Friday, July 31, 2009

And she lived (Gracie pt 3)

I left off here, as I was being rolled into the OR for a now emergency c-section.

Even writing this now, I feel nauseous and almost don't want to go on. But I will. It's good for me. And hopefully interesting and perhaps informative to those reading it. I'm beginning to think that it's been more than just a lack of time keeping me from blogging this.

Time for some writing therapy :)

Once I was in the OR, they quickly began to prep me for surgery. They upped my epidural so that I became completely numb. I was finally numb on my left side, which by then was quite a relief. I had a wonderful nurse who had been with me from the time I was admitted and even though her shift was over, she came with me to assist in the OR. I remember she was hooking me up to the monitors and began to call attention to the baby's numbers.

Baby was not looking so good. She told me that her heartrate was really low and all of the sudden the OR went into a complete flurry. More people descended upon me as the baby's stats continued to decline. I asked the nurse what was going on and if my baby was okay. She did her best to reassure me without making me any promises. I hear the word STAT several times and the dr say "let's get this baby out of her now." There were some minor preparations that hadn't been done yet, but the doctor no longer cared. The OB who had been caring for me was the on-call dr. that night. But all of the sudden I saw my OB, who I'd been seeing in the office. She'd come in to assist in my surgery.

In the midst of the flurry I kept asking the nurse if my husband was going to be able to come in. She affirmed that they would be bringing him in shortly. I heard nothing positive about the condition of my baby and everyone was frantic to get the baby out. I was beside myself. I was in tears, praying harder than I've ever prayed for my baby to be okay.

Then Bean was by my side. I sobbed out that something was wrong with the baby. At first he didn't realize the gravity of the situation. But as I explained more, he understood and we cried and prayed together.

C-sections happen pretty quickly, and this one happened even faster. They pulled the baby out and I think they even announced it was a girl (we didn't know the gender) as they took her to the infant table. It took a few minutes, but finally I heard her cry. She had required a lot of suction and some oxygen to stabilize her.

Bean went with the baby while they completed my surgery. Once surgery was complete, my doctor explained the situation. When they did the primary incision to get to my uterus, they found my uterus already completely open. Her words were that it "split in two like a piece of paper." They did not need to make any incision in my uterus and pulled the baby out of the opening. As they stitched my uterus up, they found that it has split right at the place of my first c-section scar.

Now you know I'm being real on my blog by posting this awful picture of myself! The only thing that mattered was that I was holding my baby. I'd been awake for over 24hrs, labored, pushed, had surgery and went through all that trauma. Apparently Gracie was sharing her opinion of it all too!

The baby is at most risk when a uterine rupture occurs. There is a loss of oxygen once the uterus opens. This explains why Gracie's heartrate began to fall and didn't recover while I was being prepped in the OR. Although it's hard to say, I suspect my uterus ruptured as they were transferring me to the OR, when I was feeling so much pain and pressure in spite of the epidural and wondering if the baby was going to be born before they even got the c-section started.

Uterine rupture is not very common. My doctors and nurses continued to talk to me about it during my stay in the hospital. Gracie never had to spend any time in the nursery and had no ill effects from the lack of oxygen she experienced.

While I had done my research and made an informed decision to try a VBAC based on the low rates of failure and low rates of rupture, I had not realized that the baby was in the most jeopardy when a rupture occurs. In search for more information and personal accounts after she was born, I found an online support group for women who had experienced a rupture. What broke my heart was how many of their baby's did not survive the rupture for a variety of reasons. They carried their babies for 9 months and never got to bring them home. Many of these women had prior c-sections. Some of them tried a VBAC, others just spontaneously ruptured.

Looking back on probably the scariest experience of my life, I can't help but see the hand of God. On me, on Gracie, on my doctors and nurses.

The next day, looking more put together!

Like I shared, I covered this all in so much prayer leading up to my due date. I prayed for wisdom for myself and Bean and all involved. I so desperately wanted to try to have a vaginal delivery, and on paper I was a good candidate. But I didn't want to be stubborn when it came to my safety and the safety of my baby.

I know God was involved in prompting the doctor to recommend a c-section when he did. And of course he had prepared me to say "yes" when that moment came. It was God who protected Gracie when she didn't have enough oxygen and spared us a most horrific outcome. God was all over it.

