Rachel and her bub both faced a fight to survive.
Here, Rachel Taufer, 33, tells the story in her own words.
W￼e’re finally going to complete our family,’ I gushed to my hubby.
Nathan, 33, and I had always dreamed of having four kids. Already proud parents to Bethany, then five, Amelia, three, and Patrick, one, we were over the moon to be pregnant again. But just seven weeks in, I started bleeding heavily. ‘I’m going to lose the baby,’ I wailed to Nathan as we rushed to hospital. Thankfully they found a heartbeat. But then the obstetrician revealed I had subchorionic hematoma. ‘It means you have blood accumulating between your placenta and uterus,’ he said.
Put on bed rest, I was told it usually subsided after 12 weeks. Although the bleeding reduced, I was still spotting daily. Going for a scan at 19 weeks, I was horrified when I looked up at the screen. I couldn’t spot my baby. All I could see was what looked like cottage cheese. Tears started streaming down my face.‘You have placenta accreta, which means your placenta has attached too deeply to your uterine wall,’ said the sonographer. ‘It means you’re going to have an early birth and you may lose your uterus.’ To ensure my placenta wasn’t knocked, I was ordered to be on bed rest again. I couldn’t even hug my kids properly. Then three weeks later I was rushed into hospital with heavy bleeding. ‘We’re going to keep you here until you go into labour and we’ll do everything we can to save your baby,’ said the doctor. They had to wait until my next big bleed and then they’d have to rush me in for a caesarean. ‘Timing is crucial. If it’s too early we could lose the baby and if it’s too late, we could lose you,’ he warned.
With a one-in-14 chance of dying from my condition, I had to keep strong. I was also terrified for my bub. By now we knew we were having a little girl and I couldn’t bear the thought of losing the final piece of our family puzzle. Then, at 26 weeks, I had excruciating back pain. ‘You’re in labour,’ a nurse told me. ‘I can’t be – it’s too early,’ I cried. My placenta condition had also deteriorated to percreta, meaning it had penetrated through my entire uterus and was attached to my bladder. As the pain continued, the room filled with doctors and nurses. They discovered I’d contracted potentially deadly sepsis and I needed to be rushed for a caesarean. ‘Tell the kids I love them so much, every day. And I love you Nathan, I love you all!’ I told my worried hubby. I was convinced I was going to die. On my way to theatre, Nathan shouted out, ‘What shall we call her?’ ‘Estelle,’ I told him. We’d debated names for a while and both loved Estelle. I just hoped I’d wake up to see my beautiful girl. Then the world went black.
Blinking my eyes open, I realised I saw a figure come into view. ‘Your daughter is beautiful,’ said the obstetrician. Tears rolled down my face. My girl’s alive! I thought, drifting back to sleep. Later, I heard the full extent of what happened. Surgeons had cut me from my belly button to my pubic bone to get our daughter out. Blue and not breathing, she was rushed to an incubator to be resuscitated.I was then put into an induced coma. During surgery, they removed my uterus. I’d lost five litres of blood – the amount that’s normally in a woman’s body. At one point, I had so little blood my organs were at risk of shutting down.I’m lucky to be alive, I realised.
Five days later, I had the strength to visit Estelle in her incubator. At just 1.2 kilos, she was so small. With a hole in her heart and suspected sepsis, she was facing her own battle. An overwhelming surge of love came over me as I saw her tiny feet moving. As I pushed my hand through a hole, she grabbed one of my fingers. ‘You’ve got a tight grip, you’re strong. We’re going to get through this,’ I told her.
The next day, I was able to hold her for the first time. Any pain or fear that I had, instantly fell away. I was discharged a few days later, but because Estelle was so tiny, we had to wait a long three months until she could come home. When the day finally came around, it was amazing to bring home the baby I never thought I’d have. ‘You’re so loved,’ I told her as her brother and sisters crowded around.
Now two, Estelle is a bundle of joy. Due to being a premmy, she has an eye condition but is a happy and healthy kid. On her birthday, we also celebrated my ‘survive-day’ and to mark the occasion, Nathan and I donated blood. If people hadn’t donated theirs, I wouldn’t be here and I wanted to give back. Our story ends with survival, but I know it could have been very different.
You can read Rachel’s blog at mummyminute.com
Read more in this week's issue of that's life!