Brittany and Daniel Rochin of Hattiesburg excitedly announced the arrival of a new baby, expected in June 2020. Already parents of 7-month-old twins, Creed and Bodhi, the Rochin household was going to be lively with the new addition of baby Ryker just 16 months later. Little did they know what awaited them. Not only would the COVID-19 pandemic come into play, but a rare pregnancy condition would also cause quite a scare.
The Rochin family was ecstatic about adding another bundle of joy to the family. The twins had been born by C-section under the care of obstetrician/gynecologist, Louis Benton, MD, in December of 2018 and were growing, in both size and personality.
Rochin, who was 37 at the time of this latest pregnancy, was considered high risk. In addition to her visits with Benton, she also chose to see Marie Darby, MD, a maternal fetal medicine specialist.
At 16 weeks, Darby noticed that Rochin’s placenta was anterior, meaning it was located on the front of the uterus toward the front of the body and stomach, which is relatively common and not a cause for concern, but also that she appeared to have placenta accreta, which is extremely rare and can be quite serious. Placenta accreta occurs when the placenta – the organ which provides nutrients and other support to a developing fetus – attaches too deeply to the uterine wall. This can cause complications for the baby and mother, especially during the delivery.
“Dr. Darby told me there was a chance it could change,” Rochin said.
Rochin remembers being hopeful each time she went in for monthly appointments. In Rochin’s case, the placenta had attached to the scar tissue from her previous C-section. In a worse-case scenario, the placenta could begin growing into her uterus and bladder. Rochin’s hope was wearing thin.
As her pregnancy progressed, intensive ultrasounds were scheduled and her condition appeared unchanged. In a situation of this nature, the baby needed to be delivered at 34 weeks, so a C-section was scheduled for May 14. Still at risk for a partial hysterectomy and bladder surgery, Rochin went ahead and met with Dr. Jeff Wilson, a urologist, who would perform any bladder surgery she might need.
At 31 weeks, due to COVID restrictions, Rochin was home with husband, Daniel, and woke up feeling fine. But later that morning, while sitting with the twins, she experienced terrible cramping. When laying on her left side for a while didn’t help, Daniel rushed her to Forrest General Hospital’s Labor and Delivery.
Due to COVID protocols, when Brittany arrived at the fourth-floor entrance to the Women & Children’s Family Birthplace, she was wheeled in by herself. Unfortunately, early in the COVID-19 pandemic, visitation was very limited in order to protect mothers and their newborns. So Brittany’s husband was left to wait in the parking lot.
“Literally, when I tell you I thought I was dying, I really thought I was,” Rochin said.
Both Drs. Benton and Darby arrived, thinking it might be a problem with her stomach or gallbladder. Dr. Darby went a step further and pushed on Rochin’s fingernails which led her to believe her patient might be bleeding internally. A quick CT scan confirmed Darby’s fears.
“They couldn’t get an IV into my veins because my blood pressure was so low,” Rochin said.
“The doctor called Daniel and told him they had to take the baby immediately, and Daniel wasn’t going to be able to be there because they were going to put me to sleep,” Rochin said.
At this point, Rochin feared the worst and asked Benton, and anesthesiologist, Kristen Spruill, MD, if she was going to make it.
“They really couldn’t answer me because they really didn’t know,” Rochin said. “But all the while, my little Ryker was doing amazing, not skipping a beat.”
It was April 28. With no family around her, Rochin called her mom and told her she didn’t think she was going to make it, but Ryker would be OK.
“They were all praying for me at home,” Rochin said.
Spruill took charge and placed an IV in Rochin’s jugular vein in her neck.
“She told me she was going to put me to sleep, and I might wake up in the ICU and be intubated; she was sure to let me know what could happen,” Rochin said. “And sweet Dr. Benton said a prayer with his staff over me before they did surgery.”
They put her to sleep at 1:13 p.m. and Ryker was born at 1:15 p.m. weighing 4.5 pounds, and he was crying.
“Everybody was shocked,” Rochin said. “At 31 weeks they didn’t expect him to be crying or anything.”
He was taken straight to the NICU, and the doctors let Daniel know his son had been born.
Rochin’s surgery went on for another five hours. There was a liter of blood in her stomach which was very dangerous. The result was a partial hysterectomy and bladder surgery.
Rochin was told afterward that those who had studied the surgery and placenta asked, “How is this girl and baby alive?” But she knows.
“It was by the grace of God,” Rochin said. “It was so weird, because I wanted Kristen Spruill, who was going to be at my C-section, and she just happened to be at the hospital that day. The same with Dr. Wilson, Dr. Benton and everybody that needed to be there. There were three OB/GYNs, four anesthesiologists and many nurses. They were amazing and were a part of saving mine and Ryker’s lives."
Rochin stayed one extra day in the hospital beyond the normal stay for a C-section birth.
“The nurses took great care of me,” she said. “And I can’t say enough about the NICU. They were great and took wonderful care of Ryker for the 21 days he stayed in their care. My husband and I could never meet him together because of COVID, so that was sad. But his stay in the NICU was amazing.”
Because of Forrest General Hospital’s Level III NICU, one of few in the nation to offer “family-centered care,” one of Ryker’s parents could always stay by his side.
Ryker will always be considered a preemie, but Rochin thinks he’ll be bigger than the twins. At 15 months old, he weighs 30 pounds and according to his doting momma, “is precious.”
“I cannot say enough good things about the treatment both Ryker and I received at Forrest General,” Rochin said. “From all the nurses in Labor and Delivery and Post Partum to the NICU staff, everything came together at the right time.”
With three children at home in diapers and all boys, Rochin describes her life as crazy. She remembers Ryker’s birth and can’t help but get emotional as she tells her story.
“Dr. Benton told me that it was good Daniel was at home that morning,” she said. “He said if he had not been, there probably would have been a different scenario.”
While placenta accreta is a very rare condition, most people experience some bleeding which signals a problem. Because Rochin was bleeding internally, she didn’t know she was in distress.
“It was a matter of delivering Ryker as quickly as possible, getting me asleep and giving me blood. Everything had to happen so fast. And everything came together, thanks to the staff at Forrest General. In the end, it was a great experience, and we are thankful for our three beautiful, healthy baby boys," Rochin said.
For more information about Forrest General Hospital’s Women and Children’s Services, where we Begin Something Special… Every Day, visit www.ForrestGeneral.com/specialmoments.