Pregnancy After Inversion: Week 14

I’m a bit overdue on an update, but it’s all good reasons.  My 12 week ultrasound went great – Baby #2 is looking great and healthy.  We’ve been busy with all of what summertime usually has in store (meaning, crazy weekends).

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My next appointment is for my 16 week check up and then, after that, is the anatomy scan!  All exciting stuff.

I’m still bigger than I was with Baby CJ, but, thankfully the weight gain has plateaued for a few weeks.  At least we are “out” now with this pregnancy, so it is less awkward when people guess that I’m expecting again.  I’m still having a lot of pulling and tugging pains and aches, but nothing more alarming than that and no more light spotting either.

Hopefully, I’m moving on to a happy 2nd trimester and will enjoy it!

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Pregnancy After Inversion: Week 11

I’m “officially” in week 11 this week and this week has been all about watching for blood.  I haven’t had any bad bleeding or cramping, but I have had some very light bleeding twice this week.  Due to having experienced a chemical pregnancy back in February, I know what the “bad” cramping and bleeding feels like.  None the less, it is highly alarming to see blood when you shouldn’t see blood, and worse, when it is red instead of brown (red=bad, brown=old, less worrisome).

Thankfully, the on call doctor was incredibly optimistic when she realized that I’d already had a great ultrasound at 9 weeks.  Apparently, after having a good early ultrasound, the likelihood of continuing a healthy pregnancy, regardless of spotting, is 90% or something.  Reason #3948347 why I love my OB practice, they give me data and facts and clear answers with every question or concern I have.  Given all of this, I decided to not rush into the office for a check up, especially since my next appointment is on Tuesday.  There is nothing that could be done to “save” the pregnancy if there is a major problem at this point, so we are waiting as long as I’m feeling good (and the light bleeding was very brief and has stopped).

Truthfully, I’m having an easier time not over-stressing this pregnancy.  I think it’s because I know that there is nothing that extra worrying will prevent or save.  I also feel like I have a better grasp on the difference between serious problems vs. problems that involve easy fixes.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to continue with that attitude as the pregnancy progresses, and as things continue to go well.  Now… I need to figure out a way to carry that attitude into all aspects of my life.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” ~Reinhold Niebuhr

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Pregnancy After Inversion: Week 10

I knew that subsequent pregnancies tended to result in “showing” sooner than first pregnancies.  However, I was not prepared for just how fast that would happen post-inversion.  My doctor explains it well by saying, during the inversion, all of my ligaments were stretched to the max and way more than the average woman encounters.  It completely makes sense, and did result in many twinges and pulling pains much sooner this pregnancy as well (round ligament pains weren’t even on my radar until about week 16 with my first).

The other “fun” result of showing earlier is the awkward, “OMG, Congrats!  I didn’t know you were expecting” comments from people whom we aren’t ready to tell yet.  This actually first happened on Mother’s Day, the day before my first ultrasound.  Needless to say, I was caught off guard and nervous because I still hadn’t had a chance to see baby with my own eyes for my own peace of mind.

Thankfully, we had a great ultrasound, so if it comes up now, I just go ahead and tell people what’s going on – though we still aren’t “out” on Facebook yet.  Nothing is official until it happens in social media, right?

Here’s a nice little comparison for ya:

10 Weeks with Baby #1

10 Weeks with Baby #1

7 Weeks with Baby #2

7 Weeks with Baby #2

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Are we crazy?

I ask myself this question a lot lately.  Are we completely out of our minds for trying to have another baby?  There is definitely a part of me wondering, “You want to have another kid?  Did you completely forget how terrible your recovery was last time?  What about your poor husband who stood there in horror while everything happened?”

As I’m typing this, all of the cognitive, logical thought processes are kicking in, “You have a plan.  You know what to look for this time.  You already know what it is like when something goes wrong.  Your doctors are amazing, they will be right there.”

