Throughout the pregnancy, Kelli Tyler had been posting about the progress of her latest bundle of joy.
“We’re still taking name suggestions for our sweet girl. T-minus 9 weeks and counting,” wrote the 35-year-old mother of four.
On Tuesday, Sept. 6, Tyler updated her profile picture on social media, as she was preparing to give birth to her fifth child.
Kelli died Wednesday following a sudden complication during childbirth.
“The amniotic fluid got into Kelli’s bloodstream [and] she was losing blood more than she could take in,” said Julie Roach, Kelli Tyler’s mother. “I think her last words my granddaughter said—she said—were, ‘I’m about to faint.'”
Amniotic embolisms are often unpredictable. A 2016 medical paper describes them as “one of the most catastrophic complications of pregnancy.” It can occur during delivery or shortly after childbirth, when amniotic fluid enters the mother’s bloodstream. The ultimate cause is still a mystery.
“For reasons that are mostly unknown, some people have a severe allergic response to amniotic fluid mixing with their blood,” writes the Cleveland Clinic. It can cause cardiac arrest, lung failure or uncontrolled breathing.
Cleveland Clinic estimates it occurs in about 1 in every 40,000 births in the United States.
“It’s rare that it happens and almost always fatal, and in our case it was,” Roach said.
She said a medical team worked relentlessly to save her daughter. “She would come around for a minute or so and she would code again.”
“They spent almost two hours trying to revive her. I can’t thank the doctors’ team, the nurses’ team enough, for what they did,” she continued. “[But] walking down the hallway to the room where they were taking us [after]…that was the longest walk of my life…part of my heart’s gone.”
Attention quickly turned to newborn “Baby J,” who was experiencing trauma of her own after the delivery. She was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. There are concerns about potential brain damage, but Roach said it would be some time before any long-term effects are identified.
“We won’t know if she has any cognitive issues until she grows up some more,” she said.
The family was able to take Jalie – a combination of her parents’ names – home Friday afternoon.
“She loves to eat and she’s already spoiled,” her grandmother mused. “She’s our little chunky munky and our tootsie roll.”
Jalie and four other children, ages 16, 12, 11 and 9, will know all about their mother’s love, their grandmother said, though at the moment, the heartbreak feels unbearable.
“Jalie won’t get to know her mom in person but she’s gonna know her mom. We have pictures we have recordings that were going to play over and over,” said Roach. “She’s one of my best parts … one of the best things I ever did.”
The family has set up a GoFundMe account, to help offset unexpected expenses and help with items like groceries, clothes, diapers and more, while the family navigates the difficult transition, and plans for the future.