Where Has the Podcast Been? My Near-Death Birth Experience
Welcome to this episode 243 of The Determined Mom Show. I am your host, Amanda Tento, and I am very excited to be here with you and share my story. So if you are listening to this, thank you so much. If you’re a seasoned listener, Thank you. And if you’re a new listener, I also thank you. I want to share this story of A, why my voice sounds like this.
B, why we took such a massive break from the podcast, C, what happened, how we can all learn from it, and many other things. So this will be a topic of many conversations in the future, and I appreciate your listening. I want to mention a lot of trauma, medical trauma, and birth trauma in this episode.
So if those things trigger you, please do not listen to this episode. Thank you very much, and looking forward to sharing this with you. I want to return to last year when I was pregnant with our fourth child, our son. Very excited because we have three daughters. And so we were excited to have a son, and I had gestational diabetes during my pregnancy, and I thought this was probably the worst thing that could happen to me.
I had to prick my finger four times a day. I had to test my blood. I had to get myself injections. I had to get my husband to gimme injections. I was allergic to one of the insulins. It was just an ordeal for me. I had to monitor every single thing that I ate. I couldn’t eat 90% of everything.
But I got through, and it made it and was a great experience. Knowing how it is to live with diabetes is not easy, and my heart goes out to everyone that has to do that regularly. And I was hoping that everything would return to normal after my pregnancy and I would not have to do that again.
So I. Flash forward to December 22nd. I went to my diabetes appointment, ultrasound, and all that stuff, and my daughter had a cold earlier in the week. She stayed home for a couple of days but went back to school. It wasn’t a big cold, just a little sniffle or sore throat, so she got better immediately.
So then, I started feeling bad on the afternoon of the 22nd. Like I was getting a cold as well, and then I was feeling terrible by the evening. So we asked my mom to come up and watch the kids. My husband took me to the hospital, and they tested me for the flu, RSV, Covid, and everything they could think of.
And all of them came back negative. They said, go home, drink water, rest, and you’ll be fine. So I went home, drank water, relaxed, and did not feel okay. I felt horrible. I don’t think I slept at all that night. And when I woke up the following day, my daughter made me breakfast, and I tried to eat it.
I think I ate one blueberry and couldn’t eat anything. I was just so sick. My lungs felt like I couldn’t breathe, and it felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest. It was tough to even. Moving at that point, like even moving a muscle, was difficult because everything hurt. My whole body hurt.
It was just horrendous. So they called the ambulance, and we went in by ambulance to the hospital, and they ended up admitting me. I have the flu. So I did end up testing positive for the flu. So we stayed there overnight on the 23rd and our 15th anniversary, by the way. Or no, was it our 14th?
I don’t know. It was either the 14th or the 15th. That’s how wild. I don’t even know what happened. So that was December 23rd. We stayed overnight. And then on the evening of the 24th, The nurse checked my cervix to see if they still needed to check it since I had gotten there. So she checked my cervix to see how things were going and it ended up that I was just a little bit dilated, like three centimeters.
And my cervix was soft, so she said, yeah, I don’t think anything will happen. You could be more dilated. You don’t have any contractions. And Like in that moment that she was still checking me, the baby reached down, and I felt him push and pop my water. And she was like, are you sure that happened?
And I’m like, yes, I’m sure. And she checked, and sure enough, there it was. So she was like, okay, this is now an emergency. Because I was not strong enough to go through labor to give birth or anything like that, they had to do an emergency C-section. So leading up to that C-section a nurse came in and tried to put an IV in my right arm, and he failed three to four times.
I think it’s just three because I have three scars. But he failed three times, creating a blockage in my arm, but we didn’t know that at the time. So he called another nurse. The nurse did it on my left arm, and it was fine. We go into the C-section. This is the last thing that I remember. They did the epidural, laid me down, and immediately cut me open.
There were no seconds or minutes in between those two things. It was just like in a lay-down cut. And so I said to them, the last thing I remember saying is, I can feel you cutting me. And they’re like, Oh, you’re not supposed to handle that. And they keep doing it because they have to. And it was like, I do.
And then that was it. I don’t remember anything else. I don’t remember hearing anything. I thought I was awake for quite a long time. I didn’t know what was happening to the baby. No one was telling me what happened to the baby. I was having all kinds of vivid Experiences; I want to call them.
And I thought everything that was happening to me was real, and it was very traumatic. I, there were people I thought had gotten stolen at some point. It was a very weird ordeal to be unconscious. I woke up, and it turned out that what happened to me was, The doctors couldn’t stop the bleeding after the C-section.
And then I had an amniotic embolism. I had the flu, I had pneumonia, and I also went into septic shock. So my body, all my organs, started shutting down and failing. And they ended up putting me on ECMO dialysis, a breathing tube. Liver, I don’t know what you would even call that. I don’t know what the liver is called, but liver support.
