Our second child, also a boy, began his story far sooner than anyone
expected in 2005. My husband and I had been trying for a second child
for nearly five years before we finally received the news that we were
going to have another baby. We had worries, like many parents-to-be and
yet we felt more secure in the fact that we already had one child who
was seven years old and we didn’t do too badly with him.
Having a second child felt more relaxing, we knew what to expect. We
knew I would spend nearly every day of my pregnancy locked in a bathroom
with all day sickness. In fact we designated one bathroom as mine and
mine alone. We knew that I would crave Taco Bell and coffee ice cream
(Wait…I crave coffee ice cream all the time!) and we knew that my second
pregnancy would be a breeze.
We were wrong. Very wrong.
My doctor considered me a high risk from the
beginning due to preeclampsia in my first pregnancy and some minor
bleeding in both pregnancies. I was monitored closely from the beginning
but I never expected what would come next the night I felt a bit odd.
And that’s how it began. Just an odd feeling going through my body. I
wasn’t in pain, I wasn’t cramping, I just felt weird. My husband decided
to call the doctor to see if we should be concerned, and after a few
questions, the doctor on call decided to send me over to the hospital
just to be sure everything was okay. We were sent to the maternity
emergency room (Yes, the hospital had a special emergency room just for
expectant mothers.) where two interns greeted us and got me settled in a
room. They knew we were on our way and had everything ready. At this
point everyone still felt the same thing, that it was nothing but some
lingering side effects from the morning sickness.
Fast forward to the exam (Mainly because I don’t want to bore you with
details about undressing and such.) and the two interns who looked
positively stunned at what they saw on the ultrasound. Now, let me
preface this by stating that I was almost at 24 weeks gestation at that
point, this is an important fact to remember. I think I would describe
the look on each of their faces as one that went from jovial to complete
and utter shock. They stammered trying to explain that something was
going on and that they needed to call my doctor to see what the next
step would be. The poor kids must have run into each other a couple of
times before both made it out of the room, each of them taking off in
One of them came back in and tried his best to explain that the baby was
head down in the birth position and the cervix was opening, but that
the doctor would explain it in further detail. In the meantime nurses
came in and began IVs, placed monitors on my tummy, and all the other
things that needed to be done before the doctor arrived. It seemed like
hours had passed, when in reality it had only been about 30 minutes by
the time the doctor arrived. What came next jolted us from a stunned and
catatonic state into a state of sheer panic, disbelief and fear.
My doctor informed of us what was happening. My cervix was funneling as
they called it, think of it like a tornado, wider at the top and
narrower at the bottom. The baby was head down and the top of his head
was already entering the opening at the top of the cervix. If that was
allowed to happen there would be an almost zero chance of survival. I
believe the exact percentage was a .5-1% chance of survival. They set me
up in a private room on level IV bed rest, the highest level of
restriction. I couldn’t get out of bed for anything, and for that first
night the doctor decided to use gravity to help keep the baby in. She
literally had my bed tilted so that my head was down, my feet up and we
prayed that gravity took care of the rest.
Over the next few days my doctor worked hand in hand with a
perinatologist, who suggested using a common procedure in a radical
manner. All of us sat down together and we decided the best course of
action would be for the perinatologist to place a cervical cerclage,
despite it being too late for one under normal circumstances and then
complete bed rest for the duration of my pregnancy. The cervical
cerclage was a true Hail Mary as the perinatologist had never placed one
later than 22 weeks and I was at the 24 week mark, in fact, he knew of
no other physician who had used one so late in the gestation period. My
husband and I decided to give the go ahead knowing that we had to do
everything possible to keep the baby inside for just a bit longer.
I remained in the hospital for a couple of months, leaving for a short
time to go home for a couple of days before coming right back to the
hospital due to my water breaking. Now, normally water breaking means
the baby is born. They go hand in hand like macaroni and cheese, peanut
butter and jelly…you get the idea. However, things worked out a bit
different and I never went into labor. They removed the cerclage not
long after and again, the labor never came even though it should have.
The baby was doing fine so the doctors (by this time I had a team of
doctors) felt the best choice was to let nature do its thing.
I should mention that I was pumped full of antibiotics and more
importantly, steroids during the few months leading up to my labor and
delivery. What is the significance in steroids? Please allow me to
explain. In 2005 there were studies being conducted on the use of
steroids in high risk pregnancies to help speed up the development and
help strengthen the lungs in the baby. The team of doctors (My OB, the
Perinatologist, Neonatologist and so forth) decided on a radical
treatment, instead of one shot of steroids, they decided to administer a
shot per week through 32 weeks, should my pregnancy go that far. They
explained the risks, the long term effects and we had so many physicians
come in to speak with us about the regimen and what it would entail,
that we made our decision based not only on the information given to us
but also our hearts. We allowed them to administer the shots each week.
As I said, we would stop at nothing to ensure our little guy had a
fighting chance at surviving. The next couple of weeks after I returned
to the hospital were spent on strict bed rest until it was time for the
baby to be born. I will continue his story in the next posting.
Read The Rest: Part 2Part 3