AFE Survivor Laura

laurapI was admitted to hospital at 38 weeks to be induced. Late in the pregnancy I had developed pre-eclampsia, cholestasis of pregnancy, HELLP syndrome and on the last scan I had redused amniotic fluid. I went into hospital early Friday morning but it wasn’t until Early hours of Saturday morning that the my labor started. Charlie was born about 9:15 am. He required abit of resuscitation. I had a forceps delivery and was torn so I was being stitched up. I remember someone telling me my placenta hasn’t come out so I will need to have it taken out in theatre. Charlie was being brought over to me and it was then I collapsed. I was in and out of conciousness and I remember someone trying to ask me if I was in pain and what it was like. They were struggling to read my blood pressure and I was rushed to theatre. I then had my AFE. I started hemorraging badly in theatre and developed DIC and had to have a laparotomy. They found a double uterus which was not noticed before! Surgery was done on my uterus to stop bleeding but I was still bleeding. I was then taken to radiology to have a uterine artery embolisation and this worked. My paperwork said I had an estimated blood loss of 6000ml! I counted 52 units of various blood products in my medical notes.
I was put in a sedated coma for 24 hours.

When I woke the next day I had no idea it was a day later. Charlie was brought to me later that day.
I was told I had developed metabolic acidosis and I had liver and kidney dysfunction. I had to have more blood transfusions and I was in Intensive care for 5 days having to wear a oxygen mask the whole time (not nice) and couldn’t talk.

I was then taken to high dependency unit which was attached to the labor ward. I was then just looked after by midwifes and had more of horrible experience as if AFE wasn’t bad enough. The midwifes always seemed too busy to help me. I wasn’t able to do anything. I couldn’t even move in bed properly or get out of bed and walk. I developed a sepsis infection which meant I couldn’t breath properly at times and I started to suffer with panic attacks. I then developed a (organic) psychosis. I can best describe my experience then as like being in a horror movie; thinking all sorts was happening/ was going to happen to me. I was referred to the psychiatric team. They supported me in the hospital and when I went home. I was in hospital for 16 days. I wasn’t able to care for my son in hospital so my husband took him home for some days but then my husband and son were allowed to stay in the hospital with me.

I was so happy to leave the hospital in the end as I thought I would never get out of there. I remember feeling like I must be the only one this has happened to. I was so glad to have my husband home with me for a while. He had 5 weeks off work. He was amazing caring for Charlie while i was getting my strengh back. I became very anxious about my health. I had another health scare about 5 months after which didn’t help. I had support from the local mental health team. I just took each day at a time. I found keeping busy, getting out the house to baby groups/ childrens centres and keeping to a routine really helped me.

It was 9 months after the birth when I was meeting with my consultant she told me they believed it was an AFE that I had. When I got got home I Googled it to learn more about it and I found a blog/ chat room about it which later developed into the AFE Foundation and Facebook pages. I felt happy to not feel alone anymore and know that I can talk to people about my experience and feelings and not feel judged.