March 27th is a very important day for my family. It’s Amniotic Fluid Embolism Awareness (AFE) Day. What is an AFE? An amniotic fluid embolism (AFE) is a rare childbirth emergency in which amniotic fluid enters the mother’s blood stream via the placental bed of the uterus and triggers an allergic-like reaction. An AFE along with a DIC, is what I suffered from on November 6, 2015 when I gave birth to my youngest daughter, Alyssa. The AFE Foundation was having survivors write up their story so decided to also share my story on my blog.
After going through a miscarriage in August of 2014, I spent the pregnancy with Alyssa being very nervous. So when I went in the hospital to deliver her, I figured I was home free. On Thursday, November 5th, I went to the hospital to be induced. My husband and I went in at 8 o’clock pm after waiting all day waiting for them to call and say they had a bed for me. Once I was in the room and all the registering and fun stuff like that was done, they gave me the pitocin. My husband then curled up on the couch in the room and I did my best to get comfortable as we assumed it was going to be a long night. As contractions got closer together, I decided it was time for an epidural. It wasn’t too long after that, my water broke. At this point I also started getting really anxious and was shaking uncontrollably. The nurse said that could be the epidural. I then started feeling a lot of pressure so paged the nurse again. I was fully dilated. The nurse asked me to give one good push, which I did. She then laughed and said to not push again because I was ready to deliver and she had to get the dr. My doctor arrived and 3 quick pushes later at 3:08 a.m., Alyssa was born. Easy breezy, right?
Everything sure seemed perfect. They handed me my perfect little girl and Joe and I looked at her with so much joy. Dr left because there was another delivery and all seemed well with me. It wasn’t all perfect though. I started coughing shortly after I delivered. With every cough, I felt a gush of blood. The nurse asked if I had a cold in which I replied no. The cough continued and so did the bleeding. She called my doctor back in to check on me. My doctor said it was a lot of blood but not concerning. She gave me a shot to slow the bleeding down. Joe and I were still enjoying our new bundle of joy assuming nothing was seriously wrong. The coughing continued and so did the bleeding. I was starting to feel light headed so I gave Alyssa to Joe. The panic on my nurses face became more noticeable, but even more so, the panic on Joe’s face. The nurse decided to get the doctor again. She wasn’t available so another doctor came in. He also didn’t seem concerned at first but then I coughed and he saw what happened when I coughed. The doctor said to prep me for surgery and he left to get my actual doctor. The room went from concerned to panic mode. Joe was white as a ghost and had such a look of fear. He was saying things to me like “you’re going to be ok”, “we can’t lose you”, “the girls and I need you”. As they were rushing to prep me, I kept insisting someone take the baby from Joe. I was more worried about him and possibility of him dropping her than the life and death situation that I later found out I was in. They rushed me out of the room barely giving Joe and I the chance to say goodbye. When looking back at the events, Joe always talks about how he sat there with our newborn daughter, looking at a pool of my blood on the floor. I can’t even imagine.
I’ve watched so many hospital shows where they are running a patient down the hallway. I always wondered if it really happened that way. Well, it does. They were pushing me so fast and more people kept joining us. I think it was then I realized how serious the situation was. The next thing I remember is waking up with tubes coming out of my mouth and extremely confused about all that had happened. I do remember hearing someone say to another person that my uterus was sent to pathology. I was barely conscious but conscious enough to know what that meant. Joe and family members took turns seeing me and then several hours later, I got to hold my precious Alyssa again. Anytime I got to hold her from there on out, I could feel how it was healing me emotionally.
Breathing tube, iv, beeping sounds made for an awful night sleep that first night. Blood results the next morning gave us another scare. My hemoglobin and platelets dropped. They thought they saw blood in my abdomen after a ct scan. That scared look came back on Joe’s face. It was then that he took my hand and prayed with tears rolling down his face. I really didn’t know what was all going on but by the look on his face, I wasn’t out of the woods yet. They took several other X-rays and results showed nothing to worry about. They decided to give me more blood and platelets. The following day (Saturday), tests showed the numbers were on the rise. Tubes came out and I was starting to eat. I was still in the ICU for a few more days so was still only seeing Alyssa for about an hour 2-3 times a day. Because of the hysterectomy, it was very painful to move. They finally moved me to the mother baby unit on Monday. It was so nice to have Alyssa with me!
I don’t think it was until the doctor confirmed that it was an AFE and Joe showed me info on the internet that I truly realized how lucky I was. Hearing Joe’s take on all that happened is when I knew I just put him through hell. I will forever be grateful for his strength as he stayed by my side throughout it all.
It’s been over a year and both Alyss and I are physically fine, I still have some up and down struggles with the fact that the AFE took away may ability to have more kids. I’ve always wanted a big family and that is not going to happen. Ill think about the hours that i didn’t get to spend with Alyssa those few days. I’ve struggled with survivors guilt after hearing about women who were not as lucky as me and struggle with this need to do something big but the lack of time to do something. Then There are days I look at Alyssa and Courtney and all I can think is how lucky we are.