WHEATLAND – Matthew and Wendi Contryman of Wheatland were eagerly awaiting the latest addition to their growing family. Wendy’s two previous pregnancies and deliveries had not presented any complications and she was confident that this one would not be any different. She would be very wrong.
When Wendi’s water broke, the whole family was excited that the birth was imminent and she and Matthew waited at home for the contractions to come closer together before going to the hospital. Her contractions mysteriously stopped, but they still weren’t concerned.
“It felt different than it had with the other two (pregnancies),” Wendi said. “When the contractions stalled, we just stayed home. I figured they would start back up again soon, but then I felt pressure.”
A self-admitted worrier, Wendi read everything she could find on pregnancy, delivery and what could go wrong. A quick trip to the restroom and Wendi realized that the umbilical cord was coming out. She immediately knew that she probably had an Umbilical Cord Prolapse.
Normally, the baby exits the mother before the umbilical cord. In an Umbilical Cord Prolapse, the umbilical cord comes out before the baby. This can happen when the “water breaks” before the baby has moved into the birth canal. This is an emergency because the baby’s head rests on top of the cord cutting off oxygen and blood flow. According to research from the Stillbirth Collaborative Research Network, umbilical cord accidents account for around 10 percent of stillbirths. While people often assume that the deaths are caused by strangulation, they are most often the result from a disruption of the blood supply to the baby.
Wendi told her husband they had to get the hospital right away. As soon as she was through the doors of Platte County Memorial Hospital she told on-duty Nurse Darla Patterson what was happening. Patterson leaped into action calling doctors and nurses to help.
“I didn’t even have time to get undressed. They cut off most of my clothes on the way to the operating room,” explained Wendi. “Dr. Hawley actually held up the head of the baby to keep the pressure off the cord while I was being wheeled in.”
Wendi was put under general anesthesia as there wasn’t time to do a spinal block for her to be awake during the emergency Caesarean Section. Matthew was not allowed in the room with her and had to wait in the hallway with Wendi’s mother, Vianna Haecker.
From outside the door, Grandma heard them say that the baby wasn’t breathing and did not have a pulse. But somehow the medical professionals were able to bring her back and save little Madeline’s fragile life. Dr. David Lind performed the Caesarean and relayed to them afterwards if it had taken just five extra minutes they would not have been able to resuscitate her.
“I was amazed how quickly the team gathered together to save a life. From the moment she walked through the door, until the baby was delivered was just 15 minutes,” said Wendi’s mother, Vianna Haecker. “Our hometown heroes are normal people just doing their jobs, but sometimes those jobs are extraordinary. We are grateful to those who saved our little granddaughter.”
Wendi’s advice to expecting parents is to stay informed about possible complications so you know what to do, but to not worry too much. But if the water breaks, get to the hospital immediately. There can be many complications when the amniotic sac breaks too early.
“I think about Madeline’s birth every day and dwell on the things I could have done differently to get us there faster or to avoid the emergency altogether. I think about things that could have happened to slow us down and take those five extra minutes,” Wendi contemplated. “She’s here though, and that’s the most important thing. I’m thankful for every person on the medical team because they all worked as quickly as possible to save her life. Being a mother is what I’ve always wanted. Sometimes it’s exhausting, sometimes it’s stressful and scary, but there is something wonderful about it every day.”
Madeline joins her two big sisters at home, Joanna is 5-years-old and Lucy is 3-years-old. They are both very excited to have a new baby sister and playmate.
“It’s the best being the oldest, I love it. I like to talk to her and sing to her when she’s crying,” said Joanna with a shining smile that only a proud big sister can have. She then demonstrated by singing her own original tune, “Hey little baby, don’t you cry anymore. Do, do, do brush your teeth.”
Joanna went on to explain how when Madeline is older she will take her outside and play soccer with her. However, Lucy wants her new baby sister to put puzzles together with her. Medical emergencies and tragedy happen every day, but in this little bit of windblown prairie there are some amazing folks saving lives and families.