Already a mother of five children (including a set of twins), Tanisha found out she was expecting her sixth child in 2020 and soon learned that this pregnancy would be unlike her others.
“I just had a weird feeling when I first got pregnant that something was different this time,” she said.
It was at an ultrasound midway through her pregnancy where Tanisha was diagnosed with placenta previa, which means that the baby’s placenta partially or totally covers the mother’s cervix. This can cause severe bleeding, both before and during delivery.
Tanisha lives in Hammond, La., where she was fortunate that Woman’s has one of its six Maternal-Fetal Medicine (MFM) satellite clinics. She was referred to the clinic by her OB-GYN and met with MFM physicians Dr. Marshall St. Amant and Dr. Pam Simmons.
It turned out that Tanisha’s placenta previa was more complicated than originally thought. She ended up having placenta accreta, where the scar tissue from previous C-sections can cause the placenta to grow too deeply into the uterus. If not detected prior to delivery, or if not fully prepared with the proper supplies during delivery, the condition can be fatal for mom.
“The fact that she already had four C-sections made Tanisha at a much higher risk to develop placenta complications,” said Dr. Simmons, who is an expert in treating patients with placenta accreta spectrum and has a special passion for helping these patients.
Dr. Simmons also explained the importance of being prepared in the operating room for these types of deliveries, so much so that she tells residents when she trains them that if they discover a placenta accreta they weren’t prepared for during surgery, they should not proceed with the surgery until they have the proper supplies and team on hand to assist.
“To be honest, I was really scared,” Tanisha said. “ I was a wreck!”
But Dr. Simmons was able to help lessen some of her fears by thoroughly explaining everything to Tanisha and her husband and by closely monitoring her leading up to delivery.
“I was so nervous getting ready to have my baby, but the day of my procedure, Dr. Simmons really gave me peace,” Tanisha said.
She was supposed to deliver at 36 weeks gestation, but she experienced some bleeding the week before and was admitted to Woman’s Hospital. And because she had been monitored closely by Woman’s MFM, an entire team was already prepared for her complex case.
“Everyone on the team was already familiar with Tanisha’s case and knew her history,” Dr. Simmons explained. “We already had her blood on file and were ready to go when the time came to deliver her baby.”
This preparation was key, because Tanisha’s case turned out to be even more severe than anticipated. She needed a massive blood transfusion, but Tanisha’s surgery team didn’t skip a beat.
“It takes a specialized team to safely deliver these cases,” Dr. Simmons explained. “We have MFM, anesthesia, neonatology, blood bank and pathology, and all of these played a critical role in Tanisha’s surgery and recovery.”
Nova Lee Abron was born on November 7, 2020. Tanisha spent a few days in intensive care, and Nova stayed in the NICU at Woman’s one week for monitoring. Tanisha said she was at peace knowing both she and her baby were in the best care possible during that time.
Though slightly premature, Nova is healthy and doing well adjusting to life outside the womb with her parents and siblings. And while the experience for Tanisha was physically and emotionally challenging, she said that she is also in a good place and continuing to heal each day.
“I’m forever grateful for Dr. Simmons,” Tanisha said. “She saved my life and she saved my baby’s life!”