My husband has already confessed his fear of me going into the world’s fastest labor at home, where we would be 35 minutes away from our hospital and beloved doctors.  I would be lying if I said we hadn’t already worked out a game plan for him in the event that happens though.  We don’t actually think any of this will happen again, but, like most people who’ve been through this, you know the odds aren’t in your favor for it not happening again or something else going wrong.

On the flip side, I keep thinking, I have been given this chance to have another baby.  My doctor worked really hard to make that happen for me and, if nothing else, I’ve always envisioned my son having the opportunity for a sibling.  I thought we’d have to adopt for more kids when I was being rushed into surgery after the inversion.  I was 100% OK and accepting of it and we still aren’t opposed to it as an option after we have Baby #2 and I get my tubes tied.

Here we are, giving it a go.  Ignoring or trying our best to deal with the little voices in our heads screaming, “Why are you doing this again?  Have you lost your minds???”

I’ll leave you with this – which pretty much sums up our current state perfectly.

“Having a child is surely the most beautifully irrational act that two people in love can commit.” 
– Bill Cosby, Fatherhood

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Pregnancy After Inversion: Week 9

We are still doing well this pregnancy.  I had an ultrasound 2 days ago and everything looked great with our little bean.  Our practice doesn’t typically do ultrasounds until 12-13 weeks unless there is a reason for concern.  Give the inversion and the chemical pregnancy, they opted to do one at 9 weeks.  I always have mixed emotions with these, I’m excited to see how things are going with the little one but I’m nervous there will be something wrong.  No issues to report this time though – so far so good!

I went ahead and told the doctor, who delivered my son, that we were opting for a c-section this time.  He fully supported our decision and I can already tell I am more relieved knowing that we have a game plan in place.  I’m also going to get a chance to get my scar cleaned up by a plastic surgeon and getting my tubes tied.  The over-planner in me is thrilled with all of this and making the prospect of having another baby far less scary all around.

9 Week Ultrasound!

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What’s next?

The biggest reason I started this blog wasn’t to educate people about what uterine inversions are.  It’s one of those complications that you really want whomever is helping you deliver your baby to know how to address, but really something you don’t want to know could happen unless it actually does happen.

I loved my state of ignorance to all sorts of potential birth-complications.  Unfortunately, after having a freak-only-happens-once-in-a-while type complications, I got to learn about so much more.  I also learned how crappy the information available to me was.  That aspect was tough for me, I like researching, reading, learning all I can about what I could be facing and there isn’t much out there for uterine inversions, nor is there much data for my doctors to rely on for me when I started asking questions.

My goal is to (hopefully) help others who’ve been through the same sort of experience by sharing my own journey of having an inversion and hopefully being able to have another baby successfully.  When I went into surgery, I initially was told they would not be able to save my uterus.  When I woke up, I was told they were able to save it and I should be able to have more children, but I still had my concerns.  Afterall, I’d just seen the “baby house” outside of my body, I think I was right to have my doubts.

We followed doctors orders and waited 2 years before we started trying for another child.  I got pregnant immediately in our first month of trying.  Unfortunately, that was short-lived (about 4 or 5 days) before I started bleeding and cramping.  I was told it was a “Chemical Pregnancy”, which is an extremely early loss.  The “positive” pregnancy test lines were getting fainter and fainter instead of darker.  Apparently, chemical pregnancies are super common, but most women only know about them if they are actively trying to conceive and testing early or watching the calendar closely to make sure their cycle is on track.

I was a bit frustrated.  Going through a chemical pregnancy was hard –  my hormones were all out of whack and I was hurting for about a week from the cramping.  We didn’t really try during that next cycle, I was disappointed and worried that my uterus would somehow prevent an embryo from “sticking.”

Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait long at all.  The following cycle, I did manage to get pregnant again and, so far, it has stuck with me.  I’m only 5 or 6 weeks along at this point, but that’s further than I made it last time.  I also had a positive pregnancy test earlier too than I did last time, and the line was darker as I continued to test.

