In early February, Kari and her husband, Luke, welcomed their little girl, Anna, into the world at UnityPoint Health.
“Her birth was a dream come true,” Kari says. “My previous birth at a different health system was not a great experience, and I ended up needing a cesarean section. I knew with my second, I wanted things to be different.”
Kari established care with a midwife and planned to have a vaginal birth after C-section (VBAC). The birthing process began as Kari arrived at the hospital at 7 p.m. on a Thursday, and labor went quickly. Anna was born just over three hours later, but during the last 10 minutes of labor, her heart rate dropped, and she receded in the birth canal, which alarmed the care team. After her arrival, Anna was sent to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Kari also needed extra attention as well.
“I had abnormal bloating in my stomach and just didn’t feel very good. I couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong. My care team order an ultrasound to rule out a uterine rupture, one of the rare risks associated with a VBAC birth. However, the ultrasound looked good and all of my vitals were perfect,” Kari says.
Her condition stayed the same for the next two days. She still had abnormal bloating, but was starting to feel better. Her vitals continued to be perfect, and the bloating was assumed to be gas. With no cause for concern, she was discharged on Saturday.
Since Anna was in the NICU, the hospital staff arranged for the couple to stay at the hospital with their daughter. Sunday morning, Kari woke up feeling worse.
“I still couldn’t explain what I felt. I just didn’t feel good, and my stomach looked like I was 12 months pregnant!” Kari says.
Two of the baby’s nurses took notice of Kari’s worsening condition. Tina Reinert and Nita McLaughlin offered to call Kari’s provider, who could meet with her immediately or first thing on Monday. Before she and her husband could make that decision, Reinert came back in to talk with the family.
“She said the nurses were evaluating my condition and recommended I be seen in the emergency room. I certainly didn’t feel like I was in an emergency situation, but I trusted the recommendation. I called the nurses’ station, and Tina came back with a robe and a wheelchair to take me to the ER,” Kari says.
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After a CT scan in the ER, Kari found out her abdomen was full of fluid and her bowels had quit working. Almost immediately, she was put on pain medication, a nasogastric (NG) tube to decompress her bowels, and the doctor on call did exploratory surgery. The surgery found Kari experienced a uterine rupture sometime between her daughter’s birth and her arrival to the ER. Her previous C-section scar had completely torn open, filling her abdomen with blood and amniotic fluid. The surgeon repaired Kari’s torn uterus, and she was readmitted for recovery.
“I thank God I had Tina and Nita looking out for me, going above and beyond the call of duty and saving my life. The doctors suggested if I waited until Monday morning to be seen, I would have been in the intensive care unit. Tina and Nita worked together as a team to help determine what was wrong and the type of care I needed. They took extra special care for me, even though I was no longer a patient, and they used their nursing expertise and experiences to get me to the right care setting, at the right time. On that Sunday afternoon, they made a recommendation that ultimately, I believe, saved my life,” Kari says.
Now, thanks to our UnityPoint Health nurses and care team, Kari and baby Anna are all healed—and able to enjoy life at home with big brother, Noah, and Luke as a family of four.