Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Bed Rest Chronicles Part 1: Background

I knew from a fairly young age that having children would be difficult for me, but never wanting children this was something I just accepted about myself and didn't explore too deeply.
It has only been in the past two years or so that I've had a strong desire to have a baby and my now-husband Q and I started very early in our relationship to get pregnant as we are both well aware of our advanced ages for this kind of project. In fact, when we married two months ago today, I was already in the throes of first trimester miseries.

Knowing and understanding are two different things. What I knew was I was at a high risk for miscarriages and stillbirths, but the risks had never been spelled out to me in any different terms. And there is of course that handy trick humans have of thinking bad things happen only to other people and "I'll be just fine." This can often work in our favor, but not always.

After nearly three weeks on bed rest I can say that things are not fine, but on the other hand they are. As always, the glass is half full and half empty.

What happened to me, what is called an incompetent cervix, was never anything that entered my realm of experience or knowledge, despite it being a not-too-uncommon occurrence. It was briefly touched upon last year by one obstetrician who, when I asked her about the risks involved with my DES exposure, very casually said, "Oh, we can stitch you up." The words "incompetent cervix," "cerclage" or really anything else, were not mentioned and I had no idea what she meant by "stitching me up" other than it sounded like a rather unpleasant proposition that would turn my womb into some kind of a purse. Not the least bit impressed with this doctor I never went back to her.

Today I am 20 weeks pregnant. Every week now is a milestone. Three weeks ago, my husband and I went in for my amniocentesis, a common procedure for women like me who are older. During the preparatory ultrasound the doctor discovered that my cervix was nearly gone, my uterus had formed a funnel shape and the cervix was also slightly dilated. Had it not been discovered I would have gone into labor within days and lost the pregnancy.

Q and I were sent to the hospital that afternoon. What had started out as a routine procedure with certain risks was now a very scary ride into the unknown. Considered an emergency situation, the original plan had been to perform surgery on me that night. However, another doctor refused to do the surgery until she knew for sure there was no infection in the womb. Once it had been determined this was not the case, I had a cervical cerclage the following morning and had my uterus pushed back into shape and was given more cervical length.

Now at twenty weeks the baby is fine. I am fine. But I am on bed rest for an indeterminate time to prevent early labor. Once a week I will be driven to the doctor's for exams and a progesterone shot. My one opportunity to leave the house.

Maybe it is egotistical to believe this but I see a series of small miracles that say to me our baby is meant to be. It's nothing short of a miracle to me that our amniocentesis was done by a doctor who specializes in this very thing, and who was the one that performed the surgery at a hospital which has a reputation for being the best when it comes to treating high risk pregnancies.
Also, at the time this was discovered I was sick with a virus and had been out of work for two days, resting in bed and on the couch.
Maybe, had that not been the case, I would have lost the pregnancy before even making it to the amnio appointment.
Now I am in very good and competent hands in a practice that specializes in high risk pregnancies, of which the above mentioned doctor is part of. Just the fact that we decided to go ahead with the amnio and caught this in time seems miraculous to me as without going into too many details it was obvious my previous ob/gyn practice was negligent and Q and I had talked at length on the amnio issue and had a couple of times considered canceling the appointment.

So this is the background information. I feel the need to write about all of this as a healthy outlet and as a way to process all that's happened and will happen.
I've found this to be a time of review and even renewal. A time that can be incredibly difficult and depressing yet one that is full of miracles and a great deal of love.


  1. Thank you for visiting my blog and I am glad I have been able to give you a positive outlook on this condition. Being a prior labor nurse before becoming a stay at home mom gave me a lot of things to be even more scared about - I knew the risks across the board and I knew them well.

    I hope things continue to go well for you. What is your cervical length now? Mine has been hovering at 2.5-3cm at 14 weeks, with my cerclage placed last week. With my last baby, I dropped to 1.8cm, and stayed there. The docs allowed me to stay off bed rest as long as my CL didn't get worse, and thankfully it didn't.

    I wish woman didn't have to lose babies before they know they have a problem. I don't understand why doctors cannot be more forthright with their patients - I mean, who says "stitch you up" - most woman have never ever heard of a cerclage...I am sorry you had to go through that.

    I am praying our current angel will stay safe inside me and at the same time, I am praying for an uneventful pregnancy so I am able to keep caring for our three girls. Keep visiting - and if you ever have any questions, please just ask.

  2. Hi Steph, my cervix was about 1.2 cm and is now holding steady at 4 cm.
    I've been told the length doesn't matter but the strength of my stitches do, and they have been holding strong, too.
    Wouldn't it be interesting to know what different doctors say about all of this?
    I'm glad you stopped by and I will definitely be back to read your newest posts. Take care.

  3. Sorry I am just checking your response now (I wish we were notified when/if someone responds) - 4cm! That is amazing...After my first cerclage, my length never went above 2.2cm, and having a 16 month old at home made it tough to hang on the couch everyday. Once I got to the 24 week mark, I let myself do "one" activity per day - whether it was having dinner with my family, going on a short walk with your husband, or a quick trip to the grocery store. I knew my body, and when I felt pressure or cramping, I stopped. I guess I am lucky...