My wife was pregnant again after she and my son nearly died in childbirth due to a placental abruption. We had a tough decision to make. But we decided to take the risk.

By Drew Tapley
October 10, 2019
Courtesy of Drew Tapley

My eldest son was born by emergency C-section, 10 days overdue and breach. He came out with a twisted neck, and twice a day every day for the first six months of his life, my wife and I bent his head with physiotherapy techniques to reset his muscles. He cried while we forced ourselves to hold him down and do this. And sometimes, we cried with him.

The experience with our second child was also difficult. When my wife was six months pregnant with our second son, she received a call from the hospital to say that the ultrasound had found a cyst on his brain. This would either go away on its own, or not. We'd just have to wait and see. It was a long wait, but thankfully it disappeared. However, a few months later at 3 a.m. on the night she went into labor, her contractions jumped quickly from 15 minutes to two minutes apart. Her water broke and blood poured out of her with each contraction as she screamed in agony. The mattress was soaked in blood, and our bedroom resembled a crime scene.

She was rushed to the hospital where doctors performed an emergency C-section and discovered the source of the bleeding to be a placental abruption—a rare medical emergency where the placenta rips away from the uterus before birth. We were extremely lucky. Our son came out fine, but our gynecologist informed us that this condition could have resulted in the instant death of my son and my wife. There was no apparent cause, and nothing that she did or didn't do to contribute to this. It just happened.

Shortly afterwards, my wife and I discussed me getting a vasectomy and agreed that it would be a good idea given the birthing experiences of both of our sons. I received a date for the procedure, but she had a change of heart and asked me to delay it for a year. I did. Six months later, she was pregnant.

It was a memorable occasion when she announced that she was expecting our first two children. Both times, I was asleep, and she woke me gently with a giant smile, waving a pregnancy test. We were ecstatic. But this time it was memorable for the wrong reasons. I was washing dishes when she came into the kitchen and slammed the test on the kitchen surface. There was no smile. A long, humid minute passed by as the air was sucked out of the room and neither of us said a word.

Before the fear rushed in—and it was gushing up like fury—there was a tiny window where another part of my brain processed the whole thing. I heard myself say out loud, "That's our child. We can't terminate the pregnancy." And then the fear came hard and fast, and I began retracting what I had said. A year before, I nearly lost her and my youngest son in an abnormal and apparently random condition of pregnancy. I'd be damned if I'd risk that again, especially since having prior placental abruption put my wife at high risk for it again.

But within an ocean of fear, there was a single drop of absolute certainty about this child. We trusted that this pregnancy was what it was and, like it or not, neither of us could live with the alternative.

When we went for our six-month scan, there was some news. And for once, it was good news. We were having a girl.

Courtesy of Drew Tapley

My daughter was born on a Sunday morning as planned, three days after my eldest son's birthday. It was the first birth we actually got to prepare for, and the only one of the three I was calm enough to film on my camera.

So, it all worked out in that curious and enigmatic way that life often does. But, yes, I did get a vasectomy in the end.

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