We are excited, but nervous.  My husband and I went through a rough recovery after CJ was born.  My joke is now, we know too much about general potential complications with me and/or with the baby.  We are being cautiously optimistic this go-around.  Aside from my boobs being sore, I haven’t had any other symptoms yet, so it is all a bit surreal at this point.  My first doctor’s appt is in a couple of weeks, which will hopefully leave me with a few more details and feeling more secure that this is actually happening for us :).

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Post-Op Recovery

You know that show “The Doctors”?  A teaser for an episode was, “Who has a harder recovery, mothers who have a vaginal delivery or a c-section?”  I was curious, so I tuned in to see what they said.  Their response: could be either one.  The vaginal delivery recovery is bad if you had to get stitches (Check! But, thankfully, no major tearing) and c-section recovery is bad if you have to get cut up and down instead of side to side (Check!).  So, the real answer is, it’s actually terrible if you have a baby vaginally and then get emergency surgery that slices you up and down.  Winning!

Chances are, if you have stumbled across this blog, you know exactly what this sort of recovery is like (I’m sorry).  However, I promise, you will feel pretty close to normal at some point.  It took me a little longer than most women do postpartum, but most women don’t go through crazy complications during birth.

It was amusing to watch my nurses process through my chart.  The doctor’s orders were: vaginal delivery recovery protocol, c-section recovery protocol, and a transfusion protocol.  A couple of times, my nurses would just stop reading, come in, and say, “OK, what happened to you?”  I appreciated being able to tell them what was going on myself.  Inversions are fairly rare, so I was a first time case for many of them.

My night nurse was amazing though.  I was her 3rd inversion case AND she had abdominal surgery herself at one point.  She was the one who had to remove my cath, get me out of bed, and make me pee the first night.  She made sure to jack up my morphine right before moving me.  She didn’t get frustrated with me when I was terrified to pee, and made sure that, after the first night, she and the nursery nurse came at the same time (4 am) to prevent interrupting my sleep unnecessarily.  I missed her after we got home!

My nurses also helped me come up with a pretty genius way to wrap my belly and protect my vertical incision.  I had a belly binder, so we took a maxi pad and laid it over my incision before binding me up.  Then, after being all wrapped up, we put those diaper size pads in the mesh panties, which I pulled up over the bottom edge of the binder.  Not the sexiest ensemble, but it did the job!

I wore the binder at home for a while.  They took out my staples over the course of the week after delivery.  The OB then super glued the incision and taped everything to be sure everything stayed super secure.  After the incision was healed better, I switched to an Ace bandage wrapped around my stomach for a while.  Pants were painful for a long time, especially anything with zippers, so I got cozy with loose waist band pants in my closet!

The trick to recovering at home was keeping up with pain meds.  Pure and simple.  Don’t be a hero, your insides were forcibly moved outside your body.  My OB warned me that those pesky RLPs would be a problem because everything was so pulled and so stretched during the inversion.

WARNING: If they give you narcotic pain meds, start taking Colace ASAP.  Pooping after surgery is miserable.  Pooping after surgery, having taken narcotics, and not taking a stool softener is terrifying.  I thought I was reopening all of my stitches.  Take Colace, end of story.

The other trick to recovery is moving around.  This part blows.  Walking is not fun, and stairs are a nightmare.  Shoot, sitting up is a nightmare.  But, the silver-lining is, the sooner you get blood flowing properly, the sooner you will feel better.  It took me a good 3 months or so to be completely pain-free, but the pain was significantly lessened after about 3 weeks.

The last thing I wanted to say about my recovery was, it really did take about a year to 18 months to feel 100% “myself” again.  Every nurse and doctor I’ve spoken to in this field has echoed this principle, “It really does take 18-24 months to fully heal your body after that sort of trauma and surgery.”  I run, eat well, take my vitamins, and all of those other things essentially to feeling good, but giving myself the time to really feel “recovered” was the most important piece of the puzzle.

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Birth and Inversion Story – Where this all began

Birth Story

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

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