Larissa Baker: SGMC Saved Our Lives

Two weeks before participating in a half-marathon, Larissa Baker, 32, found out shewas expecting her third child. 

“It was definitely a surprise pregnancy,”Larissa said. “I had been training for thehalf-marathon and thought my extremehunger was from all the running.” 

Larissa and her husband, Michael, werebusy parents with two toddlers, RaeLyn andCharlotte, when they found out she was 11weeks pregnant.

“The pregnancy was overall easy, much likemy other two,” Larissa said. “I kept runningand doing strength training until about 36weeks, then started walking and strengthtraining five to six days a week.” 

After her due date had come and gone,Larissa’s nurse midwife, Teresa Johnson,scheduled her to be induced on September14, 2020, at The Birthplace, located atSouth Georgia Medical Center. 

“When I arrived at SGMC, I was dilated twocentimeters, and everything was goinggood,” she said. “Later, when it was time forme to start pushing is when things startedto go bad.” 

At this point, she went into respiratoryarrest, and SGMC’s emergency code teamwas immediately activated. 

“She arrested and stopped breathing,” saidDr. Roy Swindle, an Obstetrician withSouthern OB/GYN. “When they called a ‘code,’ all the emergency personnelshowed up, and I was there withinminutes. The nurse midwife, nurses,and anesthetist were all there. In avery short period, the decision wasmade to do an emergency C-section.”

Swindle explained that shedeveloped an amniotic fluidembolism, a life-threatening, acute,and unexpected complication thatcan occur during delivery and affectboth mother and baby. 

A rare condition, Swindle said,amniotic fluid embolism occurs inapproximately one in every 20,000deliveries, and about 50 percent ofwomen die within an hour of ithappening. 

“Some of the amniotic fluid got intoher bloodstream and went to herlungs,” Swindle said. “Then she wentinto a condition called disseminated intravascular coagulopathy. She wasusing all her clotting factors and at ahigh risk of bleeding to death bothinternally and externally.”

“Everyone was where they weresupposed to be to save my wife andson’s life,” Michael said. “They keptme very informed throughout theentire process even though I was inshock for most of it.” 

After being stabilized, Larissa wasmoved to SGMC’s Intensive CareUnit (ICU). Her son, Rhett, bornweighing 8 pounds, was immediatelytransported to the NeonatalIntensive Care Unit (NICU) atPhoebe Putney Memorial Hospital inAlbany, Georgia. 

While SGMC’s emergency responseteam cared for Larissa and her baby,Cathy Swilley, a nurse manager withWomen’s and Children Services,checked on Michael.

“When they took me back for the C-section, Michael saw me have aseizure, and Cathy came and sat withhim,” Larissa said. “She knew wedidn’t have family here.” 

After spending six days in ICU,Larissa was moved to a postpartumroom. “All of this time, Rhett was stillin Albany,” she said. “My parentscame from Texas, so they could bewith him during the day, whileMichael stayed with me.” 

On September 22, mother and sonwere united. “It had been a week, andI still hadn’t met my son,” she said.”My parents would send pictures, butit was difficult not being with him.They brought him to SGMC, andshortly afterward, I was discharged,and we both went home.” 

Larissa appreciates the kindness andattention she and Michael received.”They were all great,” she said. “Theyhelped get Michael a place to stay atthe hospital. When I was in ICU, hecould stay during the day, and then atnight had a room at the hospital tosleep.” 

Michael said having the room at SGMCwas extremely helpful. “I told the staff Iwould not be leaving the hospital until mywife did. I was prepared to sleep in mytruck if I had to. The room was awesome,and the nurses spoiled me with a big bag ofsnacks to get me through. 

“Dr. Swindle called to debrief me mostnights to keep me updated on Larissa’scondition. Our midwife, Teresa Johnson,did the same in the afternoons,” he said.”Two of the greatest human beings I’veever met. We are extremely blessed thatthey were a part of all of this.”

SGMC’s Birthplace has a medical team of 10 obstetricians, two neonatologists andthe area’s only OB hospitalist program andOB emergency department. SGMC iscommitted to women’s health throughoutthe region and continues to deploy thelatest technology and develop cutting edgeprograms for women and infants. To learnmore about delivering your baby at SGMC, visit sgmc.org. 

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