t 100% right. But I’m like too out of it to really figure out that something really isn’t right.

Dr. Silverstein: When you’ve left half of your blood supply on the floor of the labor room, it does leave you a little bit less than alert and a little bit less than aware. So I believe we all were trying to make sure that a very important part of your body, your brain, was not deprived of oxygen. And so that’s why we kept on talking to you like that.

Dr. Fox: What does Hashi say about all this? What does he tell you that he remembers from this event?

Rohi: I’d say Hashi must’ve been a bit of a roller coaster. You know, you have a new, beautiful baby. Everything’s great, and I don’t think he realized things were wrong. They sort of told him to leave because I guess the bleeding wasn’t stopping. I don’t think realized something was very not right until you…Dr. Silverstein came to speak to him.

Dr. Fox: Right. And your mom got involved in this? Right?

Rohi: Hashi figured that if, you know, I’m bleeding out on the table, maybe my parents have a right to know something’s not right.

Dr. Silverstein: And the most remarkable part for me was when we finally get down to invasive radiology, we’re inside a room that’s inside a suite that’s inside a locked up part of the hospital that’s like the inner sanctum of invasive radiology. And we’re getting all set to do the procedure. And I look up and said, “Who’s that woman? And how did she get in here?” “Oh, that’s my mother.”

Rohi: My mother was fearless, and she never, ever took no for an answer, ever.

Dr. Fox: She actually burrowed through the concrete walls to find…

Rohi: Oh, she just probably just strolled through it and everyone figured she must belong here, and no one bothered her. The hospital’s…It’s different today, everyone’s much more security conscious than they were 18-and-a-half years ago.

Dr. Fox: That’s what mothers are for, that’s what they do. So ultimately, as far as I understand it, a decision had to be made whether to do a hysterectomy, or whether to try other things. And you wanted to try something other than a hysterectomy.

Rohi: I didn’t want a hysterectomy.

Dr. Fox: Got it.

Rohi: I remember two things. First of all, I remember Dr. Antoine. I remember Dr. Silverstein, you’re always calm and cool and collected, but you must have been trying a lot of stuff that didn’t work. I remember you asking someone, “Who else is on the floor tonight?” And someone said, “Dr. Antoine’s here.” I remember you saying, “Oh, Dr. Antoine, I want to see him.” Because a lot of people in the neighborhood used him as a doctor and thought he walked on water and he was incredible, including my sister-in-law and her twin sister, and a number of their other siblings. And I realized something is really wrong with me. When he came into the room, I couldn’t get my eyes open. I remember thinking, I really want to see this guy, Rohi, open your eyes, and I couldn’t. At that point, I realized something’s really not good.

Dr. Fox: And so, ultimately, you all decided to do the uterine artery embolization by the interventional radiologist?

Rohi: Yeah, because I was not going to consider having a hysterectomy. And what’s interesting is I told the doctor something, and Hashi said, “Well, you can’t tell this to my wife because she’s going to say whatever.” And we actually said the same thing from when I was pregnant with my first child, I wanted a little boy to name from my maternal grandfather. I may have had a crazy relationship with my mother, but I was exceptionally close to her parents. They were amazing people, and for whatever reason, my oldest…Ashkenazic families, you know, every person has their own tradition. So the first name goes to the girls’ side. The second name goes to the boys’ side. And then somehow it peters out depending on how easy or not easy the in-laws on both sides are. My parents were the opposite of easy. So for whatever reason, I never wound up naming a boy for my grandfather until my sixth child.

So when Dr. Silverstein layed my options out for me, one of which is hysterectomy, I said, “No, you can’t do that. I need a boy to name for my grandfather.” And that’s when you got angry at me. You said, “Look at me.” I could barely get my eyes open. He said, “Look at me.” And I managed to sort of open my eyes and look at him. He said, “I just delivered a little girl here tonight. My job is to send you home to raise her, forget about the next kid.” I’m like, “No but I don’t want to.”

Dr. Fox: Wow, so…

Rohi: The only time I’ve ever seen Dr. Silverstein upset.

Dr. Fox: Mike, what do you remember about that?

