I was admitted to Women’s and Children’s in Lafayette on December 18th due to light bleeding. Because this was the second time I had an active bleed, I knew I was going to have to remain in the hospital until I delivered. Ultrasounds confirmed that I still had placenta previa (it was low and covering the cervix), but my high risk doctor seemed to think I may have been out of the woods as far as the accreta was concerned. The ultrasounds didn’t show any sign of growth and the placenta’s outlines were clean and didn’t seem to be attaching to anything.
So I sat for two weeks chatting with my amazing nurses and doctors, visiting with family and friends, and celebrating the holiday season. My doctor scheduled an MRI for December 30th to confirm the presence of the accreta. I enjoyed playing solitaire while talking on the phone with a friend, and was then surprised when my younger cousin stopped by to hang out. At 12:30, my nurse and one of the high risk doctors walked in and I could tell from the look on my nurse’s face that they meant business.
The MRI indicated that the accreta had potentially progressed to a percreta, which means that the placenta is growing through my uterus and into other organs. My stomach had the same feeling as when I pulled the parachute cord – it dropped about 2 feet while free falling. The specialists would review the scans again, but they told me to prepare for a transfer to Houston within the week.
I continued to talk films with my cousin, and my nurse came in to check on me. I think she knew I was in a bit of shock. Another of my dear friends popped in, and then my primary doctor called me from out of town. She wanted to ensure that I was okay, but also to tell me that they were going to push for me to leave sooner. “Pack your bags,” was her first line of the second call. “You’re going to leave within the next 24 hours.” We were going to have to wait to see what the insurance would clear.
I called my mom to ask if she could come immediately to help me pack. I had yet to call my husband because I didn’t want to upset him at work.
The whirling started. For the first time in nearly seven weeks, I began to get anxious of my fate. One more complication made me realize the severity of my condition. I tried not to let my worry bubble over the peace and trust I had built up over the weeks. But my insides could feel the battle of emotions.
The ultrasound technician came in to check on my baby. The sight of his health helped to ease my nerves. Jon arrived. Then my mom. A nurse walked in and said I would probably be leaving within the next few hours. Jon decided to head home to pack. My mom started to pack up my room. My uncle walked in, followed by another aunt and uncle.
Then one of my nurses who was with me the most walked in with her hands in the air and cheerily yelled, “We’ve been approved for flight! Acadian Ambulance will pick you up in a helicopter in an hour.”
It was all happening so quickly.
My sisters, brothers-in-law, and all of our kids then walked through my door. Hugs and kisses were exchanged while the kids lined up against the window of my room, which was conveniently located in front of the helicopter pad. I tried to get in as much cuddle time with my boys because I knew it would be a while before I would see them again.
It turns out that you can’t really bring a whole lot onto a helicopter. I would need to put necessities in my purse and my parents would have to bring the rest of my clothes and gadgets later. My stomach felt like an insectarium as we heard the chopper land.
Now silly me, I thought I’d be wheeled down in a chair and would be able to have an adventure-like experience with AirMed crew. Then I saw the gurney.
A very kind paramedic, Ken, completed the procedure of strapping me down. I suddenly realized what my kids may feel like in their car seat, except instead of facing forward, all I could really see was the ceiling. All I could really hear, was the sound of someone crying. I shifted my neck in a way to look around and saw my sweet 7-year-old goddaughter nearly hysteric. The scene was quite traumatic for such a young child.
The hallway was filled with my family leaning over me to say goodbye. My oldest son looked pretty nervous, but his brave 4-year-old self managed to give me a kiss once someone lifted him to me. My smiling 3-year-old enthusiastically said, “Good night, Mommy!” while giving me a big kiss and hug. My nearly 2-year-old was on top of someone’s shoulders and gave me a high five. There were more embraces, including some from my nurses. Part of my nervousness was leaving my caring staff.
And then all I could hear were their muffled voices as I was quickly rolling down the hall and elevator. When we made it outside, I could hear my family members yelling goodbye. Ken opened up the rear part of the helicopter. My mother commented that it looked like another MRI. My breathing was restricted for a second. She kissed and hugged me and told me goodbye in the most motherly way possible. I exhaled as he pushed me through the tight space. For a few seconds the ceiling nearly touched my nose, but then the height changed to a normal backseat.
Ken hopped in the chopper seat next to me and then had to hook me and the baby up to monitors to check our levels while we made the trip. As we took off, he motioned for me to look to my right, and I watched the view of Lafayette become the speckled lights of a Christmas tree. It was a complex endeavor considering I was strapped to the gurney, but it was beautiful nonetheless.
We landed for a moment to fill up with fuel. Ken informed me that the helicopter burned one gallon of gas per minute. I tried to breathe calmly because the tight squeeze was kind of getting to me.I just closed my eyes and the next time I opened them, we were descending into Houston. As the sound of the propellors did a decrescendo, I was pulled out of the chopper and then loaded onto an ambulance. Another first for me.
The ambulance only had to go about two blocks to my hospital. Even from ceiling view, I could tell the facility was nice. I finally reached the triage room and thanked my paramedics for the safe delivery. While all of the transfer papers cleared me for admittance, more tests were run to have on file for the new doctors. My uncle, aunt, and cousin arrived for support until Jon made it from Lafayette.
We didn’t make it into the room and get settled in until after midnight. I tried to sleep as best as I could because I wasn’t sure what the next day would entail. I managed to rest until around 7a.m.
Dr. Steven Clark, author of Critical Care Obstetrics, came to see me around 9. He explained that there are two different teams of 30 people each within the accreta center. He assured me that they had a major blood supply on hand and that the urologists would be capable of taking care of the bladder should the placenta have grown into the organ. He ordered an ultrasound to get a fresh set of images. It wasn’t long before I was wheeled down for the ultrasound, and get this, another MRI.
It took a day to get the results. As of now, the placenta has only grown through the uterus, which is called an increta. There is an unusual bulge near the bladder, but as of now it has not penetrated any other organs.
As long as I do not have excess bleeding or go into pre-term labor, the goal is to make it until my 34th week, which is the week of January 18th (Dr. Martin Luther King Day). Dax looks great so far, too. The Neonatologist met with us two days ago and informed us that his survival rate is 95%, even if he were born tomorrow, there would just be a longer NICU stay.
We are in the safest place available with some of the best doctors in the country. No matter what happens next, I know that our best odds are here. The cascades of prayers have washed through my soul. I know that’s why I have yet to break down.
Here are a few things you can specifically pray for: minimal bleeding, a planned surgery with no complications, Dax’s health, safe recoveries for us both, my support staff, and all of the medical staff and teams that we’re entrusting our care.
If you’ve read this far, thank you. I’m impressed and humbled. This whole process has opened my eyes and my heart more than I knew possible. And there is still more to come.
I’ll end with these two quotes:
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10.
“Heal me, O LORD, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.” Jeremiah 17:14.