This concludes the telling of the birth story of our son – Josiah Mark. But as I write that it just doesn’t feel right. Although this finishes his birth story, in no way does it complete his story as we pray that this is a summary of his beginning.
This is the third part of three. The first several paragraphs in italics are repeated from last week’s story to give context – but we recommend you read both parts (Part 1 and Part 2) prior to reading this article.
[just a couple of days prior to his birth] This time I slept all through the night. I did not need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. So I woke up at around 7 am to go to the bathroom. I stood up from my bed and I immediately felt a lot of liquid, and it was running down my leg.
I stood there and thought my water broke. I had this happen with my second baby, I stood up from bed and had the same exact experience in which warm liquid was running down my leg because my water had broke. So I ran to the bathroom to confirm my water breaking, only to have my heart drop with complete shock to find that it wasn’t water pouring out of me, but blood, tons and tons of blood! I started screaming and crying and Alex woke up and ran into the bathroom and I am standing there with blood all down my legs, my pajamas, all over my hands and arms, the floor – everywhere. It looked like a murder scene. And it was just was pouring out of me uncontrollably. It was happening again……..
Part #3 continued below:
I mentioned in the first part of our story that the bleeding was the most bleeding I had ever had in all my life. Well, this dwarfed even that bleeding experience. It was everywhere. Alex called my parents for the second emergency day in a row. While he called them, I got dressed and put on the biggest maxi pad I could find and it was so pathetic compared to the problem as it was soaked in less than 5 minutes. I wasn’t sure how to get to the hospital without making our car look like the murder scene I bathroom became. Then I remembered that I still had the quadruple-huge pads that they give you in the hospital after having a baby. Alex got me one and I put that on instead.
Do you remember how we mentioned just how close Josiah’s older brother Nathan (at the time age 4) had become with his baby brother in the womb? While we were waiting for my parents, Nathan wanted to talk to his brother. I can’t share just how sweet that moment was as Nathan was talking to his brother – with Josiah happily kicking and moving at his every word. So although I was bleeding so profusely, I was comforted by the fact that not only was our baby moving at this point, but at the deep love a big brother had for his baby brother he had never seen.
Between when my parents arrived and when we made it to the hospital, only 45-minutes had transpired although to me it seemed like an eternity. Our baby boy was very active and since we had just been in there 24-hours before for lots of tests and monitoring, I was feeling that he was okay, but I was sure he wouldn’t be for long!
While on the way to the hospital, we tried to call my doctor but couldn’t contact her. After all our babies and pregnancies and calling her in the middle of night and always being able to talk to her, we were yet faced yet again with not being able to talk to her. I actually said to Alex that although she delivers at several hospitals, I have a feeling she is at the hospital we are going to and delivering a baby right now.
We got up to labor and delivery and I told the nurse quickly what had happened, that I had just been in the day before and was assured everything was fine, but that now I was profusely bleeding – more than I ever have in my life. She kinda looked at me like I was an overly-dramatic-annoying labor patient. She said “Okay, take everything off and put on this gown.” I replied, “I don’t think you want me to take off my underwear as it is containing all this blood.” She seemed a bit more irritable at my response and asked, “Is it really that bad.” I replied through my teeth, “YES!” She then told me to just do whatever I thought I needed to do.
I went into the bathroom and changed into the gown as that was all I had, except my own underwear with the super ginormous post-baby pad. By that time it was so full that walking around in the bathroom left a big puddle of blood and as I tried to go to the bathroom it just left blood all over the toilet. I walked from the bathroom to my bed with a trail of blood following. The whole time, the nurse was behind the curtained room on the computer. Before laying down, I showed her the blood before laying down. She literally went white and silently turned to her computer and started typing frantically. I finally asked, “So is this normal?” And she said, “NO! I just paged your doctor.” She helped me get cleaned up and change to a new pad with hospital underwear and then changed the pads on the bed. You can only imagine how relieved I was when she then said, “Guess what, your doctor is already here and she just finished delivering another baby! She will be here any second.” I don’t think it could have been orchestrated any better because right after that my doctor walked in! Oh what a relief!
