Finding out I was pregnant at 26 weeks with a serious condition
Initially, I had a significant bleed which I thought was the worst possible situation. Being the person I am, I didn’t go to the doctor. Due to the bleeding being very out of line with my period and its circumstances, I concluded I had miscarried.
I was recovering from this, avoiding medical attention, which family and friends prompted me to get numerous times. However, I wasn’t in the best state of mind, nor could I find the time to make it a priority. The main concern was the length of time I was actively bleeding after the massive bleed in the beginning.
The bleeding did subside. Not too long after, I felt movement in my belly. I don’t think that needs much explanation from anyone, and at that time, I didn’t need any.
One home pregnancy test confirmed I was pregnant.
In my first doctors’ appointment, my GP was not confident that I’d be far enough to be feeling movement after thoroughly discussing cycles & when I had a suspected miscarriage.
Moments after placing the Doppler and having a feel, she agreed that I was pretty far along.
A further ultrasound revealed I was, in fact, around 26 weeks pregnant. There were no concerns with the baby.
I received a phone call from the front desk of my local GP. They asked me if I would like an extra ultrasound, as my GP was training to use the ultrasound machine. The opportunity to see my baby again on the screen was irresistible. Though not technically a medical appointment, I would still get to see him. Helpful for someone who finds out they’re pregnant at 26 weeks to process the reality of it all.
The scan was relatively normal, quite lengthy as she learnt techniques, positions, etc. Suddenly, the trainer asked for the scanner, and he took over and started scanning relatively low. He muttered to her quietly, something about me having placenta previa.
I promptly booked an appointment at my usual imaging group. Leading up to that appointment, I had googled Placenta Previa, what it means, the risks & anything else I could find out about this condition I had never heard of before. I felt so much fear.
Placenta previa is when the placenta attaches to the bottom of the uterus. I experienced the bleed due to the cervix thinning, causing the placenta to bleed.
I went through numerous appointments and additional ultrasounds, the standard for Previa.
I was referred to a larger hospital, the first appointment was just a standard booking for a c section, or shall we say the appointment before they officially give you the date.
My case was even more difficult, as no one had an exact date, and I’d missed the window of a scan that they generally use to match recent scans to determine a more accurate date.
Not having an exact date is annoying and scary, but having Previa on top of this and avoiding going into labor adds anxiety.
I pushed a little to have another scan at my second appointment as the potential dates drew closer. The GP seeing me was more than willing to crack this case a little more for me.
I sat back to wait for my appointment, relieved that we would now be able to lock in a date, and I’d work through my plummeting mental health and worries with an official countdown.
Not long after the scanner pressed to my skin, I saw the genuine concern on her face; thankfully, I had two GPs in the room, one being her.
She explained to me this was quite serious. There’s no open area without placenta blocking to perform a standard c section without cutting through the placenta. Cutting through the placenta with such a heavy blood flow is extremely risky.
They would have to perform a classical c section, an incision from the belly button to the bikini line.
I would now have to go to John Hunter Hospital. Leading to Christmas, staff availability would be shorter, and the facilities this smaller hospital could offer over the holiday period wouldn’t be suitable for the surgery I would need.
She told me she’s sorry, she’s sad I have to go through this. That broke me to pieces, and it made me realise the severity. That, along with the fact the other GP in the room had started explaining everything to my partner.
By the time I got into the car, I was a mess. The days leading up to my appointment at the Maternal Medicine unit were terrible. I thought either me or the baby weren’t making it out of this, worse case, both of us, which was a potential reality of the situation.
Before my appointment, a midwife told me to pack my bags; there was a good chance I won’t be going home. It broke my heart that I’d be away from my kids for so long, but I’d miss Christmas.
After my ultrasound at John Hunter, I was admitted; on the 23rd of December, my condition was suspected of Placenta Accreta.
Photo by Mayo Clinic via https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/placenta-accreta/symptoms-causes/syc-20376431
Accreta is where the placenta grows into the uterus and can not detach from the uterus without severe bleeding.
