It takes more than a few stitches to help some mothers heal after a difficult birth
“There’s something on my face.”
That was Vicki Delinger’s first conscious thought when she awoke. It was followed by overwhelming confusion and fear. She tried to talk and couldn’t; she couldn’t move either. Then Delinger took a deep breath and started gagging and coughing.
The “thing” on her face was a mask attached to an endotracheal tube going down her throat. When you are intubated, a machine is breathing for you. If you draw a deep breath, it makes you gag.
At this point, nurses and her husband, Scott, weren’t able to tell Delinger exactly what had gone wrong. But she had suffered a very rare obstetrical emergency called an amniotic fluid embolism. While she was giving birth, amniotic fluid or fetal debris of some kind had entered her bloodstream, causing an anaphylactic-like shock and the collapse of her cardio-respiratory system. It’s fatal 80 percent of the time.
The nurses tried to soothe Delinger’s panicky tears. “It’s OK. Your baby’s going to be fine. She’s beautiful,” they said. “That made me cry even harder,” the Edmonton mother of one recalls.
The next day, Delinger finally got to hold little Katie for the first time. The baby would have to spend a week in the neonatal intensive care unit. Mom had to spend four days in the ICU herself. Finally, nine days after the birth, they were all home together.