SPECIAL REPORT: Family mourns loss of young mom after infection contracted during delivery
For many families, bringing a new life into the world is supposed to be one of the happiest moments.
But pregnancy has become increasingly dangerous for moms in Missouri. In November, KRCG 13 uncovered the fact that the rate of maternal death in our state has tripled in the last six years. Now, the Luttrell/Dummermuth family from Eldon has come forward to share their story of what it's like to welcome a new baby, while also grieving the loss of a new mom.
When Kayla Dummermuth was 17 years old, she gave birth to her son Brantley. Ten days later, she died from an infection contracted during delivery. Tracy Luttrell was Kayla's mother.
"As a mom, losing a child this way, It's just, you have an emptiness. And it's an emptiness that will always be there," she said.
Tracy is now both grandmother and mom to Kayla's son Brantley. She said she's constantly stunned by her grandson's likeness to his mother.
"He does so many things, reacts to so many things, just like his mom," she said. "And to have not known her, and not ever seen her, and react like that - wow."
Tracy said even though her daughter Kayla was young, she was so excited to have a son and loved her baby from the very first moment she laid eyes on him.
"She had a hard time letting anybody hold Brantley right after he was born," she said. "That was her baby, her precious son." But the beginning of Brantley's life was also the start of Kayla's final chapter. "The doctors told us that after she had delivered, that fluid had gotten backed up behind her uterus and caused an infection," Tracy said.
She said that infection wasn't caught for days though; and by then, it was too late. "There was nobody who tested Kayla's vitals, even while they saw that she wasn't feeling well while she was in the hospital," she said. "There were signs. Her blood pressure was a little high, her heart rate was a little low, but nothing was done."
Tracy said the hospital discharged her daughter two days after she gave birth. At home, Kayla's condition only worsened. "I had actually called back to the OB department when we were at home," she said. "I was told, 'she's a new mom, she's young, give her a week or two, she'll be back to normal."
But normal never came for Kayla. Just a few days later, Tracy said Kayla told her she couldn't breathe. They rushed to the emergency room. "Once they got her in ICU, they put her straight on the ventilator," Tracy said. "At that point, she had pneumonia in her right lung, and her kidneys were failing." Tracy said doctors told her Kayla's organs were shutting down and that she had full blown sepsis.
For a while, Tracy said it seemed that Kayla might have turned a corner; but then, the unthinkable happened. "We got a call late Friday evening that she had had a massive stroke. They were gonna give 12 hours to see if any function came back, but nothing ever did," she said. Kayla was gone before her son was even two weeks old.
Tracy said she never wants another family to go that. "Here's what I would say to other moms and other families. If your new mom isn't feeling, point it out. Say, 'I'm not feeling good. Come check this. Please check this.' I think this is the only way it's going to change: if we ourselves get them in those rooms with them if they're not well. it's the only way it's gonna happen," she said.
Robin Allen is a Family Nurse Practitioner for SSM Health in Mexico. SSM Health never treated Kayla, but Allen said she is familiar with the issues moms and babies can face after delivery. She said moms don't usually go back to the OBGYN for a personal check up until 6 weeks after-birth, so she wants moms to feel comfortable asking her any question. "We don't necessarily take care of it on our end, but we can always make sure that they are getting the help they need on their end, because ultimately, they're taking care of the baby as well," she said.
Allen said no concern is too small or silly to ask your medical practitioner. In the end, she said it comes down to: "Knowing your own body and what feels rights. For new moms, sometimes they don't. Sometimes, they think if they're having increased bleeding, or increased pain, they think it's normal, but it might not be."
What Tracy said her daughter Kayla felt wasn't normal. Tracy said she wants all new moms to trust that if they don't feel right, it's worth letting someone know about it - so they have a better chance of seeing their baby grow up.
If you or someone you know has concerns about physical, mental or emotional health during pregnancy, delivery, or afterward, here are some of the resources available in Mid Missouri: