I was 39 weeks and 1 day. It was the first hot day since we had moved there, Spring was just a few weeks away in Tennessee but it was supposed to be 79 degrees and I had promised the twins we would buy a slip n slide and play in the back yard. We moved in the thick of winter (one of the worst they'd had in 20 years we were told) and it had been snowy, super dreary and gray and freezing in the 5 weeks we had lived there.
So since I promised them the slip n slide I was up around 10 am to get dressed and soon as I woke up I had super dull lower back pain. I sat on the edge of my bed thinking could I be in labor? No, this isn't it. I don't know why but I was convincing myself it couldn't be. I wasn't ready. I wanted to be pregnant for 2 more weeks. Mostly because I loved it so much but also because there was still so much to do. We have just moved across the country and we're trying to settle in to our new life.
While I was putting on some light makeup I was texting my 2 best girl friends asking them what labor felt like, describing to them what I was feeling. I honestly can't remember what they said but I think they told me it was probably the start of labor.
I already had twins, how could I not know what labor felt like, you ask? Well with them, I was home for 3 1/2 days following 9 weeks on strict, dreadful bed rest and while home my water broke. About 10 minutes later I was having full blown excruciating contractions and was at a 4 when I arrived at the hospital. I got an epidural right away and then an hour later they were born via emergency c-section, 2 months early and and spent a month in the NICU. So I only had about an hour of experiencing labor and it came on fast and strong.
Through the dull pain and cramps I decided to straighten my hair, I guess a part of me believed this could be it and last time I had zero time to even care what I looked like. I went out and told my mom who was in town to be there for us bc you know, we moved across the country and were having a baby at the same time, she had been there for 3 weeks and would stay until sweet baby was one month old! She was sure it was labor starting. I was convincing myself it wasn't still and wanted to hold up my promise of the slip n slide 😄
I put on a maxi dress bc it was so beautiful out, Kaleiah decided to stay home so I took my sweet boy to toys r us about 10 minutes away. BAD IDEA. As we were driving there the contractions came in hot and they were terribly painful. I would loose my breath and tense up and thought ok I better call randy at work and let him know. I told him what was going on and that he should head home (he worked in Downtown Nashville and was 30 minutes away). Meanwhile I waddled up to the store and even asked an associate through my contractions where the slip n slides were. We got one and checked out and I remember feeling like I had to hide the fact that I was in labor bc I didn't want anyone to call the paramedics!
Here is my last belly pic at home:
Driving home was rough, all the while I didn't let Kaden know anything. We got home and I started packing up last minute stuff, thankfully most was packed a few days prior.
I was having to stop and hold on to the bed and remember to breath and my mom looked concerned. She kept saying you better get going.
Randy got home, threw some things he needed together and off we went. We had never been to the hospital and didn't know how to get there without GPS, I mean, we were KIND OF busy settling into a brand new life unpacking an entire cross country move. Guess we forgot to have a plan.
The way there we hit traffic. Of course. Even on side streets. And the roads were sooooo bumpy and was killing me when I was having contractions which now were about 3 minutes apart. I face timed my twin sis in so cal to let her know baby was on the way. We couldn't find the hospital entrance for a few minutes but finally did and was was doubled over in pain while randy checked us in.
I was finally called back and checked and was at a 3. Randy posted a picture of me smiling (I really was so happy to be experiencing it all) and I remember Pastor Rick commented almost right away saying he was praying for us and the delivery.
Years before I became pregnant I decided that I wanted to try for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) for my next one. I researched it endlessly and spoke to my perinatologist (high risk dr) who took care of me while on bed rest with the twins his thoughts and all about the risks (before we even conceived PJ) and then throughout the many times he saw me during my pregnancy with her. He even looked at my scar on my uterus from the previous c-section via the ultrasound at 29 weeks and once again assured me it was a totally good option for me. I felt very assured that there was no reason I shouldn't at least try, it was a deep desire of my heart to birth my baby vaginally.
Fast forward to 35 week pregnant and my first check up with my new Dr. in Nashville. I actually set up my appointment somewhere on the road in I think New Mexico while on our drive across the country. I was given his recommendation from a friend who lived in TN and since Vanderbilt had a NICU and a triage and and knowing that if something did go wrong, I wanted to make sure I was at the best place possible. So I went with Dr. Kellet at Vanderbilt. He was very kind and had great bedside manner. I had my records sent over and told him everything from my previous pregnancy/delivery and throughout my weekly checkups with him he also encouraged me to try for a VBAC if that was my desire. His wife had had one. I had two friends that had one. I only knew of successful VBAC stories. He did some sort of test based on my answers and my stats to certain questions and I think I came out at having an 87% success rate. I'm not totally sure what that all meant but he said of course they can't guarantee 100%, just like any birth. You can't guarantee anything. I asked every check up all along my entire pregnancy if it was a ok for me to go for a VBAC, all my dr's (even my OB of 10 years) all said YES.
