Noa’s planned delivery date was my birthday, October 1st. The birth of our first granddaughter and third grandchild. Our excitement and fear were growing with each day. My daughter Carly and her husband, Steve, invited me to attend the birth. Noa’s birth was not an ordinary delivery. We knew the potential complications.
Our daughter gave birth to our first grandson, Brady, in January 2016. I planned to attend this delivery too, but at the last minute, they found out that Brady was in a breech position. C-Section was the only option.
Carly has a blood clotting disorder called von Willebrand Disease (vW)*. vW is a genetic bleeding disorder caused by missing or not enough von Willebrand factor in the blood. What it means is that her blood does not adequately clot. A small cut can become an emergency. Fortunately, there are medications to assist in clotting. So, if a tiny cut can cause immense bleeding, imagine a C-Section!
A little-known fact is that vW numbers often stabilize during pregnancy. Carly’s vW numbers were good. The hematologist chose not to prescribe the crucial medication DDAVP*.
After the C-Section, Mitch and I joined Carly, Steve, and newborn Brady in the post-op room. It was an immense joy to meet our first grandson. Our pride and love for Carly, Steve, and Brady were palpable.
Mommy and baby were doing well for the first half-hour post-op. But then Carly’s stats began to turn downward. The medical staff was unable to keep her blood pressure up, and Carly’s heart rate was exceedingly high. Carly was so pale, and my mother’s intuition knew something was desperately wrong.
Mitch, Steve, and I frantically watched this scene unfold. I pleaded with the staff to do more; that Carly was in trouble. The medical team continued to give Carly fluids, she would rally for a bit, and then her numbers would tank again.
Finally (hours!), a specialist arrived and immediately went into action. He told us that Carly needed to go back into surgery. Astonishingly, the hospital did not have the vW medication on site. Time was of the essence. The doctors called on local police to quickly escort a medical team member to retrieve the life-saving drug at a nearby hospital. Every minute counted, and there was no time for delays.
Throughout the entire emergency and before the second surgery, Carly was alert, aware, and calm. She obviously does not take after me!
As they wheeled Carly back to surgery, she took off her wedding ring and handed it to me. This moment was when I realized that we did not know what the outcome would be.
Carly’s moment would happen minutes later when she witnessed the surgery team’s frenzy preparing to operate. It hit her that she was in a real crisis, and there were no guarantees.
DDAVP clotting medicine was administered to Carly before the doctors re-cut and retraced their steps to discover the bleeding source. This surgery would be Carly’s second c-section within three hours.
The wait was endless. I held newborn Brady and fed him formula, knowing that this should have been Carly’s time to breastfeed her son. Mitch and Steve needed to go walk our three dogs who were waiting at home. Steve appeared to be in shock, and we convinced him to do this errand with Mitch so that he could regroup.
I recall my friend Ruth calling to see how it was going. As I sat in Carly’s empty hospital room, holding my first grandchild, I was unable to talk. I told Ruth that I thought I was also in shock and quickly got off the phone.
Hours, at least it felt like hours, passed, and Carly was back in recovery. I would love to report that all was well after surgery. Carly’s blood pressure and heart rate continued to spike and plummet. Bells would ring from her monitors as nurses rushed in to attend to Carly’s needs.
Carly, the voice of reason, told Steve and me that someone needed to remain with her all evening to advocate. Steve was the first to sleep in her ICU room as Carly’s stats refused to stabilize. I was grateful that he volunteered to go; first, I was still unable to breathe, let alone sleep while watching her active monitors.
I slept fitfully in the step-down room, which was also saved for Carly and Brady. At 3 AM, Steve and I switched, but by then, Carly’s numbers began to settle.
The next morning, the nurse brought Brady into the ICU, and Carly breastfed her newborn son. She was so weak and fatigued yet dedicated to giving Brady everything he needed to start in life.
That day my husband Mitch and I were in the hall of the ICU, and the head Doctor of Emergency approached us. He warned that Carly should not attempt to give birth again. He continued that if she were his daughter, he would make sure this was her only birth. We later mentioned this to Steve and let him decide when Carly should hear this news.
Carly slowly healed and was able to return home within the week. She was weak and fatigued but determined to start “mommyhood”.
I stayed at their house for three weeks, and by the time I left, Carly was able to drive, walk outside and care for her son.
Little did we know that 3 ½ years later, Carly would be delivering her second child, and once again, I was invited to attend. Her planned delivery date was my birthday, October 1st. The birth of our first granddaughter and third grandchild. Conclusion of this story next week.
P.S. The hospital changed protocols after Carly’s delivery to have DDAVP available in the hospital at all times.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
DDAVP– desmopressin –https://reference.medscape.com/drug/ddavp-stimate-noctiva-desmopressin-342819
von Willebrand’s Disease – https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/vwd/facts.html