‘I think my water broke!’ It was a dark, thick blood, flowing out of me. They worried I’d birth in the helicopter.’: Woman suffers placental abruption in traumatic childbirth, ‘I thank God she’s ok’

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“When I found out I was pregnant with my fourth child, I knew it would have to be my last. My first three births were all high risk; I’d suffered from hemorrhages with each of them. The risks with having more and more children just got worse, and I didn’t want to leave my children and partner without a mother/wife.

I was at peace with our decision to not have any more children. This was our last, and we were happy with that. We already had a girl and two boys. Although we would have been happy with either sex, we were hoping for a girl. The day came, and I held my breath as the news came… It’s a GIRL. I was ecstatic! I felt incredibly blessed to be having two of each.

The pregnancy was rough. I had a lot of hip and back pain and couldn’t wait for her to be born. My first two were born vaginally, but my third had been an emergency c-section. Because I’d already had a c-section, I decided to opt for an elective c-section, getting my tubes tied in the process. The doctors were relieved and supported my decision to get my tubes tied, given my extensive medical history. I wasn’t exactly an easy patient. I live in a small rural town that doesn’t deliver babies. And being high risk, I had to birth at a bigger hospital, nearly three hours away.

Courtesy of Skye Thomas

The last month of my pregnancy came along, and I’d received the date for my elective c-section: May 28, 2019. I’d chosen my foster mum to be my support person as my partner stayed at home with our older three, a decision we were all content with. I was excited and at ease for the upcoming delivery of our baby. This was going to be my easy, complication-free birth. The plans were all in place, and this birth was the one that would heal me of my previous three traumatic births.

The weeks leading up to the c-section date, I had a few false alarms. At one point, I thought I was leaking fluid. It turned out it was nothing. But the baby had a really high heart rate, which caused a bit of concern. However, because it went down again, my midwife put it down to her being a ‘very active baby.’ If only that were the case…

I was just over 38 weeks pregnant and four days away from my c-section date. I woke up on the morning of the 24th and started getting really strong, regular contractions out of nowhere. My partner was due to go to work that afternoon. I started to think I was going into labor and planned on getting checked out.

By midday, the contractions were very painful. I didn’t want to tell my partner because I’d already had a few false alarms and didn’t want to make a fuss about another one. My partner had just gotten out of the shower when I went to the toilet. I felt the urge to poo, so I did. But, as soon as I did, I felt a huge gush. I thought, ‘Great, there goes my water.’

I said to my partner, ‘I think my water just broke!’ I was panicking. I couldn’t give birth at home due to the high risk of me hemorrhaging and possibly dying. I wiped, looked at the toilet paper, and that’s when my world came crashing down around me. It wasn’t my water. It was dark red, thick blood. And the toilet was full of it. I was bawling my eyes out, hysterical, while my partner called 9-1-1.

My very active baby stopped moving the second I gushed blood.  I got up and tried to get my pants on, but blood was flowing out of me like a tap. I was bawling my eyes out, thinking, ‘No, no. My baby is gone.’

The operator told my partner to tell me to lie down. The moments waiting for the paramedics felt like a life time as I wondered if my baby was even okay. If I was going to be okay. I eventually felt a small movement, but I knew we were both in danger. The paramedic arrived, and he was so calm. I couldn’t understand it. He told me, ‘It’s okay. There’s not that much blood.’ And I remember thinking, ‘He must be crazy! It’s everywhere.’  Later on, I would learn he was just trying to keep me calm.

I was taken to my local hospital where two nurses and a doctor looked after me. Surgeons and doctors were being flown out as they monitored my bleeding and contractions. Somehow, they remained calm. Yet, there was a look in their eyes that told me this wasn’t okay. The hospital wasn’t equipped to deal with my situation, which is why they had to fly medical teams out. When they arrived, they had a meeting that seemed to take forever. In that time, my foster mum, on her way back home from work as a funeral assistant, turned up.

They tried finding the baby’s heart beat, but it was taking too long. I just kept thinking she was gone, but they eventually found it. Not much was said until the medical teams came in. They told me they could either do the surgery there, or I could be flown out to the bigger hospital. I told them I would rather be flown out. They agreed that was the best option, however, they were concerned about me delivering on the helicopter, due to my contractions getting stronger and closer together.

They considered giving me a needle to stop the contractions, but the risk of it causing more bleeding was too high. So, we took the chance, and I was loaded on to the helicopter. My foster mum had left beforehand, to drive the three hours to the hospital, so she could be with me.

The helicopter ride felt like forever. My contractions were really strong, and I was so scared I would give birth.  Eventually, we landed at the hospital, and I was rushed to theater. Even though my previous c-section was called an emergency, the atmosphere this time was completely different. My previous one was calm. There were a few staff, and there was no rush. I just failed to progress.

This time, however, I could feel the panic in the room. There were probably 20 people rushing around, getting me prepped. Half were for me, and half were for the baby when she was born. At first, I thought they would be putting me to sleep. However, the baby’s heart beat was stable, and they administered the spinal block, so I would be awake for her arrival.

I finally heard the words, ‘Your baby is here. She’s okay, but she needs some assistance breathing.’ I was relieved, yet terrified of still losing her. I remember asking, ‘How much does she weigh?’ ‘She hasn’t been weighed yet, but she’s a whopper,’ was the response. The small amount of humor lightened the mood slightly as I waited to see her.

Courtesy of Skye Thomas

Eventually, they brought her to me, all bundled up, so I could see her face before she was taken to the special care nursery. She had chubby cheeks and was just perfect.

She was born at 8:30 p.m. While I was being sewn up, I had to be given a blood transfusion. It wasn’t until nearly 10 p.m., I was taken to the recovery ward. My foster mum came in soon after. Even though I had no one with me during the delivery, it meant the world to have my foster mum with me shortly afterwards.

The surgeon came in and told me, ‘Both you and your baby are extremely lucky to be alive.’ I had to wait until the anesthesia wore off before being wheeled to the special care nursery. The bed wouldn’t fit, so I had to look at my baby girl through the blinds of the window. A lovely nurse took photos for me, and I spent the rest of the night looking at her photos, until I could go see her in the morning.

Courtesy of Skye Thomas

I got an update through the night, saying she was doing well. She had swallowed a lot of blood in the womb and had to have it aspirated. To know she was okay was the best news, and I couldn’t wait to see her.  I eventually got taken to the nursery in a wheel chair and got to hold her. Holding her for the first time was the most amazing thing I’ve ever experienced. Knowing I could have lost her, or left her behind without a mum, made her the most precious little girl.

Courtesy of Skye Thomas

I was expecting to be in the hospital for a while after what we experienced. But, we both recovered amazingly, and after two days in the hospital, I got to take my baby girl home to meet her family. We named her Lainey Skye. She weighed 8 lbs. 7 oz. and she was almost 22 inches long.

Courtesy of Skye Thomas
Courtesy of Skye Thomas

She is now almost 4 months old, and she is the most beautiful, happy, healthy, little girl.  How we both survived the placental abruption with very minor complications is a miracle, and I thank God every day I get to cuddle her. Especially after discovering a symptom of a placental abruption is a high fetal heart rate. God only knows how long she was struggling inside the womb. She is adored by not only her parents, but her siblings and the people around her. ”

Courtesy of Skye Thomas
Courtesy of Skye Thomas

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Skye Thomas. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

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