This is my personal birth story. It's written with raw emotion and just as I remember things and how I felt.
My due date was April 14, 2014, the same date as my dad's birthday. Wouldn't that be cool, my son and my dad sharing the same birthday! But, because I had 2 previous c-sections we knew we'd be scheduled for another one a week earlier than my due date. Monday, the 7th wasn't available, so we were scheduled for Tuesday April 8th....and that was that.
As a photographer, it was really important to me to have great images of my "last" birth, so I asked a photographer friend if she would come photograph the birth for me. She said yes and I was absolutely thrilled. The hospital and my doctor allowed this with a c-section too...perfect!
I had my shower on March 8th. It was fabulous with all my peeps there to celebrate with me. After the shower, I had plenty of time to nest and get the last things I needed before little man's arrival, then relax a bit and really enjoy the last weeks of our little family of 4.
I went to a Dr. appt. on March 13th and had a regular check up. He confirmed we were on schedule for the 8th. After my appointment I went out shopping to get the last things I would need before the baby arrived. I was in Babies R Us when my cell phone rang. It was my Dr. He was calling to tell me that we have to move the c-section up to March 26th as the risk was too high to wait longer than that.
You see, I was diagnosed with placenta previa at 20 weeks. If you don't know what this is, I will explain. It's when the placenta does not move up to the side of the uterus, it lays on the bottom and blocks or covers the cervix. Meaning, no way out for baby. It wasn't really a big deal for me since I was already prepared and scheduled for a c-section. The risk with this condition is, if I go into labor I would hemorrhage with a risk of death. This pregnancy felt different than the prior two and I was in a lot of pain from early on. However, they said the previa wouldn't cause me pain. I disagree.
Anyway, so, OK....wow. I called my husband to tell him the doctor moved up the delivery date and we now have less than 2 weeks before the baby comes.
When I got home I contacted my friend, who was going to photograph the birth, to let her know the date had been moved up. She was not available on the new date. I was totally bummed. I wasn't going to have fabulous images, like I had hoped. I mean, I know I would have some, but not like what I knew she would do. I looked at hiring a local birth photographer, but I really didn't want a stranger with me, especially with my condition. There just wasn't enough time to meet and feel someone out. Then I had a thought. I don't know why I didn't think of her before....my friend Melissa. She loves photography and I am super comfortable with her. She would be perfect. So I asked if she would do this for me and she agreed....I couldn't believe it! Yay! So excited! We talked and I told her of my risk and she asked what my expectations were because she is pretty squeamish with blood. With this, I did some more research on placenta previa and had some additional questions for my next Dr. appt., just so I could properly prepare her with what to expect in the operating room. I didn't want any surprises or her to pass out...LOL!
My next appt was March 18th. I saw my Dr.'s associate, who actually delivered Beckham (my second son). Anyway, I asked her about my friend photographing the birth and how much blood was anticipated from the incision. She explained that it shouldn't be too bad, as my placenta was on the backside of my uterus and not where they make the incision for the c-section. Great news! However, during my research on previa, I read about something called placenta accreta. This is a rare condition where the previa worsens and the placenta grows abnormally. It can attach to the uterus and in some cases the only way to remove the placenta is to do a hysterectomy. So, I ask the Dr. if there were any indications that I had this condition. Even though we didn't plan to have more children. I didn't want a hysterectomy, or even my tubes tied. I believe that God will give me what I'm supposed to have and I don't mess with His plan intentionally. The Dr. responded that based on what they saw on the last ultrasound, there was no concern about accreta. I don't even remember how much, if any, I talked to Jason about accreta.
Fast forward to the night of the 25th. I speak with my friend about what to expect in the O.R. She will wear scrubs, etc. I did give her the worst case scenario, just to prepare her in the event she got kicked out of the O.R. for an emergency. Obviously these things don't really happen, but its best to just cover it.
Here we are...Birthday. Yay! My mom picked me up at 4am. We had to be at the hospital by 5:30. c-section was at 7:30 and I needed to get registered and all that jazz. We got there and got settled. My nurse was Deanna....she was great. She covered all the fun stuff and knowing my risk, we reviewed all the paperwork and consent forms, transfusion forms, next of kin etc. for "in the event of..." . Of course it's just precautionary and we wouldn't need any of it, because the worst case doesn't happen, right?
So we're all set. Jason and the boys arrive around 7, followed by Melissa. I prepare my camera for her so she can just shoot away.