Sweet Gracie

Looking back, it may sound odd, but I don't regret my choices. I made the mot informed decision I could. I had a new OB with Lily and without me even asking, upon hearing my history she told me that I had been a good candidate for a VBAC and it was good I tried when I did. Sometimes, in spite of ourselves, God grants our petty wishes. I relish the memories of feeling those first "real" contractions, the gush of water, the labor and even the pushing. Me, the girl who would have had drug-free deliveries if possible, who ended up with 3 c-sections.

Even while recovering from Gracie's delivery, my OB assured me that I could have more babies, I would just be closely monitored and be delivered early. Gracie was 8lbs and 8oz! I looked back at a birth story I typed out and saw that the doctor said I had some "prominent pelvic bones" which combined with the baby's size were making for a difficult delivery. The hours of labor, the pushing, the big baby, just stretched my uterus beyond it's capacity. Some ruptures tear up the sides of the uterus, I was lucky I only tore at my previous scar.

That's why, I was so surprised to find myself pregnant again just a year after this traumatic delivery. I had wanted to give my body a bit longer to recover. I definitely experienced my share of anxiety and fear during my post-rupture pregnancy. But I knew I was in God's hands, as was my baby.

That's why, when I began to feel contractions at 36wks, I quickly made my way to the hospital. And that's why the doctor on call didn't want to touch me with a ten-foot pole. I guess they don't often see post-rupture pregnancies. They wanted me to consult with my dr, which is why they tried so hard to stop my labor that night. (God blessed me with a nurse who prepped my for my c-section who'd had 3 c-sections herself with various complications. It was so nice to know I wasn't the only one who took a few risks to have a baby!)

That's why I was SO relieved when my OB decided to deliver me the next day. I was petrified of experiencing another rupture. She said my uterus was in pretty good condition considering my history. It was just slightly thin, but holding up well. I'm sure it helped that little Lily was just 6lbs, a lot less for my scarred uterus to support!

So, this is the end of the world's longest birth story! I am SO blessed that she lived. That my little Gracie is here, to make me laugh and hug my neck. I pray for those mama's who's babies were born straight to heaven. I can't even imagine.

As you can tell, it's still pretty overwhelming for me to think about. The feelings will probably never go away. I do try to share my story whenever I can to inform and encourage and provide a rare perspective.

Although Bean teases me sometimes about wishing I lived on a farm or the little house on the prairie, I'm glad I don't and I'm thankful for good health insurance and medical care.

And I'm thankful for an AMAZING God who is so close and leads us and guides us and protects us. He is the key factor in everything.

I can't imagine life without my Gracie-girl.

Lily's birth story (my post-uterine rupture baby)


  1. Wow Corrina - what an incredible birth story! Thank you for sharing it all (including the pics).

  2. That is amazing!! What a miracle, truly. Really 2 lives were saved -yours and hers. God is good!

  3. Thanks for sharing I loved reading the story of Gracie's birth.

  4. What an incredible story. Thank you for directing me to your blog!

    It seems like a rupture just wouldn't happen after only one c-section, but I guess it does. Reading your story makes me feel a lot better about my decision to have a repeat c-section with my second baby. During the surgery, I heard the doctor say that it was a good thing I hadn't had a VBAC because my uterus was thin.

    How great that you and your little one were just fine and that you even have had another baby since!!! Congratulations!

  5. I love your story. I am also a uterine rupture mama. There were 4 years between my boys, (my first was breech also)and I ruptured too. My blog is, and somewhere way back you can see my story. It is cathartic isn't it? Anyway, your beautiful story gives me hope and your reasoning was exactly mine. I hope I get to the point of not regretting VBAC decision, not there yet! Thanks for sharing. Lauren

  6. I have had 4 c-sections and pregnant with #5. My doctor said that I had a paper thin uterus and a partial rupture last pregnancy. He is going to check for lung maturity at 36 weeks and do the c-section then tie my tubes. What is the name of the website that you found that gave support from other women who had ruptured? I am glad you shared your story. It helps c-section candidates realize that their are risk involved when having repeat c-sections.

  7. I found your blog from a posting on I'm preparing for a VBAC next month, and wanted to let you know how much I appreciate you sharing your story so candidly.

  8. hey - I've been really behind in my reading! I'm amazed at your birth story - God is so good! And obviously it's been a great resource to other moms, not to mention therapeutic to write for you :)

  9. For anyone looking, here is the online group I found that has been a great resource.


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