Rohi: I guess you were right and made such an impression on me because I said, “Hey, you know, I need to raise my children, and that’s the most important thing. Forget about, you know, the theoretical children down the line.”

Dr. Silverstein: It’s all about what we tell our patients is that our goal at the end of your pregnancy is to get to the hospital in one healthy piece and leave in two healthy pieces. And at that point in the bleeding process, it was a very difficult decision to make about whether a conservative approach would be successful at keeping you alive and well and healthy to go home. And so I thought that the more prudent thing to do would be to put an abrupt stop to the bleeding. But since it was never, as we said before, a hemorrhage, it was certainly reasonable to try the conservative thing that we did, and we did that and it worked, and you came back, and then you came back, and then you came back.

Rohi: Yeah, I came back again. But what’s interesting, again, not mentioning the part where the guy who showed up, his name is Hillel Brick, he was not on call that night.

Dr. Silverstein: And your community got in touch with him to make him come in?

Rohi: No, he said you did. 

Dr. Silverstein: Oh, I have  more connections than I’m even aware of [crosstalk 00:22:41.387].

Rohi: I heard that from…The nurses are terrible gossips. I went back to labor and delivery after this, remember? And the nurse says to me, she says, “Oh, you were the plane crash.” I’m like, “Excuse me?” And that you had pumped me full of all kinds of fluids to make the bleeding stop. I could barely open my eyes and look at her because my eyelids were swollen. And she said, “Oh, last night…” she tell me, “we had a car crash, a train wreck, and a plane crash. And you, honey, were the plane crash.” I’m like, “Oh, that’s nice.” I guess that’s how they ranked things in severity. I remember thinking, who are you? Aren’t you supposed to be a nurse? You’re not, you know, the National Transportation Board. I was like, we’re in a hospital for heaven sake. And then she proceeded to tell me the hospital version of what went on. She said the clerk was calling these radiologists in, and whoever was on call didn’t want to come in. And then she called the next two people on the list and they said, “We’re not on call, what do you want from us?” She said, “Dr. Silverstein himself picked up the phone and said to these guys, ‘One of you better come in because otherwise, this woman is going to sue the pants off of you.’”

Dr. Fox: This is great. I’m having so much joy hearing this story.

Rohi: Like I said, nurses are terrible gossips.

Dr. Fox: I get to see Mike’s facial expressions while…

Rohi: What’s he doing?

Dr. Fox: He’s very…Wonderful memories, just wonderful memories, but it worked.

Rohi: I’m sure. But he must’ve been pretty freaked out. He’s like, “This is what we want to do and whoever is supposed to show isn’t showing.” Now, with a name like Hillel, you realize he was Orthodox Jewish. He came, he said I’m on call next week because I’m the only Jewish person in the practice, and I don’t care about working over Christmas.”

Dr. Fox: Right, right.

Rohi: But he came anyway. He came in this puffer down jacket and high top sneakers, and from far away he looked like a kid.

Dr. Fox: I’ll tell you, you know, from the doctor’s side, number one, it’s very stressful when your patient’s bleeding like that, and you’re trying to make these decisions, do I do a hysterectomy, do I not? Like, you know, she doesn’t want it, but you know, obviously, we don’t want anything to happen to you. Fine. And then it’s also very stressful when you have a plan that we made…

Rohi: And it’s not working.

Dr. Fox: And it doesn’t happen…not that it’s not…yeah, it’s not working logistically.

Rohi: No, it’s not working because the guy won’t show up.

Dr. Fox: Whatever it is, the elevator is too slow, or the bed doesn’t move, or you can’t find this medication, or this person’s not there, or that person runs away, it can be very, very stressful. It’s almost always in the middle of the night. Right? These things never happen at noon. They always happen, you know, at some crazy time at night and it’s…Yeah, but so thank God it happened. And was it pretty clear pretty quickly that it worked? I mean, Mike, was it something like, we’re done? Like, it’s good?

Dr. Silverstein: Well, we did keep her on the labor floor overnight. 

Rohi: I got a blood transfusion.

