Our biggest concern was that baby number 6 would also be boy number 6. Was this a risk we were willing to take? In my heart, I knew I wasn't done. I knew I would forever have that longing for just one more baby, regardless if it was a boy or a girl. My husband on the other hand said the only way he wanted to do this was if we could guarantee a girl. We debated, we talked about it, we discussed gender selection, we said "I'm not ready" a million times over, hell, my husband even told me "I'm just going to get a vasectomy." Low and behold, two weeks after him saying that, we found out we were indeed expecting number 6.
We found out the day before Valentine's day. My husband was shocked to say the least, as was I, but inside I couldn't be happier. I knew in my heart we were done after this... this time I felt it with every particle of me. In fact, I had been telling my husband since we got married that I was done having kids at 30. Don't ask me how I knew this... I just knew.
The first twelve weeks scared the crap out of me. I have bled with each one of my boys, and this time I had nothing. In fact, I wouldn't have even known I was pregnant. I had no morning sickness, no sore chest...nothing. I didn't start to really show until after 20 weeks. The picture below was taken at 20 weeks 2 days.
Around 13 weeks, I told my husband I needed to know what this baby was. I told him there is no way I can wait until the 20 week ultrasound, so we decided to pay for a private scan at 16 weeks. I had a dream the night before we went in that the ultrasound tech handed me a piece of paper and it said "It's a girl!" on it. I was so scared of jinxing myself that I didn't share this information with anyone.
When we arrived at our ultrasound, we met my mom and my sister there. We had all of the boys and everyone was so excited to find out if we were having a he or a she. Once the ultrasound started, baby had its legs closed tight. This was new territory for us as our boys made it VERY clear that they were indeed boys. The tech looked for about 15 minutes and finally stopped and said... "I think I know what it is, but I have to confirm with the girl up front." Talk about the longest 3 minutes of my life. When she came back in, she said "Are you ready to find out what you are having?" She typed in It's a... GIRL!!! I started bawling my eyes out immediately! Everyone in the room was cheering. I was in such shock and disbelief. We started progesterone shots the following week to help keep me from going into early labor since I have a history of it.
At my 20 week ultrasound, I asked them to confirm that I was having a girl. Sure enough, it was plain as day. However, they found a concern near my cervix, a pregnancy condition known as placenta previa, so they told me that I would have to come back in around 28 weeks to see if it had corrected itself. Placenta previa is a major concern in pregnancy because it can cause bleeding and put you in line for a C-section. I had partial previa with my 3rd son, so I wasn't too scared because I knew I'd be having another C-section anyway. (At this point, I had already had 5. No doctor will let you labor with that many.)
28 weeks came and I went to see a high risk ultrasound doctor with my oldest son. The tech was checking everything out first, and a worried look came over her face. I tried to see what she was looking at, but she just said "I can't see where your placenta and uterus separate. There is no gap between them here at this point." She went and grabbed the high risk doctor and they asked my son if he would be more comfortable waiting outside while they did the internal exam. After he left, the doctor informed me that I had a "suspicious spot" that could be known as placenta accreta. My heart sank. I had no idea what this was, I've never heard of it, and the look on her face told me it wasn't good.
The following week I met with the high risk doctor at Plymouth Hospital and she immediately said "I'm transferring your case to our Boston hospital. I don't even want to touch this case because it's very dangerous." I know she meant well, but my heart was in my throat. She scheduled an ultrasound and first appointment with the Maternal Fetal Medicine team in Boston.
August 12th I went to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. I was terrified and unsure of what was going to happen, what I needed to deal with, and what this whole condition was about. The ultrasound tech came out and got me and we started with that. She was incredible. We talked and chatted about our families and how excited she was that we were finally having our girl. Shortly after this, I hear a knock at the door and in walks this doctor with a bow tie. INSTANTLY I felt comforted. There was a presence about him that made me feel like everything was going to be fine. He introduced himself as Dr. S (I won't use his full name, simply for privacy reasons) and took a look at what was going on. He confirmed there was a "suspicious spot" and told me that once I was finished up, I could come and talk to him. This is when I first learned about placenta accreta.
