Every birth story is a miracle and each one is unique. Our story goes through the unknowns of life and near-death with a rare Amniotic Fluid Embolism (AFE), and the miracles that God gave to our family.
On Sunday, September 8, 2013, my husband Ronny and I loaded our bags, took one last baby bump picture and looked at our house one last time as a house of two, before heading to the hospital to have our little one. Earlier that afternoon, we both took naps and watched a little football, trying to relax knowing that our lives would soon be changed.
We seriously had no idea.
Up to this point, I was 41 weeks pregnant. I had a very healthy pregnancy and was getting a little impatient with being overdue! We arrived at Labor and Delivery at 8 pm and got checked in faster than I expected. Forty-five minutes later, my nurse was giving me Cytotec to get things going.
Fortunately, my labor started on its own and I didn’t need to be given Pitocin to induce the labor. And I progressed fast! At 6 am, my contractions were only a minute apart and were getting really strong. I had dilated to 4 cm, so I was ready for the epidural.
Dr. Rawlings administered the epidural and I started to feel relief. After I started doing better through each contraction, Ronny took the opportunity to leave the room and call our parents to update them on our progress. We were sure we still had hours of labor, but wanted to keep them updated. While he was out, the night shift staff changed over to the day shift staff at 7 am, so my new nurse, Melissa came in, as well as the new anesthesiologist, Dr. Timmons. He asked how my epidural was doing and I told him the pain was manageable, but my heart felt like it was beating out of my chest.
He didn’t seem to be worried so I wasn’t either.
Ronny made it back into the room and at exactly 7:11 am, I felt a gush. Surely my water had broke! But when I looked down on the bed, it was all blood. I didn’t know what the water was supposed to look like, but I called for Melissa regardless and when she came in to my room, I immediately thought the room was spinning. This was the start to a fast spiral downhill. They laid me flat on my back again and the next thing I know…all black.
From here on, the story comes from Ronny’s perspective because I remember very few details. Apparently, my eyes rolled to the back of my head and I started shaking. I was having a seizure. My blood pressure was decelerating fast. They rolled me to my side and immediately turned off the epidural as they thought I was having a reaction to the drugs. I was also bleeding a lot. Doctors poured into the room to try to stabilize me. All the while, they couldn’t find our baby’s heart rate, but they were most concerned with making sure they kept me alive before they could worry about baby. Ronny remembers them putting something in my IV and after being under for about 10 minutes, I opened my eyes.
Ronny’s voice was the first human voice I heard. But I can confidently tell you it wasn’t the first voice I heard. They say your life flashes before you when you’re dying. I never saw “the light” but I saw Ronny with our baby.
Then I heard God’s voice.
“Kelsey, be strong. You can’t leave Ronny and the baby.”
I also almost felt like I knew the situation and could visualize myself and what was going on around me in the room. Such an out-of-body experience. Then, I immediately felt this surge of strength and slowly opened my eyes to at least five faces telling me to stay with them. I tried to keep my eyes open as I was going in and out, but finally started to comprehend that I had blacked out (all that I thought – I had no clue what had actually happened at this point). Dr. Timmons was poking a needle in my side asking if I could feel it after the epidural was wearing off.
Dr. Cada, my OBGYN, was very worried about the baby. At each contraction, the baby’s heart rate would drop. They weren’t sure what type of stress he had gone through while I was seizing. But he was stressed and he needed to be born soon. She told me that we would try pushing but if that didn’t work, she would take me to emergency c-section. I was still really hazy and remember thinking, “Maybe we should just do the c-section. I don’t know if I have the strength to deliver the baby.”
But there was God again. He gave me the strength and when the nurse asked me to push, I did. I have fuzzy memories of our son, Chisum, being born. Dr. Cada told me she was going to use the vacuum and if it came off three times, she’d take me to the c-section. It popped off twice. But on that third try with all of the strength I could gather and with all of the force that Dr. Cada had, Chisum was born. It was an amazing feeling. I felt relief! But I was in such shock from what had happened, I just looked at Ronny and cried. The baby wasn’t making any noises and they had whisked him off. He was unresponsive. Ronny said he saw the umbilical cord around the baby’s neck twice along with his arm wrapped up in it. They took him over to the warmer and after what seemed like awhile, he whimpered. I couldn’t even ask how he was or even if it was a boy or a girl because I was so overcome with emotions. And we all didn’t want to ask the question – “Is the baby ok?” – because we just didn’t know if he would be….