The birth of your child is supposed to be an amazing time of your life.
For us, Mr C especially, this time round was scary and traumatic.
Really there was nothing I could have done to prevent what happened.
It was no ones fault.
I was just one of the unlucky 1 in 450 women who suffers a Uterine Rupture.
One of the risks of choosing a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) over an elective cesarean section.
I don’t suppose you’ll meet many of us, the risks of it happening are so rare.
I’m not trying to put you off the choice with this post, I’m not trying to scare you, I’m just telling you what happened to me.
I thought I had a tough time nearly 6 years ago with the arrival of the munchkin but really that was a nice stroll in a lovely sunny park compared to what happened 2 weeks ago. Looking back, the munchkins birth was fairly straight forward if not totally knackering. I did have an emergency section but it was due to none progression rather than anything life threatening, I had been pushing for about 5 hours!
I chose to have a VBAC this time round, it honestly was the easiest decision I made during my pregnancy. I didn’t really think twice about it. I understood the risks of both methods of delivery, did the research you’re advised to do and made my choice. I decided that if I could give birth naturally, the recovery was much better than a section. I would be up and about in a couple of days, I wanted to try to keep things as normal as possible for the munchkin after baby arrived.
I also felt like I had to at least try a natural delivery. Maybe I felt a little peer pressure. Hundreds of women have babies every day without a hitch, it is after all what our bodies are designed to do. I didn’t want to be seen as too ‘posh to push.’
I really didn’t even consider a section, there was a point that I thought why would I put myself through all the pain and anxiety of labour, it was the briefest of thoughts, a VBAC was what I wanted to do. I was quite relaxed about the whole thing.
Turns out my body isn’t really built to give birth naturally. I just found that out a little too late.
I was induced at 38 weeks as I was having the baby in Manchester, which is 40 minutes from where we live. It was so I didn’t go into labour and end up giving birth at the end of the M602.
I was induced with no drugs but with the use of a foley catheter. I hadn’t even heard of this method, it’s fairly new in medical terms and not widely used, they don’t use it in my local hospital. Basically it was a water balloon inserted into the cervix to stretch it. No drugs. A safer option for those who’ve had a previous section.
Ironically, my last tweet before my waters broke was ‘Induction, may have been a bad life choice’ mainly because of the length of time I thought it might take.
The water balloon worked its magic after a few hours, much quicker than was anticipated and my waters broke with no intervention (I was carrying too much fluid so there was A Lot of water. A Lot!), after my waters broke I went into established labour. Still no drugs to help the induction along. So far, so natural as possible.
I’ll be honest, I was doing really well if I do say so myself! Just Gas & Air for a couple of hours, I concentrated on breathing through the contractions. It was getting a little painful so I asked for the next drug I could have, diamorphine, this was given to me but before it had time to work I was ready to push.
Unfortunately baby had got himself face up and his heart rate started to drop after about 20 minutes of pushing. It was decided, quickly, I would be taken down to theatre for a spinal block to try to turn him or to have a section. Although I wanted to deliver naturally, I’m very much go with what’s happening. If that would be the safest way I was happy.
The pain changed suddenly, there was no let up between contractions, they were just on top of each other, it was like the pain was rushing in my ears. Still I wasn’t sure anything was really wrong. I just knew that it hurt like hell and it was unlike the contractions I could vaguely remember from 6 years before. By the time I was wheeled from the delivery suite to theatre, something had happened, I was to be put under a general anaesthetic.
My Uterus had ruptured by my bladder.
My blood pressure went so high that I was close to a heart attack.
I was pumped with dye to check there were no leaks in my water works.
When they tried to bring me round my body went acidic and my kidneys started to fail.
They couldn’t get my blood pressure down and my heart rate was erratic.
I was put back under and Mr C was told I was critical.
My baby was born breech, with no heartbeat. They fought to save him and bring him back to life. A miracle baby, who went straight to NICU to be cooled to stop his brain swelling and his organs failing.
Mr C nearly lost us both.
