vasa previa | what you need to know




high risk pregnancy. hospitalization. bed rest. c-section scheduled for 34 weeks.

it’s never something you want to hear sitting in labor + delivery at 19 weeks because you’re having contrations.

…let me back up a little…

IMG_2600my husband and i found out we were pregnant with twin girls after battling through a miscarriage, cancer + infertility. we were blessed with two rainbow babies and at 19 weeks our world was rocked again when i was sent to labor + delivery with contractions we couldn’t stop.  sitting in the dark room, the maternal fetal medicine specialist said, “i have bad news for you.”

vasa previa. otherwise known as vp.

although i had heard of placenta previa, i had never even heard of vp. in a matter of seconds i was told i would need to be on modified bed rest and would be hospitalized at 28 weeks for bed rest with a planned c-section at 34 weeks. i left the hospital that day confused, fearful + full of anxiety.

if you’re like i was and have no idea what i’m talking about, let me give you a quick run down.
vp is an umbilical cord abnormality in which exposed fetal vessels cross the cervix beneath the baby. this poses a risk specifically during labor and/or delivery because if these membranes rupture, you have minutes before this can turn fatal for baby, and potentially mama.

the terrifying part? when undiagnosed prenatally, the mortality rate is estimated to be as high as 95%. this condition is so rarely reported, however, it is expected to occur in 1:2500 births.

the amazing part? when diagnosed prenatally and managed properly, the prognosis of vp is extremely favorable.

i have heard from too many women who have tragically lost their baby due to being undiagnosed or having their vp mismanaged. the loss of even one baby is too many for a diagnosis that is so simple to make.

so what should you do?

IMG_9401if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, ask your doctor to be screened for vp. it’s a simple scan that can be done in a routine ultrasound, but the trans vaginal color doppler is crucial to this diagnosis. it takes a matter of seconds.

risk factors for vp include:

|multiple pregnancies| |multiples| |velamentous cord insertion| |bilobed placenta| |succenturiate-lobed placenta| |low-lying placenta or placenta previa (even if it corrects itself)| |pregnancies resulting from IVF| |maternal history of d&c or uterine surgery|

**it is worth noting that there are women who have none of the above risk factors, making it critical to be screened**

i will be brutally honest. it’s a hard road. most doctors aren’t familiar with vp and group it in with placenta previa, making for a very dangerous situation. you must be your own advocate because if you don’t, no one else will be.

there are international guidelines and recommendations that you can and should rely on.

most importantly, it requires immediate pelvic rest (including no sex, no cervical checks, basically nothing entering the vaginal area!). then the worst part is the hospitalized bed rest. if you are reading this, you likely have multiples. that also means that hospitalization is at 28 weeks in a tertiary level hospital with a neonatal intensive care unit. and for good reason. you have two babies. that means twice the weight on those unprotected vessels. you get steroid shots starting at 28 weeks to help the baby’s lungs develop. then lastly, a c-section at 34 weeks with twins, 35-36 weeks with singletons.

34 weeks. that was my goal.

it was a count “up”. every day that they stayed safely inside me would be 3 less days the girls spent in nicu.

mother’s day 2015. i had made it to 31 weeks + 3 days.  we had celebrated at the hospital with family for breakfast but soon after my back started to hurt. not uncommon at 31 weeks with twins (can i get an ‘amen’?!) but something felt off. i had an incredible medical team who was extremely knowledgable, so i was quickly hooked up to monitor both babies and the contractions that started to intensify. after two rounds of tocolytics (meds to stop the contractions), i was sent to the perinatal intensive care unit.

it all went so fast from there. i had 4 hours of magnesium (another tocolytic) while they prepped me + the operating room… these contractions weren’t stopping and it was getting to be dangerous.  the risk of rupture was too high, so it was time.

i was terrified.

CLINENB0615-1041BWit was too early. they were too little. i wasn’t ready. they weren’t ready

i had fighters though.

we had an operating room full of what felt like thousands of people including nicu teams for each of the girls, my team, plus the people who were interested in my case. it was chaotic to say the least.

baby a, lila, came at 9:29pm screaming her little lungs out.

baby b, piper, came at 9:31pm…and nothing. not a sound. a lifeless body.

it was the scariest moment of my life, but i knew god was in control. i sent zach to be with them and see what was happening. he reported back that they were both doing fine and baby b had now joined her sis in a chorus of screams…praise god.

the next few weeks were spent in the nicu with two babies who had to learn life outside of the womb. we overcame obstacles no tiny human being should have to endure, but i swear they’re stronger because of it.

IMG_1430motherhood is hard,  life is precious + i will never take for granted that i have two beautiful and healthy little girls that i have the gift of raising.

get screened. advocate for yourself and your baby. it could be a matter of life or death.

xoxo,

Lindsey

You can read more of Lindsey’s journey at Twin Peeks {click here}!

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