On January 12th, 2005, after going 38
weeks and 3 days (with no contractions and no bleeding) my husband
and I checked into the hospital early that morning. A little while
after one of the doctors on shift said I was 2 cm dilated and that
the sac for Twin A, Matthew, had to be broken artificially. I had
asked one more time that morning if I was to have a cesarean but
the doctor on shift said "no". The doctor broke
my water and attached a scalp monitor on Matthew. My husband and
I watched the screen that read Matthew and Steven's heartbeats.
Within an hour my contractions became stronger and I was given an
epidural. There was some visible blood but the nurse said that was
normal at this point. A few hours later my contractions were 3-4
minutes apart. No doctor came in to check on me for several hours
after. Around 4:00 pm the next doctor on shift said that I was now
6 cm dilated and that I would probably deliver by late evening.
We were all so happy things were going well, a perfect pregnancy
with an uncomplicated labor
it was too good to be true.
As the doctor was finishing the examination he
saw a big gush of blood come out. He was alarmed as some of it looked
like what he called "old blood" as it had a black,
brownish color to it. Things took a turn for the worse at this moment
as the monitor showed Matthew's heartbeat drop drastically from
140 beats per minute to 80, 60 and 50. I also saw Twin B, Steven's
heartbeat rise to 169. In an instant, the doctor said they were
taking me in for an emergency c-section and that the babies were
going to be delivered that afternoon.
Our lives changed forever after 4:00 pm. Within
those next 24 minutes, the nurse placed an oxygen mask on me, I
was rushed into the emergency room, the anesthesiologist increased
the epidural, and both babies being delivered as quickly as possible.
My husband and I were so shocked and confused as no one was telling
us what was going on. We went from an incredible high to a devastating
low in a matter of minutes. Although I was in total shock I couldn't
understand why they weren't proceeding with the cesarean. The doctor
on-call kept yelling, "What's taking so long?".
It seems that the Paedritrician that was suppose to take over Matthew
was not there yet. When he finally arrived, Twin A, Matthew, was
delivered at 4:30 pm and according to this doctor who delivered
him, "Matthew had little or no signs of life".
He weighed in at 5 pounds, 15 ounces. Twin B, Steven, was delivered
at 4:31 pm and as soon as the doctor said, "it's a boy",
I heard his first cry. Following the Apgar test, Steven was given
to us immediately. He weighed 5 pounds, 2 ounces.
The doctor started to examine Matthew's placenta
and stapled my incision. He kept saying ove and over, "There's
a lot of blood here". I have a blurry image but I do recall
seeing both sacs, Matthew's was very bloody and dark and Steven's
was clear. I could also see to my right the Paediatrician and nurses
working on Matthew. Seeing Matthew on the table with his eyes closed
and not breathing, I began praying out loud asking God to "Please,
please let my baby live...that I would do anything if He let him
live". Our precious angel...such a beautiful baby, perhaps
one of the most beautiful babies I had ever seen. Just like Steven,
he was 19 inches long and had his daddy's chin. He had eyes just
like mine, had more hair on his head than Steven and it was darker.
And yet as perfect as Matthew looked on the outside, his little
body did not respond to the medical team. The doctors tried resuscitating
Matthew for over 40 minutes with only initiating CPR. And I watched
every single painful minute. I saw chest compressing on him and
every couple of minutes the doctor would nod his head as if to say
there was no heartbeat. We were told that they got his heart beating
very faintly for a short moment. Within all this time, not once
did it occur to these doctors to give Matthew a blood transfusion.
With all the blood that he had lost in those minutes prior to delivery,
a transfusion was not given. Each minute that passed by in the Operating
Room without the blood transfusion gave Matthew a less chance of
surviving. I kept praying hoping he would show some movements, take
his first breathe, make a cry but it was too late; he lost too much
blood and could not fight no more. He was pronounced dead at 5:17
pm, the worse moment as I saw them stop.
At the time we knew something terribly had gone
wrong but didn't know the medical terms. The OB/GYN on-call explained
that Matthew died due to a condition with the placenta called vasa
previa and velamentous insertion of the umbilical cord. In my case,
the blood vessels that ran through the umbilical cord continued
to grow out of the cord into the placenta and across the cervix.
These blood vessels were supported by the membranes or bag of water.
In essence, the placenta had not formed correctly although it had
done its job properly to nourish and grow a healthy baby. As the
Pathologist report stated, "
there were 7 vessels going
across the membranes in the region of the cervix and one of the
vessels was noted to be torn
with labor, the presenting head
caused a tear of the vein, which gradually bled in to the uterine
cavity and then as the head was well applied to the cervix there
was very little revealed bleeding". Matthew had been bleeding
but because he was head down, the blood stayed inside my uterus.
When the doctor had checked me at 4:00 pm and that big gush of blood
came out, it was not my blood it was Matthew's
he had been
bleeding to death inside me.
The most painful
death in all the world is the death of a child.
When a child dies, when one child dies - not the 11 per 1,000 we
talk about statistically, but the one that a mother held briefly
in her arms-
he leaves an empty place in a parent's heart that will never heal.
Thomas H. Kean