Dr. Fox: Yeah, you got a blood transfusion, that I know, but in terms of like the bleeding slowed down pretty quickly.

Dr. Silverstein: It was a very impressive response. I was very glad to hear that, very glad to see that.

Dr. Fox: Rohi, what was your recovery like after that? I mean, was it much longer than typical? Were you, like, kind of beat up from that experience?

Rohi: I remember when Dr. Silverstein discharged me from the hospital, he asked me how many flights of steps are there in my house. I remember looking like, “Why do you want to know?” He said to me, you have to take the steps from, you know, the bedroom floor to the main floor…” God, I sound like I live in a palace. It’s Brooklyn, houses are small, but they’re…

Dr. Fox: They’re vertical.

Rohi: They have a lot of floors. They’re vertical, we go from the basement to the attic.

Dr. Fox: Right. It’s like you take like a shipping container and you turn it on its side, you know?

Rohi: Yeah, exactly. And then you carve up as many bedrooms, and every last inch gets used for closet space no matter how irregularly shaped or out of the way it might be. No, but he just said, “Do the steps once a day.” And I was like, “Okay.” Coming home, I was…the expression in Hebrew is [foreign language 00:26:30]. I was like a limp washrag. I just had no energy. I mean, these days I’m pretty much [foreign language 00:26:39] but in those days, I was very energetic.

Dr. Fox: Rohi, say goodbye to Dr. Silverstein. He’s going to go back and see patients and we’re going to finish up, you and me. What do you…?

Rohi: Well, thank you so much for coming by, and thank you so much for being my doctor.

Dr. Silverstein: Honored to, and honored to keep being your doctor. Regards to Hashi, and the kids…

Rohi: Will do.

Dr. Silverstein: …and the grandkids. And it’s always a pleasure to see them coming through the office. Thank you so much for sending them.

Rohi: Great, thank you.

Dr. Fox: Take care.

Rohi: Have a great day and a happy and healthy summer.

Dr. Fox: What a nice surprise. So your recovery, you’re home, you’re…

Rohi: So I came home, and they kept me in the hospital an extra day. Simi was born, it was a Wednesday night, I stayed in the hospital over [foreign language 00:27:15] which is a little crazy because Hashem trying to manage on his own with the kids and they were a little freaked. They had come to visit me back in labor delivery, which was odd. Why was I put back in labor delivery?

Dr. Fox: I assume so you can be monitored closer. There’s more nursing on labor and delivery. You know, each nurse has one patient or two patients, whereas in the postpartum, each nurse has six patients or seven patients or something like that.

Rohi: So the kids came there and my face must’ve been pretty swollen, and I couldn’t close my hands. So they left the hospital more freaked out than anything else. I didn’t come for [foreign language 00:27:49] mommy is going to be in hospital two days. Suri is very smart, and very together. And when I didn’t come home Friday, it was a problem. So we keep preparing the mommy’s going to be home after [foreign language 00:28:00]. I don’t remember if I came home Saturday night or Sunday morning, but I do remember it was Sunday morning. I have a sister she lives in Montreal now, she lived in Israel. It was hard to get ahold of people in the hospital, and the whole family was worried. It was Sunday. The baby nurse was with the baby, and she was resting, the kids were out, I don’t remember who took them, and Hashi just was so wiped out, so he just crashed.

I remember thinking I was hungry or thirsty, that I was going to go downstairs and get myself something to eat. I walked down the steps. The kitchen is the back of the house. The steps are towards the front. I barely managed to drag myself into the living room and just got myself on the couch. It was like, “Oh my God, this is terrible.” And that’s when my sister calls me. So I picked up the phone and I can’t catch my breath. And she’s like, “Rohi, what’s wrong?” I’m like, “I know, I was hungry. I wanted to get myself something to eat. So I came downstairs and this is me.” She hung up the phone and called Hashi, who of course turned his cell phone off.

Dr. Fox: Right.

Rohi: Frantic that I need to go back to the hospital because I sound terrible. That’s when I realized, he asked me how many flights of steps in the house. I couldn’t move.

Dr. Fox: Smart guy.

