My Cerclage

In September 2005, I was pregnant with twin girls. I lost my pregnancy at 19 weeks apparently due to my "incompetent cervix." I became pregnant again and wrote all about it on this blog. I now have a wonderful son. Since bed rest, anxiety and cerclage were so much fun, I've decided to do it all again.....

Monday, June 26, 2006

Bed Rest?

My mother arrived on Wednesday last week. Thursday we went out to lunch and to a pedicure. Hallelujah! My cerclage was placed on Feb 16th, and it was at least a few weeks before that I had my last pedicure. My toes look so fat and pretty now! I am ecstatic! Friday, Mom and I drove to Sonoma and met my godmother for lunch. My husband arrived Friday night. I walked from pool to house to pool several times. Saturday, I went into town to have coffee. Sunday, back into town for coffee and a 1 block walk from coffee shop to bakery for dessert. Sunday afternoon drive home. That means I went out 4 days in a row, 5 including today’s ultrasound.

It is amazing up there. My godparents purchased a beautiful property about 200 years ago (at least the early 80's) that they have made into a paradise (see picture of pool and house in background). They converted their pool house into a gorgeous bedroom where my husband and I slept, away from any worry of waking people with my stomping up and down peeing all night, and where we could leave the doors open (not the screen doors!) and listen to crickets and birds and feel the country love. I can't really do the property or the weekend justice, so I am going to stop trying to describe it except to say that it was amazing, restorative and beautiful.

I was so worried for today's ultrasound, though. So so worried because throughout these last few days of “Bed rest? Who me?" I was still suffering multiple BH contractions and thought I was feeling some other pressure "down there" which made me sure that today would mean not so good news on the cervix front. I am glad to report that my intuition sucks because my cervix is back to 3.8cm and no funneling!! I don't know what that means for intuition when I'll need it most as a parent, but oh to know that I was more active than I had been my entire pregnancy and things improved? I'll take that. I will take that anytime.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Braxton Hicks

I am amazed at my ability to find and feel stress. This week I am feeling angry at John Braxton Hicks, the English doctor who first described the painless contractions in 1872 (named for him) that I am experiencing all week. Braxton Hicks contractions are totally common in pregnancy, and usually don't indicate anything negative unless they are happening very frequently, have a pattern and/or have pain associated with them. However, they are contractions and I was clueless about their existence in my body (they can be subtle) until our appointment on Monday where Peri noted I was having a contraction after I confidently jumped up on the exam table. I said, "really?" and she said "feel" and then I felt my tight tummy. A minute later she had me feel again, and the tummy was all soft. She appeared unconcerned about the contraction event and gave me the guidelines for normal contractions verses going into labor contractions. After my lesson, I now recognize that I have these Braxton Hicks Not enough to change my guidelines into pre-term labor contractions, but still.

Every online description of them starts out totally, "oh! It’s so normal!" But then the description always finishes with caviates indicating all sorts of things that could possibly apply to me: if you are before 37 weeks you never can be too careful so if you are unsure call in and usually they don't cause cervical change, but if you have a lot they CAN cause cervical change then it is pre-term labor. I am surely at risk for cervical change, and with my bitchy non-working stitches, I don’t like to consider that possibility. Now every time a ligament stretches I wonder, is that pain with my contraction? How do I know if they are causing cervical change?

This is mostly causing me anxiety because of my big trip that will take me an hour and a half out of the city this weekend. I was so happy to be up and about more, but now with all my damn contractions, I am back on the couch all day fearfully grabbing my belly and gazing like a scared rodent (I don't know why that is the image that comes to mind, but there you go)at whoever interacts with me.

Am I being dramatic? Quite possibly yes, I think. Since my lesson in recognizing them, I realize they have been there for a while and I just didn't know that John Braxton Hicks had named them so I thought they were just called "being pregnant." Knowing that they have been there, and that I haven't really had cervical change I should feel fine. But I like to ruin a good thing. I was just going to be fancy free “oooh la la look at me in the wine country,” and now I am trying to figure out how to make my newest anxiety stay small so it doesn’t take up too much room on my big trip.