She saw the pad the nurse took off and the one being soaked that I just literally put on. She knew that I had been there the day before as they called her from the hospital and that all was normal at that time. One thing I will never forget (I’ll refer to this later) is just how upset she became when she saw they had conducted a pelvic exam – not only did she speculate they were too rough and possibly induced labor early but because I have all my babies via c-section (due to complications with my first two children) she never conducts the pelvic exam to prevent inducing labor.
Although I keep referring to her at my doctor, she is technically my midwife (a CNM – Certificate Nurse Midwife) She had to call the doctor that performs the actual c-section and told her that we needed to get our son out immediately and that there was a serious problem. So while the doctor rushed over and the nurses and my midwife prepared me for surgery for an emergency C-section. The doctor was there in less than five minutes. Again, to me it seemed like an eternity.
On the way to being rushed to the operating room, the doctors, nurses and staff were quickly alerting me to the reality of the situation. They let us know that with that amount of blood our son would most likely need a blood transfusion after his birth, and because he would be born 4-weeks early, as a boy his lungs would probably need some help and he will most likely need to stay in the NICU for a time. I remember being so stressed in those moments. Alex and I were praying the whole time that our son could hold on for just a few more minutes. My emotions were drained yet so mixed – I wasn’t sure what was going on, but I was super thankful that I was there and just moments from getting him. But I was also so upset myself because I had wanted him out so badly the day before when I was at the hospital.
As you can tell we had an emergency c-section. I’ve had c-sections before due to other issues so I wasn’t new to this procedure. The operating room is always fun and lively and they blast music and have fun with it (probably a combination of keeping me from hearing everything and keeping the doctors and nurses focused). It is usually a happy surgery with a happy outcome most of the time. And that was just how this c-section started, the usual lively, happy but speedily c-section – even though it was an emergency.
So as the doctor starts her initial incision everyone is talkative and chatty. And then she announces she is making the final incision into the placenta. As soon as she did the whole room when silent. I asked Alex what was going on and he mentioned the lack of color on everyone’s faces and the shock as the doctor worked frantically to get our son out. I couldn’t see, but I was awake and I could see Alex’s face, I could here the staff gasp and the responses of the other staff in the room. It wasn’t good! The doctor and nurses’ chit chat and happy conversations had become very sullen and serious.
Every second that ticked by made me want to cry (looking back there must have been less that 5-10 seconds). But soon I heard it – a muffled crying that came from our son! What an incredible relief! They whisked him away and I and Alex insisted that Alex went with the baby.
It took them quite a while to get me cleaned up and sewn back up compared to previous c-sections. Soon I was in recovery and just waiting to meet my baby. I couldn’t wait – I was in recovery by myself and I didn’t know exactly what had happened. Was he ok? Would he need to go directly into NICU? I was a little out of it and so relieved and overjoyed that he was out and hoped he was okay. The recovery nurses said that he was fine, they were just taking care of some issues but he was going to be fine and in my arms very soon! I wasn’t sure if I heard right – was he supposed to be in NICU? Did he need or already have his blood transfusion?
While I waited I tried to think back at the surgery even just a few moments ago. Although my midwife and doctor were telling me what had happened during the time in the room when they were cleaning me up, I had a hard time registering it between the epidural and everything that had just transpired. What I did know that a LOT of blood was involved. I know that it had been bad. And I most of all knew that it was only a miracle our son was alive. One thing I will not forget is how many times I was told in the operating room and afterwards the fact that he would have died within a few more minutes of being in the womb.
