AFE Survivor Amy

Our journey began on a weekend in late March, 2008, when I traveled home to Austin, Texas from Atlanta, Georgia for my baby shower. The morning of the shower I began feeling contractions and headed to the local hospital to get checked out. Later that day, I was admitted to Labor and Delivery where the doctors began administering medication in an attempt to stop my labor. They also began a series of steroid shots to help our son’s lungs mature quickly just in case the labor progressed. Two days later I was told the intervention had likely stopped the labor and I was moved back to the recovery section of the floor to remain on bedrest until they could be certain that the labor had stopped.

The next morning everything changed. Labor had not stopped and our son, Aiden, made his early entrance into the world at only 28 weeks gestation. I saw him briefly for a few moments after the neonatologists stabilized him and prepared to take him up to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Weighing in at just 2 pounds, 13 ounces, Aiden was so tiny! Moments later I would lose consciousness.

I woke up in the ICU, intubated, terrified, and not knowing what had happened to Aiden and to me. After spending two days in ICU I was moved to a room in the recovery section of the maternity ward. The doctors figured out the day after Aiden’s birth what had happened and explained it as best as they could. They had never seen a case of AFE before. I had never even heard of amniotic fluid embolism and I emember wishing at the time that she had never had to hear of it. I slowly started to grasp the seriousness of the situation as each medical professional that I encountered recounted how rare it was to see a case of AFE and how it was a fluke that I survived since the statistics are so grim.

I was finally able to visit Aiden in the NICU several hours after being released from ICU however I was only allowed to see him twice a day at first since I was still recovering and not yet stable enough to be on my feet. It was such a frightening time mixed with fear for both the battle that Aiden was facing in the NICU and severe anxiety about what had just happened to all of us.

The first thing I did once I was released from the hospital was to begin researching AFE and looking for answers about why it occurs. Coming across the same small verbiage again and again I became increasingly frustrated. I was amazed that such a devastating disorder could exist with so little research and understanding about why it occurs and how to prevent it. I also began to scour message boards looking for anyone else that had survived AFE. I was desperate to find answers and eager to find someone else who had also survived AFE. All of my research pointed to dire facts and my attempts to connect with other AFE families led to dead ends. I decided to join Facebook several months later and this is how I eventually found Miranda Klassen and the AFE Foundation. One phone call with Miranda was all it took to endear me to this mission, this organization, and Miranda, whom I now consider my dear friend. I am determined to do whatever it takes to help build the AFE Foundation in an effort to support research on AFE and to help provide support to families whose lives are forever changed by AFE.

After spending 66 days in the NICU, Aiden was released and we were finally able to travel back home to Atlanta. While we have continued to deal with some health-related issues as a result of Aiden’s prematurity, I am thrilled to report that he is thriving and doing well. I know that Aiden and I are both so fortunate to be here given the circumstances that occurred during his delivery.

There is not a day that goes by when I don’t think about all of the special women and babies whose lives have been cut far too short due to complications of childbirth and prematurity. Our family is committed to the AFE Foundation and March of Dimes in honor of them. I am honored to serve as the President and Chair of the Board for the AFE Foundation and my husband Michael serves on the Atlanta Metro chapter of the March of Dimes Board of Directors.

In 2013, we were thrilled to welcome our second son, Liam. Liam was born full-term and, thankfully, we experienced a safe and uncomplicated delivery!  I credit our wonderful physicians, supportive family, and the connections made through the AFE Foundation and March of Dimes with Liam’s safe arrival. I was able to benefit from years of research that March of Dimes has funded to help stop prematurity and I connected with brave women through the AFE Foundation who had experienced safe deliveries following AFE. These things, along with a supportive and capable medical team, gave me the hope that we could safely grow our family.  Michael and I will remain forever grateful to each of them for their roles in safely bringing Liam into the world!