Josh and I found out in April of 2011 that we were expecting a baby due on December 29th. We found out in July that we were going to have a baby girl. The baby was perfectly healthy and everything seemed to be going well. But on Saturday, August 20th I started having abnormal contractions (painless, but too frequent to be normal). I went to the hospital twice that weekend where they checked everything out and things seemed to look normal. I had a follow up appointment with my doctor on Monday, again everything looked normal to her but she wanted me to have an ultrasound that would measure the length of my cervix. She expected it to be fine but just wanted to be safe.
My ultrasound was on Friday, August 26th and as the tech was getting all the measurements it became obvious that things were not fine. She was acting really strange and then she left the room saying that she had to deliver the results directly to the doctor. My doctor wanted to see me right away so I knew I was going to get bad news. When I got to her office she told me that my cervix was dangerously short. I didn't know what that meant but she explained that during pregnancy the length of the cervix should be 3-4 cm and mine had shortened down to 6 mm. At this point I was 22 weeks along. I had a previous ultrasound at 18 weeks that showed a cervix length of 3.1 cm. So in a matter of weeks my cervix had shortened down to almost nothing. This would put me at extremely high risk for delivering pre-term. My doctor told me that she didn't know how much time we had but felt that we would only have a couple of weeks or less until I delivered. At this point the baby would not survive but if I could hold out for a couple of weeks she would have a pretty good shot. She gave me a goal of 26 weeks. I was sent me home on strict bed rest and my doctor told me to call her if I was contracting at all. I noticed more contractions (still painless) as soon as I got home so I called and she had me go straight to the hospital.
My second day in the hospital I was visited by a maternal-fetal medicine doctor (doctor who deals with high-risk pregnancies). He explained everything that was going on with my body calling it incompetent cervix. Basically, the cervix is very weak and begins to shorten and dilate before the baby is ready to be born. I still had not dilated at all but with how short my cervix was it was inevitable that it eventually would. He told me that I would be kept in the hospital up until I delivered the baby. I could have gone into labor that day or in 2 months, I was a ticking time bomb. He gave me the same goal as my regular OB had, I needed to make it to 26 weeks. When things started to progress further, they would give me steroid shots which would help develop the baby's lungs among other things. He said babies who get these shots often have better outcomes.
They had a neonatologist (doctor specializing in ill or premature infants) come discuss. Still 22 weeks pregnant, he told me at this point they would not even try to save the baby if she was born. 23 weeks is when they would do everything they could for the baby. However, if I delivered at 23 weeks the outlook would not be good. Survival rates are very low and long-term health problems in the baby would be likely if she did survive. At 24 and 25 weeks the survival rate is much better, around 70-80 percent. At 26 weeks the survival rate reaches over 90 percent. Just as my the other doctors had, he gave me an initial goal of 26 weeks. Each day that she stayed inside me her outcome would be better, with better chances of survival and lower rates of long-term health problems. I was seeing a trend, all my doctors said that even though the baby could possibly survive at 23, 24, or 25 weeks, what I really needed to get to was 26. He told me one other thing while he was there, that I was lucky to be having a baby girl. He said that for whatever reason they do much better than boys. That in combination with the steroid shots would give her a better chance.
And so we waited. They would only check my cervix every 2 weeks, any more than that and they would worry about disturbing it or introducing infection. I had finally hit 24 weeks when my doctor checked my cervix and found I was now 2 cm dilated. This was not good news. It meant I was even closer to delivering. At this point they gave me the steroids. And so we waited some more. Finally, I had reached the goal. I was 26 weeks. It was time for another cervix check and we got some unexpected news. My cervix was still only 2 cm. It was amazing that I had not progressed at all in 2 weeks. This was cause for optimism that I would make it weeks and weeks to come. We were now talking about making it to 30 weeks, when again, outcomes would be much better for the baby.
Unfortunately, very soon things took a turn for the worse. We got the good news about my cervix on Thursday and by late Friday night I was starting to have painful contractions. This was an indication that I was going into active labor. They gave me a drug called procardia to try and stop contractions. It helped only a little bit and I was able to fall asleep for a couple of hours. I woke up at around 7 in the morning on Saturday and was in full blown labor. The contractions were about 2 minutes apart and very painful. They tried using more procardia to stop them but it didn't work. They tried another drug called magnesium sulfate. This was the end-all be-all, the very last resort. If it didn't work I would be having a baby. Through the magnesium sulfate my contractions were getting stronger and more frequent. I was dilating very fast and the baby was breech so she could not be delivered vaginally. When it became clear the magnesium sulfate was not working I was taken for an emergency c-section.
Cameron Jane was born on September 24, 2011 at 26 weeks 2 days. She was 2 pounds 2 ounces and absolutely perfect, a little small but perfect. Laying on the operating table knowing they were taking my baby out of me 14 weeks too early was the worst feeling in the world, seeing her beautiful face a few minutes later was the best. They put her on the breathing machine right there in the operating room and then brought her over to me. Josh and I got to see her for a little bit before they wheeled her off to the NICU. We knew two things, the NICU would be her home for at least the next 3 months and that it would be a roller coaster. We had already been through so much, but the journey was really only just beginning.
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