At Hadassah University Hospital-Ein Kerem, Ilana Weismark woke up and refused to believe she was a new mother. After 48 hours in a medically induced coma, a consequence of a near-death delivery of her first child, she had no recollection of being pregnant or delivering a girl just days earlier.
Weismark suffered an amniotic fluid embolism, a rare emergency that occurs during pregnancy or childbirth. A small amount of amniotic fluid escaped into her bloodstream and caused her to collapse as her daughter was crowning.
AFE develops rapidly and is often fatal for mother and baby. Symptoms include sudden shortness of breath, low blood pressure, chills, seizures, coma and bleeding.
“I looked at my husband and said, ‘I don’t feel good.’ He kept reassuring me, using all the terms he had read about childbirth. ‘You’re OK. This is normal. You’re just transitioning,’ he was saying. But then my eyes rolled to the back of my head, and I passed out,” Weismark recalled.
Everyone rushed into action.
The midwife shoved the doula and Ilana’s husband, Adee, out of the way to push the medical alert button. Nurses and doctors poured into the delivery room.
A vacuum extractor was employed to guide the baby out of the birth canal. She scored zero out of 10 on her first Apgar score (a measure of a newborn’s physical condition) one minute after birth.
She was blue, was not breathing and had no detectable heartbeat, but within minutes Kinneret Weismark was kicking and screaming.
Rushed to the operating room, the mother was bleeding externally and suffering from a blood clot in her lungs. For seven hours specialists performed a dance coordinated by OB-GYN David Mankuta.
Weismark later learned she was medically dead for four minutes.
The next few days were a blur for the Weismark family: Kinneret in the neo-natal unit, Ilana in a medically induced coma, Adee running back and forth between them.
Her parents flew in from France. With her mother by her bedside, Weismark was brought out of the coma on Shabbat. She had no idea why she was at the hospital; she attempted to leave.
Doctors increased her psychotropic meds.
“I told my mother, ‘I have my period.’ She said, ‘No, you just had a baby,’ ” Weismark said.
“I couldn’t understand. Probably the 10th time she said it, I said, ‘A baby? Where is the baby?’ Suddenly, everything settled in, and my brain was back.”
Today, Ilana Weismark is a mother of three: Kinneret, 12, Amishai, 10, and Kedem, 7, all whom attend Brookhaven Innovation Academy. Kinneret celebrated becoming a bat mitzvah on Shavuot, her birthday.
Kinneret was attending Camp Ramah Darom at the time of the interview for this article. Weismark described her daughter as energetic, kind and hilarious. She loves to watch cooking shows and makes dinner many nights each week. Her dream is to attend culinary school in Italy or France.
As a tribute to the medical team, Weismark felt that Kinneret’s bat mitzvah celebration should honor Hadassah Hospital. The family organized a talent show fundraiser at Young Israel of Toco Hills, making nearly $3,000 for the neo-natal unit.
Weismark visited Hadassah Hospital in September during a trip to Israel. A friend arranged for the medical team, some of whom had retired, to meet her and recall Kinneret’s miracle birth. The team called Kinneret on FaceTime to wish her mazel tov.
“They were retelling my story as if it was yesterday,” Weismark said about the nurses.
One nurse told her that G-d’s finger touched her that day. There’s no other way to explain it, she said.
The Weismark family will tell the story during Hadassah Greater Atlanta’s Toco Hills Tour of Kitchens on Aug. 27. All money raised from that event will go to Hadassah Ein Kerem.