I had my AFE with my first ever pregnancy and delivery in October of 2019. This required me to have an emergency C-section as my oxygen levels were dangerously low and my baby was in distress. My baby was taken immediately to the NICU. My husband was not able to be with me during delivery. I had to be placed under anesthesia as I had not even had time to get an epidural yet. I was first told of my diagnosis the day I delivered and my OBGYN (who stayed WELL past her time to leave from her shift) did explain well and I still remember what she had told me. I was still in shock and not feeling well after the anesthesia. I didn’t start to get a sense of the severity of AFE until other doctors came in to see me and seemed shocked I was alive. They asked to give me hugs, and I was told that in one doctor’s 40 years of practice I was only the 2nd AFE he has been around and the other mother didn’t make it. I remember being in recovery and feeling like a museum exhibit as all the nurses and doctors were talking about me and were in shock and in awe of my survival. When it came time to discharge, my nurse said something to me I held on to, she said “not right now, but when you are in a good place you need to research what happened to you”. I did end up doing that about 2 months later and was shaken.
Upon returning home I felt like I didn’t really have time to process or feel what happened to me as my baby remained in the NICU so my mind was preoccupied at the time. What helped me get through the difficult moments related to the unknown parts of my delivery (my memory is very faint of this day) has been talking to a mental health professional to work through the PTSD I ended up being diagnosed with as a result of this horribly traumatic experience. Now (almost 2.5 years later) I am in a good place, I have a healthy thriving 2.5-year-old and I am grateful to be here to be his mother and be part of these moments alongside my husband. As far as what helped me with my emotional/mental/psychological recovery was, when I was ready, I did get my notes from the hospital from the day I delivered to learn exactly what happened, I joined support groups that made me feel less alone and isolated, and received support from a mental health provider.