Just a few minutes later, our son was delivered to me in recovery. He was beautiful and lots of hair for 4-weeks early. He was breathing fine, he had great color at the time and his Apgar test was nearly perfect! In fact one of the best out of all 5 of our kids. He started nursing right away with no problems (unlike our previous children ) As I held him in my arms, I remember bursting out and crying with pure joy and thankfulness that he was here, doing well and no longer in danger. When the nurse in recovery handed him to me, she said that “He is a pure miracle, he shouldn’t be here with what happened – someone really wants him here!” And I knew that someone is God – He preserved our young boy’s life. I could only imagine what is in store for this little one.
So What Happened?
So now that he was out and doing well, it was high time for me to find out what exactly happened. Shortly after starting the c-section, it was discovered that my placenta was almost entirely detached, another few minutes and it would have been completely detached – it was apparently hanging by a thread. In fact, it had probably started detaching from week 13 when the initial detachment took place. It didn’t reattach or heal. It continued to rip off bit by bit throughout the whole pregnancy. And with it tearing, it also meant tons of blood had been filling my uterus over the last several months. In an ultrasound, you could see fluid, but as apparently water and blood appear the same on the machine, but it was probably blood or partial blood for the better half of the pregnancy.
After he was born, he did start crying, but when they were cleaning him up, they realized that he had been living and swimming in the blood – they honestly didn’t know how long he had been living that way. As such, right after coming out, they had to pump his stomach from the blood that he swallowed – and it was a lot for a newborn baby. He initially weighed in at around 5 lbs. 11 oz. And they think that they pumped 5-6oz. of blood from his stomach, not counting his meconium that included blood. His second weigh in was 5lbs. 5oz.
For the next couple of days, he also spit up and pooped frank blood. It would normally be very traumatizing as well as life-threatening. Before the C-section, they also told us that babies born in that circumstance usually need a blood transfusion and before starting the c-section, they were pretty much guaranteeing us that he would be in NICU for being born early with underdeveloped lungs and under the circumstances he was born in. They were preparing for all of this during the c-section. But after cleaning him up and pumping his stomach, he was fine!
He did not need a blood transfusion! He did not need to go into the NICU! He didn’t need help breathing! He was fine, perfect and only by the pure Grace of God! He became a famous little baby around the hospital the next few days with his story being passed from one nurse to the other. Each new shift, his story had to be told, partly as they were so amazed, but also because they needed to warn each other that if they spotted blood in his diaper or spit-up, it was perfectly normally and good as he needed to rid his body of the rest of it. With each shift change, we had nurse after nurse express how unbelievable it was that he was here and doing perfectly fine.
We brought him home just a few days after birth, essentially leaving the hospital when my recovery was far along enough. We were ready to go very quickly after birth; the only thing wrong was that he did have some jaundice and he had a double hernia – but both problems are very common even in full-term babies, so it probably wasn’t even related to his womb environment or early birth.
Here’s what most likely happened……
At 13 weeks, when I experienced the initial large amount of bleeding, it was probably because I injured myself and tore the placenta from the uterine wall. It was suspected that by 20 weeks it had completely healed. But apparently this was not the case, but rather, it never reattached and just continued to tear which would explain off and on spotting throughout the pregnancy. And I am pretty sure I know how I injured myself – I have a very skinny laundry room with just enough clearance to open the dryer door. When I am pregnant, my housework and especially laundry really lacks due to exhaustion. We needed laundry done badly and I climbed over a mountain of laundry at the entrance of the laundry room to get to the dryer and then climbed back over the pile with a full hamper and lifted the hamper over the load and really stretched and strained with that heavy load in my hands. When I did this, I remember feeling a little pull in my abdomen. It was only a couple of hours later is when the bleeding started. I keep telling myself this incident could have been prevented and I would have probably had a perfectly normal and healthy pregnancy with nothing to worry about. Friends, please be careful when you are pregnant to be aware of everyday risks that may not normally be a problem!
