After a seemingly easy pregnancy, Andrea Canning couldn’t wait to meet her baby boy.
But moments after giving birth to her sixth child — and first son — on June 18, the Dateline correspondent’s delivery room went from a magical meeting between a mom and her baby to a scene filled with urgency as Canning’s placenta became stuck in her uterus.
“It was a dramatic birth,” Canning, 46, tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue, out Friday. “He wasn’t crying when he came out and I kept saying, ‘Is he okay? Is he breathing?’ Everything was so chaotic.”
As Canning waited to hear son George “Tripp” Anthony‘s first cry — a moment she recalls as “the greatest feeling” — a team of doctors and nurses worked to stop her excessive blood loss.
“They had to get the placenta out and there was a lot of bleeding,” she says of her adherent placenta, which doctors said was a result of Canning having multiple children.
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Andrea Canning, 46, Opens Up About Welcoming Her First Son After Five Daughters with Help of IVF
“My blood count went way down so they had to do some quick thinking after the birth,” she adds. “But they did warn me ahead of time. They said, ‘You might hemorrhage, there could be complications.’ “
Despite the postpartum struggles — Canning now takes iron to compensate for her blood loss during the delivery, while Tripp’s recovery included a short stay in the NICU due to a shoulder injury during birth — the new mom of six says her path to her baby boy was “meant to be” from the start.
Canning and her husband, USMC Lieutenant Colonel Tony Bancroft, were already parents to five daughters and had turned to in vitro fertilization after wanting to try for one more baby. The couple agreed that they would choose the healthiest embryo to transfer — boy or girl.
“We were like, ‘We’ll probably just get all girls.’ If it was a girl, it would be a girl, that was fine,” says Canning. “When the report came back and the boy was a higher-quality embryo, we were like, ‘It’s meant to be.’ “
Just as excited as Canning and Bancroft about welcoming a baby boy to the family were the new addition’s big sisters: Elle Corbin, 4, Georgia Rapalje, 5, Christina Margaret, 6½, Charlotte Brewster, 9, and Anna Katherine, 10.
“They have been fighting like crazy over who gets to hold him,” Canning tells PEOPLE. “They are all little mommies. Every chance they get, they want to be around him.”
But Canning’s proudest moments as a mom come in the quieter times as she sits back and watches her family of eight all together.
“They’re my greatest accomplishment in this world,” she says of the couple’s six children. “We look at them every day and say how lucky we are.”
For more from Andrea Canning, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
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