Rohi: Well, you know, he told me once a day, and oh my God, the first like month, he wasn’t kidding. I couldn’t do anything. It was awful.

Dr. Fox: Did you have any difficulty, like, emotionally? Was it, you know, the fact that it was, you know, scary, the fact that you almost had a hysterectomy, the fact that you could have died, you know, all of these things, or was it just like, “I’m home, I’m okay,” and that was behind you?

Rohi: I remember being so grateful, thinking that I’m so lucky that I’m like, oh my God, had I been born in a different century, I would be dead and someone else would be raising my children. And the fact that I didn’t have a hysterectomy, I didn’t realize at the time how grateful I should be for that also because then this, you know, we also have crazy birth stories, get enough of us together. I have heard two other stories like mine, but both of them gave birth in Maimonides here locally and there was no interventional radiologist to do anything. And both of them never had children afterwards because they both had hysterectomies. I just remember being so grateful thinking that God has been so good to me because I could have died. And I didn’t, and I now have five beautiful children. I don’t know. I remember thinking like I’m a new person almost, and that I should just realize how much I have to be grateful for. It sounds sappy, no? But that’s kind of how I felt.

Dr. Fox: It’s not sappy.

Rohi: I felt overwhelmed somehow.

Dr. Fox: It’s not sappy, you went through an event that you almost lost your life and you got out of it okay. And not only did you get out of it okay, but you have this beautiful, healthy baby at the same time. And sure, I mean, you’re, you’re thankful. Listen, you’re glad to be alive.

Rohi: I remember thinking that I’m so lucky that I had a great doctor. I was in a good hospital and then I’m here to raise my family. It was horrible being very weak. Like I said in my letter, you know, that little list that I sent you, yeah,it was pretty horrible to be in bed after the delivery. I don’t know anyone who’s done that, and I was in bed for months. I was a completely nonfunctional human being. I mean, it just was the point where the kids had homework and they had school. We did everything from mommy’s bed, I had like pencils and crayons and erasers and anything that we needed, the scissors and glue, and anything you needed that the kids needed for schoolwork was brought up, you know, in my night table.

Dr. Fox: How long until you felt yourself, how many months did it take?

Rohi: I always joke,I came out of bed to make Passover, to make pesach for the first time.

Dr. Fox: This was like three months?

Rohi: About three months, yeah.

Dr. Fox: Wow. And do your kids all know this story? Like, have you told this to the family, you know, now that obviously at the time, most of them were very young, and obviously you’ve had kids since then, but is this something you’ve told that, you know, [foreign language 00:32:00] table, all around so they all know this story?

Rohi: I don’t they know all the details, but they know that…

Dr. Fox: They do now.

Rohi: …something went terribly…Oh, well, they will if they listen to this. They know something went terribly wrong having Simi because my husband, at some point, woke up and realized, oh my God, he’s got four daughters, that means four son-in-laws, four-son-in-laws who are not gonna listen to a word he is gonna say. And there’s no way his daughters are…Most of the young couples in our neighborhoods tend to live in Lakewood. And there used to be this really fifth-rate little hospital within Lakewood proper. I never was there because I…It was called Paul Kimball, from what I understand the hospital closed. But a lot of people were delivering there, and God help you if something went wrong. And Hashi’s like, “Oh my God, my son-in-laws are gonna wanna deliver in Paul Kimball. I’m not letting it.” So I said, “Well, you can’t do anything about your son-in-laws, but you can work on your daughters.”

Dr. Fox: Right.

Rohi: So Hashi was adamant, you know, “You need to go to a good doctor in a good hospital.”

Dr. Fox: Right.

Rohi: You know, when I was pregnant with Simi, it was my fifth kid. The other four deliveries were really textbook. A couple of women in our shul were pregnant at the same time as me. And I remember…Where was I sitting? And she says to me, “Oh, you’re still going to the city?” I said, “Yeah, I’m consider high risk. Everything’s been fine, but I’m just nervous.” She said, “Oh man, been there done that. I don’t have the time. It just takes too long.” And she was right because between the school buses and the kids’ homework and Wednesday was my one day free, I could see why she wouldn’t have wanted to go to the city anymore. And I’m very grateful that Hashem, you know, that God put into my head that I’m nervous that I still want to go to the city because had I had my baby in Maimonides, it’d be no [foreign language 00:33:46].

