Raising Awareness for Amniotic Fluid Embolism
Written by Kiley Boone Flowers
My sister, Molley, was the friend you never knew you needed until she was part of your life and you quickly realized she was everything you ever needed in a friend. She was trustworthy, uplifting, honest, easy going, joyful, giving, fun, soft spirited, selfless, and so much more. She exuded the characteristics of a Godly woman, a testament to the lives she touched, a witness to the remarkable spirit she shared with everyone lucky enough to know her. Molley’s impact extended further than even she could fathom; she was a bright light in this world to so many that were hurting or just needed a kind ear to listen.
Not only was Molley beautiful both inside and out, she was also well-educated and hard working. Molley’s journey, one that began in Ruston and led her to Baton Rouge, was marked by her commitment to education and personal growth. Graduating from Parkview Baptist School in 2004 and later achieving a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Care Administration from Our Lady of the Lake College in 2009, Molley’s professional prowess was evident in her role as a decision support analyst at Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center. Her accomplishments, however, were not confined to her professional endeavors; they were an extension of her compassionate nature. Molley’s identity transcended mere career titles: she was a dutiful daughter, a devoted sister, a loyal friend, and a loving wife.
One of Molley’s most anticipated joys was the prospect of becoming a mother—a role for which she was meticulously prepared. As February 19, 2018, approached, Molley’s pregnancy journey reached its pinnacle at 41 weeks. Anticipation was tangible as she, exhausted yet excited, eagerly awaited the arrival of her baby boy. After just celebrating my little girl’s first birthday, I headed down to Baton Rouge to be with my sister. Being a few days past her due date, she hoped to go into labor soon. Molley and I shared a relationship that was indescribable, and these days ended up being the most precious last days I had with my sister. They were so God-ordained looking back. He knew what was to come but we didn’t. We had 2 days of just laying together and imagining what it was going to be like when she brought her baby boy home.
Molley’s water suddenly broke in the middle of the night and upon arriving at the hospital, she was quickly taken to the delivery room. Accompanied by myself, our mother, and her husband, Molley’s labor commenced with an epidural to alleviate the pain that seemed to cloud her usual bright demeanor. An hour after her admission, my excitement was met with a reality that veered from our plans. We knew then something wasn’t right.
As labor progressed, Molley’s vitality was apparently compromised. Her typical vibrant presence was replaced by discomfort—irritability, headache, confusion. Even her gaze, usually so expressive, seemed dulled by the glare of bright lights. Molley pressed on with every ounce of strength, delivering a robust baby boy named Braddock. Molley was able to cherish a brief moment of holding her baby boy. As the labor’s toll mounted, her breathing faltered, and the bleeding escalated. The last time I saw her conscious, she was wheeled to the ICU amidst resuscitation attempts. God whispered to my heart in that exact moment that she wasn’t going to make it. I knew. There was no internal battle in my heart. I remember getting a moment to myself and falling on my knees and feeling a sense of unexplainable peace. I knew God was holding me and her. Molley fought for 13 hours as the doctors worked on her but eventually, her earthly journey concluded. We were later told that she had experienced an Amniotic Fluid Embolism. An Amniotic Fluid Embolism is a perilous and rare condition caused by amniotic fluid leaking into her body leading to organ failure, sealing her fate. She fought hard, Gods presence was with her. We prayed over her for hours. She glowed as she took her final breaths.
The question lingers: Could more have been done? Perhaps. Did time play a pivotal role? Likely. However, amidst the tragedy, a purpose emerged. A fervent desire to share her story, to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms that may prevent future heartache, was ignited, in the wake of her passing. My sister is never far from the thoughts of the many of us who loved her. Although our heartache from losing Molley may never be healed this side of heaven, in her honor we want to bring awareness to this rare and fatal disorder in hopes to prevent this tragedy from taking the life of other new mothers.
Five years after losing my precious sister, we celebrate her legacy daily with the gift she left on earth, Braddock, a charming, full of life, 5-year-old. Braddock is surrounded by love and support, living with his grandmother, and doing life with our family daily. His teachers, embodying compassion and warmth, provide a nurturing environment. The embrace of Molley’s cherished childhood friends further envelops us. As he navigates life’s journey, Braddock will know of his mother and what a priceless treasure she was to this world from both family and friends. We will continue to ensure that his mother, Molley, is woven into his existence and will forever be with him in spirit.
Unveiling the Unseen: Raising Awareness for Amniotic Fluid Embolism
In the heart of every pregnancy and birth story lies an unspoken promise of hope and joy. Yet, within this narrative, there exists a relatively unknown and unpredictable threat that demands our attention – Amniotic Fluid Embolism (AFE). This rare obstetric emergency shatters assumptions of a smooth journey, urging us to shed light on its existence and potential impacts.
The Silent Intruder: Understanding AFE
Amniotic Fluid Embolism is an infrequent but life-threatening complication that can occur during childbirth. A seemingly routine event, the rupture of the amniotic sac, takes an unforeseen and dire turn when amniotic fluid, containing fetal cells, enters the maternal bloodstream. This intrusion triggers an immune response that can swiftly escalate into a cascade of severe medical complications.
Unveiling the Puzzle: How AFE Unfolds
The exact mechanisms that drive AFE are not fully understood, adding to its mystique. Experts speculate that the introduction of fetal cells into the maternal circulation might provoke an exaggerated immune response. The body’s defense mechanisms then spiral out of control, resulting in blood clotting disorders, cardiac dysfunction, and respiratory distress. This medical chaos can quickly lead to catastrophic organ failure.
The Whispers of Warning: Recognizing AFE Signs
Awareness is our first line of defense against AFE. The symptoms, unfortunately, can mimic those of other obstetric complications, making prompt recognition challenging. Look for sudden shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, and altered mental state. Swift diagnosis and intervention are crucial, but vigilance starts with knowing the signs.
The Quest for Diagnosis: Navigating AFE Identification
The elusive nature of AFE often poses difficulties in diagnosis. Doctors rely on clinical observation, patient history, and an array of diagnostic tests, including blood work and imaging. Given its rarity, doctors might initially rule out more common conditions, potentially delaying effective treatment. Bridging this diagnostic gap demands heightened awareness among medical professionals.
Responding to the Call: Managing AFE
Time is of the essence when it comes to AFE management. Medical teams mobilize to stabilize the patient’s condition, addressing respiratory distress, circulatory collapse, and coagulation disorders. Swift delivery of the baby, often via emergency cesarean section, might be the best course of action to minimize maternal stress and improve outcomes.
Into the Unknown: AFE’s Aftermath
Even for those who survive AFE, the aftermath can be fraught with challenges. Survivors may experience organ damage, neurological deficits, or psychological trauma due to the extreme stress their bodies endured. It’s a stark reminder that while survival is a triumph, the journey doesn’t end there.
Shining a Light: Advocating for AFE Awareness
Sharing knowledge about AFE is an imperative step towards minimizing its impact. The stories of survivors and those who have lost loved ones highlight the urgency of awareness campaigns. From expectant mothers to medical professionals, communities need to unite to improve recognition, diagnosis, and management of AFE cases.
Conclusion: Illuminating the Shadows
In the labyrinth of pregnancy and childbirth, Amniotic Fluid Embolism lurks as an unsettling possibility. But with knowledge comes power, and by shedding light on AFE, we empower ourselves to navigate potential complications. By advocating for awareness, education, and research, we have the chance to transform AFE from an unpredictable threat into a challenge we are prepared to confront. Through united efforts, we can forge safer and healthier paths for mothers and newborns, ensuring that their stories remain tales of hope and joy.