The good new is that I am 31 weeks tomorrow, and every second baby is warm inside is another day towards safety.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Chugging Along....

I am finally inspired to post again. I didn't feel like it for a few days, for no good reason. No inspiration I guess. I started wondering, what if I don't feel like posting EVER again? What if that was my last post?? That didn’t sit well, so thankfully I waited it out, and sure enough, some thoughts have come percolating back. I am still not fully feeling the blog vibe, but I am committed to this thing, at least until I get through the pregnancy. I am hoping it is a good sign I haven't needed to vent as much because everything appears to be going well. I feel a little bad for neglecting it (you see? This is who I am. I am feeling GUILTY for neglecting my BLOG, which is theoretically NOT supposed to be able to cause guilt since it is not even alive).

Last week on Monday I had my ultrasound and then I went out for coffee. Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday I stayed down (sort of) keeping my bed rest recommitment vow in mind. Thursday night, I went crazy (scene: husband petting my shoulder while desperately saying “Okay! Okay! Don’t cry. Let’s go out to lunch tomorrow.”)seemingly reacting to the reality of a long 3 days indoors. Friday we went out in part to get me out of the house, and in part to celebrate 30 weeks of successful cooking. Then I stayed down on Sat (again, it seems I have a new definition of what that means. It evidently involves doing dishes, pacing while on the phone and cooking a bit) and yesterday--God bless yesterday. My husband sprung me for a drive into Marin to Muir Beach.

This excursion involved driving 30 minutes over the Golden Gate Bridge and through the beautiful Headlands. We parked and walked from the parking lot to the beach (a pathway), and then to our specific spot on the beach (another 100 yards) and then up to the water a few times to have the cold Pacific blissfully cool off my feet. It was heaven! It was the kind of day to make me remember why I love where I live. The blue ocean, sky and the Marin Headlands surrounding us made me appreciate Northern California like I haven’t in a while. We sat on a blanket, had a picnic, used suntan lotion and read the paper. If there is a silver lining to bed rest, it’s that I have renewed appreciation for wonderful daily luxuries--like dipping ones feet in the ocean on a hot day. Sometimes I am astounded by how much I took for granted before.

No ultrasound today, but an OB appointment that went well. My peri is practically a girlish giggling teenager she is so pleased with my progress. I am continually floored by this version of her, which I still suspect is a zombie clone of my original perinatalogist, who had a decidedly less optimistic approach. She was totally fine with the beach excursion. I even tried to be honest about my house activity and she didn’t blink. She also scheduled my cerclage removal date for 36 weeks and she said by 34 weeks that I can have normal activity as long as I am not feeling contractions. That is just 3 ½ weeks from now!!! The contractions at that point are only worrisome in that the stitch is still in and she doesn't want it to tear the beloved cervix. This is all wonderful, but the most exciting thing has yet to be written.

The most exciting thing is that she has given me permission to spend this weekend away. My mother is visiting and my godparents own a beautiful house in the wine country where we will all go and lounge in the sun and get fed. Again, it’s the little luxuries. The walls of my home are closing in, and I can’t think of a better time for a change in scenery.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Ain't Misbehaving Cervix

On Sunday morning, I woke up early, too early with a nasty menstrual cramp. Then I thought, whoa. How can I be having a menstrual cramp? I sat there for about 20 minutes, feeling what I thought were waves of cramps. I woke up my husband and called L&D to see what they thought. They said to come in and get it checked out. So we did. As I was getting in the car I understood it had been at least 15 minutes with no cramping at all and was starting to feel a little silly about the whole thing. But in we went. Thankfully, they saw no contractions on the monitor (although I had stopped feeling them at that point so who knows), a long cervix (3.6) and a good strong heartbeat. We ended up having a wonderful morning. Because we were already out and about, we celebrated by going to brunch at one of our favorite places. I was so happy to be out of the house experiencing a Sunday brunch crowd that I wondered if my “contractions” were all part of a subconscious plan to get myself to brunch in the first place.