Placenta accreta is a condition where the placenta attaches to the uterus. In many cases, it begins to embed itself into the uterus, and this is a very dangerous situation. The next stage of this condition is placenta increta. This is where the placenta embeds really deep into the uterus. The final stage of this condition is placenta percreta. This is the most dangerous one of all. It involves the placenta growing through the uterus and attaching itself to other organs. According to americanpregnancy.org, "Approximately 1 in 2,500 pregnancies experience placenta accreta, increta or percreta." Here are the odds for each level:
Placenta accreta is the most common accounting for approximately 75% of all cases.
Placenta increta accounts for approximately 15% of all cases.
Placenta percreta is the least common of the three conditions accounting for approximately 5% of all cases.
Now, at this point, the doctor didn't feel it was a percreta, but to be safe, he ordered a MRI to be done that day and suggested that I start the steroid shots to help mature her lungs. He informed me that I would not deliver past 34 weeks because the longer the baby is in my uterus, the more pressure is put on the accreta and it could get worse. He also informed me at this time I would have to have a hysterectomy because it was the only safe way to deal with this situation. He also told me that I would be awake for as long as possible during this surgery, but if I had too much blood loss, I would have to go under general anesthesia. This thought absolutely terrified me.
August 27th I met with the urologist, the anesthesia department and had my first beta shot. The urologist went over my MRI report with me and didn't see any reason to be concerned that I would have percreta. It didn't look like my bladder was involved at all, so this came a sigh of relief for me. I went and met with my doctor again and told him all of my fears, that I was afraid of what this surgery could to do me... the fact that I was afraid that I could die during this surgery and leave my husband without his wife, my boys without their mom. However, when I every time I talked to him about my fears, the whole thing didn't seem so bad. Unfortunately, this fear ate away at me from this day forward. We scheduled my csection/hysterectomy for September 11th and my pre-op for September 9th. He also discussed how I may have to go to ICU afterwards or that I may need to have a blood transfusion. Swallowing all of this news was not something I could do.
During these days leading up to my pre-op appointment and my c-section, the only comfort I found was when I was talking to my doctor. At home, I was a complete mess. I couldn't look at my kids without tearing up, and I found myself pulling away from both my husband and my kids. I tried to keep a happy face on during the day, but I was dying inside. All I could think about is how my kids may not have their mom, that my 2 and 3 year old sons wouldn't remember me... even replaying all of this in my mind has me in tears. I couldn't stop thinking about what would happen if my daughter had something happen to her, or if I died and she never even had the chance to get to know me.
Thursday September 11th is a day I will never, ever forget. My mom came down the night before to watch the boys, and as I was putting them to bed, it was taking every ounce of me not to lose it saying good night to them. I silently begged the universe to keep me safe, but if it couldn't, then to make sure my kids had someone amazing that would take care of them along with their dad and that they would have all the love in the world that I wouldn't be able to give them.
My husband and I needed to be in Boston for 6:00 am, so we left at 4. The mood was indescribable. I kept thinking I should say something to him, let him know if something happened then I was ok with him finding someone else, that if I was on life support it was his decision what he wanted to do; that I support whatever decision he makes, let him know how much I really love him .. everything you don't ever think you'll have to deal with at 30 years old. I didn't have the words, so I didn't say anything except how much I love him. We then stopped to pick my sister up. (We had decided ahead of time that it would be better for my husband to go with the baby once she was born and for my sister to come in with me during surgery so I wouldn't be alone.) After jumping in a cab, we arrived at the hospital a little before 6 and headed up to labor and delivery. The nurses were SOOOOO incredible. My case was the first of the morning, all others had been bumped, so we were the only ones in the room waiting to head back to the OR. The first nurse started asking all of these intake questions, while another nurse came in to try to get an iv into my hand. Yeah... that didn't go over so well. I almost passed out during that one. Whoops! ;) She finally had another nurse come in and she got it on the first try. Next came anesthesia. They needed to an A-line in my arm to help monitor my blood pressure and give me blood should I need it. The first woman tried, and after three failed attempts, she had to get someone else in there. Let me start by saying, this stupid iv hurts like hell. My husband and sister could not be with me because it needed to be sterile, so I focused all of my attention on what they were saying on the other side of the sheet just to make it through the pain. Even with a numbing medication, I could feel what they were doing. A second anesthesiologist came in and his name was Justin. This man, aside from my doctors, was incredible. He was so empathetic, caring and careful when he was trying to insert the iv. He got it on the second try, thank god!
