Elijah 3 Months Milestone | A Journey Through Pregnancy Complications | Reno Baby Photographer| Kristi Gayton Photography

Not all pregnancies go as planned and for many mommas there are unexpected complications and bumps along the road! This was certainly the case for Erin and her little boy Elijah. She had hoped for newborn photos of her baby boy but after being hospitalized was never able to do the newborn session she had pictured. I heard about her story and wanted to make sure she still had some sweet memories of Elijah. At 3 months old what a joy it was to have him in the studio. He showed off his gorgeous blue eyes and snuggled up on me to sleep. Thank you so much Erin for bringing him in. You can read this Mom’s entire story at the bottom of this post.

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On October 7th, the day after my baby shower and one day short of 35 weeks I was

hospitalized for a DVT (deep vein thrombosis), more commonly known as a blood clot, in my

left leg. In all reality I should have gone to the ER a couple of days before, but I had already

done a scan in early August for a DVT and it came back negative and I didn’t want to waste the

hard work my dear friends had done in planning and preparing my baby shower. So I treated

what I thought was typical pregnancy swelling. But when the pain was too much to walk or sleep

and I had another two days before my next OB appointment, I gave in and went to urgent care.

As you can imagine they immediately sent me to the ER. By that time my left leg was probably

2-3 times bigger than my right leg and I had started feeling pain my lower left abdomen. Of

course as soon as you say anything about your abdomen when you’re pregnant, it’s straight to

labor and delivery. 

There they scanned my leg again and found clots in my external iliac and common

femoral veins, which are the big veins that branch from the hip into the leg. After many

consultations and specialists weighing in on my situation, it was decided the best course of

treatment was to keep me inpatient until I delivered. Because the clot was so big and new I had

to be on intravenous heparin for the remainder of my pregnancy. The plan at the time was to go

full term and have me go into labor without any sort of intervention or augmentation. The

doctors wanted to avoid a cesarean at all costs because of the added risk of bleeding, additional

blood clots, poor healing, and infection that came with my situation. 

On October 19th they decided to place an ICV filter as a precaution and in anticipation of

labor. This was to prevent the blood clot or any portion of it from moving to my heart, lungs, or

brain and causing even more damage. Unfortunately because the filter is placed using x-ray

guidance, the filter had to be placed much higher than usual to avoid bombarding baby with

radiation. They placed the filter above my kidneys which came with the added risk of renal

failure should the filter itself clot or catch any of the clot that was in my leg. However this

scenario outweighed the risks of the clot traveling to other places and it was determined that the

filter would need to be removed shortly after delivery. 

My condition seemed to deteriorate not long after the filter was placed. Although walking

was painful and difficult, I could still make it down the hall and around the nurse’s station.

However the pain became so excruciating that I could barely walk from my bed to the bathroom

which was only a few feet away. The around-the-clock Tylenol now did nothing for me and ice

packs and heating pads only took the edge off. They started to re-evaluate my condition as I had

not improved at all on the blood thinners and my pain had become unrelenting. Another scan

done on October 22nd found that I had no venous flow whatsoever in my left leg. The clot had

extended further down my leg and into other major veins. After consulting with my ever

expanding medical team, my doctor decided it was best to just get out of dodge, so to speak.

We decided to induce labor on the 23rd. Up to this point I had never felt a contraction,

when we monitored the baby the nurses would sometimes pick up something that looked like a

contraction, but all in all baby was high up and comfy cozy. Induction was difficult but I looked

forward to an epidural and the relief of pain coming from my leg and hip. But once the epidural

was in and the Pitocin started flowing, baby would de accelerate with every contraction. At one

point I had a team of nurses flying in and rolling me over, throwing on oxygen and trying to

bring babys heart beat back up. We went back and forth for a while with turning on and off the

Pitocin, but it quickly became clear that baby was not tolerating labor. On top of this we had the

added stress of getting me back onto a blood thinner as they had to stop all anti-coagulation 12

hours prior to the epidural. After 36 hours of trying to induce labor I finally made the call to have

a C-section. Our little man was born October 25, 2018 at 11:05am, which also happens to be my

late father’s birthday. He weighed 7lbs 4oz and was 20 inches long. Elijah was perfect and

perfectly healthy. 

Once the epidural wore off it was amazing how much better my leg felt! With the added

pressure of baby gone my body was better able to respond to the DVT. Walking was still

difficult. I met with a physical therapist to go over how to walk with a walker and crutches and

how to maneuver the stairs to my second floor apartment. The night before we were discharged,

a hematoma that developed in my incision had burst, preventing half of it from healing.

Thankfully we were still able to go home, only 22 days after I was admitted. My follow visits

were almost daily. The week I went home I started wound care therapy. My incision had

developed several clots, one of the complications they were concerned about with having a

cesarean. 

My incision began to tunnel and had reached a depth of 10 cm and was 12 cm wide. I was

placed a wound-vac which also meant that I had an appointment three times a week to have it

changed. I also continued to have several appointments to check my blood coagulation as I was

still in blood thinners for the clot and because I now had an IVC filter in a precarious position. I

was seen by hematology/oncology to see if there was an underlying medical condition that

caused such an extensive clot, but all results came back negative for any sort of disorder. 

On November 26 th after visiting the ER with fever, chills, dizziness, and a racing heart, I

was re-hospitalized. I was considered septic and was started on IV antibiotics, which I then had a

terrible reaction to. After consulting pharmacy and tweaking my dosage, I was able to continue

with the medication. I was kept in patient while the doctors and lab tracked down the source of

my infection. They found that my wound site had become infected with MRSA and I needed to

stay until they were able to test for sensitivity. Thank goodness they were able to find an oral

medication that would be effective. Otherwise it would have been another lengthy stay in the

hospital. This time I was able to get by with only 5 days. After 7 weeks we were able to remove

the wound-vac on December 28 th but continued with wound care until January 23 rd when my

incision finally closed.

My IVC filter removal was scheduled for the end of December. There was a 50/50

chance of them being able to remove the filter and unfortunately it had tilted just enough that

they were not able to retrieve it. I’ve since been referred to Stanford and I’m now on a waiting

list to have the device removed, which will not be until March. Until then I must continue on

blood thinners and have my anti-coagulation checked frequently so that I do not develop a clot at

the filter location. I can’t wait to have the filter removed; it’s the final item on my checklist. All

in all I’ve mostly healed, now I’m just regaining my former strength and now I can devote more

time to little Elijah. Thankfully he has an amazing father who has taken on the bulk of parenting

as I healed and recuperated from one heck of a pregnancy complication!