Yesterday—that’s right, no need to cancel regular ultrasound just because I had one in the hospital the day before. Another opportunity to go outside is never worth tampering with!Yesterday showed similar cervix information. They thought no funneling (I still saw a little) and cervix of 3.3. The whole cervical length thing really does seem to depend on who is measuring it. But still, we are in the same range so I am feeling fine. All this good cervical information is no good for my bed rest behavior because I have practically been exercising I am up so much, and now, with no changes, I fear that tango lessons will start in my living room soon.

Then there are my other bodily issues. Not the ones I usually moan and groan about regarding my bed rest discomfort. These body issues are along the lines of "fat girl issues." I feel like a walrus! A beached whale! I am huge!! I see double when I look at my chin! I am gaining too much weight and without any movement, I just feel like crap. Not to mention that I am growing out of my second set of pregnancy bras. The boob situation is out of control. So, all that said, a little movement feels like the right thing. Except there is that pre-term labor issue prickling the back of my conscience. There is that. Pre-term labor is pretty compelling reason to halt pacing between couch and kitchen. Right. I am hereby recommitted to bed rest. I mean it! I can tell you doubt me but I mean it.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Public Service Announcement

I noticed the other day that I have received more comments from outside blogs than usual. For the most part, I receive comments from blogs I link too and comment on regularly. When I saw comments from blogs I didn’t recognize, I wondered how they got to me (not that I mind—I am pleased to have the attention). So I did a Google search of the word "cerclage" and found that this blog is the 7th site that comes up!! It is strange, but nice too. Really though, I can't help but wonder if all the women searching for information on cerclage and IC are that thrilled to instead find my rants and raves from the couch. I personally find it upsetting that there is so little information on IC on the web that my blog should come up under a Google search at all.

As a result, I am feeling obligated to write a little public service announcement about a real site that actually gives information on IC. It is a support forum, but there are great links to more information and the ladies on the site do know their stuff. I have been known to rant about online forums on this site, but really, truly, I have come around. They do much more good then harm. Here’s the site:

Okay, enough public service. Isn't this my whiny blog to talk about myself?? On Monday it will be two weeks since my last cervix check. I like it in that I didn't have to gear up, afraid of what to find this last Monday. But I did not relish that after going weekly for so long it seems like a long time in between cervix checks. I have spent the last week imaging all the possible horrible issues, which makes the positive aspects of less monitoring somewhat…ineffective. I guess I find a way to be anxious no matter how it works. My anxiety isn't helped by how much cheating I am doing with the bedrest. I have started making myself meals, wondering around the house way too much and I even loaded and emptied the dishwasher the other day. If anything has changed for the worse on Monday, I currently imagine I only have myself to blame.

I am 29 weeks and for some reason it is one of the slow weeks. It seems all my weeks either go by fairly quickly, or they feel super slow. It is always the ones I think will take forever, like 27 to 28 or 19 to 20 that actually move quickly. The ones I think will be no-brainers take their time, like week 20, and now, week 29. I wonder what that is all about....

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Do You Doula?

The doula-yoga-teaching-massage-giving Guru met with me and my husband today to discuss possible doula services for delivery. I am surprised that Guru has showed up in so many posts, but I find her sort of fascinating. Maybe it is because I can be a little cynical and conventional and find myself wanting to be really sarcastic when she talks about my "journey" and bringing my baby into the world with "love and beauty." This makes her challenging and therefore interesting to me. I admit that she has been quite lovely for me throughout my pregnancy. I feel very connected to her, and I truly feel like she saved my life when Peri was at the height of completely freaking me out. She saved me precisely with what I am all scoffing about--her Eastern medicine "trust your baby to know when to come into the world" self. The massage and the yoga are the only healing things I have done for my body this whole time, and investing in that during bed rest had become wonderful and necessary for me.