So I was on every type of life support to keep my organs alive. And they told my husband that he should prepare for my death because it was pretty much imminent at that point. They didn’t know what else they could do to try to keep me alive. I wasn’t waking up when they said that I should wake up.
And they told him that massage was one of the ways that would help if he was going to wake up, to wake up. And it would also relieve all of the swellings because it had extreme swelling overall all over my body. So he massaged my feet every day that I was in the hospital up until the end.
So that was four weeks off. Massage. And he even did it also when I was in rehab. That was probably six weeks of massage. Finally, I woke up while he massaged my feet one day. Sometime in the beginning of January, it was before the seventh, but after the first, I’m not sure exactly when it was because.
I don’t know. I couldn’t even keep track of anything at that point. I can look in my medical records, but I haven’t done that yet. There’s a little bit of trauma going on here, so there are many things I haven’t done yet because I’m still recovering and mentally recovering. So I woke up.
Thank God much to me. The surprise pretty much everyone, all of the doctors and everyone, did not expect me to wake up, and I found out that I was on all of the things, and I woke up intubated. And if you’ve ever been intubated or never been intubated, it is a challenging experience.
That’s worse than the ECMO, the dialysis, and all the other things. Because you, you have this massive tube in your mouth. To me, it felt like the end of a Nike, I want to say, like a field hockey stick, how it’s triangular. It felt like that was in my mouth. That’s how thick it was.
That’s how big it felt. I have no idea what it looked like. I have no idea how big it was, but it felt gigantic, and I couldn’t communicate with anyone. My hands were tied down because I resisted and wanted to remove the breathing tube. It was just a very traumatic experience from the jump.
It was not the way that I wanted my birth to go. I planned on having a natural birth as I did with my other three. Be in the hospital for a night. Go home. Enjoy my baby. This did not happen. It’s tough for me even now to talk about that part of it because I didn’t get that, and I didn’t get what I wanted.
And thank God I’m alive but still reconciling with that part of it and moving on. It took me a while to come off of everything. Every day there was a new, something that was happening, whether it was, whether it was them removing the ECMO tubes, for example, that was a whole event.
They removed them, and they had to sew me up. I was not. I was conscious. They gave me some medication, but it didn’t do anything. I felt them sewing up my neck and sewing up my groin. And it was excruciating. It’s incredibly traumatic to know they’re sewing you up while you’re awake.
It wasn’t easy. As I said, tubes come out daily, and things improve. My kidneys were damaged at that point. They were not working well. My, I couldn’t move. This was one of the biggest shocks to me when I woke up. I couldn’t even lift my head off the pillow. My muscles had all atrophied so that I couldn’t lift my head; I couldn’t lift my hands.
Once they finally took the breathing tube out and unrestrained me, I couldn’t. Lift my arms. I couldn’t sit up. I couldn’t do anything. It was extraordinary, very odd. And once I had a little bit of being able to lift my hands, I asked for my cell phone and I literally couldn’t even hold it because it was too heavy.
It felt like it weighed a thousand pounds. I couldn’t lift it. I couldn’t look at it. I couldn’t even touch it because I was so weak from being just out for that long, not moving. It was wild how that felt. The other shocking thing was knowing that I had almost died and then b I.
Having the feeding tube and not eating food. I didn’t think about it at first. And then they talked about taking it out and it was like, oh yes. Yeah, that’s great. I can eat again. That would be great. Eating again after you’re on a feeding tube is not what you would think. It wasn’t easy.
Any. The tiniest, tiniest thing would fill you up. It was tough for me to eat because I had gotten a thrush infection. My whole mouth, tongue, sides of my mouth, roof, everything in my mouth, and lips had been infected. And I couldn’t eat anything.
And milk, anything dairy, it felt like battery acid. Anything that I ate, it felt like I was eating acid. And so they kept me on the feeding tube while trying to get me to eat again because of this. And so I was on the feeding tube probably longer than I could have been because I had a lot of trouble eating.
That wasn’t easy. And my husband was an amazing, just a fantastic person during this whole process. He took our baby home, and the baby is great, by the way. He is alive and well, and his name is zip star. He is now almost six months old and is just the light of our life. But my husband at the time took all.
Everything on. He just rocked it. He took the baby home after he was in the NICU for about five days because of some breathing issues that he was having. And thank God he made it through. He’s recovered beautifully and cared for all three of our kids. He just It’s fantastic.
He came to the hospital to visit me every single day. He massaged my feet every single day. He brought me soup; he brought me broth; he brought me smoothies. The only way I could eat towards the end of my hospital stay was smoothies and things like that because the hospital food was absolute trash.
And it, he, I can’t even tell you everything he’s done. He advocated so much for me. At one point, the doctors said to him that, again, they needed to, he needed to prepare for my funeral. And he told them I don’t because that’s not what will happen. And he said, have faith.