Dr. Fox: What was it like in the next three pregnancies, were, you much more nervous than in the prior pregnancies because of what happened at least during pregnancy, during delivery, or were you confident that it’d be okay because again you had the same team?

Rohi: Well, I desperately wanted a little boy from my grandfather, so I was going to have at least one other child. Right? And God should be merciful, it should be a boy for everybody’s nerves. Dr. Silverstein once said something to Suri, she came home and said, “Ma, he has our family completely backwards.” And I said “Well, what’d he say?” He said that you’re out to lunch and [inaudible 00:34:20] is the one with his feet on the ground.” I said, “Okay, I’m not really out to lunch.” Although when you see me, I have so many balls up in the air, and juggling so many things I look…the Yiddish word is [foreign language 00:34:31]. I always look a little flustered. Like, I have so many things to do, but I can tell you exactly where everything is…

Dr. Fox: Right.

Rohi: …and what’s supposed to happen with it.

Dr. Fox: Right.

Rohi: I don’t know, I guess because I wanted to have another baby. I just decided I’m having another baby, and I really don’t care. Hashi was very, very, very, very nervous, really nervous. And then were sitting in traffic going to have Yoel, and Hashi was like, “Let’s flag down an ambulance. Let’s call 911.” And I said, to Hashi, “And where are they coming?” The place is a parking lot. No one’s moving.

Dr. Fox: Right.

Rohi: Short of calling a helicopter down, we’re not getting to the hospital any faster if you call an ambulance.

Dr. Fox: Right.

Rohi: He was very nervous. But when Yoel went, okay, he was a little less nervous with Yahuda. I mean, if we’re up to Hashi, we’d probably have two kids. But given the fact that Uri wasn’t a boy until kid number four, after Uri, he would have been done. He’s one of three.

Dr. Fox: You’re one of how many?

Rohi: Four.

Dr. Fox: Oh, okay. So yes. He’s one of three, you’re one of four. So of course, you have eight.

Rohi: Yeah. Doesn’t that make sense to you?

Dr. Fox: Yeah, well, you add them together and one for good luck.

Rohi: Yeah. Okay. I never thought of it that way.

Dr. Fox: That’s a good thing. Well, so looking back now, you know, thank God you said you have eight kids, and you said four grandkids?

Rohi: Four grandchildren.

Dr. Fox: Beautiful. What’s it like being a grandmother?

Rohi: Oh, it is the best thing in the known universe. Being a babbi is the best thing ever. I love being a grandmother.

Dr. Fox: It’s amazing.

Rohi: I love it.

Dr. Fox: You were talking about sitting around telling stories. Do you and your friends tell, you know, your war stories, so to speak, and tell your stories of your births? How do you…?

Rohi: Sometimes. Well, you know what? My friends all knew when something happened because I was laid up in bed for weeks. I couldn’t cook for myself. I couldn’t run my house. I mean, if I was able to do it over the phone, I’m a killer with a telephone. People, normally joke, “Hand Rohi a telephone, forget the computer, hand Rohi a telephone…” and I can just run the world.

Dr. Fox: Okay.

Rohi: But other than the telephone, I was useless. People were bringing me supper for months. People were sending [inaudible 00:36:39] for months. And this was the thing I liked the least about the whole business afterwards was that I’ve been very fortunate that I’d never been on the taking end the things. I’m always the one who was packing up, you know, [inaudible 00:36:55] someone in shul has a child or a friend has a child, you bring supper, it’s a lot of fun. You send like a 15-course meal so there should be enough leftovers for 2 days and you bring something, you know, for the kids for dessert, and you bring cut-up fruit that might make a snack, and you bring soup that someone can warm up for lunch tomorrow. And somehow being on the receiving end of all that, it’s very humbling.

Dr. Fox: Yeah. It’s a strange experience to get something from someone else.

