With my eyes still struggling to fully wake up from sleep, I glanced at my phone to look at the time and immediately planted it back face down. It wasn't the time I was dreading.
It was the date. That date.
Today read, July 11th, 2017.
f you aren't familiar with our story, today exactly one year ago my world totally flipped upside down and would never be the same again.
A year ago today, Paul and I woke up excitedly to visit both our doctors (regular OB-GYN + our perinatologist) for our Gavini Babe's routine 24 week checkup. It was a Monday / I had spent the night in my sister's room for some quality time / and had just returned from a weekend in Las Vegas, visiting my father-in-law for his birthday. We quickly got dressed, decided we'd eat breakfast somewhere around the hospital before our second appointment, which was set to be in the earlier half of the afternoon and dashed out the door.
Our first appointment with my OB-GYN went well. Though we didn't get an ultrasound scan that day with him, the doctor measured my stomach/ fundal height, listened to the baby's heart tones, answered questions and addressed concerns that we had. *At this time, we were already aware of Haven's heart defect, which we discovered at our 20 week anatomy scan by our perinatologist. (Perinatology is a subspecialty of obstetric physicians concerned with the care of the fetus and complicated, high-risk pregnancies). Due to her finding, our new plan of care included being seen by her for the remainder of my pregnancy.
While waiting for our second appointment, we had a two and a half hour window time in between to spare. The combination of pregnancy and the anxiety that comes with doctor appointments made me hungry. Paul and I took a nice and what we thought would be an "innocent" walk that would be good for me + the baby to the nearest IHOP; (little did we know that in just a few hours we would discover that the walk was dangerous and that Haven was literally hanging out). I was symptom free, feeling great and imagining how different our life would be in just a few months. She danced and kicked me from the inside as I scarfed down the Breakfast Sampler and pancakes I ordered.
The clock finally hit the forty five minute mark until our next appointment so we headed back, l was still feeling good. We were called in and our doctor reported that aside from her heart defect, she was healthy and growing right on track. Almost finishing with our goodbyes and rising back up to leave from the exam bed, I was suddenly hit with a, "Ask her to check your cervix" thought. Not focusing on the last words her and Paul were exchanging, I asked her if she didn't mind checking my cervix before we left -- she responded with a, "Not at all all, of course." In just a few seconds my life would never be the same again.
I laid back down, placed my feet in stirrups, performed some rapid breathing, and grabbed Paul's hand as she placed the speculum to examine my cervix. I vividly remember the terrible silence in the room that day. It felt like a lifetime had passed when she finally removed the speculum, took a deep breath, with tears in her eyes, furrowed brows, then heavily and hesitantly said, "Myra.. Paul.. I am so, so sorry to keep bringing you both bad news.." An Incompetent Cervix also known as Cervical Insufficiency at that time in my life was a nothing but a condition I briefly learned about while in college. Up until that day it was simply one of the pregnancy conditions and/ or complications that I had studied about during my time in nursing school and again while studying for my licensing board examination.
She didn't even begin to tell us what she found down there when streams of tears began to fall down from my eyes. I glanced over at Paul - I saw a flushed face, anger as both his hands formed into fists as tears followed down his eyes too. No words were able to form or come out from both our mouths. The time between her apology and sharing what she had seen seemed like another lifetime had passed by. I don't even think she told us the name of my condition. All I remember were a mix of the following phrases,
"There is nothing left."
"I see limbs dangling through your vagina."
"The bag of membranes is bulging."
"The bag that is supporting your baby and keeping him/ her safe is coming out."
"You will deliver. And soon."
"The baby is coming out."
It was later on that day, that Paul and I did our research and pieced together to discover that I have an Incompetent Cervix.
In a state of shock and disbelief, I wasn't able to concentrate well or keep my mind straight. I believe Paul took in the information at that moment much better than I did. The first thing we asked was what she meant by there is nothing left. The doctor explained that her, "There is nothing left" statement meant I was basically fully dilated with no measurable cervix left to help keep our baby inside until term. That because my cervix had begun to open on its' own, Haven was slipping out - the bag of membranes and her limbs were visible through examination with the use of the speculum. That because she was already making her way out, premature delivery was inevitable. All I could think about as the doctor was doing her best and explaining everything, was that our firstborn was coming soon - and her life, her survival was not guaranteed.
Paul asked her what was going to happen next, what our options were and what could we do to keep our Haven inside for as long as we can. The doctor went on to give us three options and explained each of them. Option One was Induction; to be quite frank, our doctor was leaning towards this option for us. I say this because I always had the gut feeling that ever since we told her that we made the decision to continue with our pregnancy even with our little one's heart condition that the doctor wasn't for Haven -- wasn't on her side and seemed like she didn't even want to fight for her. (*Perhaps some time in the future, this aspect of our story could be a post all on its own). She said with induction -- she would have us immediately go to the labor and delivery unit of the hospital, get us checked in, schedule me for induction and remain there until I would deliver. Option Two was a Transvaginal Cerclage; even though this was her second option for us, it wasn't a choice anyway. She went on to explain that with my cervix's condition, there is a procedure that women undergo to help keep their cervixes from dilating early, preventing pre-term labor and delivery, increasing baby's chances for survival, improving his/ her prognosis -- getting a cerclage (basically a stitch) placed. Even though she brought this option up, she stated that this was not the best for our specific case due to these factors: 1. My weeks in pregnancy; at the time I was 24 weeks and two days and cerclages are usually placed before then starting at 14 weeks. 2. Due to the baby's size; because the baby is big at this stage in pregnancy and due to the precision of the procedure, there is high risk for the bag to rupture which also can increase the risk for premature labor and delivery and of course, infection to both baby and I. 3. Bulging bag; during the cervical examination, our doctor made us aware that she could already visibly see my bag of membranes. All of these factors made our chances for opting with this option were a zero and highly dangerous. Option Three was the simple"Wait and See" approach. This meant for us to go back home and basically just wait until labor became more imminent. We could both tell by the look of our doctor's very obvious face that we were going to deliver soon, real soon and that our little one wasn't going to make it.
I clearly remember Paul and I exchanging looks of what we felt we wanted to do and prayed the other was picking it up through eye contact. Our doctor on the other hand made her option very clear to us. She wanted to have me induced - to check myself into labor and delivery, start a drip, have it kick in and have me deliver sooner than later. Both unfortunately and frankly, she had a very "let's get this over with" demeanor. Still unsure of what the best option for us and our situation was, we knew we wanted for us to be safe and that no matter our decision, wanted to be checked into the hospital to be observed and monitored.
July 11th, 2016 | PT. II in the next post to follow.