Uterine Rupture Survival Story
-Wednesday, April 2, 2014
By Jessica Allen
Hi, my name is Jessica Allen and I am a new blog writer for Mother’s Haven! Each month, I will be sharing stories of families who shop at Mother’s Haven. Mother’s Haven has been a big part of my life, since becoming pregnant with my daughter, and is, by far, my favorite shop in the area! I am so excited to be partnering with them again, in this new adventure. I thought it would be best to share my own story with you all first, so I hope you enjoy!
A little background on me first.. I have three children, two boys who were delivered via c-section, and my daughter, who I tried unsuccessfully for a VBAC. She is who this story is about. Well, both her and me, I suppose. I decided on trying for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarian) when I found out I was pregnant with her because there was a huge part of me that desired to have a 'normal' childbirth experience. With my first son, my water broke and went slowly through labor, ending up in a c-section due to 'failure to progress'. My second son came along shorty after my first (surprise!) and I was recommended by my doctor that a scheduled c-section would be the best option. (I wish that I had chosen to have a VBAC then, but that's for another story..)
A little less than 2 years down the road, my husband and I decided we'd try for one more, hoping for a baby girl to complete our family. I searched all over for a doctor who would let me attempt a VBA2C (vaginal birth after 2 cesarians), even debating home birth, because I so desperately wanted to have my last baby be how I wanted. I ended up finding a doctor in Spokane, at Holy Family Hospital, about a 45 minute drive from where we were currently living, and I knew he was the right one for us, even at the first meeting. He understood my passion and told me that he would do everything in his power to make it happen.
My due date was set for June 23rd, 2012. She was 5 days late. That's where the real story begins....
Wednesday night, June 27th, I was having contractions that lasted all through the night and prevented me from getting a lot of sleep, but I wanted to hold off for the morning, so Thursday morning, at 6:30, we headed for the hospital with not a lot of sleep but totally ready to have a baby!
Once we got to the hospital, they checked me and I was already 2.5 cm! Yay! (This was really wonderful to hear because at my last doctor’s appointment, a week before, my cervix was still hard and I was not dilated at all..) I was very excited at the thought of my body really being able to DO this, even though there were times that I doubted it.
We got settled in, they started a very light drip of Pitocin (only at a 2) and we just hung out for several hours. The more painful the contractions got, the more my blood pressure went up so I was already starting to doubt my ability to go through labor without an epidural. (This wasn’t too big of a deal to me, though, because my main concern was to get the VBAC, not necessarily to do it drug-free). Around lunchtime, I could not take the pain anymore and decided to get some relief from an epidural. After that, things went much easier and my blood pressure immediately lowered back down to where it was supposed to be.
Shortly after getting the epidural, my doctor came in to break my water and get things moving a little faster. At this point, I was about 3.5 cm and 90% effaced. After breaking my water, the doctor left me to labor some more on my own. I went on like this for about 2 more hours and when the nurse checked me next, I was about 5 cm. It seemed to me like it was taking a while but everyone who was there was encouraging me that I was doing well.
In the next couple of hours, I was having very steady and strong contractions. Thankfully, my epidural was low enough that I could feel all the tightening with-out any of the pain. When my nurse checked me again, around 5:30, I was shocked to hear her tell me I was at 9 cm! WHAT?! That sure had gone fast!! I was so excited because I was thinking that I really could do this and I was almost there!
She called the doctor about a half hour later. He took a little while to come up so while we were waiting, I began to do some pushing with the nurse. It was around this time that my epidural started wearing off.. I pushed some more (for about 15 more mins) but finally said I needed another dose into my epidural before I could push anymore. We waited and the anesthesiologist arrived very quickly to help out. My doctor arrived at the same time and so after getting the extra boost, I started pushing for the doctor.
I almost did it. I was probably an hour or so away from holding my baby girl. I was pushing and she was crowning! Then it got terrifying. I started having the most intense, sharp pains in my entire abdomen. I was crying and telling them that something was wrong because I should not be feeling pains like this with my epidural in place! Then my doctor saw blood in my catheter and told everyone that I needed to get into the OR right now. My uterus had ruptured.
