AFE Survivor Emily T

“You have the shortest chart I’ve ever seen.” I remember those words like it was yesterday. My OB was joking about how healthy I was during my pregnancy, how everything my daughter and I were going through was “textbook on time.” I was getting extra tests since I am vegan and that tends to make doctors nervous when you are pregnant. The only thing they were worried about was Placenta Previa, but it soon moved far enough away from my cervix that it wasn’t a concern. Truthfully I liked being pregnant. It went pretty easy for me besides some morning sickness in the first few weeks. I was still working full time and everything was moving along smoothly. We were so excited for our first baby! 

At my 36 week check up I had a high blood pressure reading (I’m always around the 110/70 mark). It was one of the younger OBs who I had an appointment with that day, and I just thought she was being overly concerned. My dog had just passed away and I had a cold, so I thought it was just stress. We came back for an extra ultrasound and my daughter looked as healthy as she could possibly be. My blood pressure even went back down to normal. 

The day before I hit 37 weeks, I woke up to a stovepipe for a left arm and my face was swollen. My blood pressure was as high as its ever been, but the doctor on call told me we weren’t in the emergency mode just yet. I waited until the next morning for an appointment, and we decided to induce me. I was technically full term so it seemed like the safer option. 

A couple hours after being induced, my water broke. I remember asking my husband to get the nurse, and then I immediately threw up. I couldn’t catch my breath and I was shaking like crazy. Was I having a panic attack? The nurses couldn’t get a read on my daughter, so we were rushed to the OR within seconds. I heard things like “we need to get this baby out now.” For some reason I was completely calm, I had this overwhelming sense that someone was watching over me. 

When I woke up four days later, I could see the faces around me and the look of absolute concern and relief at the same time. Why was I so hooked up to every instrument possible? Why did I still look so pregnant and swollen? They brought my daughter from the NICU for me to hold the first time, and I tried to comprehend the days I had lost. An Amniotic Fluid Embolism? Phrases like “18 units of blood products,” “cardiac arrest,” “kidney failure,” were thrown at me and I still didn’t understand. I was healthy. Why were we such an example of a pure miracle of survival?

In the days of the hospital that followed and even almost to a year to the day, I constantly feel guilty and angry at the same time. Guilt because I survived and all these women didn’t. Guilt because I still get to have my daughter, my husband a wife, my family a member. Anger that AFE doesn’t seem to discriminate and has no way of us being able to tell if it is coming. This is the number one killer of maternal women, and you can’t even tell me I’ve been officially diagnose with this condition?

I’m one of the lucky ones. Physically I’m doing pretty well, emotionally will be a long road for me. You can’t die and come back unscathed. My chart is a little bit longer now that it was a year ago, but I have a community to belong to now. A purpose to share my story about this awful circumstance. Because it can happen to you, your sister, your daughter, your wife.