In late October of 2015, I got an unexpected positive pregnancy test (very unexpected), but less than a week later I started to bleed a lot and was lead to believe I miscarried. I came to terms with that and things were going okay. Several weeks passed and I found myself at the local ER with severe abdominal pain. They did an ultrasound to check for any retained tissue and found a 14 week baby! I hadn’t miscarried!
My first real prenatal appointment was for our big gender ultrasound! 22 weeks, a big healthy boy! I was told I had a complete placenta previa and a suspected accreta, that I would need to get care elsewhere. I had no clue what to do with the information I was just given. Two days later I was getting another ultrasound from the high risk doctors over an hour from my house. I had a short cervix, complete placenta previa and placenta accreta (the worst level of invasion, percreta). My placenta had grown deep into my uterus, through my uterus AND had already adhered to my bladder. I was offered and encouraged to terminate.
I was sent for a Termination Consultation out of state (I was too far along to legally terminate in my state). It had been about five days from my first prenatal appointment, and I was getting yet another ultrasound. Same diagnosis. I was offered termination but even terminating would require a hysterectomy, transfusions and wouldn’t drastically decrease the mortality rate. I spent the next weeks too terrified to figure it out, so by default I was choosing not to terminate. My life had completely turned upside down. I spent all of my time googling my diagnosis (bad idea!) and having nightmares about bleeding out. I was SURE I would be in that percentage of moms who didn’t make it through the surgeries. We planned a cesarean-hysterectomy at 35 weeks.
At 32 weeks, my water broke. My delivering hospital was four hours away so I drove to the local ER (in a shirt and a throw blanket, nothing else ! No shoes, no underwear… what was I thinking?) The local hospital checked me out, packed me up, and put me in a helicopter to my delivering hospital immediately! We made the decision to deliver that morning… that morning! I met about a thousand doctors and medical professionals and was given endless information that went in one ear and out the other. Soon enough I was being wheeled into the OR.
Despite some initial anesthesia issues, I ended up being able to stay awake for the entire 6.5 hour surgery! My son was born looking great, and him and dad headed to the NICU. I ended up having the cesarean-hysterectomy, bladder repair, and ureter repair as well as removal of my cervix – the placenta had invaded all of that! I required six units of blood transfused, four units from donors and two of my own, recycled back to me. I’m still pretty impressed with how it went! The recovery was torture. I was left with a catheter and stents in place; it was awful. I was in and out of the emergency room for weeks and was on so many strong pain meds that I don’t remember much at all from that time. When urology FINALLY freed me of my stents and catheter, I was like a whole new woman. I finally felt like me again.
I sit here now, with a sleeping five month old on my lap, and it all seems like a distant dream… well, nightmare. But I wouldn’t change any of it! Dealing with a life-threatening pregnancy was one of the most difficult experiences I’ve had in my 28 years. I had forgotten that I was still pregnant, not just facing accreta. I developed a HUGE disconnect from my pregnancy and baby-to-be. He was born into this world with no name, no nursery, and I hadn’t even shopped for a single new outfit or pack of diapers. The anxiety of the situation ruined all of that for me. My son Castiel was in the NICU five weeks with no major setbacks. Born at 4lbs 6oz, he was perfect! It’s hard to imagine that I had ever considered termination because of fear. The moment I looked into those big baby eyes, any disconnect I had went right out the window. It was definitely love at first sight. My only regret was not getting to enjoy our pregnancy together, my final pregnancy.
Read about ICAN’s Accreta Awareness Month.