Seven Bags of Blood Saved My Life

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It was my first pregnancy.  I was thirty-six.  The thought of labor and delivery was honestly terrifying to me.  

I had no idea that the terrifying day of my daughter’s birth would not be birthing her but saving her and myself.

“Did I almost die?” I croaked out to the blurry figure of a nurse rushing me with a mound of more blurry figures through a hallway.

She replied quickly and quietly with a simple yes.   

I was induced on the Saturday night before Christmas in 2017. By the early morning check, I had not progressed but something was not right. I felt sick. This was not shocking to me but I just felt like something was just off.  An hour later I had dilated enough to hear that angelic word- Epidural. After that shocking spinal shot, I was happy and feeling relaxed.  

Until I wasn’t.

I began to feel nauseated. My husband held my hair and the pink bucket. My doula rubbed my feet and legs with oils.  It was around nine in the morning but by ten-thirty the NICU was called.

My daughter had to get out. The fetal monitor was showing distress. It was the cord. It was wrapped around her beautiful neck.

I remember my doctor’s face. I felt the comforting warmth of the nurse to my left – her hand gripping mine. I heard voices in between my hurls of water and bile into the pink bucket. I was told they needed to use forceps.  

“I need you to push, Katy. PUSH!” I heard my doctor say. 

No. She screamed it. They all did. It was a choir in scrubs in a minor key – guttural and loud. PUSH they all seemed to sing. 

My doctor cussed. I gripped my knees and pushed from the very depths of my body. She had to survive. I remember the forceps not working. I heard more cussing. 

Garland Grace arrived at 10:46 AM on a Sunday morning. I was going in and out of a conscience state. I wanted to hear her cry.

She was rushed to the wall of NICU staff – surrounding her they became a flurry of noise as I waited for a glimpse of her face. But while this was occurring a separate emergency was just beginning. It was me. The blood kept coming. It was not stopping. More nursing staff came in. More hurling water and bile into the pink bucket. More in and out of my body and awareness.  

I laid eyes on my daughter for a matter of seconds and then she was wheeled away. And that was it.  

There was now a puddle of blood beneath my birthing bed. The rest of this story has been told to me as I faded quickly in and out.  

Multiple OB’s were called in. The ICU staff was told to prepare for my stay. I went to the operating room while the professionals quickly debated on the best course of action. A hysterectomy was discussed.  

My husband held the hand of my doula as he made the choice of following his newborn daughter to the NICU or his wife to the operating room.  

Placental abruption. It occurs when the placenta separates from the inner wall of the uterus before delivery. It decreased my baby’s supply of oxygen and nutrients and caused heavy bleeding internally.  

Placental abruption often happens suddenly and without warning.  

Seven bags of donated blood saved my life the day I gave birth to my daughter. Did I almost die? Yes, I almost did. But because of the many blood donors that gave an hour of their day, I was saved.  

My husband was the one who held her for the first time. From the ICU I painfully pumped while I was still receiving new blood in hopes that I could somehow be near to her. She laid on my chest in my ICU bed for our first time together six hours after she was born.  

Each year around her birthday I make an appointment to donate blood. I share this story with the staff. I laugh, remember, and say thank you.  

As the need for blood arises with hospital numbers and continued gun violence within Indiana, the need for people to give becomes critical.  

Please visit www.redcrossblood.org to find a donation center near you.  

Giving blood saves lives. It saved mine.  

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Katy is an actor, studio vocalist, and writer. Theater credits include Actor's Theatre of Indiana, Beef & Boards Dinner Theater, Fireside Dinner Theater, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Magic Thread Cabaret, and Carnegie Hall. Her studio work can be heard on many Broadway Jr. recordings, Hal Leonard Publishing, and Plank Road Publishing. Her writing has been featured on The Lilly/Anxiety Chronicles published by The Washington Post and Sweatpants & Coffee. She holds a Masters in Special Education and just recently transitioned out of the classroom to full time Momming/Home CEO and raising her two toddlers. Katy is a grateful recovering alcoholic, sexual trauma survivor, and proud adoptive mom. She and her husband live in Fishers.