Living a Life of Purpose and Remembrance
Amy’s journey began on a weekend in late March 2008 when she traveled home to Austin, Texas from Atlanta, Georgia for her family baby shower. The morning of her shower she began feeling contractions and headed to the local hospital to get checked out. Later that day Amy was admitted to Labor and Delivery where the doctors began administering medication in an attempt to stop her labor. They also began a series of steroid shots to help the baby’s lungs mature quickly just in case the labor progressed. Two days later they were told the intervention had successfully stopped the labor and she was moved back to the recovery section of the floor to remain on bedrest until they could be certain that the labor had stopped.
The next morning, everything changed when their son, Aiden, made his early entrance into the world at only 28 weeks gestation. Amy and her husband Michael were filled with much anxiety in anticipation of his delivery. Little did they know at the time that Aiden’s prematurity was not the biggest obstacle they would face. Amy remembers Aiden’s delivery and saw him briefly for a few moments after the neonatologists stabilized him and prepared to take him up to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Weighing in at just 2 pounds, 13 ounces, Aiden was so tiny!
The amniotic fluid embolism (AFE) happened immediately following Aiden’s birth and Amy recalls, “I woke up in the ICU, intubated, terrified, and not knowing what had happened to Aiden and to me.” After spending two days in ICU Amy was moved to a room in the recovery section of the maternity ward. The doctors figured out the day after Aiden’s birth what had happened to her and explained it as best as they could. They had never seen a case of AFE before. Prior to this Amy had never even heard of amniotic fluid embolism and she remembers wishing at the time that she had never had to hear of it. “I slowly started to grasp the seriousness of the situation as each medical professional that I encountered recounted how rare it was to see a case of AFE and how it was a fluke that I survived since the statistics are so grim”, says Amy. She was able to visit Aiden in the NICU several hours after she was released from ICU, however; she was only allowed to see him twice a day at first since she too was still recovering and not yet stable enough to be on her feet. Amy recounts, “It was a frightening time mixed with fear for both the battle that Aiden was facing in the NICU and severe anxiety about what had just happened to all of us.”
The first thing Amy did once she was released from the hospital was to begin researching AFE and looked for answers about why it occurs. Coming across the same small verbiage again and again she became increasingly frustrated. She was amazed that such a devastating disorder could exist with so little research and understanding about why it occurs and how to prevent it. She also began to scour message boards looking for anyone else that had survived AFE. Amy remembers, “I was desperate to find answers and eager to find someone else who had also survived AFE. All of my research pointed to dire facts and my attempts to connect with other AFE families led to dead ends. I decided to join Facebook several months later and this is how I eventually found Miranda Klassen and the AFE Foundation. One phone call with Miranda was all it took to endear me to this mission, this organization, and Miranda, whom I consider my dear friend. I am determined to do whatever it takes to help build the AFE Foundation in an effort to support research on AFE and to help provide support to families whose lives are forever changed by AFE.”
After spending 66 days in the NICU Aiden was released and they were finally able to travel back home to Atlanta. While they have continued to deal with some health-related issues as a result of Aiden’s prematurity, Amy is thrilled to report that he is thriving and doing well. She says, “I know that Aiden and I are both so fortunate to be here given the circumstances that occurred during his delivery. We plan to continue to always honor the gift that we have been given by giving back as we are able. My family is and will always remain committed to the AFE Foundation. There is not a day that goes by when I don’t think about all of the special women and babies whose lives have been cut far too short due to AFE and the families who are left to suffer as a result of such loss. My commitment to the AFE Foundation is in honor of them.”