Rohi: It’s a weird experience, and constantly because this went on for almost three months. They didn’t want to do the second blood…I had one blood transfusion in the delivery room, and my husband was surprised with how fast it was because his father had an anemia condition. I don’t remember what exactly his father had. He used to get blood transfusions. They take hours.

Dr. Fox: Right, when you’re getting it for like a chronic issue, they give it very, very slowly to lower the chance of getting a reaction. But when you’re getting it because you’ve just bled a lot, they have to give it quicker.

Rohi: And after I had the blood transfusion before I went to radiology was actually the first time I held Simi that whole night.

Dr. Fox: Wow.

Rohi: I remember thinking, poor baby, everyone’s ignoring you. This is awful.

Dr. Fox: Wow. So I have two questions for you looking back. The first question is looking back on all of this, this delivery amongst your eight, you know, looking back at your family, looking back at this birth, what do you take away from all of this?

Rohi: I’m lucky. And I come from a Hasidic family. I’m very into the concept of [foreign language 00:38:24] the merits of your grandparents. I come from…my mother’s a Teitelbaum. I don’t know if that means to you, but my mother is related to every rabbinical dynasty you could name with the exception of [foreign language 00:38:36] because [foreign language 00:38:37]. So I just look at it as my grandparents were watching out for me. I can’t say that I deserve this in my own merit. It was a miracle. I came home, I got to raise my child. I got to have three more children afterwards. This whole story…and every time I think about it, and I feel it now, of how overwhelmingly grateful I am that I was in a good hospital, that I was in the hands of a fantastic doctor. I’m a very, very fortunate person.

Dr. Fox: The second question I wanted to ask you is now that you’ve gone through the experience of being on a podcast, how do you feel now about Suri volunteering you to do this?

Rohi: Well, it wasn’t as bad as she made it out. She said, “Mommy, it’s going to be very painless. You have a very interesting story to tell.” She loves these podcasts. Suri works from home. And she’s a graphic artist. So she’s constantly on her computer, so she’ll put stuff on in the background. And Suri got into this a little because…What’s this morning sickness on steroids, what’s it really called?

Dr. Fox: Hyperemesis gravidarum, fancy word for throwing up a lot.

Rohi: So ever since she’s been trying to research that, you know, so she’s looking and all sorts of interesting places different ways to handle it. She found some kind of, I don’t know, coconut extract supplements she was taking with the last pregnancy that seemed to have helped. So she got into researching, you know, women’s pregnancy issues and she tripped over your podcast, and she finds it fascinating. And she’s telling me, “Mommy, you should tell your story. People should hear it.” Not quite sure why, but I guess everyone likes listening to horror stories and thinking, “Yay, that wasn’t me.”

Dr. Fox: I’m not sure that’s…Maybe that’s, “Woo, I’m not the one who bled.” Listen, I can tell you why I do this, why I enjoy listening to these stories, why I’m really excited about letting others listen to them. First of all, they’re just so interesting. These stories are fascinating. You learn about people, you learn about emotions. You learn about families. You learn about relationships. You learn about fear. You learn about joy. I mean, there’s so much you learn about, number one. Number two, everyone’s a personality. Everyone has got, you know, their take on it and you get to hear, sort of, different people’s perspective, but also all these lessons that we learn. So just, you know, from today, from your story, this idea about, you know, gratitude and about this idea that, you know, your grandparents, your ancestors are watching over you and that resonates with a lot of people. A lot of people feel that way.

Rohi: Well, anyone Hasidic [crosstalk 00:41:13] and it’s a big one.

Dr. Fox: Yeah they feel that way or just this idea that, you know, you can go through a very difficult experience in life, and when you come out on the other side, how do you cope with that? And some people, you know, cope with it in a way that they become more cautious. Other people cope with it that they become more grateful, like sort of what you’re describing, other people cope with it that they become the opposite. They become more daring because they want to like do more because life is short. And just to hear how people process these things and, “Is that how I would do it? What would I do? Would my family do if I had something like this?” People love hearing this. It’s fascinating. I love hearing it. And you know, we’re having more and more people listening. It’s not just women. It’s not just women who have babies. It’s everybody who hears these finds them really, really fascinating.

