17 weeks!

image17 weeks!

Week 17 of this high-risk pregnancy, and another great appointment yesterday! I’m still taking things week by week, but it’s encouraging to hear “your cervix is looking stable.” As many of you already know, I have uterus didelphys and had to have my cervix sewn shut at 19-20 weeks with my daughter Hannah.  So my doctors are watching me week by week, this time, to see if that happens again.  This was week two.

The benefit… I get to see my baby A LOT more than someone with a normal pregnancy.  And that’s really fun, especially when it’s moving around!

imageHead and 5 little fingers. 🙂 Hi there!

Plus, for the last couple of weeks I’ve actually been able to feel the baby move! Little flutters for now, but they are getting stronger.  And I LOVE it!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I’d feel if my cervix acted differently, and didn’t shorten so early this time around.  You don’t want to have surgery if you don’t need it.  But I’m also convinced that the cerclage kept Hannah in for 38 weeks.  I feel like I would constantly worry that this baby will come MUCH sooner or I’ll have to go on bed rest if I don’t get the cerclage this time around.  I, honestly, think I would be more stressed out. 

I’ll have to talk about these things with my doctor.  She’s very good at helping me to calm my fears. 

You see, in the end, I’m selfish.  If you have to go on bed rest, you have to go on bed rest.  It’s not the end of the world.  But I want the full 12 weeks of maternity leave with my new baby and family.  I don’t want it to get cut short because mommy was sick. 

2 more scheduled appointments left, and then we’ll see where we go from there.  We have until I’m 24 weeks along to put the cerclage in. 

P.S. Still wondering what we’re having?  I’ll tell you Friday. 😉

An eye opening experience

I know I have just started this blog, but I cannot tell you how much it has touched my heart to hear from so many of you! Whether it’s just to say you’re thinking about me and my family, or to share your own struggles.  It has created a sense of community, sympathy, empathy and love that I didn’t realize I would get when I thought about writing this.  So thank you.

I had an opportunity to tour Children’s hospital and their department for moms and newborns at my last doctor’s appointment.  The Colorado Institute for Maternal and Fetal Health is amazing. It includes a complete birthing room, lactation services and rooms for parents and their babies who need to stay for a while… all within a short distance from immediate care that your child may need.



imageSeriously, this bathroom is nicer than the ones in my own home!

imageHealthy mom can deliver her baby at children’s so their child can get the immediate care he/she needs.

So many things can happen during a pregnancy.  There can be problems with mom, problems with baby or problems with both. I feel blessed to know that my problems are with me.  I have no idea what it’s like for your tiny newborn to need immediate surgery.  It breaks my heart to think about the families that go through this.  I would much rather take any pain or issues upon myself than have my child go through that… as I’m sure is the case with ANY parent.

That being said, it makes me feel so much better knowing there is a facility out there that is prepared for these special cases.  On one floor a healthy mom can give birth to her child who may need immediate care.  That child will travel just a few feet for life saving treatment.  Families are taken care of, given rooms that house parent and baby so you’re rarely separated from your child.  And if dad needs a break, or family wants to hang out, comfortable rooms are available with refrigerators, televisions, you name it… so it feels more like home.

imageFamily/lounge room

imageComplete kitchen helps make this feel less far from home.

All of this is brand new.  Eventually, this summer or fall, they’ll open a new floor, separating in and outpatients, helping to divide the care.

I have friends whose children have needed care like this.  But I honestly never thought about the process it takes to get these babies that critical immediate care.  I have always been so conscious of everything that goes on when mom has problems.  This was truly an eye opening experience for me to see the other side of high risk pregnancies.

Children’s hospital allowed me to take some pictures… but for patients’ privacy kept my camera in my purse as we walked down the hall, past rooms containing parents and their children.

I can’t imagine my child needing care like this, and I hope we don’t end up at Children’s.   But if we do, I’m glad this place is nearby.

So far so good!

I was nervous for my first cervix measurement, but so far so good! The perinatologist said my length looks great at 3.4 cm, and the baby looks healthy! Woo hoo! My next appointment will be next week to see how everything is progressing. My uterus didelphys continues to keep them on their toes.

Meanwhile in my hand you see an envelope… 

My husband couldn’t make our ultrasound appointment today, so I was given strict instructions: I was NOT to find out what we were having if given the option. That is like telling a child not to stick their hands in the candy bowl while you’re not looking! But… I did good! …And we came up with a compromise. 

If they could confidently guess the baby’s gender, I would close and cover my eyes during that part of the ultrasound, the tech would write the answer on a piece of paper and put it in an envelope for us to open that night.