We knew there was a chance of uterine rupture.. Everyone, VBAC or not, has the same risk; 0.6% chance; less than 1%. There is such a low risk of this that I had not even considered the possibility. The thought had crossed my mind, when discussing the risks of trying for a VBAC with my doctor, but it exited as quickly as it came.. I never dreamed this would become my birth experience.
The next few minutes were the most terrifying in my entire life. I honestly thought that either I or the baby were going to die. The pain I had was nightmarish (I still have dreams about it sometimes) and being rushed into the OR, people flying all around, all the commotion and panic in the air, was the scariest experience I have ever been in.
Due to the urgency to get the baby out of me, I had to be put under general anesthesia. In a matter of seconds after getting the drugs in my IV, I was asleep. When I woke up, I found out that my baby girl had been driven quickly to our local Sacred Heart NICU Unit (the best in the area), which thankfully, was only about 15 minutes away from the hospital where I delivered. My uterus had, in-deed, ruptured and had done so very severely, also causing my bladder to rupture at the same time. It took my doctors about an hour to repair my uterus (which they did, even though I am not advised to get pregnant again) as well as my bladder. My uterus did not tear on my previous c-section scar but diagonal across most of my abdomen. When they pulled Natalie out, they actually found her outside the uterus entirely, in my abdomen. I had never even heard of that happening before. The fact that we both survived was a complete miracle.
Even though I have no idea why God caused this to happen to me and my baby girl, He was watching out for us! My rupture occurred right during shift change, right before 7pm, we were right across the hall from the OR, we both survived and I got repaired with a surprisingly small amount of blood loss! All that happened on Thursday. It was a very busy and terrifying day for me. But in the end, I got my Natalie Rose, my beautiful miracle, and that is ALL that matters.
My beautiful girl was in a NICU for 13 days. She was without oxygen, from when the uterus ruptured to when they got her out, for about 10-15 minutes. The doctors assumed there was going to be some kind of brain damage, even though they have not been able to find any yet, thank God. For 3 days, she was under cooling protocol, which cooled down her body temp to make sure there was no swelling in the brain from lack of oxygen. This is a semi-new procedure that helps a lot with young babies in the NICU, to help them heal faster from various injuries. I am confident that this procedure helped save her life, as well as prevent her from having any lasting brain damage.
Every day that she was in the NICU, she kept thriving more and more and was such a brave girl. I finally got to nurse her, on day 10, for the first time and she latched right on! I had to force my milk to come in with a hospital-grade pump and even though that was another incredibly difficult issue, we both ended up working it out and Natalie nursed full-time for 6 months!
Just a few days ag, a friend asked me if I am still an advocate for VBAC's, even after my experience. I said "'Yes, of course!" Even if the risks for rupture were great, I would still have chosen to attempt a VBAC. There are risks with birth, no matter how the baby comes out, no matter what you plan. If something is going to go wrong, it will go wrong, regardless of how you try to prepare. Research, make your choice and be confident in your abilities as a woman and
a mother. This can be taken as negative, but I like to think of it as a relief, knowing that there really is little you can do to prepare for the bad. All we can do, as parents, is know the facts, the risks, and the choices, and make an educated decision for ourselves.
Please don't let my story scare you. Please don't let my story make you choose a different path than your heart wants to go, for your own childbirth experience. I only share this with you all to let you know that bad things can happen when you least expect it, but the good can happen in the same way! There were so many things that went wrong with our own story, but at the same time, looking back, we can see all of the good things that were lined up, that ended up saving both of our lives.
Fast forward 21 months and today, my Natalie Rose is a healthy and crazy-active toddler who will not stop exploring and chasing after her big brothers. She has no developmental issues that we know of yet and frankly, we are not even worried about it! If she does have some delays down the road, we will deal with them as they come, just like with any child. She will always be such a strong and brave girl who fought for her life and WON! She is my beautiful angel baby and I thank God for her every single day!
I’m not the only one with a miraculous story! Most moms have a story or two to tell, of how they have struggled and overcome in certain situations. I am so excited to share more of these stories with you! If you would like to submit a story, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.