Today’s vasa previa success story is brought to us by Katie, a mom with a beautiful little girl who is truly a miracle! Katie is a mom who experienced a missed-diagnosis Vasa Previa pregnancy and nearly lost her daughter. Her story is so powerful and raw, and it put me in tears as I read it. She has by far one of the most traumatic birth stories that I have ever read, and yet in the end, she gives all the glory to God. What an incredible testimony! Katie, thank you for sharing your vasa previa success story with Life Abundant readers. Your story is a miracle and one of hope in the midst of a storm.
The Traumatic Delivery of Baby Kenleigh
by Katie Duncan
The story of my daughter’s birth and conception are nothing less than a miracle. The journey to becoming pregnant with Kenleigh seemed like a long road. First, let me start off by telling the story of my first daughter, Kelcie. Kelcie was born in 2007 when I was 19 years old. I later married a man that I met when she was 2 months old. Kelcie’s “adoptive father” and I were married for 7 years and spent our marriage trying to have another child with no success. We went to a doctor to see what was wrong, and it turned out that my ex-husband had male-factor infertility. Once we divorced, I didn’t expect to meet anyone soon after; however, I did. I met my current husband, Ken, in November 2014 and it took me about 6 months before I would give us a chance. I was ending a toxic marriage and didn’t think I was ready to get involved with someone else. Things turned around for Ken and I in May 2015 when I found out I was pregnant with my younger daughter, Kenleigh. I was so excited and didn’t think it was true. Ken had told me that a doctor told him (before we met) that it would be very difficult for him to have children. Kenleigh’s conception was a miracle!
Shortly after finding out I was pregnant, Ken deployed to Afghanistan. My pregnancy was AMAZING. I had the most normal experience with Kenleigh. I had no morning sickness and only gained the recommended 25 pounds, which was different than my first pregnancy where I had gained almost 50 lbs. I glowed throughout my pregnancy. I also serve in the Army, and at the time I was stationed in Fort Drum, NY while all of my family lived in Arkansas. I was concerned about giving birth with my family being so far away. From AR to NY is about a two-day drive and my baby was due in January. If you know anything about upstate NY, it snows in massive amounts!
I had two ultrasounds during my pregnancy. The first ultrasound was the anatomy scan, and my baby was growing perfectly. Nothing indicated there was any problem. Around 7-8 months during my pregnancy, I had a 3D ultrasound, and again, no signs of there being any issues. Because everything was going so well, I decided to ask my doctor for a social induction due to my family constraints and Ken being deployed. I was induced with my first pregnancy at 41 weeks and I had a normal vaginal delivery. After speaking to my doctor, he agreed that the social induction had minimal risk and we scheduled it to happen on 7 January 2016.
The day finally came to go into the hospital, and I was told up front that because there was no medical reason to induce me, I may not actually get called on the 7th to come in, especially if there wasn’t a bed available. The 7th came, and no call. The 8th comes around, and by 12:00 PM I was getting anxious. I called labor and delivery, and they told me that my OBGYN was not on call that day, but to go ahead and come in. I went in, got hooked up to the monitors, and right before they were going to start my IV, another doctor came in and told me I was being discharged. I was livid! I was so upset and really looking forward to just having my baby…. the doctor sent me home and told me to try calling my doctor the next day. He refused to induce me because there was no “medical reason”.
The next day, I spoke to my doctor, he apologized and had me come in around 3:00 PM, and this time it was FOR REAL! I had someone staying with my older daughter, and my friend (who is a nurse) came up to the hospital with her laptop ready to Skype with Ken while he was in Afghanistan. Everything was going perfectly. They gave me a little pill that I had to dissolve between my cheek and gums and the waiting game started. I was having contractions, but nothing too intense, and these continued for a few hours into the night. Around 2 AM, my doctor came in, broke my water and told me it was time to get the party started. I was gushing water and it was very uncomfortable! My friend helped change the towels under me while we laughed about how gross it was. Everything was lighthearted and we were enjoying each other’s company.
I decided to get some sleep shortly after and I had only dozed off for a moment when my nurse came into my room telling me that she needed to readjust the monitor on my stomach. My daughter’s heart rate had dropped from 162 to 65! She screamed for the doctor and he came into the room disheveled. It was 2:20 AM and it looked like he had been sound asleep. The doctor checked my cervix and when he pulled his hand out, there was blood everywhere. My friend beside me gently said, “Katie, stay calm, it’s going to be okay.” Her voice was so clear and concise. I have medical training and a medical background, and I knew either one of two things was happening: 1) I was bleeding out; or 2.) My baby was bleeding out. Either way, if I went into shock, my heart rate would spike, causing her or myself to bleed out more rapidly.
Before I could even ask a single question, I was being wheeled into the OR. Nurses were trying to page the anesthesiologist with no success. I got into the OR and the doctor had me transfer to the OR table. I looked down and saw so much blood. I was terrified. In my mind I kept saying to myself, “I don’t have an epidural or anything… there is no way THIS is about to happen.”
I started shaking while laying naked on the table and there were about 15 people in the OR… everything seemed so chaotic. I still had no idea what was happening or what the large amount of blood meant. My doctor scrubbed up and started shooting up my stomach with lidocaine… a lot of it, too. He rubbed the bottom of my foot and asked if I could feel it. I COULD! He did it once more and I could still feel it. The nurses strapped me down to the table and he cut into my stomach. I didn’t feel the cut initially because the lidocaine numbed the top layer of skin, but everything that followed was pure agony. There was so much pain and screaming… I was praying in my mind, “Please God let me knock out from this pain!!!!”
I didn’t knock out. I felt everything. The only way I know how to describe the pain and horror was it felt like my body was on fire and like a dog was ripping my stomach apart.
Finally, Kenleigh was ripped out of me at 2:36 AM. When he lifted her out of me, I could feel her legs dangling onto mine and I was terrified that she wasn’t alive. The anesthesiologist finally made it in and put me under. When I woke up, my doctor and the NICU doctor were sitting by my side. I started screaming out for my baby because in my mind she was gone. There was no way she survived that. My doctor began the process of telling me that I had a condition called Vasa Previa, and that I was lucky to be alive… and so was Kenleigh. He explained to me that if I had been anywhere besides the hospital, Kenleigh and myself most certainly would have died. Kenleigh was born with a blood loss of about 95%. She required three blood transfusions and I required one. Kenleigh spent two weeks in the NICU, and from day 1, I was told she had less than a 3% chance of surviving. They didn’t know how long her organs went without blood and oxygen, and they were very concerned about permanent organ damage and brain damage. My family and I were nervous to hear the results of her MRI, but the doctor said everything was normal! Praise God.
Kenleigh spent two weeks recovering on a cooling blanket for her brain and hooked up to a ventilator. She made a full recovery and at a rate that the doctors were in awe!
My daughter is a true testimony of God’s healing power and mercy. I reflect on the events that led up to my pregnancy, and ultimately, the traumatizing and horrific birth. Circumstances fell into place exactly how God intended. Had the doctor from the day prior kept me and induced me, would he have had enough courage to do what my doctor did? Some questions will never be answered, but I look at my daughter and I see life that God has a significant purpose for.
Kenleigh is an angel sent from the Lord to remind me that no situation, event, percentage, diagnosis, or hardship is greater than Him.
Images property of Katie Duncan. Used with permission. For more vasa previa success stories, click here: Vasa Previa Success Stories