By Gabrielle. Hope print here.
Jenifer Moss is intent on sharing her story, which is not — in her own words — your typical, magical delivery. She gave birth to her eighth child on an operating table surrounded by 40 surgeons, nurses, techs, and other people prepared to save her life. She survived a recovery that took over a year.
The condition she had, Placenta Accreta, is becoming more and more common. Every time Jenifer hears of a mother dying in childbirth, she wonders if it was a case of undiagnosed Accreta. She’s here to spread her knowledge, and give others hope. I like that intention very, very much. Welcome, Jenifer!
Hope, I have learned, is deeper than good luck. Hope gives you strength as you endure uncertain ultrasound after ultrasound. Hope is there when the heartbeat is hard to find on yet another non-stress test. Hope helps you lie still as they stick one more thing where one more thing should not be stuck. Hope is one more day pregnant. Hope is that final look, that squeeze of his hand before you go to sleep and leave your life in their hands. Hope pulls you from a drug-induced fog as you try to focus on newborn eyes. Hope helps you breathe again, walk again, pee again, lift, love, and heal again. Hope is powerful and strong.
I never wanted to be the face of Accreta; I just wanted to be a mother. I never, ever thought that I would be in a situation where I would have to choose my life or the life of our unborn child. No mother should have to make that choice. My condition was pre-diagnosed and it was severe, the worst case of Percreta the third set of specialists I was referred to had ever seen. I always hesitate to tell my story because mine was a story that I never wanted to read when I was researching Accreta on hospital bed rest. I wanted hope and I thought hope meant that I had to believe that everything would be normal, good, painless, and miraculous.
I was diagnosed with Accreta when I was 17 weeks pregnant. That diagnosis came only a moment after the sonographer told us we were having a boy.
Doctors encourage abortion when Accreta is diagnosed, because as your baby grows, your placenta will grow. My placenta was fused into my uterus on top of two old c-section scars. As my pregnancy progressed, my placenta grew through my uterus and attached throughout my abdomen, like cancer, onto other organs (like my bladder, cervix, bowels, and kidneys).
Accreta placentas are somewhat like ticking time bombs. The risk of hemorrhaging is great and during my extended hospital stay, doctors would remind me daily that I was their most risky patient. If I hemorrhaged, I could bleed out in five to ten minutes. They were concerned enough about me that they wouldn’t allow unsupervised wheel chair trips to the floor below. I was given a 10% risk of maternal death and a 70% risk of maternal morbidity (likelihood of extensive complications and repeated surgeries).
I remember praying fervently, over and over I would ask God to restrict my placenta. “Please, do not let it grow out of my uterus.”
One afternoon I felt a very distinct impression in the form of a question, “Baby or placenta?” I gasped and instantly I understood. My prayer changed, “Oh God, bless this baby.”
Living in the hospital I had every test imaginable, twice! Doctors and nurses and sonographers and interns would pour over my ultrasound images trying to see just how deeply my placenta was implanted outside of my uterus. At one ultrasound, I asked for some time. With tears running down my cheeks I explained that I needed them to look at my baby, not my placenta. They cleared the room and the head of imaging sat with me taking the most darling 3-D pictures of my perfect little boy. I printed them out and posted them all over my room with the words, “HE IS WORTH IT.” And, I was right. He was.
When D-Dday arrived — Ben’s delivery was actually scheduled for June 6 — I thought I would be terrified, and I was. But, more than scared, I was so excited. I woke up the morning before singing the song, “My son’ll come out tomorrow!” I felt so lucky to have made it to almost 34 weeks gestation. I felt lucky to be in the hospital with hundreds of people who had spent years and years of their lives learning how to save people like me. I knew the blood bank was stocked and ready for me. I knew my life was in God’s hands. Live or die, I was at peace.
There is so much I could tell you about Ben’s birthday. I could tell you about the funny nurses who helped me write Sharpie thank-you notes to my surgeons on my stomach. I could tell you about the anesthesiologist who agreed at the very last second to allow my husband inside the operating room so that we could have that one “It’s a boy” moment before I was put under and my baby was whisked to the NICU. I could tell you about Internal Jugulars or balloon catheters or arterial lines. I could tell you about my kind bishop who lent me his iPod full of inspiring music that played powerful, somewhat angelic hymns in my ear as a real-live ER episode acted out around me.
My arms were literally secured onto boards on either side of me. As I lay there, I could see my open stomach on a monitor, my blood like a wave covered the hands of my surgeons, and I was grateful. I fell asleep with my soul pouring out gratitude and hope, “Bless my baby, bless these surgeons” I prayed harder than I have ever prayed in my life.
Time is a blur for me after Ben was born. It took me some time to figure out that my surgery hadn’t gone well. It was months before we learned that my right iliac was accidentally severed and miraculously repaired three days later by a team of trauma surgeons. I was given over 200 units of blood transfusion and my heart never stopped pumping. I couldn’t see clearly for over a week. I couldn’t talk or walk or eat or go to the bathroom. I used the sign language alphabet to ask over and over how my little boy was doing. I don’t exactly remember the pain, but I do remember the sweet relief that I felt when people touched me. I was brought back to life limb by limb, toe by toe. My body woke up like your foot wakes up when it has fallen asleep. I was so blessed to have the cutest little baby, the most supportive family, and a whole houseful of kids to pull me home.
My little boy Benjamin William Moss was born on June 6, 2013. He weighed 5.5 pounds and he was perfect. I was born again that day. My life will never be the same and I am so grateful for the lessons I have learned. Hope saved my life, and I’m grateful to be here to share my story with you.
Oh, Jenifer. Thank you for sharing your story. I had never heard of Placenta Accreta and I’m guessing many people who read here haven’t either. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.