For two and a half months, Tabitha Hammond has been mothering her daughter Zymeria from the neonatal intensive care unit at WellStar Atlanta Medical Center.
It has not been easy, but Hammond is just grateful her baby is here.
Tabitha Hammond of Atlanta was 27 weeks’ pregnant when she felt a jolt of pain in her abdomen. That’s when she found herself facing an emergency C-section, as doctors tried to save her unborn baby. (FOX 5 Atlanta)
“She is a miracle baby,” she says. “I come here to see her every day.”
Zymeria is Hammond’s fourth child.
Yet, this pregnancy didn’t go as planned.
Hammond was 27 weeks pregnant, working at an Atlanta restaurant November 6, 2019, when, she says, an intense pain tore through her lower abdomen.
“I was having like major, it felt like a cramp, or contraction,” Hammond says.
The next day, the pain came back.
Tabitha Hammond of Atlanta was 27 weeks’ pregnant when she felt a jolt of pain in her abdomen. That’s when she found herself facing an emergency C-section, as doctors tried to save her unborn baby.
This time, Hammond came to WellStar Atlanta Medical Center, where she was sent to see Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist Dr. Chukwuma Onyeije of Atlanta Perinatal Associates
“There are a number of causes of pain in pregnancy,” Dr. Onyeije says. “A lot of time, patients will have pain we don’t have a cause for.”
To try to figure out what was triggering Hammond’s intense pain, Dr. Onyeije ordered an ultrasound.
It allowed him to look more closely at her placenta, the organ providing the blood supply and nutrients to Hammond’s unborn baby.
That’s when he saw it: a tumor.
“It’s about 6 to 7 centimeters, which is a significant placental mass,” Onyeije says.
The tumor was non-cancerous, made up primarily of blood vessels.
Onyeije says these tumors are rare, occurring in about .5% to 1% of pregnancies.
If the tumor is small, he says, women may not have symptoms.
But Hammond’s tumor was not small, and Dr. Onyeije could see her baby’s heart rate was steadily dropping.
“When it becomes this large, it is actually robbing fluid and blood flow from the baby, and we can see that on the baby’s heart rate analysis,” Onyeije says. “The tumor itself is causing distress in the baby. So, that’s when we have to activate the team.”
Tabitha Hammond was told she needed an emergency Caesarian section.
“She wasn’t going to make it inside me,” Hammond says.
She was terrified.
A rare placental tumor forced doctors to deliver Tabitha Hammond’s daughter at 27 weeks’ gestation.
“I never had a C-section before, and then I’ve never had a baby so early,” she says.
Zymeria was delivered at 27 weeks’ gestation, which is about three months early.
She weighed just over a pound.
“She was little, she was so small, like, she could fit in my hand,” Hammond says.
But Zymeria is doing well, and growing by the day.
Dr. Onyeije says Tabitha Hammond’s instinct something was wrong may have helped her baby beat the odds.
“So, the fact that she was able to come to the hospital was life-saving for Zymeria,” he says. “This was a fantastic move by the mother.”
On January 24, 2020, Tabitha Hammond was able to finally bring her baby home.