In the immediate moments after giving birth, the mother will naturally be one of the first people to hold the baby. For new mom Emilie Given, though, that wasn’t the case, as she suffered septic shock during her labor in August 2016. However, the pair were movingly reunited seven days later.
A resident of Lynnwood, Washington, Emilie works as an executive assistant for Amazon, living with her then fiance, now husband Billy and his young son Hank. The pair were set to have their first child together in September 2016, but those plans changed dramatically on the morning of August 23.
While in bed with Billy, Emilie began to feel some contractions, which steadily became more painful as the morning progressed. However, the 28-year-old was reluctant to go to the hospital, having already been sent home twice after previous contractions. Fearing the same outcome again, she initially turned down her fiance’s suggestion to go back.
Despite those previous experiences, though, Emilie quickly changed her mind after taking a shower, spotting that she was bleeding. With the pain worsening, she and Billy packed up for their trip to the hospital, eventually being admitted later that morning. As the contractions continued throughout the day, the expectant mom’s nurse then suggested getting her an epidural.
At that point, the situation took a terrifying turn. “At around 6pm, I developed a 103 fever and was placed on antibiotics,” Emilie wrote in a WordPress blog post in August 2017. “A few times, the baby’s heart-rate dropped and the nurse had me change positions.”
“Billy and the nurses were putting wet washcloths on me and I asked them why they were putting hot water on me when I was already super-hot,” Emilie continued. “Turns out, it was cold water and my body was just so hot it felt warm to me. I was SO HOT. I just wanted water.”
After her epidural had been adjusted, Emilie’s waters broke. From there, things only got worse for the expectant mother. “At around midnight, I started shaking uncontrollably and couldn’t stop,” she recalled. “The doctor came in and ordered a stat EKG (electrocardiography) because my pulse had skyrocketed to 200.”
However, at that point, the baby’s heartbeat started to drop, prompting the doctors to perform an emergency cesarean. “At 1:04am I felt them pull the baby out of me and just waited to hear him start crying,” Emilie continued. “There was no crying and I started to panic.”
“I quietly asked, ‘Is he ok? Is my baby ok?’” Emilie added. “Nobody would respond to me. I started yelling, ‘IS HE OK? IS HE ALIVE?’ Somebody responded, ‘They’re working on it.’” Indeed, for the next six minutes the doctors treated baby EJ. Thankfully, his heart started beating, but he was subsequently taken to Seattle Children’s Hospital.
As for Emilie, though, her doctors discovered that she had contracted chorioamnionitis. This is a bacterial infection that affects the amniotic fluid in the uterus. However, the problems didn’t stop there for the 28-year-old, as the infection caused her to go into septic shock.
As a result of that, Emilie’s liver, lungs and kidneys started to fail, which prompted the physicians to give her dialysis. According to the new mom, that move saved her life. Given everything that happened after the c-section, though, she still hadn’t held her son, as he was now recovering in the other hospital.
However, Billy came up with an interesting idea in the meantime. “The first time I saw my baby was on FaceTime,” Emilie told U.K. newspaper the Daily Mail in July 2018. “It was such an emotional thing. I remember seeing his cute little face and I just knew I had to talk to him.”
“As soon as he heard my voice I could tell he recognized it,” Emilie continued. “He gave the cutest little smile.” Despite that brief moment of joy, though, the meeting proved incredibly difficult for the 28-year-old, as thoughts of the dramatic c-section came flooding back.
“It was so, so hard,” Emilie said. “Your baby has spent the last nine months inside you, and then so violently he’s ripped out of you. I couldn’t bear the idea that he was hurting in another hospital. It was heart-wrenching. I didn’t meet him until he was seven days old.”
Indeed, after being discharged from the hospital, EJ was finally taken to his mother, with the emotional moment being captured in a photograph. “On August 31, Billy walked into my hospital room carrying this little bundle,” Emilie told the Daily Mail. “It was so overwhelming, it was the most powerful moment of my life when I finally got to meet my baby.”
“When he was put into my arms he immediately cuddled into me,” Emilie added. “He was like, ‘This is my mom.’” After being discharged the next day, she returned home to her family, but more problems awaited the 28-year-old. Indeed, some months later, she received a diagnosis of postpartum depression and PTSD.
Thankfully, Emilie proved able to overcome those problems, admitting, “It was very traumatic but I’m in a good place now.” However, after everything that happened, both she and Billy decided not to try for another baby in the future, with the latter undergoing a vasectomy.
Despite suffering from some development delays as a result of those terrifying six minutes, EJ has made a full recovery, living his life as a happy toddler. “It did take EJ a little bit longer to roll over but once he did he was crawling and running quite quickly,” Emilie told the Daily Mail.
Emilie added, “He has a slight speech delay, but we think he’s a really smart boy. He’s so amazing.” She continued, “He’s very laid back, he’s funny. He’s so loving, he’s always giving mommy and daddy kisses. Hank and EJ are best buddies. EJ loves to dance whenever you put on music.”
Close to two years after Emilie gave birth, she and Billy tied the knot in July 2018, with EJ playing the role of ring bearer. “I can’t wait,” Emilie said ahead of the wedding. “I’m so excited to marry Billy. I would never have gotten through this without him.” Few people are more deserving of a happy ending.