The VBAC Pages

Mrs V's uterine rupture

Mrs V had two prior caesarean sections before she suffered a ruptured uterus, in 1953. She did not go into labour before the rupture occurred.

My uterine rupture was a long time ago-in 1953, but I'm still here to tell you about my experience, and the very brief warning signs. Into my ninth month, I was scheduled for another C-section (my third) in two weeks.

One night I was awakened at 3 AM to go to the bathroom, and while there, felt this excruciatingly sharp pain. It felt like the baby dropped from a tall height and landed on the cervix. I called the doctor immediately and said I was in trouble, and he said to get to the hospital immediately. We called an ambulance, as I couldn't move and knew I would never be able to get into the car. We called for a neighbor to come look after our then 13 month old son. I was back onto the bed, afraid to move, waiting for the ambulance. By now my abdomen was extremely hard, and I was vomiting large skabs of tissue which looked to me like large slabs or pieces of liver, but I was told later it was either feces or clotted blood.

The ambulance took 20 minutes to arrive, and we had a 12 mile trip to the hospital (which also took 12 minutes). Once there, they left me on the stretcher, and didn't seem to know what to do with me. I was in shock, but conscious the entire time. By now it was 5 AM, and they took me into surgery. They informed me later that my insides looked like someone who has suffered internal injuries from a head-on collision. Blood hit the ceiling of the operating room, and I had quite a few transfusions (4, as I recall). I was also told that my blood pressure dropped to as low as it was possible to get, they stopped the surgery momentarily to see if I would rally, and I did.

I feel very fortunate to have survived such an ordeal. My baby didn't. I had had a normal pregnancy and was feeling good the day this happened. It was an explosive situation.

In 1950, I had had my first C-section because of a placenta praevia, along with hemorrhaging. Less than nine months earlier, I had what the doctor referred to as a cyst on my ovary. In an attempt to rupture that cyst, he gave me high doses of estrogens, without either of us knowing I was pregnant. The pain in my side went away, and I carried the baby girl, complete with congenital deformities until her due date, nine months later. That's when all my troubles started. She died at the age of 2 weeks. Since my doctor is now deceased, I think I can safely say that he used poor judgment in treating me with estrogens at the age of 25.

At the time of the rupture I had a subtotal hysterectomy, and since the urinary bladder had also ruptured (it having been used as a patch on the uterus during the previous surgery), and to put it mildly, I was a pretty sick 26 year old. In the meantime, I had given birth via C-section to a healthy son (my second child).

I had my choice, I was told, of spending the rest of my life feeling sorry for myself, or of counting my blessings-no more cramping periods, no more birth control, no more feminine hygiene gear. I chose the latter. Four years later, we adopted a beautiful baby girl, and to this day, feel very fortunate to be together as a family, to be alive. I don't know what the survival rate of someone who had a ruptured uterus was like in the early 50s, but I would be interested in knowing. I do know that Dr. James Dylan, who at that time was a young resident on my case at St. Francis Hospital in Evanston, IL did a write up about me for the AMA Medical Journal, but I never got to see it, although I would have liked to (and would still like to). He is now retired, I believe.

Thanks for reading this. There haven't been many to whom I have been able to tell this story.


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