Around 8, they took me back to get my epidural and start the c-section. There I was, lying on the table and the Dr.'s make the incision. I remember them asking where "Dad" was and what was taking so long...finally Jason and Melissa came in and they could proceed. This was my 3rd c-section in the same operating room. It was very familiar. However, it felt different. I felt all the pressure. The pushing and pulling of the Dr.'s getting the baby out. Here he comes...and he's out. I heard Jason tell me he looks like Cash, my oldest son. I saw Melissa in the corner of my eye taking pics. I heard my baby, but it seemed like forever ...forever for me to see him. It seemed like everything was going on without me. I felt a few tears run down my face and I wanted to say "hey, over here...I'm still here". I remember the anesthesiologist asking me, a few times, if I was doing OK. Of course I was....it's not my first rodeo. I had an oxygen mask on, so I felt like nobody could hear my words...did I even have any?
I don't know how to describe the feeling. I felt calm. Very calm, but alone. I felt like something wasn’t right. I wanted to see my baby. I wanted to see who he looked like, get sewn up and go in my room and hold him. That's not what happened. Things got rushed. The anesthesiologist told me they need to put me to sleep. Where is my baby? I said OK, at least I think I did. I was calm. I finally got to see him. He was next to my face for 30 seconds. I kissed him and he was gone. Jason and Melissa were gone.....
I woke up. I was alone and in recovery. But there was a nurse next to me. She told me I’m in recovery. They have a few things to do and I'll be going to ICU. I wasn't told anything. I'm alone. No baby. Still calm. I'm OK.
I don't remember who and when I was told that I had a hysterectomy. But I was told before going to ICU. OK. Not my choice, but OK. God intended this and well, it's done. I remember feeling like I was being talked about, a lot, by the nurses and Dr.'s in recovery. Finally, after about 40 minutes or so I go to ICU. The nurse arranged a quick drive by of the nursery so I could see my son. It was and is all such a blur. I don't really remember seeing him. I don't remember when I saw Jason. I remember seeing him and asking him for my glasses because I had my contacts in and they were feeling dry. I remember someone asking what stuff I wanted and I rattled off a list...my cell phone, purse, iPad, camera gear, bag of magazines...I guess that became comical to Jason. He thought, “Oh, she's fine if she wants her iPad". He thinks all I do is sit on Facebook. In reality, I didn't want any of it. I don't know why I asked for all that stuff. I couldn't move. They wouldn't let me have all that in ICU anyway. I got my purse, iPad and cell phone.
They don't allow children in ICU, so I couldn't see my boys and they wouldn't bring the baby in. But I didn't even want to see the baby. I remember thinking that I was a terrible person. A terrible new mom. My baby needs me. He's all alone and I don't want to see him. He needs to nurse. Will I even be able to nurse him? Even if I could, I don't want to see him. What is wrong with me?! I remember being in so much pain. I was uncomfortable in that bed. But I was in so much pain, I couldn't move. I couldn't shift my position. My mom came in to see me for a bit, I remember talking to her and crying about something, I don't remember what. And I think Jason came in to see me for a bit. It's such a blur. My Dr. came in at one point. I don't remember much of the conversation. However, I do remember telling him I wasn't mad and he told me that it was OK if I was. I told him I was OK that this was the hand I was dealt and I'm OK with it. It was God's intention.
That night the nurses made an exception and brought my baby to see me in ICU. I didn't hold him. The nurse asked if I wanted to try to pump. I didn't want to. I remember it was only like 10 or 15 minutes and they stayed right there the whole time. He's my baby...he's MY baby! But I didn’t feel like I wanted to see or hold him. He’s a stranger to me....that’s how I felt.
It's Thursday, March 27th. I was still in ICU. Still in pain and still alone. I had to go for a CT scan so they could look at my bladder to determine if another surgery was needed. I didn’t really understand this until later…..I remember how awful it was moving from the bed to a wheel chair and wanting to smack the “transporter”. I think she intentionally drove the chair super fast over the bumps in the hallway…then the CT guy had to lift me into the machine and then back into the wheelchair. I wanted to cry it hurt so bad…then back to ICU…what a fun trip.
The nurse told me that everything looked OK and they were going to move me to a regular room but I had to get 2 more units of blood first. 2 more? How much did I already get? I still am not sure. Jason says I got 7 units of blood and I'm not sure if that was before or after the "2 more". So, I got the blood and got moved. It's dinner time.
I was in my new room, alone. I probably should ask about nursing my son....but I was in so much pain. I didn’t know how I would hold him. I didn't have a huge desire to see him. What is wrong with me??? I know I need to see him. He needs me. All I know is, I am hungry and they brought me broth...ugh. I want food, but nothing sounds good, and broth...really?
It hurt. It hurt to move. It hurt to breath. I had to go to the bathroom. I needed to brush my teeth and wash my face. I sucked it up and accomplished a trip to the bathroom. Much better! Except, I'm leaking. The pain in my bladder...why did I have pain in my bladder and why was I leaking?!? I barely made it…It hurt so much!