Mr C all scrubbed up ready for when I was supposed to be having the spinal block, was able to see our son briefly, an hour and a half after I was taken to theatre and then me 4 hours later.
We nearly didn’t make it.
I woke up in intensive care. With no idea what had gone on or where my baby was.
The last I remember I was in theatre to have my baby, I woke up and the baby wasn’t there.
I was convinced Mr C was lying to me when I asked if the baby had died. Begged him to tell me the truth.
I was totally out of it for the day, drugged on morphine, in and out of conciousness. On oxygen. Falling asleep mid conversation, with sleep apnea that kept frightening the intensive care nurse and midwife, not really grasping what had happened or what was going on with my little one.
If I could go back now, knowing what I know now, I would choose a section. My decision to try a natural birth ultimately nearly cost me my sons and my own life.
Hindsight, however, is a wonderful thing.
It was hard at 1st to accept that it was just something that happened, hard not to blame myself for the decision that I’d made.
Hard not to blame myself for what my little one was going through or for what long-term damage he may suffer.
It was my decision to take the risk.
The consultant who essentially saved my life and patched me up was surprised and shocked it had happened, especially with the way I had been induced and laboured. He said he would have advised his own sister to try a natural labour.
Although he didn’t advise me not to have any more children, his tone and the way he explained what had happened suggested I shouldn’t. If I did fall pregnant, I would not be allowed to labour naturally, it would be too dangerous, my uterus is too weak. I would need to have a cesarean and a top obstetrician would need to perform the operation there is that much scar tissue.
Luckily for us, my son is doing amazingly and I was back on my feet within a couple of days.
We are now all at home.
Things could have been so different and I know that we are really, really lucky.
I said before this wasn’t meant to scare you, it’s not. I was just unfortunate.
If you are in the position the choose between a VBAC or an elective section, the only thing I’d say is don’t feel guilty or ashamed about choosing a cesarean if that’s your decision.
We should embrace and support each others labour or birth decisions, each choice is personal to each mummy.
At the end of the day, all we want to see are beautiful babies delivered safely, no matter how the birth takes place.
4 thoughts on “Why my VBAC ended with an emergency Caesarean section”
I have goosebumps reading this. I am planning a VBA3C and although I know it is very rare for the scar to rupture (I too have been reading up for weeks and am fully aware of all the risks) I have struggled to find a true and honest account from the mother’s perspective of it all. It sounds like you had a really scary time but I am so glad you are both home and doing well.
I just wanted to let you know that the Birth Trauma Association are wonderful, should you find that you are struggling to understand what happened etc, and to thank you for sharing your story. I am so sorry things didn’t turn out the way you wanted.
x x x x
Thank you for reading.
I know I was unfortunate and a uterine rupture is really really rare. I surprised everyone I think.
I would never tell someone not to choose VBAC, even after my experience. Mummies should have confidence in the choice that they make and be supported in that decision. I did, I was just unlucky. If it had gone smoothly, like hundreds of VBACs daily then I would still be none the wiser & Mr C would be muttering about baby number 3 😉 Nothing could have prevented what happened and without a crystal ball to predict the future we can only decide with the knowledge that we have and that is available.
Thank you for the Birth Trauma Association details, I may take a look. At the moment I just count my blessings we’re all ok, I’m trying not to dwell on what could have been, maybe one day I will need to have a chat with somebody x x x x
Wow what an ordeal! I am hoping to have a VBAC later this year, although still need to talk to the consultant about it, but have only really considered this an option. I guess a lot of why I want to try a VBAC is because of the guilt and sadness I felt from having a section this time round…
Reading this again after my last pregnancy and Elsie’s birth… I’m glad I made the decision to have a repeat section, Not because I think the same could’ve happened- I know how rare uterine rupture is- but because I know the fact she was so small would not have worked in our favour. I’m so sorry this happened to you but I think its important to share. Important to hear from the small minority of women to whom this happens. Thank you so much for sharing your story with #MaternityMatters x x x