For nine weeks doctors and nurses had prepared for the delivery of Jacquelyn Mireya Lopez while at the same time preparing her mother, Ketxaly Maldonado, for the possibility she could bleed to death giving birth to her daughter.
But on Friday, the new mom said her baby was her miracle. “We both are here alive today. God gave us another day.”
At 21 weeks into her pregnancy, Maldonado, 22, of Madera, had been told the placenta had grown deep into her uterus and surrounding areas. She would have to have a hysterectomy as well as a cesarean delivery. But the extra blood flow to the uterus during pregnancy meant that doctors might not be able to control the bleeding, and she could die.
Dr. Christopher Downer said a team of doctors at Community Regional Medical Center began meeting on May 10, Maldonado’s first day at the hospital’s high-risk pregnancy ward, to discuss a delivery. And they continued to meet as the weeks went by.
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Maldonado’s case is rare, but becoming less so, Downer said. Kim Kardashian West revealed she had placenta accreta with the birth of her daughter, for example. Cesarean births increase the risk of the placenta growing into the uterus, Downer said. Maldonado had one cesarean for a stillbirth.
Doctors had determined that at 30 weeks gestation Jacquelyn could be delivered. On Monday, the team assembled to practice for the delivery that they had scheduled for Thursday. The team met in the operating room for a run-through, and the neonatal intensive care doctors and nurses assembled in an operating room across the hall that would be ready for the baby.
But on Wednesday during a baby shower in her hospital room, Maldonado began having contractions. She would not get a bite of her cake. The delivery could not wait.
Maldonado had spent the nine weeks at the hospital coming to terms with the possibility of her death. “It was hard to deal every day because I didn’t know tomorrow if I would be alive,” she said. She prepared a will and she made videos and wrote letters to her sons. “If I pass away they have a little memory of me,” she said. And she turned to God. “Because I know God is big and he does miracles.”
But on Wednesday, she was scared. Her sons, Naithen Rivera, 5, and Adriel Arizpe, 4 were frightened and crying. “It was hard because I just wanted to hug them,” Maldonado said. “I don’t know if I will wake up after the surgery. I don’t know if God will take me with him or leave me to be with my family.”Meanwhile, doctors mobilized. And the 5 1/2-hour surgery on Wednesday went better than they expected, said Downer, an obstetrician/gynecologist and program director for the UCSF-Fresno OB/GYN residency program.
After the cesarean delivery, interventional radiologists placed small tubes into a couple of major arteries and filled the tubes with fluid like balloons to stop bleeding in the uterus, and surgeons also controlled the bleeding, Downer said.
The team had planned on the possibility of Maldonado needing 100 units of blood, but instead she used only between 13 and 14 units, said Evelyn Hickson, a perinatal clinical nursing specialist.
Nurses had grown so close to Maldonado during her stay that they had arranged for her to have a “glam photo,” which she cradled Friday as she thanked her doctors and nurses. “They all supported me,” she said.
But her thoughts were mostly on her daughter, whose middle name means “miracle” in Spanish. “She is my rainbow baby because I lost a a stillbirth at 37 weeks,” she said. “So she brightens my days. I love seeing her. I love my kids and spending another day with them because tomorrow is not promised and she’s my little miracle. She made it. We made it alive.”