On March 12, 2020, at 12:17 pm, Ashley Oakley delivered a beautiful baby boy, Lucas. Looking into his eyes for the first time was a love she had never felt before. Mother and son.
After 24 hours in the hospital, Ashley and her baby were discharged. That night her parents came by to deliver food and meet their new Grandson. Many photos were taken and the family oo’d and aah’d over how cute he was. All seemed like this was the new normal for Ashley and her husband, Nick and they’d learn together how to best care for this sweet little guy.
On the evening of March 16, Ashley woke up around midnight to take over-the-counter pain medication. That’s the last thing she remembers.
Minutes later, Nick woke up from a startling sound and was shocked to find Ashley on the bathroom floor, wedged between the toilet and vanity, having a seizure. Nick immediately called 911 and an ambulance took Ashley to Foothills Medical Centre within minutes.
What happened to Ashley was puzzling – the ER doctors ran tests and asked about Ashley’s medical history. After doing a CT scan, they saw that she had suffered a Subarachnoid Brain hemorrhage, an aneurysm. Next thing she knew she was being sent off for emergency surgery, where the team of Neurosurgeons was able to endovascularly coil the bleed through her groin. The procedure blocks the flow of blood into the aneurysm. Doctors put a drain in her head to relieve the pressure and cerebrospinal fluid to help minimize the risk of vasospasms. She was put on a ventilator and heavily sedated.
Ashley spent the next week and a half in the ICU, where the nurses and doctors took care of her – something that she will be forever grateful for.
She spent about 2 weeks in the ICU moving from ICU C (more critical) to ICU B (acute care). Once she was able to get off a drug used to artificially elevate her blood pressure, she was able to leave the ICU and was then transferred to Neurology where she spent another 5 days.
Every room move felt like a small victory as it was one step closer to leaving the hospital. In total, she was in the hospital for 19 days.
At just 32 years old and 3 days postpartum, Ashley couldn’t believe what had happened to her. Every day though, what motivated her to keep going was her family. She dreamed about going home to Lucas and Nick.
“My family and friends had pulled together an incredible network that ensured Lucas was well taken care of and I had every resource to get better.
Every medical professional I encountered was kind, sincere, and exceptional at what they did. The nurses all said goodbye, and some made it a point to come to see me before I was discharged to wish me well. My heart was overflowing with happiness.
Yes, there was pain, heartache, and a lot of hard work to get back to where I am. Yes, there were times I felt sorry for myself, that my birth story had to be so traumatic. But, in the end, after being through this scary experience, I know that I’m so lucky to have come out on the other side of it, and know that being able to be a mom, regardless of how tiring those long nights can be is the icing on the cake of an already very privileged life. I vow to live the best life I can and be as positive as possible as I know that this could all have been lost. I could have widowed my husband and left my son without a memory of his mother. That is something profound, and every day I get to spend with them is going to feel like a true blessing. I am so lucky to be loved and be able to love the wonderful family and friends I have.” – Ashley