How having twin girls became a near-death experience
When we learned we were having twin girls, I never imagined it would become a near-death experience for me.
Around 20 weeks of pregnancy, it was confirmed my placenta implanted through the uterine wall (who knew that was a thing?), and I may need a hysterectomy after delivery. I thought, “I’m done having kids. No more periods? Yes, please!”
Little did I know, things were going to spiral out of control.
At 27 weeks, I started bleeding. An ultrasound at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill., revealed the placenta had grown almost through to my bladder. My baby girls were doing just fine, but my health and safety was in jeopardy if I carried the girls much longer. One of the nurses told me I passed the biggest blood clot they’d ever seen. Not really a record I’d like to hold. I was given eight units of blood and remained on bedrest under careful monitoring for the rest of my pregnancy.
The next three weeks was filled with ultrasounds, fetal monitoring, IVs and blood draws — but also the comfort of the most wonderful friends, family and nurses, along with Netflix and a few good books.
At week 30, my C-section was scheduled. The night before, I was given a catheter to empty my bladder. I was in agony all night, which is not normal. I got up to walk to relieve the pain, but the minute I stood up, my water broke, and I began contracting.
I’ll never forget the urgency of the team at Christ Medical Center and Advocate Children’s Hospital, gathering all on our account, giving friendly, encouraging smiles and letting me know we were in good hands.
My girls were delivered safely Halloween morning. I remember their sweet squeaky cries, but I couldn’t see them over the curtain. They were whisked away to the NICU. That’s the last thing I remember until I awoke the next day. I was so confused. I had a tube in my throat and was told I needed to have another surgery.
I learned I bled and almost died. Baby A’s placenta had fused to scar tissue from my previous C-section. It took the work of two urologists and an oncologist to free my bladder without damage. During the hysterectomy, my bleeding could not be controlled. I was in surgery for six hours when they finally had no choice but to pack me up to stop the bleeding. I was left intubated and comatose until the next day, waiting for surgery to remove the packing and close me up.
Lying awake with a tube in your throat is absolutely miserable. I tried to stay positive and wrote notes to communicate. I was told the twins, Aria and Gabrielle, were doing wonderfully in the NICU and had no major medical issues. They weighed just over two pounds each.
Those two days should have been filled with joy and celebration, not fear of the unknown. My poor husband faced the possibility of losing me and being a single father of three.
The second surgery was successful. I was sent to the surgical intensive care unit to recover and didn’t see my babies until three days after they were born. I experienced so much blood loss that I lost count of the units I received. I had a 15-cm. hematoma (a word that wasn’t even part of my vocabulary until now) that doctors were concerned would cause an infection and warrant yet another surgery. My arms were bruised from my elbow to wrist from all the IVs and needle pricks. The catheter was to remain for at least 14 days from the trauma my bladder experienced.
I shouldn’t complain. I almost died. I was so happy to have a functioning bladder. I recovered in the hospital for two weeks and traveled to the NICU to see the babies, but I was in such discomfort that my visits were short and minimal. I knew they were getting the care they needed…the care I could not yet give them.
Big sister Ashtyn showed such amazing strength while mommy was gone and recovering. Recovery at home was slow and painful, making it challenging to visit the twins. They spent two months in the NICU.
Now, the girls turned one this Halloween. We’re all healthy and well, but I can’t believe the trauma I survived to bring Aria and Gabby into this world. I will forever carry the physical and emotional scars from my experience, but I carry them proudly.
I write this not only to show my gratitude for the people who saved my life, but also in hopes of raising awareness of maternal health. I’m eternally grateful for the amazing care I received from the doctors, nurses and staff at Advocate Christ and Childrens, and I will forever feel bonded with the nurses and doctors who saved our lives.