Hazel heard the Code Pink over the intercom and thought, “That can’t be for me.” But it was.
Hazel Gray and her partner Joey Lattanzio arrived at St. Paul’s relaxed and excited. It was Father’s Day morning and their second son, now 11 days overdue, was finally on his way. The couple’s first child, Kaden, had been born at St. Paul’s two years earlier by scheduled C-section so this was Hazel’s first experience with labour.
“I didn’t know what a typical labour was supposed to be like,” Hazel recalls. “My water broke and my contractions started, but my progress seemed really slow.” A day later, when she still wasn’t any further along, Hazel’s midwife suggested they go to St. Paul’s to be ready when the time came.
Hazel credits this as the first of many life-saving decisions that day. “Things went wrong so quickly, if we had to wait even a few extra minutes for an ambulance, it’s likely neither of us would have made it.”
As noon approached, Hazel still wasn’t in active labour. She hadn’t even been formally admitted when she was hit by an unbearable contraction that didn’t stop. “I couldn’t speak. I could barely breathe,” Hazel recalls. On the fetal monitor, the baby’s heartbeat become erratic. Hazel started to hemorrhage. That’s when they called the Code Pink.
Hazel remembers that the room was suddenly full of people prepping her and getting her ready for the OR. “My obstetrician, Dr. Valerie Rychel, spoke to me in her usual, calm doctor voice and explained that we were going to do a C-section. Everyone was so composed, you would never have known this was anything but a routine delivery.”
It was only later Hazel learned the first thing Dr. Rychel saw when she opened Hazel’s belly were the baby’s hands poking out of her uterus and into her abdomen.
Worst case scenario
Although she had no way of knowing, the scar from her first C-section had somehow stuck to her bladder. Hazel’s excruciating pain wasn’t a contraction. Her uterus and bladder had both ruptured: an incredibly rare, usually-catastrophic event.
Hunter Ronan was delivered just 14 minutes after the Code Pink but he wasn’t breathing. The team resuscitated him in the OR, and incredibly, after a few hours of care in the NICU, he was fine.
Hazel’s ordeal was just getting started. She spent the next six hours in surgery, lost half her blood, and received five transfusions. She needed specialized expertise in obstetrics, urology, and anesthesiology. “I still can’t believe that on a quiet summer Sunday, so many different teams came together so quickly and so seamlessly.”
Against all odds, Hazel and Hunter were discharged less than a week later. “It really hit me when we walked out of the hospital with our two little boys,” she says. “Joey said, ‘You know, St. Paul’s didn’t just save you and Hunter. St. Paul’s saved our whole family.’”
Today, almost two years later, Hazel says the entire experience is “nothing short of miraculous.” Meanwhile, for the staff at St. Paul’s, it was just another day at the office and another example of the life-changing work they do, without fanfare, every single day.
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