In her 20s, Emily was diagnosed with uterine didelphys, a condition where a woman develops two small uteruses instead of one. It can be difficult for women with uterine didelphys to get pregnant, and carrying a pregnancy to term presents sometimes insurmountable challenges.
When Emily and her husband received the news, they were devastated but hopeful. “All my husband and I wanted was to be parents,” she noted. Unwilling to give up, they began a complicated journey to parenthood; one with high risk, but also the hope for the ultimate reward. And get that reward they did—in 2015, after a trying high-risk pregnancy, Emily gave birth to her daughter, Isabel.
In 2017, after going through 3 rounds of intrauterine insemination she found out she was pregnant again. When coupled with a previous c-section and her uterine didelphys, Emily was deemed a high-risk pregnancy for the second time, and therefore carefully and meticulously monitored by her doctor. “Anything that felt weird, or different, I went into see my doctor. We weren’t going to take any chances.”
At 23 weeks she was diagnosed with premature rupture of the membranes, a tiny hole in the amniotic sac which can cause premature labor. After a short hospitalization she was cleared to go home and be on bedrest, but the fluid continued to slowly leak. With rest and continuous monitoring, Emily made it to 39 weeks. Her water broke the night of her scheduled C-Section and her son Ari was born on November 2nd, 2018.
A few days after being home though she started feeling faint and decided to take her blood pressure. The results were higher than she expected, so she went to the maternal assessment center and was put on a blood pressure medication. “I’ve learned through my pregnancies that you have to be your own biggest advocate. Only you know how you are feeling and if you don’t say something, it’s not just your life but your baby’s life at risk.”
At her follow-up appointment, one week after giving birth, she mentioned to her doctor that she’d been experiencing a sharp, stabbing pain under her right breast.
“Normally, I don’t think I would have mentioned something like that to my doctor, having just given birth I thought it was likely related to breastfeeding, but I had just read an article about a professional athlete’s birth experience which was complicated by a pulmonary embolism (PE) as a result of a c-section. If I hadn’t read that article, I would never have known that blood clot complications can occur after a c-section.”
Little did Emily know, mentioning that pain to the doctor saved her life. Without being able to rule-out a PE in the office, she was instructed to go directly to the Emergency Room. After a myriad of testing, it was confirmed she had a clot in her right lung. Given the timeliness of her postpartum care, she received life-saving treatment.
“My experience was traumatic. I could have died had I not said something to the doctor. They call pulmonary embolisms the silent killers for a reason. Many women truly have no idea they have one until it kills them.” In fact 20% of all maternal deaths in the United States are caused by pulmonary embolisms.
Emily shares her story to help educate women on the complications of c-sections so they can learn from her journey. “That’s why I’m so passionate about Odonata Health. They are focused on creating new technologies and education opportunities for women to be more informed during their pregnancy journey and give clinical teams more data. If more women are better informed during their pregnancies, the world is going to be a better place.”