A mother died while giving birth, but she lived to tell her story. If that sounds confusing to you, keep reading to see what happened.
Stephanie Arnold was experiencing one of life’s most amazing events; she was pregnant with her second child. But instead of being overjoyed, she was fearful of what was to come.
She was convinced something bad was going to happen – she knew she was going to die. While she was giving birth the mother died, and then lived to speak of her story.
Now the mother who died giving birth is enjoying a healthy baby boy and treasuring the peaceful moments that were almost taken from her.
In May, Arnold was delivering her baby in what should have been a routine C-Section. Instead, the new mother died seconds after her baby was born, coding on the operating table.
“My heart stopped, all electrical signals went to zero,” Arnold said.
Her doctors explain that she actually died as she spent 37 seconds without any vital signs.
The OB/GYN attending the delivery was Arnold’s doctor, Julie Levitt and, together with the anesthesiologist, diagnosed an amniotic fluid embolism, or AFE, an unpredictable and rare condition that occurs when amniotic fluid or fetal material enters the mother’s bloodstream and triggers a life-threatening reaction, which can cause death.
Dr. Levitt said she had never seen the condition in real life before, “I’d only read about it,” Levitt admitted.
According to Obstetric Anesthesiologist Dr. Nicole Higgins, about 40 percent of women don’t even survive the initial severe symptoms.
In the case of Arnold, she beat the odds and survived without any physical damage, despite being in a coma for six days and spending weeks in the hospital.
But the most amazing thing the mother that died in childbirth, and ultimately survived, is that she had an uneasy feeling that she couldn’t explain before the delivery.
“It was so raw. It was the feeling that I had was I was going to die. There was no question,” Arnold said.
“It really wasn’t based on anything but her emotions. She just had a sinking feeling that something was going to go wrong,” said Dr. Higgins.
Arnold even met with an anesthesiologist prior to her scheduled C-section and she says because of that conversation, she changed up the anesthesia order to include more blood and more monitors for the delivery.
“And that is 100 percent what saved my life. No question.”
As time has gone by, those conversations, and Arnold’s close call with death, have been learning experiences for everyone.
“Don’t be afraid to express what your fears are to your physician. And, if you’re met with a dismissive comment, bring it up again,” was Dr. Levitt’s advice.
As to how this experience changed her, the mother who nearly died in childbirth said:
“I take deeper breaths. I savor every single moment with my family,” said Arnold.
Doctors say reports are that other patients who have had an AFE have also described feelings of doom prior to delivery. Even though the condition is unpredictable, some risk factors may include advanced maternal age and placenta problems during pregnancy.