Friday morning, Dr. Gordon came to check on me (she's my Dr.'s associate). I told her about my bladder pain. She informs me that it will get better and it's expected because my placenta grew through my uterus and attached to my bladder. They had to do some reconstruction after my placenta was removed from my bladder. Fun. I'm totally broken and I’m a leaker!
I thought, “I need to see my baby”. My nurse, I don't remember her name, but she was really nice, helped me walk to the nursery to see him. They let me sit in a rocking chair and hold him. I was holding my baby for the first time and he was 2-1/2 days old. My instinct was to whip out a boob to see if he would latch. But the nurses told me I couldn't try to nurse him yet. WHAT? He's MY baby! They said he’d lost a lot of weight and he'd burn too many calories trying to get milk and I had none. They told me I need to pump until my milk came in....it's the same. WHAT? After all I’ve been through, IF I got milk, I needed to get it in by pumping before they’d let me nurse him. I know my body very well and I need him to latch to get my milk in, but whatever. I was in too much pain to debate. I'll pump. Fine. I hold him for about 30 minutes and then go back to my room. With a pump. I miss him. This is good. I felt better because I miss him. I was afraid I was detached and I couldn't understand that.
Jason came to visit and spent a little time with him in the nursery. I got to see Cash and Beckham. It felt weird. I felt weird. I couldn’t hold them, my babies. I couldn’t hold them. I was in pain. I wanted to rest. I didn't want to see anyone. But I should see my baby again. However, he’s in the nursery and I don’t think I can walk down there again.
Friday night the nurse brought the baby for a supervised visit...I guess they're afraid I'd try to nurse him. At least that's the feeling I got. It was a quick visit and I was able to hold him and take some pics. My nurse offered to take a pic of us, which was nice. They leave. I figure I better work the boobs for him, so I'm pumping and getting some colostrum, which the nurse fed to him from a bottle. They seemed a little surprised I got anything at all. I think I finally ate that night too, at least a little bit. I hadn’t been eating up until now.
Saturday morning, they brought the baby in and "released" him to me. He is now mine. He can stay in my room and I can try to nurse him. YAY!! So, I go for it. He latched right on...so HAPPY! I was afraid he wouldn’t want me. I'm damaged now and I deserted him for 3 days. But he still loves me. And I love him. My milk came flooding in shortly after he latched....HA! Told you! The nurses were shocked. Apparently it doesn’t happen often where a mother is able to nurse after going through what I went through. Thank you, Jesus!
What did I go though? I really don't know the exact details. Except they all keep calling me the miracle patient and "I'm the one" that went through all that. I know that I lost a lot of blood and I had to have a hysterectomy. I don’t ask questions about what happened. What I’m told is that I’m extremely lucky, A miracle. And I know that had it been a different doctor in that O.R., not my doctor, I probably wouldn't be here. My doctor has only seen this condition 3 times. He is a tremendous Dr. and I can’t thank him enough. He told my husband that had I gone into labor, the baby and I would have died. I was told that I hemorrhaged when they were removing the placenta and that's when they discovered that I had placenta percreta, the rarest and most severe form of placenta accreta, and extremely life threatening. My husband and Mom were scared as they were not told what was going on. They rushed my husband and Melissa out of the O.R. and he (my husband) had the baby. There was some commotion with the nurses about getting the blood from the blood bank into the O.R. STAT!
My doctor told me that there was no alternative option to removing my uterus. It was the only way to stop the bleeding. It had to be done fast. The problem was my placenta grew through my uterus and attached to my bladder. They couldn't just rip my bladder out too. They had to carefully (and quickly) remove my placenta from my bladder. My doctor did it and he saved my life.
I stayed in the hospital for 6 days. I have to say that the staff at Mercy Folsom was fabulous…with the exception of one or two…LOL. They really took great care of me. I’m blessed to have such an amazing OB/GYN, Dr. Cragun with Folsom OB/GYN.
We have been home for 4 weeks now and functioning as a crazy party of 5. My older boys absolutely adore their baby brother. They are constantly showering him with kisses and hugs and love to hold him (with help). He is doing well. I’m healing, slowly. Had a couple of set backs. I need to remember that I had major surgery and just take it easy (I'm no longer a leaker). We’ve definitely bonded. He rarely leaves my sight. He’s my last baby….Rowe, party of 5.
I survived undiagnosed placenta percreta.
Meet Mr. Sawyer Everette Kahne Rowe born March 26, 2014 7lbs 5 oz 20” long.
Home at last........
Here are a few images from Sawyer's Newborn shoot.
**Birth images courtesy of Melissa Meanor, edited by Shannon Steward.