Fast forward now to Labor Day and of course, just like with the twins, my Dr. wasn't working that day. Of course! When I was being checked in a male dr came in had me sign some papers. They were about everything related to the VBAC, and liability stuff. I remember asking one more time, even though he'd never met me before, "so should I do the VABC? Am I a good candidate?" He basically said he couldn't answer that.
So after we got all settled in and my epidural kicked in, I was starving and thirsty and they explained why I couldn't eat but my nurse did give me some lemon Jello🙂
We were posting the play by play all day with my labor and updating everyone at once via Facebook since we had 40 something family members and hundreds of friends and old staff that wanted to know what the latest was. All my posts were so happy and thankful and just loving the experience. It was finally and ok time for my mom to stop by with my peas, I missed them like crazy and was so worried about them. About leaving them for a few nights, them not being "the babies" anymore, everything. Keep in mind we were all already going through so much change and transition with a new state, job, weather, being homesick, not knowing how to get around fully yet, them missing their family and over all us just feeling totally over emotional and overwhelmed with having just uprooted our entire life right before having a new baby.
I was soooo happy to see them, they ran to me and were asking about the bed I was in, the buttons, the tubes in my arms. I could see on their precious little faces they were confused and concerned for mama. They were not white 5 1/2.
They finally came to break my water and when they did they said there was meconium in it (babies first stool, which is like tar and dangerous if inhaled by baby when they're being born. Also usually a sign of stress in the baby). They didn't seem alarmed and probably didn't want to alarm me but said when she's born she'll have to get checked right away to make sure she didn't swallow any.
I was checked for about the 8th time and I have to say, my biggest complaint about Vanderbilt is that since it's a teaching hospital it's filled with interns so they do everything the Dr. or Nurse would because the interns are learning. So it's done many times. Did I mention getting checked is painful? And I don't need an audience? Holy moly. One person a time is great, thanks.
A while later nurse came in and readjusted my monitor saying her rate seemed low but it was probably just because she moved and the monitor needed to be moved. That scared me.
A few more hours later checked me again and said I was at a 10 and they were going to get their scrubs on!! I looked up at Randy and said we are really about to do this!! I'm going to get the birth of my dreams! We had hopes for me reaching and pulling her out myself, for randy to finally be able to cut the cord, and just for the whole vaginal birth experience! I couldn't believe I was getting my desired birth and had already had my dream pregnancy!
About 2 minutes passed when the Dr. had went to get ready when everything started to go wrong. I began feeling the most excruciating, searing hot pain I've ever felt in my life and never felt before on the right side of my belly. It hit me hard and I cried out in pain and grabbed Randy's arm. It kept coming and didn't let up, it didn't stop or fade, it felt like someone was literally cutting into me with a searing hot knife. I said something's wrong, tell them something is wrong. I began shaking and crying and I didn't even get close to crying during contractions. I have a high pain tolerance and so for me to be sobbing in pain, it was bad. I couldn't control my whole body shaking and randy told the staff who came in and asked me if I was sure it wasn't contractions, which I assured them it was not.
They pumped more meds into my epidural, did a test with this spikey roller thing in certain spots on my body and I was trying to get them to understand that if I was feeling this bad of pain through all the meds when for 12 hours prior I barley flinched, something was wrong. I had no idea what was, but I knew we needed to act fast.
I started throwing up, they gave me a pan and next thing you know, her heart rate plummeted. Then a handsome, white haired Dr. (Dr. Stone I believe) and pregnant Dr. came to my bed side and said they were sorry but they had to do a c-section. I stared bawling. We were so close. So close to living out my dream birth, everything came crashing down like a ton of bricks. As soon as I realized she was being affected and her heart rate was dropping I said ok, get me out of here.
They ran me back, there was so much commotion. This is the only pic Randy got of me because he wasn't allowed to video or photograph.
Next thing I know, the Doctor doing the cesarean leaned over the curtain and all I heard was "I'm going to have to do a hysterectomy." I was so loopy but I remember feeling like that was the worst news I'd ever been given. Randy was sitting next to me and his head dropped.
Turns out, the pain I was feeling was my uterus rupturing. It was tearing open, an organ ripping open at the sight of the previous scar. It was the worst pain I have ever felt in my entire life.
This happens to less than 1% of women to attempt a VBAC. There's more risk involved for an elected repeat cesarean than a VBAC after one cesarean, by 10%.
It's so rare that it only happens to less than 5 out of 1,000 women. I've never met anyone it's happened to and I'm usually the only person someone knows that it's happened to.
I was told later that as they were getting her out, my uterus burst like a popped balloon. There was no saving it. I am so thankful I was taken care of right away and that I was at a facility that could operate in an emergency like that, and had a nicu.
"Uterine rupture in pregnancy is a rare and often catastrophic complication with a high incidence of fetal and maternal morbidity.
From the time of diagnosis to delivery, generally only 10-37 minutes are available before clinically significant fetal morbidity becomes inevitable. Fetal morbidity occurs as a result of catastrophic hemorrhage, fetal anoxia, or both."
