Real Life

I died during childbirth

Marina had a heart attack during childbirth and was clinically dead for 23 minutes before being revived.

I had been having a dream pregnancy up until 35 weeks when I developed a potentially dangerous condition called pre-eclampsia. At this time I was admitted into our local hospital to be induced.
After being in labour for several days, I was still just 1cm dilated and, as my baby was in distress, the decision was made for an emergency caesarean to be performed.
While the nurse was giving me one of the pre-meds for the operation (ranitidine, which is a very standard drug), I had an extremely rare anaphylactic reaction and suffered a cardiac arrest.
The doctors were forced to do the caesarean right then and there in my non-sterile hospital room as they had no time to get me to theatre – they needed to get the baby out fast so they could resuscitate me.
They got him out in approximately four minutes and then immediately started working on me. I was clinically dead for 23 minutes before they succeeded in reviving me, and the consultant has since told me they didn't think I would make it when they were on their second round of CPR.
My poor husband was in the room the whole time and thought I was dead. He rang my brother and his family and they all rushed to the hospital so fast that when they arrived I still had no pulse.
My brother then called my mum to tell her I had died and then the phone cut out. My poor mum thought I was gone and hysterically called Dad to tell him I was dead. It wasn't until sometime later that my other brother got a hold of her to let her know I had a faint pulse.
Kris and my family were then told I had a slim chance of survival but that they were not expecting the best. I started to bleed internally and was rushed by ambulance to the Royal Brisbane Hospital where I was put into an induced coma in the ICU for five days, during which time I suffered another allergic reaction to a blood transfusion.
The five days in ICU are a blur. I don't remember much at all except that photos of my newborn bub were stuck up on the light above my face so, although I didn't know what was happening, I knew he had been born and was OK. It was a comforting thought in a very scary environment.
Someone had given me a note pad to write on as I could not speak and I kept asking what had happened and I writing the word 'husband'.
When I woke up in the birth suite, where I was transferred after the ICU, I had so many questions as I’d lost memory back to two days before the cardiac arrest. I don't even remember being in labour (which most people would think of as a positive!)
I was very confused and still very ill. Bit by bit, over the following days, people put the pieces together for me and it dawned on me how lucky I had actually been, including the fact that the consultant just happened to be in the room when I crashed as she was getting my consent for the caesarean.
After I was transferred out of ICU, I still wasn't able to see my baby Lincoln unless my husband was there as he was still in the special care unit. It was heartbreakingly depressing being a new mum and not having my baby with me.
To add to this, all my ribs were broken from the CPR so I was only able to hold him for a few minutes at a time and unable to breastfeed. I still had a central line, catheter and drains in my stomach and couldn't eat for 10 days.
It was a hard road but I managed to keep positive knowing that the sooner I got better the sooner I could go home and finally be a mother to my gorgeous boy.
People often ask me if I ‘saw the light’ but I don't remember anything. There was a total blank and loss of memory, which according to the doctors is retrograde amnesia. It's quite scary knowing that you can be dead and gone and not even know it’s happening.
I was extremely lucky to come out of this not only alive but with no brain or heart damage. I also am lucky that Lincoln is so healthy and such a good bub, even thought he was born four weeks and two days early and was just 2.4kg. My bubby must know I need some more healing time as he sleeps very well.
The consultant who saved my life told me that there were only three documented cases in the world for an anaphylactic reaction to ranitidine – one person died, one person survived and the other person was me! She told me I was very unlucky to have the reaction, but I feel like the luckiest person in the world to have survived my ordeal.
Ten weeks on and I am mostly mended and finally off the medication, apart from some blood pressure tablets and painkillers. Lincoln has caught up on weight and size, and by nine weeks he had doubled his birthweight and was in the average percentile for his age.
Kris named him Lincoln when I was in the ICU as he figured that if I had died then his nickname ‘Linc’ would be symbolic of our link to each other. When I woke up, I gave him the middle name Kael which is Irish for mighty warrior – I thought it was fitting and true to my husband’s Irish roots.
He is a lovely baby who is the light of my life and totally worth dying for!

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