Next, both of my doctors, Dr. S and Dr. R, came in and talked to my husband, sister and I for a bit. At this point, I lost it. I burst into tears. Everything I had held in for the last month was hitting me full force and I didn't know how to make it stop. It felt like I was in an ocean with waves crashing down over me, unable to move or breathe. It was so overwhelming having so many people in this little space, and my nurse came over and took my hand. She told me everything was going to be ok and she would have been surprised if I didn't start crying. She said she would have thought I wasn't normal. I just told her I was so worried about leaving my kids. She told me she completely understood. My entire team was just amazing. I have no words for the amount of love I have for all of them.
Now was the time to head to the OR. My husband and sister were not allowed in there at first because I needed to get my epidural and I also needed to have a camera put into my bladder to see if there was any sign of percreta. The first thing I remember was having my epidural put in and having my legs put into stirups. Wanna talk about embarrassing? There were around 10-15 individuals in that room, possibly more, that had a full on view of my hoo-ha. Yes, step in line... the shows about to start. HAHHA! They finally checked my bladder and said it looked fantastic. They didn't see anything wrong so the urologist left and my husband was able to come in. By this point, all I could focus on was the numbing of my body, the beeps of the machines, sounds of people shuffling around the room and low mumbles coming from the other side of the drape.
My husband came in and I knew my doctor was starting my incision. I had to have a vertical incision this time because it's safer for blood loss and it is more easily accessible for doctor to get to my uterus. I remember that I was starting to feel nauseous (horrible side effect that always happens to me with an epidural), so I let Justin know and he kept me feeling amazing throughout the surgery. He was on top of my nausea... I only got sick once, and I'll explain that in a minute. If the first dose didn't feel like it was working, he'd give me more. If I felt any type of pain, he'd take care of that. Very attentive, that man.
I remember kind of being in and out of it and all of a sudden, I felt a lot of pushing and pulling and knew my daughter was about to be born. I heard her little cry and burst into tears myself. Justin, once again being attentive, took my glasses off and wiped my eyes for me. (It's really weird how I only can recall bits and pieces of all of this, but I remember these little gestures the most.) My husband got up and I asked how much she weighed. 5 pounds, 5 ounces and 18 inches long. Pure perfection to me. I got to see her in a little incubator and my husband kissed me goodbye and went along with her. Now, I really hope he didn't see the terror on my face, because I knew after he walked out those doors, the real deal was starting to happen.
My sister came in and she sat next to me. She rubbed my head and let me drift in and out of sleep. I remember looking up and seeing a bag of blood already starting and this made me very nervous. One of the doctors was trying to put another iv in my arm, but I was so out of it that it wasn't bothering me. He did, however, jokingly tell me that I had awful veins. I tried telling them before and they didn't believe me. ;)
By this point, I had zero idea of how long I had been in there, and things started to pick up really fast. Pain was fast and furious, as was nausea. I swear I told Justin every two minutes that I thought I was going to throw up. He, of course, took complete control of that situation and told me to tell him immediately when all of it was happening again. I started to feel pain when they were manipulating my body down near my bladder. It wasn't severe, but it hurt. I tried explaining the feeling to them, and I think this is where they started to realize I wasn't going to last throughout the surgery with being awake. Both of my doctors moved up towards the top of my stomach and all hell broke loose. I burst into tears and started saying how bad it was hurting. I could feel EVERYTHING they were doing. I tried to stay calm for my sister, but I honestly didn't know how to. Next thing I remember is seeing someone grab my sister and seeing her face. I told Justin I was going to throw up and he told me I had to go to sleep. Sure enough, I was throwing up, lying down, and it felt like I was going to choke. I kept pushing the mask away from my face because I was afraid I was going to choke on my own vomit. (I apologize, that part is gross). Justin told me he would take care of it once I was sleeping.
