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Near Death on the Delivery Table

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I heard, "It's a girl!" Then I heard three more words I never expected to hear: "We're losing her!"

woman giving birth

Michelle Kemper Brownlow: The nurses were talking about ME! My husband watched the next hour unfold, thinking he was leaving the hospital as a single dad of two.

I thought moms dying on the delivery table was something of the past, archaic, in fact. With all the advances of modern medicine? Scientists can grow body parts in a petri dish, and I AM DYING ON THE DELIVERY TABLE?

After having my first child, I remember my doctor commenting that she needed to "remove some pieces" of torn placenta from my uterus. I just assumed this was normal. Somehow, that information didn't make it onto my charts. Had it been documented, this pregnancy could have been monitored with a specialized ultrasound, and a Cesarean could have saved us from this grave situation.

I have a rare uterine disorder called Placenta Accreta. This causes the placenta to grow into the wall of the uterus. With each consecutive pregnancy, the placenta can grow deeper, becoming a life-threatening situation. In some cases, the placenta grows through the wall and attaches to organs.

The uterus supplies blood flow to the placenta until it is fully removed. Doctors have 30 minutes to remove all of it or the patient will hemorrhage. The OR was called for an emergency D and C at 30 minutes -- unfortunately, no OR was free for another 30 minutes. I remember my blood pressure hitting 70/40, and then my memory is spotty.

"God saved your life last night" were the words Dr. P. greeted me with the next morning. Needless to say, we adopted our third child.

My advice: pay close attention. Ask questions. Push for answers. Your life is in your doctor's hands, literally!

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7 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jenny December 2, 2009, 4:50 AM

Don’t you love how some things don’t get written in your chart?! I spiked a really high fever (I will never know how high because they didn’t write it in my chart and it was in the middle of delivery) they packed me with ice packs all around my body and under my arms, neck and knees. I also hemorrhaged but again, didn’t make it into my chart.

What is up with that???

PlumbLucky December 2, 2009, 4:56 AM

Charts - I demanded that a few things be noted in mine because they didn’t sound “normal” to me even as a first time mother. That is scary…and no OR’s available? YIKES.

Anonymous December 2, 2009, 5:40 AM

I was near death with my second. Don’t remember much since my organs shut down and I was unconscious, hemmoraging. (Abruptio placenta). Scary stuff. Glad it worked out for you… and me.

Gigohead  December 2, 2009, 6:49 AM

I too experienced an life-threatening emergency with my son’s birth this August. My heart and brain were within minutes of bursting open thanks to eclampsia. Whew! Glad to have that behind me!

Krista December 2, 2009, 8:54 AM

I had the same thing happen with my first, I had 3 d@c’s and 3 units of blood, and almost didn’t make it. Was told by my doctor that I would have to be induced so I could be carefully monitered if I had another one, but wasn’t and also told by specialist this would happen agian but that a c section is more dangers, What? If it happened and they saw it in the c section they could take care of it quicker

Beth December 2, 2009, 10:08 AM

I had a uterine tear after delivering my second child last November. It went undetected for hours and I nearly died.

Thank god for an excellent surgeon and lots of blood. Blood donors are my new heroes.

O Neg December 3, 2009, 9:34 AM

All these stories emphasize the importance of donating blood. Let’s unite sisters! Go donate for the holidays.

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