AFE Survivor Melissa

-When did you first experience an AFE?

Melissa GarvalI experienced my AFE with our first child, which involved a high-risk pregnancy due to a complete placenta previa. I had been on bed rest at the antepartum department from week 25 to week 32 due to complications with the placenta previa. Just two days before the amniotic fluid embolism, I had been cleared from the previa, as the placenta had moved up. Unfortunately the good news was short-lived, as I was told I would not be able to leave the hospital because of a suspected chronic placental abruption. Around noon on April 10th 2014 at 32 weeks pregnant, I was in the labor and delivery room with my husband. I was nervous due to this premature delivery, but when my doctor checked my progress, I was prescribed Pitocin and had my water broken due to premature placental detachment. Within 5 or 10 minutes my throat began to close, my heart rate began to rise and my head felt as though it was going to implode. I was able to whisper to my husband to get help, because I couldn’t breathe. I remained awake and aware for the entire duration of the AFE and witnessed my amazing doctors work tirelessly to stabilize me. It wasn’t until 2am the next day I was told that I was “out of the woods”, since the hemorrhaging had stopped.

-How did you feel when you first learned of what happened?

I didn’t think it was as severe as the doctors and nurses were stating. The reality was that I didn’t want to believe that my daughter and I had been so close to loosing our lives. It wasn’t until about three days later that my mind began to process the AFE, especially when one of my doctors asked me if I knew I was a miracle and finally felt comfortable enough to answer yes.

-How did you feel returning home?

After being on bed rest for seven weeks and then an additional five weeks with our daughter in NICU, it was especially difficult to be back home. The toughest part of being back home was having access to a computer where I could research online what an Amniotic Fluid Embolism was. I spent many hours researching and reading published papers in search for some kind of understanding of why and what exactly had happened to me.

-What helped you get through the difficult moments?

I was filled with appreciation and with a new approach to life because I had not only survived but my daughter as well, and both of us did not have any long-term health problems. Nothing brought more healing than being able to be a mommy and remain along side my husband and see him love our daughter and be a father.

-How are you feeling now?
Melissa G
Each year has brought about new levels of healing, although I still struggle with mild PTSD towards medications or anything that may cause an allergic reaction. I have given myself the time I need to slowly heal and trust that the AFE is a permanent part of my past and am working to keep it from bringing anxiety to my present day and God-willing a future pregnancy.

-Share what aided in your physical and emotional recovery.

God and my husband have been behind my healing process. My husbands’ limitless patience and selflessness continues to this day to support me, especially on those tough days that sneak up on you, and he is quick to remind me how incredibly blessed we are.