Jaclyn’s Story


It started when I was 13 weeks, on February 13. I developed a fever overnight, and since it was my first pregnancy, I called the local doctor’s office to see if they could squeeze me in. They were able to, and I was diagnosed with a virus based on a lack of other symptoms. The doctor took me off work for the day, and told me to rest and drink plenty of fluids. I was able to rest, and actually ended up sleeping another 12 hours or so after my appointment.

The 14th went as normal, the fever from the day before was gone and I went to work. I was a little more tired than I had been, but I blamed that on the fever and pregnancy. The morning of the 15th, Sunday, started pulling everything down. I woke up early and discovered I had started spotting at some point overnight. Although I am well-aware the light spotting with no cramping (exactly what I was experiencing) was completely normal in pregnancy, the fever had returned. The symptoms together had me and my fiance concerned, so we went to the ER as a precaution. The doctor did an ultrasound and hCG test, everything was normal. We got to see my little Hummingbird move around, even sucking its thumb, and my hormones were right in the middle of where they should have been for 13 weeks. I was diagnosed with a UTI, given a prescription for antibiotics, and sent home.

I went to my 8 1/2 hour shift at work, slowly developing more symptoms as I went. My back started hurting, my abdomen started hurting (more in my stomach than if they were menstrual cramps), and my legs started getting weaker and weaker. After work, I had a late supper and immediately went to bed. Around midnight, I woke up suddenly. There was still no cramping, but I felt a sudden rush of fluid and an intense sense of dread. When I went to the bathroom, there was a large amount of blood, and I broke down.

After I was able to somewhat compose myself, I woke my fiance and we immediately went to the ER a second time in one day. I was taken to a room rather quickly, and was diagnosed with a placental bleed via portable ultrasound machine. Hummingbird’s heart rate was still going strong and my baby was a fighter. I was slightly concerned, we hadn’t seen the baby move that much before that day. But I figured it was because it was exploring its movements more as it was able to do so deliberately. I was taken off work for a couple days, and told to do a follow-up with my OB (Dr. R) the next day. The 16th, I was able to get into Dr. R’s office quickly, and he confirmed the bleed. The baby’s movements seemed more sporadic than the previous 2 days, but I felt it was because it was suffering slight oxygen issues due to the bleed. Through the entire time, I still had a fever that would come and go, even without fever reducers. I was taken off work until further notice.

My parents and fiance decided I should stay at my parents’ house during my leave due to living in a second floor apartment and having a dog. So shortly after arriving home from my appointment, my mom got me and I stayed Monday night with them. I was still feverish and vomited once. There was still no cramping, though. Tuesday, the 17th, I woke once again with a fever that refused to go away. The bleeding was still heavy, and my appetite had disappeared between Sunday and Tuesday. After a certain point of no progress with my fever, and a couple fruitless calls to Dr. R’s office (my temperature reached 101.9 at one point, but we were told by his nurse that they didn’t worry unless it was 102 or higher), my fiance (an EMT) finally decided enough was enough and dragged me to the ER for a third time after discovering my blood pressure at dangerously low levels , coupled with a much-too-high heart rate.

We went through the sign in procedure yet again at the ER and I was quickly put in a room. The doctor ordered an ultrasound, and I had my 4th one in three days. This time, I noticed there was a complete lack of movement. I suspected there was no heart rate, but the technician said she couldn’t tell me my results. It seemed this doctor was going down a different route than the previous two, using the ultrasound machine in the x-ray room. While waiting for the ultrasound results, the ER doctor called the on-call OB (Dr. I) to come look at me. After a pelvic exam, and a review of my record and symptoms, Dr. I decided I had been sent home too many times. Between Monday and Tuesday, my baby had died. I measured 13 weeks, like I should have, and he determined that whatever caused it needed to be taken care of. He said that he would not be the 3rd person to send me home, and started the admission process.

The ER doctor had come to the conclusion that I had the flu and planned to release me, while Dr. I determined that I had a uterine infection (chorioamnionitis) that required immediate treatment. The ER doc seemed to have deferred treatment of my symptoms because Dr. I ordered immediate IV antibiotics (after throwing a fit about the ER doctor’s decision to release me) and I was admitted at approximately midnight. Dr. I said I could either have a D&C or take medication to “induce” me and Dr. R would tell me my options again the next morning. I was in a regular room for one night. When I woke the next morning, Dr. R told me that I would be moved to ICU, and that “induction” was no longer an option, I would have to have a D&C.

I was moved to ICU at 10:30 am and the D&C was performed at about 3:30pm. Through the entire time I was on constant IV antibiotics and fluids. I had blood cultures drawn (they test for blood infections), and tested positive for Haemophilus Influenzae, a bacteria. They determined that this caused my uterine infection and all my other symptoms. It is a rare bacteria affecting only 2,000,000-3,000,000 people world-wide every year. It is the biggest cause of bacterial meningitis and usually deadly once you become septic from it. I was septic. I was very close to dying, but a strict regimen of hourly antibiotics (3-5 different ones at any given time), removal of the source of the infection (the baby that had already been killed), and my fiance’s training as an EMT saved my life.

I was in ICU a total of 3 days (Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday), was moved to a regular room on Friday afternoon, and released Saturday. I remember very little of most of it, because I was feverish until Thursday afternoon. I had also developed anemia as a result of blood loss and the bacteria killing my red blood cells as it made its way through my system. The seriousness didn’t sink in until Thursday, when the infectious disease specialist and my OB told me that if Hummingbird had not been killed, I would have been. My baby sacrificed itself to save me even if neither of us knew it at the time. Thankfully, it seems that I am very lucky and should not have permanent issues, although it is still too early to know for sure. I had 10 days of take-home antibiotics, and should not have any other complications. It was a very difficult week, and I’m still suffering effects of the anemia, and can expect to for a couple more months.

Published 4/13/15

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