After Jo gave birth, her life hung in the balance.
Here, Jo Bennett Tronc, 37, tells the story in her own words.
M￼y husband Mitchell looked at the clock.
‘Addy was born about now,’ he said.
It was our gorgeous daughter Adaline’s second birthday, and my hubby was reliving the day.
Then, Mitch, 37, looked at the time again.
‘And this is when I didn’t know if you were dead or alive,’ he said quietly.
After our first child Hayden had come along we hadn’t planned any more.
Suffering pre-eclampsia, I’d been rushed to theatre and given an anaesthetic ready for a C-section.
But the drug didn’t work properly, meaning I’d felt everything and been in excruciating pain as Hayden was delivered.
So when I’d fallen pregnant with Addy 10 years later, it came as a complete surprise. I’d even been having periods.
Feeling bewildered, I didn’t tell anyone when I went for a dating scan. Then, I got another shock.
‘You’re about 18 weeks,’ the sonographer said.
Sure enough, there was a baby girl dancing away on the screen.‘You’ll have to come back tomorrow for a full scan,’ he said.
Mitch and Hayden couldn’t believe it when I told them. The second scan explained my ‘periods’.
Growing over my cervix, my placenta had been bleeding.
I’d need regular monitoring and wouldn’t be able to have a natural birth. Thankfully our bub was doing well.
As the weeks went by, she loved to kick.
‘It’s like I’m being whacked in the belly!’ I said to Mitch.
Then, at just over 37 weeks, I started having contractions so we went to Mackay Base Hospital.
Examining me, a midwife decided it was time.
‘We’ve got a full theatre staff right now so we’ll take you down,’ she said.
After my last ordeal, I was frightened.
‘You won’t feel a thing,’ the anaesthetist promised as they gave me an epidural.
Then, beautiful Adaline was brought into the world.
As the midwives checked her over, Mitch asked if I wanted him to get a photo of our daughter.
‘My chest hurts,’ I told him.
The next thing I knew, a huge tube was in my throat.
Grabbing at it, I tried to make sense of what it was and where I was. Then I drifted in and out of consciousness.
When I came around in intensive care, everything was a blur and it took a while to understand what Mitch was telling me.
‘Your chest hurt, then your eyes rolled back and your heart stopped,’ he said. I’d died seconds after Addy was born?
Frantic, Mitch had been bundled out of the room while the team desperately worked to bring me back.
‘You were gone for four minutes,’ he said, looking shattered.
Afterwards, I’d been put into an induced coma for two days.
When things became a bit clearer, Mitch took out his phone and showed me a photo.
It was of me lying with wires and tubes snaking from my body and a precious pink bundle in my arms.
She’d been placed on my chest for skin to skin contact so we could bond, but it was all a blank to me.
I’d been in a coma when I’d met my baby. How had this happened?
With the tube still in my throat to help me breathe, I couldn’t speak, but a doctor explained that amniotic fluid had entered my blood stream, triggering a reaction that caused my heart and lungs to fail.
Amniotic fluid embolisms (AFE) affect one in 40,000 births and only 20 per cent of women survive.
In fact, I was only alive thanks to the quick-thinking of my anaesthetist and the talented theatre team.
Impossible to predict and incredibly rare, I was lucky they’d done drills on AFE just in case.
It meant they were able to identify what was wrong immediately and treat me.I’d never even heard of it. It was so much to take in, and I still felt horrendous.
CPR had damaged my ribs, so when Addy was laid on me again it was so painful. Still, the warmth of my bub was amazing, even if I could only bear it for a few minutes.
My mum Toni, 67, and all my family helped Mitch care for my girl.
Then, when Addy was 10 days old, I was allowed home. Slowly but surely, I healed.
My short-term memory was damaged by the lack of oxygen while I was gone and, diagnosed with PTSD, I had a mental health journey too. Sometimes I had flashbacks, but Mitch was so supportive.
He’s had to fall in love with a different woman, I thought, marvelling at his understanding.
On Addy’s first birthday, we celebrated our girl but didn’t talk about what happened. It was too raw.
Then, on her second, in October, we showered her with presents while quietly acknowledging each moment.
Her hugs are the best thing in the world, and she’s always on the go. She adores her big bro, and Hayden, now 13, loves Addy to bits.
Now, I want to open up about my birth experience to raise awareness of AFE and make a difference with my second chance.
The truth is, not all births are completely magical experiences. If I can save one woman by sharing my story, I will.
Read more in this week's issue of that's life, on sale now.