Wednesday, March 4, 2015

the story of last week: in which i use the word "cervix" a lot

There are lots of reasons I haven't written in months. I co-ran a city-wide fundraiser in late September that nearly brought me to my knees. I got pregnant in November and spent almost the entire month of December in a horizontal position, weakly waving hello at any and all visiting family members. January I began to learn how to live again, but couldn't believe taking care of a toddler and keeping a house together was all my responsibility. "Really? This all comes down to me? This isn't fun at all!" February I made a little more effort to get out of the house despite the sub-zero temperatures (coldest February on record for PA, people!), and I made a major breakthrough when I put a chair in front of the sole window in our house that gets some afternoon sun. You will find me there every afternoon from 1:30-2 until the snow melts.

But I'm back, and we had the craziest, scariest few days last week.

For those of you who don't know, I had a lot of issues with Jaina's pregnancy. At my 20-week anatomy scan she just would not show her gender, so after trying to get a peek from every angle they brought out the vaginal ultrasound. The tech noticed right away that my cervix was pretty short for someone only halfway through their pregnancy and had a doctor check it out. Long story short, after a few weeks of monitoring, I needed a cervical cerclage - one stitch that goes around your cervix and cinches it shut. (I also had a low-lying cord and placenta which eventually dictated that I have an early c-section, but that's a whole other story.)

So this time around we scheduled a meeting with a maternal/fetal medicine doctor at 16 weeks to make a plan for how we might monitor my "incompetent cervix." (That is LITERALLY the medical term for it. Rude.) We talked about all the options for if/when it happened again, then we went to an ultrasound room to check things out. First she took a look at the baby, and we found out (a month before we expected) that we're having a girl! I was immediately ecstatic! The idea of Jaina having a sister was so exciting.

Then she took a look down below. I was already down to 2 cm of cervical tissue. Really?! Finding out her gender, which makes the baby that much more "real", but also that she wasn't perfectly safe was rough. But I don't want to live in fear, so I decided to be brave and started looking up baby names and nursery ideas anyway. We decided to try a week of progesterone (NOT taken orally, by the way) since that has been shown to help some women. We could only wait a week and find out how much it would help me.

So last Thursday was our appointment, and, thankfully, I decided to leave Jaina at a friend's house. We got all set up, the ultrasound technician brought up the picture, and I knew right away there wasn't as much left. She didn't even measure. It's kind of a blur, but I know she told the doctor there "couldn't be more than 6mm."

Half a centimeter between my tiny avacado-sized baby and the world she was nowhere near ready for.

Again, I was fuzzy, but instead of talking about when they would do the cerclage, there was some talk of "if". The doctor even did a visual internal check to make sure she couldn't see the amniotic sack.

They sent us to the hospital, and we had to stay in Labor and Delivery for an hour or two while they monitored me for possible contractions. Thankfully, there wasn't a peep from my uterus, so I could be moved to Antepartum on the much quieter and comfier Maternity floor.

Zach got Jaina situated with my parents and came back to spend the night with me. I watched about 10 episodes of Rehab Addict. I don't even like that show, she is so shrill. I didn't know quite where to put my brain. Should I be preparing myself to meet and say goodbye to my baby? Or should I be arming myself for battle in the OR tomorrow? There were tons of people praying for us, and the ladies in my mom's group sent me all these amazing messages of encouragement. I had to save them all for when I was pretty sure no doctors or nurses were coming since I completely lost it every time. I got a few little chunks of sleep, but not much.

In the morning they came to get me for another ultrasound. It was only a few doors down, and we walked on over. The picture came up, and it looked completely different from the day before. She took the measurement three times, and said she was confident my cervix measured at 1.3cm.

Double the day before.

That doesn't happen. Your body doesn't just regenerate like that. Not in a day.

I walked back to my room beaming. Sure 1.3cm is still teensy-tiny for a pregnant cervix, but it's something to work with. Zach and I hugged and cried and prayed for a while, then both furiously texted all the pertinent people with the good news. I felt so much more confident in the doctors and my body going into surgery now.

My team of doctors came in and congratulated me on the better measurements. Told me to "keep doing whatever I was doing", and that they were confident that they'd be able to get a good stitch in. I went in for the surgery at noon, legs were numb by 12:30, and the whole shebang was done by quarter-to-one. We got to go home that night, and now we'll do weekly checks.

Sit tight little baby. We don't need to meet you for a long time yet.

Thank you to everyone who helped us out and prayed for us. Thank you to everyone who's offered to watch Jaina during doctor's appointments cause I will be calling you. ; ) A big shout out to the nurses at York Hospital who mostly let me take care of myself and really treated me like "you got this, girl." I hope to not see any of you for at least four more months.

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble. 
Therefore, we will not fear though the earth gives way
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea.
Psalm 46:1-2


  1. Oh my goodness, Kara! I couldn't even imagine. That sounds terrifying. But hooray for your awesome body regenerating like that! I will be thinking of you and your second sweet baby girl

    1. Thanks, Sara! Excited for you to get to meet your little boy so soon, too!

  2. Kara, our Abba is sooo good! Praise Him for those few cm's!!