AFE Survivor Kristy
First time pregnancy – I had just turned 40 years old on 8/24/2012, about a month before due date. Had a great pregnancy, no issues with the baby or myself considering my “advanced maternal age” (haha). On my due date, my doc said I wasn’t very dilated but everything looked good and did I want to have the baby the next day by being induced? Sure, why not?! So we trecked to the birthing center at Providence Willamette Falls Medical Center. I vaguely remember walking in with my husband Dan early in the morning, ready to just get the worst part (the birth) over with. I was insistent the whole pregnancy that I wanted an epidural because I knew I was only having one baby and didn’t want to be a martyr, I just wanted it over with and as comfortable as can be!
Walking toward the birthing center was the last thing I remember. From my husband, parents, great friend who was there, and medical records, I learned the rest. I was induced but still progressed slowly. Afternoon, I got my epidural and it went bad. I was the one-in-how-many thousands that had my epidural space punctured and spinal fluid leaked to my brain, causing massive headaches and vivid nausea. After throwing up and still not progressing, I tried to rest before the big push later that night. A little after 10 pm, the fetal heart monitor alarm went off and a nurse came in. My husband and I had been trying to sleep. She was trying to figure out what was wrong when my husband saw me start to have a seizure. Luckily, the ER was across a skybridge at the hospital next door. Code Blue was called, I got a shot of epinephrine and chest compressions and was eventually revived, as was my baby. After I was stabilized, I was given an emergency C-Section at 11:53 pm. My daughter was born he althy, but remained unnamed until days later.
I was kept under anesthesia, some tests were done at that first hospital, then eventually, at about 3 am, I was transferred by ambulance to another larger hospital and put into their cardiac ICU. My daughter was transferred as well and was able to be with me most of the time there. No one knew what had happened or if/when I would pull out of my unconsciousness and how I would be. My family was already making plans for my long-term care and that of my daughter. They kept putting her on my chest hoping that it would inspire me to wake up. I think it did. 🙂
48 hours or so later, I started to wake up. We named the baby finally (we had to decided on a girl’s name as I was convinced I was having a boy!) I had major memory issues and couldn’t retain info more than a few seconds or minutes. It took a couple of days before I was ok’d for release. I vaguely remember being wheeled out to our car and driving up to our house with our baby. Nothing else in between. I am often sad that I have no memory of what should of been the happiest moment in my life, but instead was the absolute worst.
After numerous tests, medical panel reviews of my records, and follow-ups, no one could confirm what had happened or why. About 2 years later, my regular doctor and I were talking and she brought up AFE. I had never heard of it, and she said that she really believes that’s what happened, based on all my medical nfo she was being copied on at the time and even afterwards.
I went home and started googling info, there was very little. I looked at my medical records, and there was one slight mention of AFE, buried deep, as a possibility. Months later, I was still trying to find info and that was about the time the Amniotic Fluid Embolism website came up. It was amazing – finally some answers (at least in my mind) about what probably happened. I submitted my records in the hopes that info can be there for medical providers in the future. I was lucky – fast action and the ER next door saved me. I often think, though, how can no doctors in either hospital or the panels that reviewed my records have come up with this? What if it happens to someone else? It probably has, but no one is familiar with it or what to do? I want birthing centers (even natural ones) to be familiar with AFE should it happen again, so that mothers and babies can be saved. I want commonalities or causes to be found so that we can prevent it in the future.
I’m so thankful to my family and friends who were with me during all this and truly believed in my recovery. A lot of special prayers helped, too! My daughter Sonya and I (and my husband Dan) will continually support AFE Foundation and do whatever we can. I want her to be educated about it so that if Sonya has a baby someday, she can let her providers know in case it’s found to be genetic. I’m thankful every day to be here and be this amazing little girl’s mother.