I know God is going to make this right. And Even the chaplain at the hospital looked at him like he had three heads and did not believe him. And I think that says a lot about a person’s faith and beliefs and how strongly they trust God. And my husband trusted him a thousand percent and knew that everything would be okay.
And even when other people are in religious faith, like the clergy. And the chaplain, even when they doubted he knew it would be right.
So I will abbreviate many of the following parts because it’s a very long story and I could talk about it for four hours and still not be done. Fast forward. Every day I’m getting new tubes taken out and things, and I was in the ICU for about three weeks. They finally moved me to an acute care room, where they had the facilities to drive me around, get me up with a lift, and put me back in bed.
I couldn’t. Move. I couldn’t stand it. I couldn’t sit up. I could not move, so I had to relearn how to walk literally. I had to relearn how to eat. I had to relearn how to talk. I had to relearn how to write. I had to relearn everything, and I became a baby again myself. It was tough.
You’re a healthy 42-year-old. You go into the hospital to have a baby, and you come out a baby yourself. It was so challenging, so complex, but also at the same time, it’s exactly what needed to happen because God put everything in place and I liken it to a massive storm coming through. I. Like a hurricane and you have all these beautiful trees and you think you’re watering the right tree, you’re taking care of the right tree, you’re taking care of the one that you think is the right tree, and the storm comes and knocks it down and it’s Nope, that’s not what you should be doing.
These are the ones that you think you should focus on. Everything in my life, my family, my friends, my business, everything that was important, felt unimportant in those areas. And the items were standing; it was so clear to me after I woke up that those were the essential things and those were the things that I should be focusing on.
So it’s incredible. So my voice is like this because I have either damage or something going on with my vocal cords. I have an appointment this month with my otolaryngologist laryngologist, and we’ll figure that out then as we do scoping and things like that.
But there are so many different things that I’m still recovering from. I have a, and we’re about six months out in a few days. It’ll be six months on the 24th of June. I’m struggling with joint pain and am working with the rheumatologist to determine what’s happening there.
But I’ve had joint pain since I woke up, and at first, obviously, I was in the hospital, so I thought, oh, I’m just so stiff from everything and, All that stuff. And then after I got home, I was still stiff, and then a month later I was still stiff, and then two months later, and I was like, this doesn’t seem right.
So I reached out to my doctor, and then she referred me to a rheumatologist, and we’re currently trying to figure out what is causing that joint pain. That’s one issue. The other issue was when the nurse failed to put my IV in three times, he caused a blockage of my artery, and it ended up turning my thumb necrotic, which meant that the thumb and my tissue died.
And so my thumb turned black, and it was the texture and sound of bamboo. If you hit it on something, it was almost like dead wood, right? And so they. I needed to do surgery in January on my thumb to try to save it. So they scraped off all the dead tissue and tried to keep as much of my thumb as possible.
I did have about half of the first knuckle of my thumb like the tip cut off, and I’ve been recovering from that ever since. I’m just now to the point where my last scab fell off, and again in January, and we’re now in June. So it’s been five months since that surgery. And that has been a very lengthy recovery because when amputating something, a lot of healing needs to go into that.
It’s a very long process. So my last gab just officially fell off today, and I am so happy I can wash my hands. I’m able to take a shower without a glove on. That just happened this week. There are so many things. I was just able to change my son’s diaper for the first time this morning, and he’s been alive for almost six months, so it’s wild the things that we take for granted.
I’ll do an episode on what we take for granted and what I have found to be blessings instead of chores in this experience. But with that said, that’s been a struggle. My voice is a struggle, and I also have a chronic cough that is sometimes debilitating, like it’s so difficult to deal with.
And to get through the day sometimes, but it is; it does feel like it’s getting better now, but that has been an issue as well. Lots of things going on still, but I can’t tell you how blessed I am to be here. The doctors gave me a two to 4% chance of survival, and I will liken that to a 3% because that’s my favorite number.
A 3% chance of survival, and I beat the 97% against me, and I know I’m here for a reason. I know that God has a purpose for me. I have a plan, a purpose for everything, so stay tuned because there are going to be big things coming down the road. I just need to find out what they are. I’m just trusting that they will be revealed to me as needed.
I am starting a new podcast. I called healing medical trauma. And it is all about stories from people who have been through medical trauma and their friends and family. I want to give everyone a space to heal, and I also want to give people going through it a chance to hear other people’s stories and know that they can get through it.
There may be setbacks; there may be different things going on. But eventually, you’re going to get to a place where you can wash your hands, wash your hair; you can retake a shower by yourself. Sounds very silly. When you’re not sick, you’ve never been ill. But those are tremendous accomplishments.
So that podcast will be coming up soon, so stay tuned for that. And If you are a survivor of medical trauma or you’ve had a close family member you’ve supported through that survival or recovery, please reach out to me, We will schedule a time for you to record an episode.
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