Erica and Brett Lucas’s Early Labor Ends in a Happy Birth Day
Traveling often carries challenges— especially when you’re 33 weeks pregnant. But Erica Lucas and her husband, Brett, had made the journey from their home in West Richland, Washington, to his family’s vacation home on Hayden Lake, Idaho, many times with no complications.
Last Labor Day was an exception.
The weekend started like any other. Erica and her family enjoyed time together and got some much-needed relaxation before the baby was expected to arrive mid-October. On Labor Day, Erica felt fatigued and a little nauseated, which seemed like normal third trimester symptoms.
“I was taking a shower and started to feel really light-headed, and I thought drinking some water and lying down on the couch would help me feel better,” she said. “But the feeling didn’t go away, and I was feeling really nauseated—after a failed attempt to throw up, I felt a gush of blood and knew something was really wrong.”
A SWIFT RESPONSE
Erica started to hemorrhage. Luckily, her mother-in-law, Lynn, is a labor and delivery nurse at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland, and she knew exactly how to handle the situation. Aware that it would take too long for an ambulance to reach the north end of Hayden Lake, she instructed everyone to get Erica to the car and lay her down with her legs elevated.
“I passed out as soon as they got me in the car, but seconds later my husband got me to regain consciousness by laying me down and elevating my legs,” Erica said. “I was able to stay conscious and remain calm while Lynn drove us to the emergency room.”
Once they reached the hospital, Erica remembers being wheeled back to the emergency department and seeing OB-GYN Brett Penney, M.D. He and neonatologist Kathleen Webb, M.D., happened to be at the hospital when Erica arrived, despite the holiday. After a swift evaluation, it was determined Erica would need an emergency C-section.
Before being able to undergo surgery, Erica needed a blood transfusion to replace some of the blood she had lost. The team was able to get an IV started for the transfusion, but by the time Erica reached the operating room for the procedure, the anesthesiologist had to start a new IV—her vein was no good. After several attempts to get an IV started, Dr. Penney was forced to start the C-section.
“Erica was given local anesthesia,” Dr. Webb said. “There just wasn’t a way to give her a regional or a general anesthetic when the case was started. We did get her off to sleep a few seconds later.”
What struck Dr. Webb most was Dr. Penney’s compassion and Erica’s bravery.
“He told her it was going to hurt, and she told him to go ahead,” she said. “I also remember Cassy Oddy, the charge nurse, saying, ‘You just hold my hand and squeeze as hard as you like,’ and that’s what Erica did. Cassy never left her.”
The C-section was a success, and at just 33 weeks and 3 days; 4 pounds, 15 ounces and 18 inches, Elena Brynn was welcomed into the world.
“When Dr. Penney put the baby in my arms, she began to cry, and I knew she was going to be okay,” Dr. Webb said. “I have never felt more proud of our team than I did in that moment.”
The next thing Erica remembers is waking up in the recovery room and seeing her husband’s face.
“He was trying to tell me something,” she recalled.
She said it took several minutes before she could comprehend what Brett was saying, but eventually “We have a baby girl” resonated.
HEALTHY AND THRIVING
Elena and Erica were transferred back to Kadlec after spending a few days at Kootenai Health. To ensure mom and baby could go home together, Kootenai helped by paying for half of the neonatal transfer costs. Elena is a happy, healthy baby girl today. She was released from Kadlec’s neonatal intensive care unit after 24 days. Since being born, Elena has nearly doubled her weight and continues to thrive under the care of her parents.
“It’s amazing how everything fell into place on Labor Day,” Erica said. “If it hadn’t been for Lynn, Dr. Penney, Dr. Webb, the emergency response team and all the nursing staff at Kootenai, Elena and I wouldn’t be here today. We are very blessed that things went as well as they did.”
Kootenai Health’s Birthing Center offers the highest standards of care. For more information, call (208) 625-4276 .