Patient Stories:Elaine Ní Bhraonáin

I was diagnosed with placenta accreta at 25 weeks on my third pregnancy.

As I had had placenta previa on my previous pregnancy, I was aware of the severity of accreta. I was relieved that it had been picked up on ultrasound but knew I would have to have an MRI to confirm the condition. Having the MRI was terrifying but I knew it would give me the best chance of survival as my the accreta team would know exactly what they were dealing with.

When admitted, my heart sank saying goodbye to my 3 and 4 year old little boys as it was coming up to Christmas and I knew they would only be able to visit once a week as they were in Wexford with my elderly parents. Missing out on trips to Santa and playschool nativity performances broke my heart. Honestly, I felt resentment some days towards the tiny baby inside me and felt it unfair that this baby was already dictating my life so much and wasn’t even born yet. The first few days of my hospital stay were definitely the toughest, but I soon got into the swing of things, learned how to pass each day, knew what my emotional triggers were and knew how to manage them. I reminded myself each morning when I woke that we are a step closer to delivery day and my baby is fatter today than yesterday which hopefully would mean less NICU time for him.

I was awake for the first hour of my surgery and saw and heard my little baby cry when born which was of course magical but I was so weak from being on bedrest that I would have preferred to have been asleep for the duration of the surgery.

Unfortunately I bled heavily during the hysterectomy and had to have a completed replacement of blood. I lost over 6 litres of blood and required 13 transfusions.

When I woke up in recovery, my family were all around me. They all looked scared but so so relieved, I knew then everything was ok. I later learned about the huge blood loss but all I cared about was that my baby was doing ok in the NICU.

When we finally got home, we could be a normal family again. Simple things like playing lego with my boys, reading to them and making their preferred school lunches were actually what I missed the most. I still feel guilty about the time I spent away from them but realise how lucky I am to have come though this disease.

It has taken me a full year to come to terms with this conditional, both physically and mentally but the team at Holles Street and Placenta Accreta Irleland have given me the support I need every step of the way.

I owe my life to Prof Donal Brennan, Dr Zara Fronseca Kelly and their team. Míle Buíochas ó chroí as ucht mé a shábháil.