I spent Christmas Day having blood transfusions to build my stupidly low iron levels before the expected blood loss in surgery. I spent nights waking hourly for blood sugar tests, dripping in sweat from steroids affecting my gestational diabetes.
Pictured Above: A lovely gift that a lady organises yearly; she spent a significant time on the ward, including Christmas Day.
I spent most mornings crying to my midwives, scans on my heart, and many specialists explaining every detail to me, ensuring I understood the severity of this all.
There was a huge chance they’ll need to perform a partial Hysterectomy (the tubes and eggs are left, the uterus and cervix are removed).
The morning of my surgery was so terrifying. Every footstep was building anxiety, expecting it to be my time to be wheeled to the theatre.
Suddenly my wardroom was filled with midwives and nurses. I was wheeled off into the surgery bay.
The surgery bay was full of people. I had tubes put into my arteries, IVs, and scans happening all at once. Crying at this point was expected, and I had no shame. My partner and I didn’t say a proper goodbye, it was too hard, and there were tears all around.
The surgery room was full of people, around 20 people. There was a team of urologists in case of any damage to the bladder, midwives from NICU, nurses, and multiple specialist surgeons.
Being put to sleep for the first time in my life was dreadful. My flight instinct was ruled out due to the multiple tubes. However, my fight wasn’t. I fought the oxygen mask off very fiercely the first time but failed the second time.
I’m almost sure they were thankful as I drifted off. I was concerned that I would be sedated without anyone warning me, and I’d requested not to count down. Something in the survival part of my brain was repeating, “I would be put to sleep suddenly, like vets dart a Lion.” It was a real fear at the time, though I can laugh about it now.
The last thing I remember saying was, “I feel sick.”
As soon as I was awake, I also requested to be told my baby was okay.
The first thing I heard as I became aware was the team talking. I listened to “the baby is with dad in the birthing suite.”
As soon as my fears wore off, I could not physically explain the pain I was experiencing. I had lost 4L of blood during the surgery and had several blood bags, and they managed to recycle just under 1L. They had removed my uterus, and it was, in fact, accreta.
The baby was born hardly breathing due to the anesthesia. He was taken to NICU and given oxygen. He was taken out of NICU quickly as he was screaming the place down once his oxygen levels had increased.
As my partner walked in with the baby in tow in the bassinet, I can never explain how I felt in words, the relief of months of anxiety, fear I would never meet him, fear that both of us wouldn’t make it ended within moments.
Pictured above: My best friend during my recovery, I was on button-released morpheme and taps, connected to lines sitting inside me on nerve endings, that released timed direct pain relief to the surgery site.
The recovery is something I’m still dealing with daily. Leo is my last baby, which is why CKL Kids & Baby exists. I wanted to promise myself that I would enjoy every moment with my babies because this was it. The hustle of a 9-5 and not being with my kids has always caused me a lot of sadness, though reality sets in, and usually, I’ve had to face it.
This time is different, this is my last baby, and I can’t bear to send him to care and miss the little things.
I love children’s clothing, experience in retail, experience, and certifications in small business equals CKL Kids and Baby.
If you’re to take one thing from my story, please ensure you don’t put off medical appointments. In my case, I was fortunate. Most women who have bled with Previa end up spending more time admitted to the hospital than not. The reason is that you can bleed out, to be frank. I cannot express how lucky my baby and I are, and it’s a real lesson not to avoid medical attention.
If you're struggling with Accreta or Previa, please don't hesitate to reach out to me; I am here to chat and answer as many questions as possible. There seem to be limited resources or discussions about this in Australia, a significant reason why I wanted to talk about this subject.
Pictured above: Leo and I, a couple of hours after surgery, settled into the birthing suite, where we stayed overnight for close monitoring. When I look back on this image, I relive the exhaustion and my body's stress.
Pictured above: Leo and I, today, who is a very healthy and happy little boy.