Blessing in Disguise

Sabrina Vides and her husband, Ernesto, always planned to have more kids, but they didn’t think it would happen so soon. When their oldest son was 4 years old, Sabrina discovered she was pregnant with a second baby, a surprise to both her and Ernesto.

Her pregnancy was going well, and she was not having any horrible morning sickness. It was smooth sailing until she had an anatomy scan.

Sabrina’s pregnancy was progressing well until she was diagnosed with both placenta previa and placenta accreta.

“I knew something was wrong because the ultrasound techs kept dropping clues,” said Sabrina. “They kept telling me that they couldn’t get an accurate read and that they couldn’t see the placenta well.  The whole experience made me so anxious, and I just wanted to know what was going on.”

She finished her appointment and went home, apprehensive about the results. About a week later, Sabrina learned she had a condition known as placenta previa, where the placenta is situated low in the uterus and covers the cervix. It can make for an extremely dangerous delivery. They also suspected Sabrina had placenta accreta, where the placenta grows too deeply into the uterine wall, which could put Sabrina at risk of hemorrhaging during delivery.

“I was completely overwhelmed. I hadn’t heard of those conditions before, and I didn’t know what it all meant,” said Sabrina.

Doctors put Sabrina on bedrest. She was instructed to “take it easy” and stay off her feet as much as possible.

About five weeks after her anatomy scan, when she was about 27 weeks, Sabrina started cramping and experienced some bleeding. She thought she was having Braxton Hicks contractions. At that point, she decided she did not need to go to the hospital and instead needed to hydrate and go to bed.

The following day, she felt something and thought her water had broken, but it was blood. Sabrina’s worst fear was that she had miscarried her baby boy, who she already named Aldo. Ernesto whisked Sabrina to the hospital, which thankfully was only about 15 minutes away.

Upon arrival, Sabrina was admitted to labor and delivery. By the time they inserted an IV to help stop the contractions, she had stopped bleeding. Sabrina ended up staying in the hospital for three days but was told that if she were to have a second bleed, she would need to be in the hospital for the duration of her pregnancy.

So, she came home and went back on bedrest. But sure enough, two days later, she had her second bleed. She knew what she needed to do – and that was to get back to the hospital.

“When I got to the hospital, it hit me that I was not leaving for a while. I was going to be there until I delivered Aldo, and I couldn’t hold back the tears,” she said.

And this is when Sabrina’s path intersected with Dr. Emma Rodriguez’s at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio (CHofSA).

Sabrina had finally met a physician who could explain to her exactly what was happening and who had a plan to deliver Aldo safely. Dr. Rodriguez reassured Sabrina that she and the rest of her team would be there for her and explained every scenario – both the good and the bad – so that Sabrina could understand exactly what was going on.

Sabrina was grateful for the way Dr. Emma Rodriguez helped her understand the risks associated with her pregnancy and that an entire team of specialists would keep close watch over her with plans in place to provide a safe delivery.

About 32 weeks in, while one of her nurses was giving Sabrina her prenatal vitamins, she had her fourth bleed. The nurse acted quickly and knew exactly what to do.

“Dr. Rodriguez and her team did not want to risk me hemorrhaging, which is a huge risk of placenta previa. So, they got me prepped to do a C-section,” said Sabrina.

Because her doctors suspected she had a placental accreta, they decided the best course of action was to do a vertical incision. Doctors had also explained there would be a chance Sabrina would have to have a hysterectomy to prevent hemorrhaging – something that is often done when women have placenta accreta. The team at CHofSA had everything prepped in case a hysterectomy was necessary.

When they wheeled Sabrina into the operating room, the entire team was ready for her – her obstetrician, Dr. Hatem Hatem, the maternal-fetal medicine doctor, the anesthesiologist – everyone was prepared for whatever Sabrina needed. 

“Even though it was a scary experience, it was so comforting that everyone knew what to do. They were so prepared,” said Sabrina.

They proceeded with the C-section and delivered Aldo, and then informed Sabrina that a hysterectomy was inevitable to control the bleeding due to the placenta invading the uterus and cervix.

Recovery was a bit hard since she lost 2.5 liters of blood during delivery, she would faint each time she got up out of bed to start walking. Sabrina ended up having to get a blood transfusion on her third day of recovery.

A few days after her recovery, Sabrina was able to meet Aldo in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Right after he was born, he had some issues breathing, so he was put on C-pap oxygen. Aside from that, he had no major problems, and the focus was to get him to eat and grow so he could go home.

In total, Sabrina was in the hospital for a month before her delivery – a long time to be away from home and her family. During this time, Sabrina forged relationships with the CHofSA chaplain and social workers, who provided her with a network of support. She also found comfort in joining several Facebook groups of mothers who had gone through similar experiences.

“I tried to keep myself busy but I did cry a lot,” remembers Sabrina. “I turned to the Bible during that time and would read verses. I tried to remind myself that God wasn’t going to give me more than I could handle.”

Through it all, Dr. Rodriguez rose to the occasion to take care of Sabrina and navigate her through a highly challenging pregnancy.

“She was a blessing during my darkest times. It was Dr. Rodriguez who helped me truly understand what was going on and reassured me that everything would be OK. She would never rush and always take time for me,” said Sabrina. “She was my angel.”

As for the rest of the team, Sabrina can’t say enough about them either.

“The nurses were amazing and truly made my long stay unforgettable – not in a bad way but in a really good way. They took their time with everything, and even after I had the C-section, some of them would come to check on me,” she said. “The nurses who took care of me after my hysterectomy were just as wonderful and caring.”

Having a baby in the NICU was something new to Sabrina, so she was extremely grateful for the nurses who explained everything to her and eased her fears about seeing her baby on tubes and machines. They would tell her that it all would be OK and became an integral part of Aldo’s journey.

Born at 32 weeks gestation, Aldo needed help getting oxygen. Sabrina was uneasy seeing all the tubes around him, but the NICU nurses reassured her that he would be just fine.

“I can’t say thank you enough to Renee and Becky. When I first saw Aldo with all the tubes, I was so scared and they told me everything was going to be OK,” said Sabrina. “Everyone is amazing, and we will always be so grateful for their professionalism, kindness, and outstanding care,” she said.

Aldo stayed in the NICU for 51 days and officially graduated on September 29. Sabrina is very excited and relieved to finally have him home and reunited with his older brother, Adrian, who loves helping take care of Aldo and is a great help. Aldo recently had his two-month checkup and weighs almost nine pounds and his pediatrician said he is meeting all his milestones.

When he was 51 days old, Aldo graduated from the NICU at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio. His mom Sabrina is grateful for the care she received at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, which also became the best place for Aldo to get the care he needed when he was born prematurely.

If you are experiencing a high-risk pregnancy or pregnancy complications, please contact the Centers for Maternal and Fetal Medicine at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio to make an appointment with one of our specially trained and highly experienced physicians. For more information, visit our webpage: https://www.christushealth.org/childrens/services-treatments/womens-services/maternal-fetal-medicine

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