Next thing I knew I was waking up. The first thing I remember seeing was my best friend's face. Nothing is more comforting than seeing someone you've known since you were 7. Apparently, when I first got to the room, Justin was asking me to open my eyes and I kept shaking my head no. Then he asked me if I could open my eyes, and I shook my head yes. He told everyone I was fine. HAHAH! I guess I can be kind of humorous in situations like these. ;) The first thing I remember asking was "what time is it?" I knew my surgery was only supposed to be a couple of hours. Someone in the room said "it's quarter to three." My heart stopped. 2:45? My brain could not wrap itself around this idea. What the hell took so long? Surgery ended up taking 6 hours.
I don't remember much after that. I just knew I wanted to see my baby and I was unable to. My husband was still in the NICU and my sister and best friend were with me. It made it so much easier to have them there. Suddenly, around 10:15, the door opened up and in walks my husband holding our little girl! She was stable enough that her nurse brought her to me so I could see her. I burst into tears seeing this sweet little face I had just delivered 12 hours earlier that morning. She was absolutely perfect.
The next few days were a blur. I had my sister and best friend there... both of whom deserve an award. They both took care of me like it was nothing and I am forever in their debt. I remember looking at my arms and thinking... holy shit, what happened? It honestly looked like I was an addict. The bruises were insane.
This was just a small view of them. They went up and down my arms and hurt so bad. I found out I have a severe allergy to the adhesive in bandaids/paper tape/bandages. My sides were torn up from this and I still have sores I'm dealing with. I also had a catheter because it turns out that my bladder was involved. I had percreta. They had to remove an inch of my bladder to get the placenta outta there. The catheter then decided to be an asshole one night and not drain correctly. I called the nurse in and told her what was going on. She tried to get it to drain and it wasn't working. My stomach was hurting so bad at this point I wanted them to just take it out. When she finally got it working again (I think she put a new one in), I had 700 ccs of urine in there. She was shocked.
Recovery wasn't as bad as I thought it might be. I knew that I was going to have to stay 10 days, so I had prepared myself for it. What I didn't prepare myself for, (my doctors too!), was that recovery was going to be so easy for me, that I was going to be able to discharge after 4 days. They kept me an extra day because I was trying to figure out a way to stay in Boston until my appointment and until we could get my daughter transferred from their NICU to a NICU closer to us.
Overall, my experience was hard, yet rewarding. I'm thankful my sister was in the room when all of the chaos started. I don't think my husband would ever forget something like that, and I felt my sister was a much better match for that situation. I found a love for people that I never knew I was going to have, for my doctor, for the nurses, for each person involved. I truly believe we choose difficult situations in our lives before we come here that will better us in some way, shape or form, and that there are people that we will connect with during these times that will help get us through. That was my doctor for me. I cannot give this man enough praise. He is the most fantastic doctor I have ever met, and I felt so sad saying goodbye to him (until my six week checkup) on Friday. I am forever connected to my wonderful team through my daughter and my experience. I am so grateful for all of them.
Friday I was able to get my operative report and final pathology report. It definitely was a percreta since there was bladder involvement. Overall, I lost 3000ccs of blood. I received 4 units of blood, 2 units of fresh frozen plasma, and 100 cc of my own blood.
Now, some may wonder why I want to share this experience. Mainly, I want to share this experience for my daughter. I never, ever want her feeling bad that her birth somehow scarred me or did damage to my psyche. Having a hysterectomy at 30 meant nothing to me just to have her in my arms. Having a scar go from my pelvis to above my belly button doesn't affect me one bit. I'd do this a million times again if I knew I was having her. She was worth it. She IS worth it.
I also want to share this experience to make people aware of this condition. I knew NOTHING about it until this pregnancy. The more c-sections you have, the more likely you are to be affected by this condition. I've had 5 (now six) and I'm surprised this didn't happen sooner. If you have the option to labor naturally, please, by all means, do it. Don't let your doctors pressure you or scare you into a csection... find a way to make it work. If you can't, then by all means, do not be afraid, but please know this is a risk that can and does happen.
Baby girl- I love you, your brothers and your dad to infinity and back and I'm so grateful to have all of you in my life.