A mum-of-six has told how she fell pregnant despite having the contraceptive coil – which then made her waters break early and came out tucked in her baby’s armpit.
Evelynn Crouse, 26, opted to have the ParaGard IUD fitted as a form of contraception after she gave birth to her fifth child.
She miraculously fell pregnant and doctors were unable to remove her IUD as it could lead to a miscarriage, she said.
But her waters broke at 23 weeks when the IUD pricked the her amniotic sac, and despite a huge medical effort, baby Ava was born a week later weighing just 1lb 13oz
The little tot was born with the IUD tucked under her armpit, was barely bigger than her mum’s hand, and her eyes remained fused shut for two weeks.
The skin between her arteries was missing and Ava was so small Evelynn couldn’t hold her for four weeks.
But the tiny fighter defied the odds and while she’s still being fed through a tube, Evelynn and her husband Justin, 31, can’t wait to take her home in the coming months.
Evelynn, from Titusville, Florida, said: “She really is my little miracle.
“I bent over outside to pick up some rubbish and didn’t feel anything then, but about an hour and a half later, water poured everywhere all over the kitchen floor.
“With all my other pregnancies, the doctors had had to pop my waters in the hospital when I was in labour, so I’d never really experienced them breaking.
“I got sent to a specialist pregnancy hospital where they pumped me full of antibiotics for a week before I gave birth to Lyla at 24 weeks.
“When they pulled her out, the IUD was tucked under her armpit. I remember them holding it up and showing me.
“We still don’t know how long it will be before we get to take her home, but everyday she’s with us is a blessing and we will wait as long as it takes to make sure she’s safe.”
Evelynn and her husband Justin, 31, already had a full house with Alyssia, 12, Andrew, 11, Mason, six, Madeline, also six, and Lillie Ann, three.
After giving birth to Lillie Ann in July 2016, the couple decided they would not have any more children so Evelynn had the IUD fitted to prevent future pregnancies.
ParaGard is an intrauterine device made out of copper and plastic that is inserted into the uterus to provide long term birth control.
Copper wire coiled around the T-shaped plastic frame produces an inflammatory reaction that is toxic to sperm and eggs, preventing pregnancy.
According to the ParaGard website, pregnancy with ParaGard is ‘uncommon but can be life-threatening and may cause infertility or loss of pregnancy.’
The website claims that ‘ParaGard is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy and one of the most effective methods of birth control available.’
Evelynn opted for ParaGard because it prevents pregnancy for up to 10 years after insertion, and yet the unlucky mum fell pregnant just two and a half years later.
She said: “I didn’t have any symptoms that I was pregnant – I never got any morning sickness, my stomach just started cramping up a little.
“My husband joked around that I better not be pregnant, but then the more I thought about it, I realised it had been about two and a half months since my last menstrual cycle.
“My cycle had never really been normal and we were also going through a lot at the time with my father in law in the hospital, so I didn’t really notice my period was that late.
“I took a home test in March 2019 that came up positive, and was in so much shock that I did another in our local health department which also came back as positive.
“I was frustrated for the first couple of weeks – we already had five kids, we didn’t want any more, but then I figured we beat all of these odds so obviously she was meant to be here with us.
“My first ultrasound I had was to determine the location of my IUD and make sure my pregnancy was viable as a lot of IUD pregnancies turn out to be ectopic.
“Once they saw it was a viable pregnancy, they tried to remove the IUD but weren’t able to as my cervix had already started swelling and if they kept pulling the IUD to remove it, there was a chance I could haemorrhage and miscarry.”
With the IUD stuck and a baby growing alongside it, Evelynn spent the next few months treading on eggshells..
Scans showed that Evelynn’s child was growing healthily at a steady, normal rate, and the surprised parents prepared to welcome their miracle baby in September 2019.
But disaster struck in June 2019 when Evelynn bent over to pick up some rubbish and the IUD pricked the membrane of her amniotic sac, bursting her waters.
Terrified, the couple raced to the hospital where doctors confirmed her waters had broken prematurely at just 23 weeks pregnant.
Transferred to the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies, Evelynn was monitored closely by doctors as they tried to stop her labour but it was too late.
Evelynn said: “For a whole week, they were pumping me full of antibiotics, and I had to stay hydrated too because the baby survives in the amniotic sac so once it pops like that, you have to keep fluid going through it.
“I started having cramps my second day there so they gave me magnesium and that settled her down and the cramps stopped.
“They kept me on bed rest as moving around after your waters have broken can stimulate labour, so I could only get up to go to the toilet.
“I was even given two shots of steroids when my waters broke which helped develop my baby’s lungs in case she came early.
“They tried to stop my labour but couldn’t and even though I’d had an emergency c section previously, I was able to give birth to her naturally because she was so small.”
Evelynn gave birth on 9 June 2019 to daughter Ava after 24 weeks of pregnancy.
Baby Ava measured at a tiny 13 inches long and weighed just 1lb 13oz, classifying as a micro-preemie.
As soon as she was born, doctors rushed her away to the neonatal intensive care unit where she was intubated.
Hooked up to a special breathing machine for micro-preemies that vibrated at a fast rate to keep up with how fast she should be breathing, baby Ava was safe but unable to be held in her mother’s arms.
Evelynn said: “I cried a lot in the hospital. I knew she wasn’t ready to come out yet so it was hard not knowing what to expect, and then when she was born, she was so tiny.
“I didn’t get to hold her when she was born, they took her away immediately to the NICU team, and letting her go was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.
“Ava let out this little cry when she was born but it was so soft, like a little kitten and the doctors said they were surprised because usually when they’re that little, they can’t really cry as their lungs are so small and not yet fully developed.
“I didn’t get to see her until about four hours after I gave birth, and it broke my heart seeing how tiny she was with these giant machines around her.
“It was only when she got switched to a regular breathing machine at four weeks old that I was able to finally hold my baby girl.”
Baby Ava had to have surgery on her heart a few days after being born as skin between her arteries was missing, leaving her lungs to fill with blood.
Doctors fitted a plug successfully, and have been monitoring her eyes as Ava has stage 2 ROP where the veins behind her eyes are still very weak.
Her eyes were fused shut until she was 13 days old, but brave Ava has fought brilliantly against the odds and now the parents are waiting to take her home.
Evelynn said: “She is still on oxygen and being tube fed, as they won’t switch to bottle until she can breathe on her own properly.
“Doctors are going to start occupational therapy with her soon to get her onto the bottle, and they’re going to try and wean her off of the oxygen next week.
“I’m just so frustrated, it’s been three months in the hospital and I’m just so ready to bring her home but I know I can’t and that this is what’s best for her.
“It just hurts knowing you can’t do anything to make it better, and it’s still so scary.
“I think far too many people think that getting pregnant with an IUD and it coming out with the baby is a hoax, and they need to realise it really isn’t.
“I personally had never heard of any stories about it until I found out I was pregnant, and then the stories I did find were full of people complaining it was fake and staged.
“When Ava was born, the IUD was tucked under her armpit – we all saw it and the doctor pulled it out from under her arm and showed us it.
“I never expected to fall pregnant with my IUD fitted, and although it was a shock, I’m forever grateful for my baby girl and am thankful that she is safe, despite the danger my coil put her in.
“Fortunately it didn’t do her any harm, it was just tucked under her arm when she came out, but she was so thin and fragile, it could have very easily cut her.”