Then at 35 weeks, when my contractions started, I really wasn’t in labor, but rather that nagging tight contraction deep-down in my pelvis should have been the first warning sign of this specific problem. When I went to the hospital the day before the birth when I couldn’t feel him moving, I told the nurse about that deep contraction that wouldn’t let up. She said it is probably normal and moved on to the next test. Right before the C-Section, when my midwife was trying to figure out what happened, I told her about that deep pelvic contraction that wouldn’t let go. She told me that was one of the first warning signs of a tearing placenta and she wished the nurse had told her that when she called her the day before. That would have been the warning signal they needed to know something was seriously wrong. So let that also be a warning for any of you that may experience that symptom as missing that nearly cost our son’s life!
I don’t remember the specific name of the condition, other than it was a continual tearing of the placenta from the uterine wall. They knew it had gone on for a while as there was a progressive aging and dying at different parts of the placenta. It was something that was also odd and the doctors said that they were sending it for testing. Several weeks later at my follow-up, my midwife confirmed it was a strange situation and the testing of the placenta indicated that it had initially tore and couldn’t reattach – I guess most of the times they do reattach. My doctor just reemphasized the miracle.
How one mistake saved our son’s life…
Probably one of the most amazing parts about this story was the fact that he wasn’t moving the day before. Why is that the so amazing? Well, looking back on the situation, I realized just how God’s hand was so providentially moving through the whole situation. You see, this pregnancy was a planned c-section as it would have been my fifth c-section. With that, I don’t ever receive a pelvic exam from my doctor as they do not want to induce labor (making the c-section more risky). So they just do all of the other parts of the checkups and avoid that until the day of the birth.
Well, when I went into the hospital the day before because I couldn’t feel him moving, the nurse did all the tests she could, including a pelvic exam. Remember how upset I mentioned my midwife was the morning of my delivery when she found out about the pelvic exam? That nurse probably saved his life without knowing it. Because she did that pelvic exam, I lost the mucus plug and it broke loose allowing the blood to start escaping for us to know the issue and we were able to get him out with less than an hour to spare!
I truly believe that God caused Josiah, our son, to be still the day before so that I would get to the hospital to get this process started. If not, our son would have died the next day and we wouldn’t have known the issue until it was too late! I cannot describe the feeling of how gracious and wonderful our great God is that he can use a situation such as our son not moving to be the instrument used to save our son’s life.
August 2011 – Double hernia surgery
God has taken care of this little boy every step of the way – he missed his death by minutes, he defied the need for blood transfusions, breathing machines and the NICU. And then to top it off, three months later he had his double-hernia surgery. Going into the surgery at Primary Children’s Hospital, I packed an overnight bag as they told us that he would be at least staying overnight. Then after the surgery, they told us that he seems to be doing well enough that he may be able to go home in 12-hours; they told us this as they wheeled him to his room. After being in his room only 15 minutes and right out of surgery for a double-hernia removal, his IV fell out of his arm because of his movements. The nurses tried to get it back in and they couldn’t. They were trying to figure out what to do – no one I know, including myself has never been off the IV minutes after surgery. While they were figuring it out, I started nursing him and he did just fine nursing as normal. They came back in and saw him nursing and was shocked! They checked his vitals and everything was coming up great! Just 30 minutes later they said we could go home.
Here’s our little guy, a premie, having a double hernia surgery at 3-months and his strength was so amazing that we left the hospital less than 2-hours after his surgery – an instance which even shocked the staff at the hospital. His recovery was fine! This is yet another example of the Lord preserving his life and overcoming physical trials in a miraculous way!
We know the Lord has big plans for him, right now he is a little guy weighing in at almost 16lb. for a 13 month old – but we are confident he will do big things! He is now a year old, sweet, cute, snuggly and so full of life!
Oh and yes, big brother Nathan is so proud of him – Nathan had been wanting a brother to wrestle and play with and is just now starting to experience just that – the wrestling part that is – he’s been playing with him for months before Josiah was even born.
Nathan and Josiah (Josiah is 3 mo)
For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;[b]
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.
Psalm 139: 13-16
Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord O My Soul!