I wanted this birth story to write itself; to just unfold beautifully without much thought or effort. Truthfully, it was a hard one to write, where the words didn’t always flow and I had trouble conveying the reality of what happened. I suppose that is why it took me nearly five years to write it down.
Before we have children, I think all women have some idea of how they want their life as mothers to look. We dream of the number of children we will have and what or who they will look like. We write out these elaborate birth plans and try to imagine how everything will happen, grasping onto some sort of control in what can be a quite intimidating situation for a first-time parent.
This isn’t a story of how my plan went down perfectly, without a hitch. Quite the opposite actually. This is a story of trauma and of tragedy, but also of beauty and triumph. It seems surreal to be writing this as I am coming up on my youngest child’s fifth birthday. A five year celebration of not only her life but also of mine. A celebration of my second chance at life and a second chance to see my children grow up.
I was twenty when I married my high-school sweetheart. We “accidentally” got pregnant after being married only three months. Sadly, this pregnancy, and the two subsequent pregnancies, ended in miscarriage. This was devastating for my husband and I and we honestly didn’t know if we would be able to have children at all. During the entire pregnancy with my first-born, I was incredibly anxious. I always felt like something wasn’t right. All of the ultrasounds were normal and not many doctors think a healthy, 22 year old woman could have serious birth complications. Throughout the pregnancy I prayed for a healthy child but never felt impressed to make any sort of birth plan. I was truly at peace with anything that would bring my child into this world healthy and whole.
I went into labor on a warm November day and had my son in just 6 short hours. After I delivered him, the doctor patiently waited for the placenta to come out. I can’t say for sure how long it took, but it was quite a while. When it finally came out, I immediately lost my sense of sight and hearing and cried out to the doctor that something was wrong. My blood pressure dropped dangerously low as I began hemorrhaging. Doctors and nurses rushed in pumping my body full of medication. Thankfully, they were finally able to get the bleeding to stop. It wasn’t until two months later, after MRI’s and ultrasounds, that they would finally diagnose me with a condition called placenta accreta. This is when the placenta grows through the uterine wall and can’t detach itself after delivery, which causes severe post-partum hemorrhaging. It’s an extremely dangerous condition that many women have lost their lives to.
My doctor was stunned that this happened but felt fairly confident that it would not happen in any subsequent pregnancies. We decided to try for another baby just a few months before our son turned one. We felt that after my history of miscarriages that we would like to try as soon as possible because we did not know how long it would take to have a viable pregnancy. I got pregnant almost immediately and thankfully did not miscarry. My doctor scheduled ultrasounds at every appointment and everything seemed normal, but she decided to do an MRI at 32 weeks pregnant to make sure there were no signs of placenta accreta.
I’ll never forget the day the doctor called me as I was sitting at work. She told me that the MRI results showed that I did have placenta accreta again, but worse this time. They scheduled a c-section for 36 weeks as a precaution. As this news sank in, I collapsed in tears. How could this be happening again!? Fear gripped my heart. Would I live through this? I don’t think anything can compare to the thought of not being able to raise your own children. I was heartbroken and fearful.
As I was taken into the operating room on my daughter’s delivery day, it would be a lie to say that I wasn’t afraid for my own life and the life of my unborn child. I laid on the operating table, both arms stretched out to the sides of my body, IV’s hooked up and several nurses and doctors all around me. I had no control of the outcome that day. My family gathered outside in the waiting room, praying that we would make it out alive and healthy.
I can’t fully explain what happened in that room that day. What I can say is that the events that transpired were nothing short of a miracle. My daughter was immediately delivered and was perfectly healthy! After they delivered her, the doctors tried everything they could to get my bleeding to stop. I had to get several blood transfusions during the surgery. I remember several times looking up at the anesthesiologist and begging him to tell me if I was going to live through this. Of course, he did not know what the outcome would be either. My husband’s warm hand cradled my face as tears streamed out of my eyes. Through his touch I could feel the peace of God come over my body.
Many nurses and doctors were in the room that day, and I believe each and every one felt the presence of the Lord. One of the nurses leaned over to my husband during the surgery and that she felt that God was with us in the room. After what seemed like hours, my doctor came around the curtain and said there was nothing else they could do and a hysterectomy was the only option. The full impact of what this meant for our family and my life did not sink in at that moment.
After the surgery, my daughter and I were taken to a room to recover while my husband went back to our regular room. The moments that he was alone in that hospital room would help shape the next few years of our lives. My husband walked into the hospital room after the surgery and collapsed on his knees. He cried out to God to please heal me and save my life. As he was praying, he felt prompted to go the nightstand beside the bed. He found a bible laying there. When he opened it, his eyes fell on Luke 8:50 “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be made whole.”
I still ponder over those words to this day. I did not fully understand why God had shown those words to my husband at that time. It wasn’t until three years later when I saw full healing in my body that I realized what it meant to be whole again. The events of that day proved to me that God was with us every step we took.
I would like to say that was the end of my journey, but in retrospect it was just the beginning. Grief was inescapable in my case. I lost the ability to have more children. I was essentially robbed of everything I thought about what my life would look like. The realization that this had happened to me was so overwhelming that I immediately shut down. I didn’t know it then, but I was about to step into the darkest season of my life as PTSD and panic attacks gripped my existence and left me desperately searching for healing.
Read more about my journey, Finding Freedom and Purpose After Trauma.