I remember the day like it was yesterday. I know exactly where I was; inside a Target getting ready to meet with a potential wedding client at the Starbucks inside. I saw the small icon of a photo pop up saying iMessage from Amanda. What popped up when I opened it shocked me. I was so excited when I saw the two small lines next to the surgical instruments.
Fairly soon after Amanda had her son Brax in December 2018, her mom saw a discolored mark on Amanda’s back that wasn’t there before. Amanda had it checked, and it was a very rare form of cancer. She was beginning to start her radiation treatment when the nurses did the routine check for pregnancy, and there it was. Two lines that changed her life even more. So much emotion ran through her.
When we did her maternity session, we did it in Sedona; of course, anyone who knows Amanda knows she LOVES Sedona. She didn’t find out the sex of either of her babies. She was hoping she’d have a girl so she could name her after a spot she loved and that meant so much to her. January 2020, sweet little Sedona Grace was born.
Now I wanted to ensure that when I told her story, because Amanda is one of my best friends, that I got every detail right. There is no better way to tell her story than to have her tell it from her perspective from start to finish. The events that occurred during her pregnancy and birth story are ones that touch my heart and soul so much because I was there to experience them with her. Texts and phone calls at all hours, talks in her salon chair while I got my hair done, and baby play dates. Here is her story:
“On January 3rd 2020 I went to the hospital for some bleeding. Now normally, this would worry a pregnant woman. However, this was my fourth time in the hospital for bleeding during pregnancy and without knowing that this visit would be different, worry had yet to set in.
I prepared myself for the routine hospital visit that I unfortunately became accustomed to. I would be admitted, monitored for 24 hours and sent home. The doctors would tell me what I had heard so many times before, ‘Baby looks completely fine, and very healthy. We are not sure where the bleeding is coming from. If it happens again come back and see us.’ The bleeding would stop when I got to the hospital, which was reassuring. I would be discharged, and life would continue.
On January 4th, 24 hours later, I was sent home. I was 36 weeks pregnant. My husband and I decided not to find out the gender of our baby, and we were very much anticipating the surprise. We found out we were pregnant in an incredible way. After I had my first child, I was diagnosed with an extremely rare cancer. We removed most of the cancer and decided to complete the treatment with six weeks of radiation. When I went in for the first round of radiation, they ran a few preliminary tests on me, and told me that we wouldn’t be able to begin radiation. I was pregnant! The emotions that came with that day were absolutely amazing. This baby was a miracle baby, and so loved already.
On January 5th, the bleeding began again. I stood in my kitchen contemplating my next move. Do I head back to the hospital for the fifth time, be on the monitor for 24 hours only to be sent home with the same outcome? Do I wait at home, and let the bleeding subside, like it has every other time? I decided to head back to the hospital, and have them tell me it was okay for the fifth time.
The doctors decided this time to keep me in the hospital and they were going to induce me at 37 weeks, which was five days away. They told me if my body naturally went into labor, they wouldn’t stop it, but wanted to get me to 37 weeks if possible. I was hooked up to the contraction monitor and within twenty minutes my body started having contractions. They were strong enough and I was sufficiently dilated to be given an epidural. We were having a baby!
After receiving the epidural, I was able to sleep for a few hours. When I woke up though, something was wrong. I felt like I was going to faint, which was strange, because I was laying in a hospital bed, numb from the waist down. I pressed my call button to let the nurse know that something felt off. She came in a few minutes later, and I explained to her that I was having that feeling right before you paint, tunnel vision almost. She said ‘Maybe your water broke, let me check.’ She lifted up the sheets and immediately called ‘SWAT STAT room 12” on her intercom. I didn’t know what that meant. I could tell she was staying calm, but something was off. Moments later, the room was flooded with doctors and nurses. The lights turned on and they told me ‘It’s time to push.’ When my husband looked down to see what the nurses and doctors were looking at, he said ‘I’ve never seen so much blood in my life.’ I had bled through the hospital bed and all over the floor.
My favorite nurse, the same who delivered my son the year prior, was in the room with me. She told me ‘We are going to let you push for a few minutes and then we are going to the OR, you have lost a lot of blood.’ I delivered my baby girl in 9 minutes and she was perfect. They placed her on my chest as the doctor was waiting for the placenta. The placenta was coming out in pieces, and the bleeding amplified. Moments later, I experienced my first seizure.
Everything was white. There were no walls, no ceiling, no floor, and I was talking to God. It was the most surreal thing I have ever experienced. It still brings me to tears, even as I type this. I remember saying ‘I will come. Will you tell my family how much I love them?’ I wanted my husband, my 13 month-old son, and my new baby girl to know I was madly in love with them as I left this life. But when I opened my eyes, I was back in the hospital room.
The nurse and doctors were frantically poking my vein in my body to get the blood transfusion going. I had lost over half of the blood in my body. My veins were collapsing as fast as the nurses were poking me. The second and third seizure began. My husband put his hand on my head, he said my body was ice cold.
I was back with God. I felt peace, I felt calm and I knew He would let my family know that they were so loved.
I woke up hours later in the ICU. The room was cold and dark and there a million machines beeping. I had no idea where I was. The kindest nurse came into my room and told me she would be taking care of me. She said that my husband and baby were in the NICU; she was perfectly healthy, but wasn’t able to come to the ICU. The germs there were too big for my tiny little babe.
We found out that I had placenta accreta, which is a condition where the placenta grows into the uterine wall. I had experienced the most dangerous outcome of accrete – a life threatening hemorrhage. I needed 5 bags of blood to replace the blood I had lost during delivery. Unfortunately, this condition was not caught in an ultrasound. After doing some research, I found out that 90% of women with this same condition will need a blood transfusion. Placenta accreta is very rare and only occurs in 0.2% of pregnancies. It is one of the most serious conditions a woman can face during pregnancy due to high maternal death rate, catastrophic effects of hemorrhaging, and need for blood transfusion.
I am so thankful for the nurses and doctors that saved my life. I am so thankful to be given each new day to be with my husband and sweet babies. I am thankful that my children will get to know their mom. I am thankful that my husband doesn’t have to raise these babies on his own. I was impacted by so many people on my medical team, and I knew I had to give back in anyway I could. One of my nurse friends suggested that I share my story and host a blood drive. I want to help other moms who might need blood during delivery, and any other patient that may need a blood transfusion. This donor blood saved my life, and I am forever grateful for that.”
A whirlwind of emotions. So thankful that in the end two of my favorite girls ever are healthy and alive. You never know what the next day holds, as God writes your story and he knows what’s best and what you’re truly on this earth for. Amanda is one of my biggest blessings. She has taught me so much as an individual, a. business owner, a mom, and a wife. She constantly encourages me to be the best version of myself, and to love others unconditionally like she does. I have no doubt in my mind that she is going to raise the kindest, purest, most selfless babies into amazing human beings. Here’s to watching these sweet babies grow up together, and for you to continue to inspire so many people with your strength and beautiful soul.