So…whoever came up with the MEDICAL term “Incompetent Cervix” has absolutely no idea how sensitive and hormotional pregnancy makes you. When the doc first told me that my cervix was apparently “incompetent”, I had mixed emotions. Half of me was terrified and the other half wanted to punch him in the face for insulting my innocent cervix. I quickly got over my anger as he began to explain that my baby was in trouble. I had been bleeding heavily and passing tennis ball size clots for almost 4 days at this point, so I knew something was terribly wrong.
So, what is an incompetent cervix? Well, the Mayo clinic says it like this...”An incompetent cervix, also called a cervical insufficiency, is a condition that occurs when weak cervical tissue causes or contributes to premature birth or the loss of an otherwise healthy pregnancy.” Basically the weakened cervix begins to open, which triggers pre-term labor and the baby is at a huge risk for miscarriage since it is still not developed enough to survive outside of my body. Here is my story through my cerclage procedure and maybe it will help someone.
Within 10 minutes of the doctor doing a pelvic exam, I was being admitted to the hospital. They started me immediately on 2 antibiotics and a medication that helped stop the pre-term labor called Toradol. The high-risk pregnancy specialists and surgeons came by my room and explained my options. Surgery to stitch together my cervix (called a cerclage) or daily progesterone with weekly ultrasounds. I cried a lot that first night, I didn’t know what the right decision was, but I knew what my gut said. It was more difficult because this decision was not just for me, it was for my baby girl. The doctors told me that if I did not do the surgery in a timely fashion, there was a chance that they could not perform it as a later date as my cervix was continuing to shorten with each ultrasound. The surgery had some definite risks, but it had the most concrete results and the best chance of prolonging my pregnancy until my sweet baby girl was able to survive on her own. I decided on the cerclage surgery after consulting with my OB (not the surgeon) and my family.
What is a CERCLAGE? Again, according to the internets…“Cervical cerclage, also known as a cervical stitch, is a treatment for cervical incompetence or insufficiency, when the cervix starts to shorten and open too early during a pregnancy causing either a late miscarriage or preterm birth.”
The next day, the surgery was scheduled. During my hospital stay, they checked on my baby’s heartbeat every 2 hours. It made me so happy each time I got to hear her little heart beating. I knew she was still ok. The surgery was difficult to say the least. The doctors did everything they could to assure me and make me as comfortable as possible. I couldn’t help think of how close to my sweet baby they were operating, and it was absolutely terrifying. My surgeon explained the procedure to me and made sure that I understood everything before they got started. She was wonderful. The anesthesiologist was also great, explaining everything that would happen over the course of the surgery. Since I am pregnant, they gave me spinal anesthesia, which is a nasty, terrible, horrible procedure. I wasn’t numb the first time they tried to administer the anesthesia and I can’t put that amount of pain into words. I was blinded and have never in my life felt anything like it. Finally, they got me numb and I was unable to move or feel anything below my waist. The procedure itself was uncomfortable (since I was tilted backwards, spread wide open, and couldn’t move my body), but not terrible. I was not a big fan of being completely awake and aware during the surgery, but I was happy that the anesthesia was safe for me and the little one. I did not experience any pain during the procedure but felt pressure as they worked. It was over relatively quickly. Again, the surgeons told me everything they were doing as they did it, and I felt like I was in good hands…..literally. They finished up, sent me to recovery, and after regaining feeling in my legs I was returned to my room for another night of observation and checks every 2 (FREAKING 2) hours.
The surgeons explained to me the next day that during the procedure they had found a polyp. They suspect that the polyp was causing the insane amount of bleeding that I had been having for the better part of 4 days. HERE IS THE MIRACLE…Had I not had that polyp, there is a very high probability that I would have miscarried. Incompetent cervix has very few symptoms and most of them are so mild that women believe they are normal pregnancy symptoms. Light cramping, light spotting, back pain….none of which are alarming. Had I not had the bleeding polyp, I would likely have never gone in to have it checked out, and my cervix could have opened more. Had I progressed into full labor, they could not have stopped it and I could have lost her. I believe that God has a special reason for us to have this baby….that has been evident through the conception and the pregnancy. He is definitely in charge and knows the plan for us.
Post-op I will follow up with the surgeon every other week and with my OB every other week alternating. They will check on my stitches and make sure this little wiggle worm stays put. There is also the option to add progesterone therapy at a later date if they believe it is necessary. The prognosis is good, and they hope that with they help of this procedure I can carry this sweet thing to full term or until she is able to survive on her own. If everything goes well, they will remove the stitches a month before my estimated delivery date so that she can be born. If I do go into labor early, the cerclage will give her an extra 2-3 weeks to bake before they have to remove the stitches and let her out.
I am not thrilled that i had to go through this procedure, I have been a basket case and an emotional wreck for the better part of a week….BUT, I am incredibly grateful and would do it a million times over. I am blessed, my daughter is blessed, and I am in love with the life that God has given me today. Promises coming true over and over again. I have faith that He is protecting her and giving me peace. This journey has strengthened my faith and my assurance that I am truly never alone. It has also taught me that I am NEVER in control of my life. She is my baby, but she is also HIS baby. I am learning to let go of control and let go of anxiety.
I’m grateful to my husband, my family and our baby’s Godfather. Thanks to them I was never alone throughout my hospitalization. I always had someone to talk to, someone to cry with me, and someone there just to be there. I’m very blessed. I get to do life with some pretty amazing people.
Ask me again in a week or so how grateful I am…..even “modified” bedrest is not going to be a good look on me.