When you are the statistic: Uterine rupture loss
Kaila Flory lost her baby to a uterine rupture eight months ago. She recently reached out to me and gave me permission to share her story and pictures of her son Beau. She is currently raising money to purchase Cuddle Cots in Beau’s memory. Cuddle Cots are refrigerated bassinets that enable loss parents to spend more time with their child. While t-shirt sales end on April 22, 2016 at midnight EST, you can donate anytime. Even just $10 will get her closer to her goal. Buy a t-shirt and/or donate here. Connect with her Facebook page here.
Women who have had uterine ruptures and lost their babies have endured some of our greatest fears. But they are part of our community as well. When the VBAC Facts Community, a Facebook group, was opened to the public, we welcomed and embraced the parents who joined us after their loss. Often they felt like they were no longer part of the birth community. They didn’t know where they fit in. They felt isolated and yet they wanted to share their story. We had many loss moms as members and many parents who were planning VBACs who wanted to hear their stories.
What follows is Kaila’s story.
Kaila Flory’s first son was born by cesarean after being induced for intrauterine growth restriction. When she was 38 weeks and a few days pregnant with her second son, 26-year-old Kaila started having cramps around 1 a.m. “Luckily I had stayed with my dad, so I was not alone with my 3 year old. My husband was at Basic Training. Then a contraction came. Ok, I thought, this is real. It’s time. Then another came. It had only been like a minute or 2. Then severe pain came over my abdomen, and my face and limbs went numb.”
Her father called the paramedics and she was rushed to the hospital, where a STAT c-section was ordered. She nearly bled to death.
While I wholeheartedly believe that women should be given the option for VBACs, I also believe women need to consider their child’s health as the most important in this situation. I would have loved to have 3 weeks of pain just to have my son in my arms. I know it is not my fault, and that they do not, normally, schedule a c-section until 39 weeks, but part of me still feels guilty.
When Kaila contacted me, my heart broke. I emailed her back:
Thank you so much for sharing your story with me and I am so sorry about your loss.
I want you to know that I hear you. I really hear you.
I talk quite a bit about how these small numbers represent real women and real babies and it doesn’t matter how small the risk is, if it happens to you, if you are that number, it’s devastating.
The difficulty is that there are serious risks both ways. With VBAC, we have uterine rupture. With repeat cesareans, we have accreta.
Accreta results in more maternal deaths, more maternal complications and comparable infant deaths and complications to uterine rupture. Accreta requires a more sophisticated response of which many hospitals are unable to offer which results in more deaths and complications. Many women are never told about the risks of accreta which prohibits them from making an informed decision. [View my sources and read more about accreta here.]
I discuss uterine rupture and accreta extensively in my workshops including how often it happens, variables that can impact the rate, and outcomes for mother and baby because there is so much confusion about where the risk lies and what could happen.
The other difficulty is that no one can predict how an individual birth will play out. Will you be the one to have a uterine rupture? An accreta? And in either of these situations, will you be the one to lose your baby? Or will you have a safe VBAC or repeat cesarean with a healthy mom and baby? There are no guarantees in life and no crystal balls.
Some women who lose their babies to uterine rupture say, “Don’t plan VBACs.”
Some women who lose their babies to accreta say, “I wish I had access to VBAC.”
So the question is, if there are serious complications either way, who should make the decision on how to birth?
It always comes down to the mother.
Given the small chance of a bad outcome, women should have the option to decide what set of risks and benefits are tolerable to them. They should not be forced into cesareans or mislead into VBACs. This needs to be their decision based on information. Part of the reason why I started VBAC Facts is that I, as a consumer, wanted more information and it wasn’t easy for me to find.
To bring it full circle, I hear you.
Have you had the opportunity to connect with other loss moms? I have compiled a resource page here.
I know it may ring hollow, but you are not to blame. Sometimes things happen that we cannot predict and that are outside of our control and I’m so very sorry you were the statistic.
I’ll keep you in my heart Kaila. <3
I will be honest with you, my doctor did not mention accreta once. Wow that is scary too. 🙁 I don’t wish that or a rupture on anyone. Thank you so much for responding to me. And thank you for advising women on what to do after a C-section. If you ever want to use my story, please let me know. I would be happy to share it for statistic purposes. Thanks so much! 🙂
So I’m sharing Kaila’s story today. As I said in my email to her, I talk about the risks of uterine rupture and accreta in my workshops because they are both real risks on either side of the equation. Sadly, a small number of people will experience this reality, and they deserve our support and compassion.
Learn more about Infant Loss Awareness here.
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As an internationally recognized consumer advocate and Founder of VBAC Facts®, Jen helps perinatal professionals, and cesarean parents, achieve clarity on vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) through her educational courses for parents, online membership for professionals, continuing education trainings, and consulting services. She speaks at conferences across the US, presents Grand Rounds at hospitals, advises on midwifery laws and rules that limit VBAC access, educates legislators and policy makers, and serves as an expert witness and consultant in legal proceedings. She envisions a time when every pregnant person seeking VBAC has access to unbiased information, respectful providers, and community support, so they can plan the birth of their choosing in the setting they desire.