*Content/Trigger Warning* graphic details and lots of cursing.
You know that feeling of something unresolved? Where out of nowhere it can enter your head and ping-pong around your brain until you’re able to catch it as gracefully as a college student at a basement party? For me, it’s the moments leading up to my birth injury.
If you are unfamiliar with my story, I highly recommend you read both of my birth stories in order for some of this to make sense. Those stories are in my Instagram Highlights, but since you’re already here, allow me to catch you up real quick - I suffered a uterine rupture that required an emergency hysterectomy and blood transfusion immediately after my second child was born. I blame it on Pitocin. I had a bad experience with Pitocin in my first birth, and I had made it very clear to my providers that I was not interested in Pitocin again AT ALL. But I had birth in a hospital and apparently informed choices you make for yourself don’t fucking matter. It’s policy and policy only.
Let’s fast forward and get right down to it. I had been in labor for over 24 hours. About 12 hours prior, my water broke and left me in excruciating pain and a body space I did not want to be in, so I asked for an epidural. I was able to get comfortable and sleep, but as we entered the morning hours, I was approached by the midwife-on-call - and I’m still completely baffled by this - she said, “We know you have been saying no pitocin, but your contraction are slowing down. There is a doctor who has been monitoring your birth and they are calling for pitocin at this point.” Ok I have soooo many questions: Who is this doctor? Have I ever had a prenatal appointment with them? Are you not my midwife? The one who I thought would advocate for me? Does this doctor know my previous experience with Pitocin? Why do you have mystery doctors sitting behind secret doors monitoring births? WHY THE FUCK DID YOU JUST SAY THE WORD PITOCIN TO ME?
Coersion: to persuade an unwilling person to do something they initially did not want to do.
I should have known better. I should have advocated for myself. My instincts were screaming at me, but I was also an exhausted birthing body. I let them get the best of my vulnerability.
After the pitocin was administered, I was thrilled to find out that I actually started dilating! I had jumped from 3cm to 7cm. Then 9cm and I thought, “wow, its working! I’m gonna be able to push my baby out!” A doctor walked in. Still unsure if this was mystery doctor, or if he was in there because the midwife-on-call felt something weird and wanted him to check. I was told he was there to clear me for pushing, probably just to humor me. He checks me internally and starts asking me all kinds of questions: “Have you ever had cervical injuries or surgeries?” and things like that. Great…here we go. “Um, no doc, why do you ask?” “I’m gonna go get another doctor,” he says…
Another doctor walks in, she checks me internally, goes hmmmmm? And now I’m wanting to scream, “Can we please end this fucking shit show and do the c-section that I already know is going to happened and that I wanted to have happen like HOURS AGO?!” The 2 docs, the midwife-on-call, well, they all go and have a little huddle in the corner of the room. They come back to me and my husband and tell us, “we do feel that you have fully dilated, but we are also feeling something similar to a button hole off to the side.” A what? Button hole? This is where is gets ugly y’all so strap in.
*Trigger Warning* I’m sure you can all imagine what happens next. They tell me they are going to perform a c-section, and I start bawling my eyes out. They wheel me into the operating room.
Ceserean is done. Baby is out, not crying yet though. Ok it’s cool, he’s crying now. I’m so relieved, and Will and I are so happy. Baby gets cleaned off, wrapped up, and brought over to me.
In the same moment I am seeing my son for the very first time, I hear the midwife-on-call talking to me, and this is what she said to me, I kid you not. She said, “I hope you weren’t planning on having more children.” What the fuck? Who says that? She goes on to explain, “you have suffered a uterine rupture and you have lost a lot of blood. We don’t think we can repair it so the doctors are having to do a hysterectomy right now.” The next moments can be described as something out of a movie. My eyes panic and scan the room. I can’t move the rest of my body. They fucking strapped my arms down. Medical folks running into the room. A lot of voices buzzing until the doctor who was called in to perform the surgery loudly shouted for everyone to calm down and be quiet. Thats when I knew my life was in danger, that doctor yelling at his medical team. I felt myself starting to pass out and I thought that I was dying. I remember telling myself to fight fight fight to keep those damn eyes open. I cannot leave yet. This cannot be happening.
I passed out. I was intubated. Hysterectomy and blood transfusion. I was in surgery for 7 hours and woke up from post-op 2 hours after that. A dream woke me up. One of those really ethereal dreams where it’s even dreamy for a dream. Will was at my bedside and the first person I saw, and he handed me James. I was so happy and so relieved but as I continued to wake up, everything hurt. Any little movement was painful. Even talking and swallowing was hard to do and I asked why my throat hurt so bad. “They had to put you on a ventilator so you were intubated,” Will tells me. Oh my fucking god, I can’t believe I made it. I can’t believe I almost died. What the fuck happened?
The OB team walked in and I don’t remember exactly what their opening statement was, but they used phrase, “we are flabbergasted.” That I will never forget. So they go on to explain what happened: that little button hole they felt off to the side, well that was my cervix having NOT dilated past 3cm, and the 9cm of dilation they THOUGHT they felt was in fact a gaping fucking uterine rupture. Insanity. So, yes, while I was attempting a VBAC, I did not actually tear along my incision. I tore at a completely unscarred part of my uterus. No idea why (it was the pitocin) and the doctors speculated as to why (it was the pitocin) but there were no clear or definitive answers as to why or how (it was the pitocin). They explored ideas as to possible genetic stuff and what the fuck ever else, but what I can tell you as the birthing body this happened to, it was the pitocin. And I will never not be extraordinarily pissed off about this. I feel so betrayed. They coerced me. I made an INFORMED decision about preferring a c-section rather than pitocin but it didn’t fucking matter. I am so mad at myself for not advocating hard enough, but then remember that is not my fucking job while giving birth. I advocated for myself during 9 months of prenatal appointments just to have all of that stripped away from me. I have so many regrets.
I tell my story not to scare anyone, because I still think birth is beautiful and powerful, but I just think it should happen at the reigns of the birthing body. This is very hard to accomplish in a medical industrialized complex. The policies in place are louder than the screaming voices in the birthing units. Uterine rupture is super rare. I could have indeed suffered this injury no matter what, perhaps. I’ll never know. I’ll never know if I should have attempted a home birth, or just scheduled a c-section because of being at risk. This really tugs at me.
Thank you so much for reading. I know this was probably really intense to take in. And again, I really don’t want anyone to feel afraid. This happened to me for my own reasons, and birth does not play out in this way for most people. This is more a story of survival and one that I just have to continue sharing with you all. It’s surprisingly therapeutic, and I’ve receiving nothing but love and support. So thank you for allowing me to be vulnerable. I may have scars, but I am filled with gratitude.