What I Learned on the Day I Almost Lost My Daughter and My Life
I wish I could remember, but I can’t.
The day my daughter was born was one of the worst and best days in my life — a day that almost ended my life — and I can’t remember much of it at all.
After spending six weeks in and out (mostly in) of the hospital — I went into labor sometime after 1:00 a.m. on May 12, 2012.
I was in the hospital because of a severe case of placental accreta, which later turned into placenta percreta.
My daughter’s placenta implanted smack dab on my scar tissue from my previous C-sections and began to burrow through my uterus. She always has gone her own way!
This was detected early on in the pregnancy because I continued to experience light bleeding from about 4 weeks on. The problem was that since she was barely visible through ultrasound eyes, all we knew was that she implanted very low in my uterus and we would have to keep a close eye on where she went as she grew.
At 17 weeks gestation I had a massive hemorrhage on a school field trip with my high school freshman. I was admitted to the local hospital where I required several units of blood to stay alive and pregnant. This ultrasound confirmed the suspicions of my obstetricians and they diagnosed me with 100 percent placenta previa.
Some women are diagnosed with partial placenta previa, which can be dangerous, but can also resolve as the placenta and baby grow. I was told that mine would not resolve as it was a severe case.
I was told not to return to work and to stay off my feet. This was particularly difficult. At that time I had an almost 7-year-old, a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old boy at home to mother.
How could I mother from my bed? That’s for another blog post.
It turns out that not quite two weeks later, I had another massive hemorrhage as I walked from my bedroom to the bathroom (10 steps away) and I almost lost my life.
After a stay in the hospital and several units of blood transfused into my body — I was still pregnant and I was sent home with strict instructions not to leave my bed unless I had to use the bathroom.
That didn’t work for too long. About two weeks later — it happened again.
This hemorrhage was worse than the previous two. I was already very anemic and I immediately passed out on the floor. Luckily, I was able to call for help before I passed out. Once I arrived at the larger county hospital (with a trauma center) I was admitted and received countless bags of blood to replenish what my body was releasing.
No one was sure it would work, and most doctors were convinced I would go into labor and deliver my daughter at 21 weeks’ gestation.
I was not convinced.
That night, the ultrasound showed that my daughter (we found out she was a girl!) seemed unaffected by my health issues and was just hanging around in the womb. She was fine. In fact, the doctors told us the stress put on her during my bleeding episodes actually helps her lungs to develop because of the natural steroids released into both of our blood streams. Who would have thought?
Fast-forward two more weeks of living in my bed at a large county hospital to May 12, 2012 — the best and worst day of my life that I can barely remember.
Around midnight, I started to bleed heavily again (I had never stopped). I was being monitored and around 3:00 a.m. everything got worse.
This hemorrhage continued to get to the point of no return and to top it off, I went into labor. After a few attempts to prevent delivery, I was ordered to have an emergency C-section to deliver my baby.
She was at just 23 weeks’ gestation.
I barely remember this day. I was in such a state of denial and fear that I blocked out the hours leading up to her birth.
I was told there was a high possibility I would not survive and I used the hospital bedside phone to call my own cell phone, so that I could leave my boys a goodbye message.
This was the worst day of my life — until it wasn’t!
I was forced to have a vertical C-section (after having three horizontal ones in the past) due to immediate need to deliver. I lost my uterus in a hysterectomy because the placenta had actually grown through the walls of my uterus and attached to both my bowels and bladder, and all three needed to be surgically separated. I was diagnosed with what is classified as a severe case of placenta percreta. I also needed over 30 units of blood in transfusions.
I was asleep for all of this.
I was asleep for the rest of that day and the next in the surgical intensive care unit (SICU) because of my surgery and related complications, and I don’t even remember my daughter being born. I never got to meet her that day (or the next).
I can say that May 12, 2012 was the best and worst day of my life because now that I can reflect upon it — I notice several changes in me — as a person and mother.
Once I knew I would live and that my daughter would live (this took a few months to be sure of) — I realized that I should not take the gift of life for granted.
We only get one.
My daughter fought for life and I did, too — and we won.
She spent 121 days in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and had over 30 blood transfusions, X-rays, surgical procedures and more — and now she is almost 4 years old and perfect. She is lucky and was left with very few side-effects from her extremely premature birth and four-month fight for life.
So you see, it doesn’t matter that I can’t remember the best and worst day of my life. Neither of us may remember the best and worst day of our lives, but we will know that we shared it. We have the rest of our lives to make sure we make memories that last longer than us.
Does it matter if I can’t remember the hours before my daughter’s birth and if I didn’t get to see her first breaths — if I get to see all the rest?
Look forward and not backward…
And by the way, I got to meet my daughter for the first time just before midnight on Mother’s Day that year. What a gift!
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there!
We all make sacrifices for our children with the hopes that those sacrifices help them lead healthier and happier lives.
We don’t know how many breaths we have left, so let’s make them full of memories.
Follow this journey on Micropreemie.net.
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