On Wednesday, in Feb 2011, I had my 39 week check up, and my OB took the opportunity to strip my membranes, to get things going for my scheduled induction for the next morning. Earlier that week, I’d had an ultrasound that showed I had roughly 3.85 cm of fluid – a healthy range being anywhere from 5 – 25 cm of fluid – and they were concerned about the baby due to the low fluid. Fortunately, my body was already initiating labor on its own, so the doc’s plans and baby’s plans seemed to be perfectly in sync.
Wednesday evening, after my doctor’s appt, we checked in the hospital they started me on cervidil. We stayed overnight and I started having regular contractions around 3 am Thursday morning. At about 6:30 am, my nurse let me take a hot shower (which I wanted to hug her for) and they started me on pitocin at about 7 am in order to make sure my labor was progressing. From there, my contractions became very frequent and intense, which is normal with pitocin. I got an epidural around 10 am, which was wonderful and definitely something that I would do again. The epidural allowed me to take a nap and rest up until about 11 am. At around 11, I called in a nurse because I thought maybe it was getting close to time to push. They had me wait for just a little while longer, but sure enough, it was getting to be time to push. I started pushing at 11:44 am and delivered Baby CJ at 12:17 pm.
Baby CJ was absolutely perfect from the beginning. He had great/strong lungs and the cutest little cries and he peed on the doctor right after he was born (oops!). They laid him on my chest for a minute before cleaning in him up, which was the best moment. After they took him to get a little more cleaned up, they handed him to my husband for some bonding time as well.
Uterine Inversion Story
As you might already have guessed, this was the point where I had to unexpectedly go to the OR. As my husband says, this is when “it got real” in the delivery room. As mentioned earlier, Baby CJ was delivered at 12:17 pm. At 12:24, I suffered a complete uterine inversion, and was in the OR (or, as I called it, the “Oh Shit!” Room) by 12:27 pm. The inversion occurred immediately following the strongest contraction I’ve ever felt – and that is saying a lot having JUST delivered a baby and having an epidural in at the time.
A complete inversion is when your uterus is delivered out of your cervix and vagina, whereas a partial inversion involves the uterus collapsing on itself but not actually exiting the body (or, as I like to say, abandoning ship). My uterus tried to abandon ship by hitching a ride with the placenta.
My doctor was right there as the uterus and placenta were being delivered and knew immediately what was happening. It is a rare complication, and the key to survival AND keeping your uterus is having a doctor who knows immediately what is going on and can act without delay. Thankfully, my OB happened to have seen a UI (uterine inversion) during his residency and another several years later and knew exactly how to act. It is rare to have a OB/midwife who has even had one UI case. Unfortunately, my husband was also RIGHT there went my uterus inverted and was delivered. Needless to say, he was terrified. It didn’t help that, when they rushed me out, he was left standing in the delivery room, alone, holding our 7 minute old.
As soon as the inversion happened, my doctor tried to manually place it back. This is always the “first line of defense” and the preferred way of correcting the problem. It was very clear that manual manipulation wasn’t going to work at all, and he then told me, “You need surgery now, and you may lose your uterus.”
Nurses seemed to appear out of the walls at this point (I suspect the “Oh Shit” button was pushed, calling all available to help). I signed 3 release forms, gave the nurse my glasses, and fought with everything I had to remain conscious. This is why inversions are so bad and potentially deadly – the placenta, which is still attached to the uterus, is a blood factory for baby. I literally saw the blood pooling and bubbling in my uterus walls within seconds of seeing my uterus out of my body. I was bleeding out, and fast.
I knew if I passed out in front of my husband, he would really get scared, so I did my best to stay alert. I told the nurse, whose name is Angel (how perfect, right?), that “I was getting VERY light-headed,” and thankfully, she knew immediately that I meant “I’m bleeding out.” Since my husband was right that, I was trying to keep him from realizing how fast I was losing blood. I also reminded her that my blood type was A+ (of course, they already knew it, but I’m a control freak and was trying to help them every way I could). Unfortunately, once I lost a fair amount of blood, I started to lose my vision, but was still fighting for consciousness. The nurses ran me down the hall, I felt like I was in a scene from “ER” (which, coincidentally enough does feature an inversion in the series finale episode).
Once we got to the OR, everyone got to work immediately. They started IV anesthesia, started a blood transfusion, and got the mask over my face. I heard my nurse from the delivery room say, “She already had an epidural,” which likely means they were able to start cutting my belly open immediately. To this day, I’m still so, so grateful that I had an epidural and had generally been as surgery-ready as possible.
I heard them say, “grab the O+!” When the guy doing the transfusion crammed the needle in my arm, not realizing I was still “with it”. I cringed and heard him say, “Oh, I’m sorry!”
When the mask was put on my face, they said, “Take a deep breath.” The only thing I could do to help was breathe deeply, so I took the biggest, deepest breath I could muster. I didn’t want to know what was happening anymore and I wanted to go to sleep and let them fix me.
A redheaded nurse woke me up from the best nap ever. Going to surgery immediately following birth wasn’t what I’d hoped for, but man, that was a good nap. She told me that my doctor had saved my uterus and successfully corrected everything. I responded with “Hey, I’m just happy to be here.” My anesthesiologist from surgery was the same one who did my epidural. He looked at me and said “What are you doing here???” and I responded with, “I wanted to lose the baby weight as fast as possible and thought dumping off organs and blood would be a great way to do that.” He thought I had lost my mind, I thought it was hilarious. I mean, if you can’t laugh in these situations, you have to cry, and I was not in the mood for tears. I was happy to have survived and wanted my baby so, so badly.
Fortunately, for my husband, the surgery was quick and they told him as soon as they could that I was doing great, which was around 1:00 pm. He went and held Baby CJ, watched him get a bath, took a ton of pictures, and got our stuff situated in our recovery room.
I was able to get back to my recovery room a little after 2 pm to be reunited with Baby CJ. The rest of the day was a fog, but I was able to nurse immediately, and I was given a morphine pump for the pain as all of the other meds wore off. The anesthesia made me vomit and sleepy, which wasn’t so great. To my doctor and nurses’ credit, the pain management I was given was wonderful and very effective, making the whole experience much easier to cope with.
I stayed in the hospital until Sunday, which was entirely my call. Saturday was rough, as all of the stronger meds had worn off and I was having to move around more and more to help the healing process. I was on a combo of Ibuprofen and Percocet, along with wearing a binder on my belly to protect my staples/stitches on my incision. All of which is pretty standard, from what I’ve heard.
Next up: Post-Op Recovery