I believe I have shared this story before, but a lot of my followers are new within the last year, and I wanted to share this part of my life with you as well! This story can be found on the site International Vasa Previa Foundation as well. A special shout-out goes out to Jamie and Maggie today, and also to Becky and Zach, and to Cindy. Thinking of you guys today!
I have a 15 yr. old son and a 10 yr. old daughter. Three years before my oldest was born, six months after my wedding, my husband and I suffered a miscarriage. I was 24 weeks along, and went through delivery. I was 20 years old, and very naive. An amniocentesis revealed an infection in the placenta. I had carried my baby for approx. four weeks after he had passed away. I never had contractions, never bled. Just went for my first ultrasound, only to be told there was no heartbeat.
When my son was born in 1994, he was a healthy 8 lb. 3 oz ! And then four years later, I delivered a healthy 9 lb. 4 oz. baby girl! I had border-line gestational diabetes. But no other complications in either pregnancy. We had one of each, so we thought we were done! In the summer of 2007, we were actually discussing what to do about making something permanent, when low and behold, I found out I was pregnant! I turned white and almost fainted! My husband grinned, and never stopped. :)
We found out at 11 weeks. At 13 weeks, I thought I miscarried. A fist-sized clot in the toilet made me believe that I had. We went to the hospital, where a very unprofessional nurse practitioner did very little, basically taking my word for it, said Yep, you had a miscarriage, and sent me home. She did not do an ultrasound, simply canceling it after reading blood results wrong. For 24 hrs. we grieved the baby that for two weeks we had grown to love. The next day I followed up with my midwife. She talked to us about a few things, even shedding a tear or two with us. I asked her how did we know that no tissue was left. I was worried about a toxic infection. She said we could check with an ultrasound.
We crossed through the waiting room, telling our other two that we were almost done. They had been told we had lost the baby. Lying on the table, I could only look at my husband, standing at my feet. I did not want to see an empty screen. The next four words would send me on yet another roller-coaster ride. The technician (Jen!) said "The baby is fine". For a mili-second I thought, That’s a cruel joke! But she was serious. We were stunned. I looked at the screen, and there he was, strong heart beat, wiggling! We walked back through the waiting room, again telling our kids "just a minute!" My midwife was speechless. She did a pelvic exam and told me that my cervix was NOT dilated, and never had been.
To this day there is no explanation because there was no specimen to look at. It was a blood clot of some kind, or, another explanation
could be Vanishing Twin Syndrome, which is actually fascinating. From that day on, my pregnancy continued uneventfully, although I did have gestational diabetes, which I completely controlled with a good diet.
And then on Dec. 20, 2007, at 10:00 at night, my water broke, sitting on the couch. It trickled at first, so I wasn't sure of what was going on. I was 32 weeks, 5 days, and two days before had had a normal ultrasound. If only it had been a color Doppler ultrasound or transvaginal! My husband rushed me to the ER (NOT the same one I had visited at 13 weeks) where my midwife happened to be on duty. I had no bleeding, no contractions. I almost felt silly for being there, because I felt fine. I had to keep reminding myself that my water had broke! My midwife checked me, and said that yes, my water had broke, but I was not dilated. A plan to send me to a bigger hospital where a possible c-section would be performed was set into motion.
The hospital I was at did not have the facility or capability to take care of a preemie born under 35 weeks gestation. I was scared. As the EMT s came in to move me and get ready to load me into the ambulance, my midwife(my angel!) decided to check me one last time. I was 4 cm after only one hour, and after saying "O crap", she said she felt the prolapsed cord. The ambulance was canceled, and I was shortly after, whisked away to an emergency c-section. They put me out, and I awoke two hours later, no longer pregnant. I had never had surgery before. Soon after, in a fog, I saw my husband, hanging out with little Caleb, 4 lbs. 2 oz. 16 inches long.
He was doing great. My midwife explained that it was not the cord she felt, but instead, a blood vessel the size of the cord. It had never burst. They delivered it intact. The words VASA PREVIA were used, but I had never heard of it and it would be weeks later until I dared to Google it that I would find out so much more. My doctor, who my midwife accompanied (they are best friends, talk about an awesome team working on me!) said that she had only seen one other case in six years, and the baby had not survived. A few hours later, Caleb was moved to the bigger hospital two hours away, and I was moved four hours after that.
He spent nine days in the NICU, six in the CCN, and then was moved back to our local hospital for seven more days, for grow time. He spent very little time on the respirator, no bili lights, no blood transfusion. He came home on January 11, 2008.
Nine days later, we were back in the PICU. We almost lost him. It was thought at first that he had RSV but that was negative. It was bronchialitis. He was on a respirator for five days, and then when administered Lasex for some swelling in his face, it also took down the swelling of his esophagus and he managed to extubate himself! He began breathing on his own, looked at us for the first time in five days, tried to cry, and for the next nine days, healed in the Barbara Bush Children's Pediatric Unit in the Maine Medical Center in Portland Maine. He came home again, on Feb. 4.
We stayed at the Ronald McDonald House through both times at the NICU/PICU, which was such a blessing. The RMH is a wonderful resource that my family will give back to whenever possible. Caleb has not been sick since, growing like a weed, and so full of a spunky little fighter's personality! He was our little terror already, when he reached six months!
Today he two years old. Running, singing, pretending, loves his food, laughs, plays, cries, all the things I would be lost without. Everyday, I thank God for giving us this little miracle. Doctors say there is no medical explanation for why I did not bleed or dilate sooner. I don't need one. My days are now filled with thoughts of those that have survivors and of those that have lost their little ones as well. I tell all pregnant people I come in contact with to ask their doctor about Vasa Previa. It could make a world of difference in their lives…
~ Lisa Chase