On August 15, 2005, we found out our lives were about to change forever. We were expecting a baby! After five years of marriage and waiting for the “perfect time” to start a family, it all happened rather unexpectedly. This was the beginning of such a special time in our lives. We decided to wait until after our first ultrasound to announce it to our families.
On August 27 I experienced some light bleeding. It was the first time I felt genuine fear for my baby’s life. I called the emergency number for my OB/GYN and was transferred to Labor & Delivery at the hospital since it was a weekend. The nurse I spoke with said since the bleeding was light, there was no cramping and the bleeding had since stopped it was most likely a blood vessel on my cervix that had ruptured. She said to take it easy and get some rest until my doctor’s appointment on August 29. I spent the rest of the time worrying about the fate of our baby. I fully expected to be told that the baby was lost when my husband and I went to the doctor that morning for our ultrasound. In stead we were told that everything looked normal and our due date was April 21. No abnormalities were detected. My prayers had been answered and our baby was safe. We shared our ultrasound pictures with my family and our baby earned the nickname, “Peanut”.
On October 31, I woke up and felt a lot of pressure. Thinking it may be a urinary tract infection I once again called the doctor. I went in and there was no sign of a UTI. My midwife wanted to make sure that I wasn’t dilating so she examined me and ordered a ultrasound. Once again, I was told that everything was normal and that I was probably just experiencing pressure from my growing uterus. My next ultrasound was set for December 1 at 20 weeks. We would get to hopefully find out the sex of the baby. My mom and husband went with me for this special appointment. We were all amazed at the 3D ultrasound. We could clearly see our baby’s face, but weren’t sure if it was a boy or a girl.
From here on out everything in the pregnancy was perfectly normal. I never experienced any morning sickness, just a little extra tired. We went to our Childbirth Preparation and I tried to decide on which method of pain management I would take. We were planning for the birth of our baby.
As April approached and my doctor appointments came around every Thursday, the reality began to set in that our baby would be here soon. On April 13, I was told that I might go that weekend! My midwife, Peggy, stripped my membranes since I was starting to dilate and my cervix was ripening. It was Easter weekend, so we went along with our plans as usual…nothing happened. The next Thursday, the day before our due date I was examined and the midwife, Rita, thought that she felt the umbilical cord. I was immediately afraid for my baby. Upon more careful examination, she thought it was just a ridge in my cervix. She again stripped my membranes She was on call that weekend and felt sure that she would be seeing me. An appointment was scheduled for Monday, April 24, just in case. This time we stayed around the house for the most part and waited for any sign of labor.
On Monday morning, I went to the doctor and was scheduled to be at the hospital for a planned induction on Tuesday, April 25. Our baby would be here tomorrow.
We arrived at the hospital at 5:30 am and Pitocin was started around 8:00. My midwife, Peggy, came in and we discussed our wishes for a vaginal delivery and talked about our ideal birth experience. My husband desperately wanted to “catch” the baby. My Mom, sister, niece & nephew arrived shortly after that and we began to wait. I started having very mild contractions, so they kept increasing the Pitocin. Peggy, said she would break my water after the contractions were more steady. My family left for lunch and my husband and I watched TV and tried to enjoy the peace and quiet before my pain increased. My family came back and he rotated out for his lunch. Peggy came back to examine me and decided to break my water. I decided to go ahead and let her do it, so that maybe things would progress and we would have a baby by dinner. My family left the room and Peggy ruptured my bag of waters at 12:07. I was laughing at how funny it felt and sort of wishing that my husband was with me for this experience. Peggy left for a lunch meeting only to return with a scared look on her face. She said that the baby’s monitor was acting funny and asked that my nurse, Valerie try to fix it. Peggy then got in the bed and examined me. She told me that we had a cord. I knew what this meant and immediately began to cry and pray for my baby. She ordered an emergency c-section and the room was flooded with medical staff. My family saw all of the commotion and my husband was paged. He arrived in the room just as they were wheeling me into the operating room which was thankfully, right next door. Peggy literally held everything in place until our baby was delivered. My husband wasn’t allowed in the OR since it was an emergency, but was called to the window with my Mom when the baby arrived at 12:28pm.
It wasn’t until after delivery of the placenta that the doctor’s realized that they were not dealing with a prolapsed cord, but it was velamentous insertion of the cord and vasa previa.
I woke up from anesthesia around 2:00 and was told that my baby was okay. At 2:30 I met, The Muffin, a beautiful 8 pound, 8 ounce little girl. She was perfectly healthy! We were so thankful!
It wasn’t until later that I realized how blessed we are to have a happy ending. After three ultrasounds our vasa previa was not diagnosed. Thank God that Peggy checked the baby monitor before she left for her meeting. The doctor on call for my medical group was not at the hospital, but luckily another one from our group was. It just so happened that Dr. DeLaney was close by and was in the room in a matter of a few minutes. So many things factored into our baby’s arrival. We are so thankful to God for Muff every day!
In May of 2008, I finally got up enough nerve to order my Labor and Delivery medical records. I found out that I also had a succentriate/accessory lobed placenta. (I remembered in July of 2008 that my midwife had told me this after the crash c-section. I guess those drugs they use for anesthesia are pretty powerful to suppress memories for that long!) I found out that I’d gained 40 pounds during my pregnancy. Ugh! I learned that The Muffin’s apgars were 9 and 9! I was so proud! I found out that my amniotomy site (where the amniotic sac was artificially ruptured by my midwife) was only 1 centimeter from where the umbilical cord was inserted into the placenta. I also realized that the placenta sort of started it all. Succenturiate lobed placenta caused velamentous insertion of the umbilical cord which caused vasa previa which caused my Muffin to be a Miracle.
Even if the succenturiate lobed placenta had been detected during pregnancy, vasa previa may not have been diagnosed. I’ve never felt the need to put blame on my midwives or doctors. Even some of the most experienced OB/GYN’s do not know about vasa previa. Some manage it as placenta previa and some do not manage it at all. That is why we have to raise awareness of this condition. It occurs more often than spina bifida, yet we aren’t doing any routine testing for it. A color doppler ultrasound can be the key to saving a baby’s life.
You can learn more about Vasa Previa by visiting http://www.ivpf.org/ , the website of the International Vasa Previa Foundation.
It only takes a moment to diagnose life.
This has been a guest post by Jamie McMilan. You can check up on Jamie at her blog McMillan Miracles.