I did the research and there are a lot of good reasons to have a doula. There are A LOT of good reasons that make perfect sense (no time to get into them all). And Guru would do a great job. But here is my issue with her. She is very into her whole philosophy, which appears to involve sentiments along the lines of: hospitals=bad and unnatural and natural childbirth at home(no meds)=good and the way it should be. Now she knows this isn't a realistic way of providing services, so she talks a lot about how to make the hospital “like home” and insists she has no judgment about an epidural and even says there are sometimes that she advocates for c-sections. The problem is that I don’t believe her. I think no matter what she says she has a natural childbirth agenda and would cluck with approval if I committed to that. I don't want to feel judged when I ask for the epidural--which I am pretty sure is going to happen, and I know myself well enough that my worries over her agenda would stress me out.

Also, there is this whole "advocacy" thing. She feels that part of care in hospitals means doing delivery to make it easier on hospital staff (e.g. give an IV for fluid instead of helping the mom to drink)instead of what is best for mom and baby. Guru indicates she can be my advocate in these situations.

Since I work at the hospital where I am delivering, even having covered L&D as a social worker many times, I have to say that the professionals--especially the nurses—there are totally fantastic. I don't feel they're my adversaries. I delivered at this hospital already in the worst circumstances, and everyone was as nurturing as can be. I had my cerclage placed there, and I work there. Maybe if I wasn't so familiar with the place I would need Guru more. But my husband and I agree. He will do as the doula. She will do as the masseuse!

I can’t believe I just wrote a whole post that assumes I will have a normal birth:)

Monday, June 05, 2006

Peri Knows Best

I broke the laptop. Literally. I broke the hardware, I have been without laptop for a few days while it is off getting fixed. It totally bites. I am only online periodically when husband takes a break from work and I risk the time sitting at the desk. blogging is also temporarily truncated. Except that nothing can keep me down (except months of bedrest, but I meant it figuratively)! Here I am, determined to post.

No ultrasound today. I am officially far enough along that peri said she thought I could go every two weeks for the next two, and after that, I might not have anymore until 34 weeks or so. On one hand it makes me nervous, on the other hand it is nice to take a break from all the monitoring. She said there are no more interventions besides steroid shots and anti contraction meds, so, I will simply pay attention to possible contractions and keep up the bedrest (which I am finding harder and harder to do and notice that I often float around the house before chastising myself that it is not house arrest, it is bedrest!)

We did have a regular OB appointment today. I am now 28 1/2 weeks with a pretty long cervix (despite minor funnel) according to last weeks ultrasound. Peri and I squared off with my usual question about my activity level. And as predicted, I not allowed more acitivity. Actually, that's not true. She did say that she thought I could go out maybe once a week for limited period of time, no standing, no walking--except from car to wherever I am going. No outings in the evening because apparently that's when contractions are more likely to happen. She is so sneaky. She tells me that my life on the couch is much the same, but continues to floor me with questions that infer she thinks all will be fine. This time she asked about a baby shower (probably not going to happen until after delivery--its sort of cultural for my husband and sort of a weird superstition from previous experience), baby classes ("they are important!! Sign up for about 3 weeks from now!!") extra support for both of us for after delivery (multiple parents chomping at the bit and causing many, many discussions at home). These questions make me so pleased that I am being treated with such confidence I will carry to term, I forget to push my agenda and leave in much the same bedrest situation I arrived. I have two weeks until we meet again. Peri will not knock me away from my goal so easily next time!

In typical "always want more" fashion, I am truly thrilled to reach 28 weeks, but I basked in that knowledge for maybe 5 minutes before I started on the "32 weeks is really much better." So....I am still giving the cervix and baby good vibes, and lying about like a beached whale while I await the next milestone and the next visit with ultrasound the machine and the peri.