A few minutes later they made Randy leave while they removed my uterus and closed me up. The surgery took 3 hours. It was very foggy but some moments are so clear. I had to have two blood transfusions because I was hemorrhaging so bad. I remember asking if I was going to be ok, going to make it. I was staring at the bags of blood. It was the most terrifying experience. I asked that a few times and kept asking about my baby. They were vague, I don't think they knew anything. I kept feeling like I was about to pass out and I honestly thought I was about to die. Inwas SO AFRAID that if I closed my eyes I would pass away. I was fighting so hard to keep them open. I kept praying God please I am not ready to go, I can't leave my babies, they need their mama. I was awake for the entire 3 hours and it was miserable. I felt mostly everything, not just tugging and pressure, I felt pain. It was honestly to this day the scariest night of my life.
Randy was alone for an hour and a half not knowing if I was ok or if our baby was ok. He was scared and worried. It breaks my heart to think he was all alone wondering if we were ok and going to make it. He was finally called to go see our girl in the NICU where after tests and assessments she was ok!!!!! Praise GOD! He finally got to be with her.
After my 3 hours of surgery and 12 hours of labor I was finally handed my amazing gift of life. She was perfect in every way, she was pink and plump weighing 7 pounds 7 ounces and 20 3/4 inches long, born at 2:31 AM, 5 days before her due date. First thing I did was take off her beanie to see how much hair she had and what color. Red like the peas had? A lot? Bald? She had a little bit of dark hair. Through my drugged up state I remember saying to randy "she's so Asian! Who is the baby from Japan? She looks just like your mom (who is Japanese)!" I loved it, I had always hoped she would look super Asian like her daddy!
I was extremely loopy and out of it, in physical pain and so incredibly traumatized. It was beyond traumatic and we came so close to life or death. Looking back, I realized I suffered PTSD from that night for months and it was NOT just "hormones." Some things today can trigger it and I have a break down.
Recovery was painful and the nurse the first night (she was almost 24 hours old) kept coming in to "shrink my uterus" which they do by pushing on it with their first (which hurts soooo bad, had it done after the twins' c-section) and I would have to tell her each time "I JUST HAD A HYSTERECTOMY! I don't have a uterus!" 😰
She passed all her tests, was nursing like a pro and we went home when she was 2 days old. Bonding with her in the hospital was amazing. I couldn't put her down. I didn't get this experience with the twins because they were born at 32 weeks and spent a month in the NICU. I couldn't hold Kaden for 36 hours and Kaleiah for 9 days!! It was the sweetest time ever, those 2 days with her.
Emotional recovery was so much harder than physical. I was traumatized and suffering from major grief over the loss of my uterus which meant grieving the fact that I could never bear another baby. Grieving that the choice was taken from me, made FOR me, I had no say. Grieving the loss of my womb which had carried my babies. Pregnancy was one of my most favorite seasons in life, I loved it so much that had said I would have loved to be a surrogate for people. That's how much I loved it. It was grieving the end of a season of life, the door closing, a chapter ending that I could never experience again.
The things people said to me the most and still say "well, at least you have 3 kids. At least they're all healthy. At least you're ok. Be thankful for the 3 you have." Like the fact that I was grieving and in so much pain from what happened meant/means I'm not thankful for them. Those words truly didn't and don't help me. I know people meant well. I am extremely thankful and blessed to have the 3 babies I have and to be alive for all of us to be healthy and me grieving the loss of being able to have anymore doesn't mean I need to be told to appreciate what I do have. Again, because of the traumatic outcome and the end result not being a choice I had anything to do with, it was a devastating, heartbreaking period at the end of the chapter. Not to mention the fact that we both had a very close call. How do you just move on from that? You don't. I'm forever changed. I don't expect anyone to fully understand unless they've been in my shoes. When most women decide to be done, THEY decide. I did not decide. And weather or not we had previously discussed her being our last, does not make having to have a hysterectomy easy.
The Lord was with us that night. I felt Him. We were within moments of catastrophic results. He protected my precious daughter and myself. In the 3 years I have had to reflect on that night I have decided that perhaps having to have a hysterectomy was to actually save my life. Perhaps if I was to become pregnant again it would have been even worse. The worst. Perhaps our lives would have been lost. That's the only thing that gives me peace about it. I am here to raise these babies and I am eternally grateful for that.
When you grow a life inside you, you appreciate
life in a way you never knew before. When you come close to loosing your baby (and or your life) you are never the same. The way I live and raise and parent them is a direct result of what I've been through. I know how fragile life is. I almost lost my twins during pregnancy today and I almost lose my baby girl during labor and delivery and I will never take life for granted. God is so good and I will praise Him for my entire life. These stories are my testimony, they are my battles which I proudly wear my scars for. They are the experiences that brought my heart to its knees and cried out to the almighty God for help and protection and I will never stop declaring what He did for us. This is my song. They are my Purple Hearts. My stories are how I can give God glory for what He has done.
I'll never forget that night and I'm thankful I won't. I feel blessed to have to be constantly reminded of what I went through. It's how I found/find my strength. It's how I stay connected to God, always praising Him. Just like with the peas' story, I use my pain to give Glory to God. Paisley Joy you are true gift and I love you more than you'll ever understand!!!
Love, Mama Bear