Rohi: Well, I guess the women without children maybe shouldn’t listen to all these horror stories. They’re gonna say never.

Dr. Fox: They’re not all bad, a lot of these stores are good.

Rohi: Oh, my story is good too.

Dr. Fox: Yeah, exactly.

Rohi: And Simi is this beautiful 18-and-a-half-year-old. I have three more children after that. I’m here to tell my story. So my story is good. It’s a little hair-raising, I guess. Hashi…I think it was more…you asked me what my husband felt like. I think it was much more nerve-wracking for my husband.

Dr. Fox: That’s common, that happens a lot. It’s not unusual for it to be more difficult on the people watching it than the people experiencing it. And that happens a lot. So I’m not surprised,

Rohi: You know, he kept saying they threw him out of the room at some point. And he kept trying to come back and the guy’s telling him, “No, come back later.” And he really…something has to be really wrong because that never happened before.

Dr. Fox: Yeah. Wow. Well, Rohi, thank you so much for taking the time and telling your story.

Rohi: Oh, it’s my pleasure. Like I said, I hope this story…If anyone walks away from my story with one thing, I want them to realize that, you know, we’re very lucky we take for granted people, you know, you go to give birth, you come home, you’re a relatively healthy mother, depending on how the baby got here, and a healthy baby, but that wasn’t the norm for many, many, many years. And I have friends who do home births. I think they lost their minds, honestly. It’s like, “You want to play Russian roulette with your baby, you’re nuts.” I think people should realize that having a baby, it’s a gift, God is entrusting you with a life, and you have to do your best to make sure this life actually gets here. You need to use a capable doctor [inaudible 00:43:42] and go someplace where if something is gonna go wrong, you can be helped.

Dr. Fox: Wow. Thank you so much.

Rohi: God, I sound preachy, don’t I? I’m sorry, but that’s what I really believe.

Dr. Fox: Hey, first of all, you’re a grandma, you can be preachy. That’s your job on earth now.

Rohi: No, I can’t.

Dr. Fox: You give advice.

Rohi: Grandmother’s job is to spoil their grandkids. No, you’re only allowed to give advice once you’re asked. You know, there’s a cute saying in Yiddish that when you become an in-law parent, you’re supposed to keep your mouth shut and your pocketbook open.

Dr. Fox: Yes, I know that rule. It’s a good rule, it is a good rule.

Rohi: So I’ve learned that I cannot give advice unless asked, and just because you were asked doesn’t mean they’re going to listen.

Dr. Fox: Right, well I asked you, so it’s good. This is [inaudible 00:44:21]. Well, thank you for coming on, this was amazing. I’m glad we spoke. I’m glad we got to get Dr. Silverstein here as well.

Rohi: Oh, the pleasure is mine, it was actually…Well, that was the best part. It was actually pretty painless.

Dr. Fox: Pretty painless.

Rohi: And I guess when Suri actually listens to this, she’ll let me know if I made a complete fool out of myself or not.

Dr. Fox: No chance. All right, Rohi, thank you so much.

Rohi: Thank you.

Dr. Fox: Thank you for listening to “High Risk Birth Stories” brought to you by the creators of “The Healthful Woman” podcast. If you’re interested in telling your birth story on our podcast, please go to our partner website at www.healthfulwoman.com and click the link for sharing your story. You can also email us directly at hrbs@highriskbirthstories.com. If you like today’s podcast, please be sure to check our “Healthful Woman” podcast as well where I speak with the leaders in the field to help you learn more about women’s health, pregnancy, and wellness. Have a great day.

The information discussed in “High Risk Birth Stories” is intended for information and entertainment only and does not replace medical care from your physician. The stories and experiences discussed in our podcast are unique to each guest and not intended to be representative of any standard of care or expected outcomes. As always, we encourage you to speak with your own doctor about specific diagnoses and treatment options for an effective treatment plan. Guests on “High Risk Birth Stories” have given their permission for us to share their personal health information.