Well, I was given the option and let me tell you, that was, BY FAR, the most difficult thing I’ve had to do during an ultrasound. But I’m proud to say I didn’t cheat… as tempting as it was.

Funny enough, as the doctor held the sealed envelope in his hands and looked at my face, he decided that I clearly was not trustworthy, and a regular envelope wasn’t enough. So they double wrapped that picture in this solid, manila bad boy so I couldn’t look even if I wanted to.  Smart move doc… smart move… LOL.

Chris, Hannah and I all opened the envelopes together last night and were pleasantly, but skeptically surprised.  You see… at 16 weeks, they told us Hannah was a boy and we all know how that turned out.  So I put little stock in these early guesses.  I won’t even start to buy into any guesses until 20 weeks.  

That means this secret stays with us for now! Stay tuned for updates! I’ll be checking, double checking, triple checking… you get the picture… for a while. 

The plan

Caricature from Hearts of All Ages Fundraiser for Orthopedics Department at UCH

Because of my uterine anomaly, I go to the doctor more often than a normal pregnancy.  I’m at high-risk for some things, one being an incompetent cervix.

Next week we start weekly ultrasounds to measure my cervix.  Before my last pregnancy, I always associated cervix measurement with how dilated a pregnant woman was.  Not early in pregnancy (hopefully).  Right now, they’re measuring the length.  A great number is 3.5 – 4 cm.  This time around, for me, anything below 2.5 cm is unacceptable.  If it reaches that point I will have to go into surgery to sew my cervix shut.

Messing with ANY part of the uterus, when pregnant, is risky.  Often, women with an incompetent, or weak, cervix won’t know about their problem until it’s too late, and they lose the baby in the second trimester.  Some studies show that women with uterus didelphys are more likely to have an incompetent cervix, so my doctors take the proactive approach and start measuring for weakness early. Since one of my uteri is about half the size of a normal one, it’s logical to think my cervix would be weaker as well.   I’m lucky we’ve known about my condition for so long.

Unfortunately since it was my first pregnancy, I didn’t know how to recognize physical warning signs.  Some of my friends joked that I started waddling really early.  I honestly didn’t think it was a big deal.  But I was waddling because Hannah was sitting uncomfortably low, and that’s not normal.  I always shared with my doctors every ache and pain, including this feeling and was immediately told that whenever I felt that way, I was to tell them as soon as possible.

We had been measuring my cervix starting at 16 weeks, and since it had been fluctuating in length I was also not allowed to exercise.  For the remainder of my pregnancy I had to sit as much as possible… including at work.  That’s a problem when you stand in front of a weather wall most of the morning for your job!  But I was willing to take heat for it if it meant saving my baby.

In a short period of time my cervix length got slightly lower than 1.5 cm with funneling with Hannah.  Looking at the ultrasound, it looked like my cervix was starting to open at the point closest to the baby.  It’s a huge warning sign that you may go into labor REALLY early, and before 24 weeks, deliver a baby that the doctors can’t save.  My doctors quickly took me aside and explained to me my options… the risks/benefits of not having surgery and the risks/benefits of getting the cerclage.

I lived week by week while pregnant with Hannah.  As every week passed, I continued to have hope.   Surgery was a very scary thought with a helpless child involved, and, initially, I didn’t want to have it.

A cerclage is a controversial procedure for women with uterus didelphys.  But that’s because there haven’t been many, if any, studies done on the effects of a cerclage on people like me.  Does it really work? Is it worth the risk of surgery?  Well, I ended up having surgery around the 19 week mark with Hannah.  The same day we found out we were having a girl we made the tough decision to get my cervix sewn shut.

Here’s what I can tell you… the procedure is scary, and you’re awake the whole time, but my doctors were wonderfully professional and fun.  While my husband and I sat down to make our decision they drew us pictures and took as much time out of their day to help us understand what was going on.  The day of my surgery they did everything in their power to make me feel like I was getting the best care out there.

Because of the position of my cervixes, surgery took a bit longer than they expected, and afterwards you do get bleeding… a little is normal… all of which my doctors prepared me for.  Once I could feel the lower half of my body again, I could immediately tell Hannah wasn’t sitting as low.  I didn’t have to waddle anymore.  My cerclage instantly improved my cervix length.  And I know in my gut and in my heart that if it hadn’t been for that surgery Hannah would have come WAY too early.  My stitches came out at 37 weeks.  I instantly dilated to 3 cm, and one week later my water broke.

Now we enter down the same path.  My doctors and I decided to take a wait and see approach again because surgery is scary and risky and every pregnancy is different.  But this is the same uterus, the same side and odds are it will act the same way.  I feel more prepared… I know the warning signs… I know the risks… but I’m still nervous. I still live week by week.