Marcy is well-known to everyone in the Abbyloopers community. Here is the story of her beautifully imperfect TAC journey leading to her perfect TAC miracles (cross posted from Abbyloopers).
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Just to forewarn you all, my story is very long and complicated, lol. This is the very first time I’ve ever written it out. My “TAC journey” is not picture perfect, but it did result in my sweet boys. It begins with my 1st born son Joshua, back in 1998. It’s before I knew what a cervix was, and just how important and critical it is. I got pregnant with my first baby within 3 months of TTC, and assumed I’d have a normal pregnancy, like everyone else I knew had. Little did I know that my whole life would soon drastically change.
During the entire pregnancy, I had bright red bleeding and spotting. I saw my doctor several times, only to be blown off. At one point, the doctor filling in for him even went as far as to tell me that “my uterus had too much blood in it and this is why I was bleeding, to get it out of there.” I know, crazy! I knew that didn’t sound right, but it was my first pregnancy and I didn’t know any different. We didn’t have the internet as a resource back then.
So fast forward into 2nd trimester. In addition to all the bleeding and spotting, I was also having knife-like stabbing pains in my abdomen. This happened every day and would literally stop me in my tracks for a few minutes each time it happened. I told my doctor about it, but again was blown off. Later, I would find out that this was all due to my placenta slowly abrupting.
After my first ultrasound scan at 20 weeks, I decided to switch doctors. I didn’t feel like I was being taken seriously with my pregnancy. Just 2 weeks later at 22+0 weeks, I woke up with what seemed like a full-on period. It scared me to death, I knew something was very wrong! I called my new OB. He said to come in immediately. Of course the weather was bad. I had to clear the mountain of snow off my car and get gas on the way (I was on empty with the light on). Then once at the hospital, the only parking spot I could find was in the very back of the lot, so I had to walk quite a ways to get there. When it rains, it pours. Finally, at my new OB’s office, he examined me. A look of panic and shock came over his face. He told me that I was dilated between 6-7cm, with membranes bulging through. I thought he was joking, but he said he was not.
They rushed me into a room downstairs and started steroid shots for baby’s lungs right away, and also got an IV started. They also called my husband, and he sped from work (an hour away) as fast as he could to the hospital. A neonatologist from another hospital came to talk with us before we were ambulanced over there, where they had a Level III NICU. We were told it was too late to try to place an emergency cerclage. I had dilated too much. We were devastated. We were also told that our son had NO hope, that he would be born within the hour, and he would not survive. They even went so far as to tell us if he were born and they didn’t feel he could survive, they would not try to help him . . . even if we wanted them to help him. They also told us if by some miracle he did survive birth, then he would have a lot of problems. They gave him a 50% chance of possibly surviving birth, and only a 9% chance of surviving without big preemie issues. All I can say is thank the Lord that He intervened when the doctors had no more options and no good answers for us!
After I was ambulanced to the other hospital, they found that I had dilated the rest of the way to 10cm, just on the way there. No contractions, just cervix falling apart. They admitted me on SHB (bedpans, head down – feet up, etc.), put me on IV antibiotics to help protect me from infection, and they STOPPED the steroid shots for my son. They said the shots were not effective that early at just 22 weeks. I have to say looking back, I really appreciated my new OB’s response when everything fell apart. He didn’t know if the steroids would work that early or not, but told me if there was even the smallest chance that they would work, he would start them. So fast forward, at 24+0 weeks, the nurse came to check on me and found that I was hemmoraging. So even though I was still dilated to 10cm, it was off to the OR for an emergency c-section, classical incision since I was having him so prematurely. Amazingly and miraculously, my water-bag never broke, I never got ascending infection, my son DID survive, being born at 24+0 weeks, weighing 1 lb. 4 oz. and 12.5” long. God protected him and brought him through everything during his 3.5 month NICU stay. He went from being the sickest, most critical baby in the unit, to actually surviving and coming home! And he miraculously fell into that 9% of preemies who survive without big preemie issues! We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that our son is only here because of God bringing him through it all. My son Joshua is a healthy, strong 19-year-old young man today!
On to my 2nd pregnancy. We decided to start TTC 3 years later. We struggled with secondary infertility for over 3 years. After having a laparoscopy surgery to remove endometriosis / scar tissue / adhesions, we finally conceived! We were so thrilled! We really didn’t think it would ever happen again. My OB sent me to a high-risk perinatologist in town, and I was given a preventative McDonald transvaginal cerclage (TVC) at 12 weeks. After it was placed, the peri asked me if I had ever had surgery on my cervix before because it was very short and looked damaged. At that point, I had never had any surgery on my cervix, and my CL was 3.0cm. In spite of bedrest and P17 shots, I was funneled to my TVC by 15/16 weeks and was leaking amniotic fluid. Then at 19+3 weeks, I kept feeling like I had to have a BM, but nothing would come. This progressed into horrible back labor. My husband drove me to ER. He ended up carrying me in because the pain was so bad that I wasn’t able to walk. This was the beginning of our nightmare. Once examined, it was discovered that my TVC had failed, my water-bag had fallen halfway through, and I was dilated between 2–3cm, with pPROM and infection (chorioamnionitis). One of the nurses in the room had to excuse herself to go throw up. She left the room crying after seeing what was happening. She came back later and apologized. I wasn’t upset with her at all. We were all devastated. We tried to hang on with SHB and IV antibiotics. But by 20+3 weeks, all my amniotic fluid had finally leaked out completely, and I was bleeding due to the TVC tearing my cervix apart. We had to deliver him, there was no choice. It was an experience I can’t even put into words, just too deep . . . too much heartbreak and devastation. Our worlds were completely and utterly shattered. Our precious baby boy, Philip, was born at 20+3 weeks, and lived for 1hr 50min. We never got to see him alive, which haunts me most. We were told he passed away after he was born . . . he never even got his momma when he needed me the most. This was our little miracle baby that we had TTC for soooo long. Our son was finally going to get a little sibling to grow up with. But instead, we lost him and we were all left trying to pick up the pieces of our hearts. The hardest part of it was not knowing what happened, why my TVC failed, and why we lost our son. He was healthy and strong, so how in the world could this have happened?
Thankfully, 2 weeks after we buried our precious son, I found Abbyloopers on the internet. I had NO idea how much this would change our lives. I know this might sound silly, but I started reading all of the files, and following some of the girls’ TAC pregnancies, just waiting for them to get into their “critical CI weeks,” and wondering if they were going to lose their baby, like I had with my TVC. Oh my goodness, to my amazement, they stayed pregnant!! Their cervix did NOT give in. The TAC was actually holding strong and keeping them pregnant, and beyond those critical weeks! After I saw this happen over and over, I decided to set up a consult with a surgeon listed in the Doctor List.
At that time, I think Dr. Mason was the only TAC surgeon listed in Michigan. I consulted with him and he was so kind and compassionate. He reviewed all of my medical records. He agreed that my cervix was a mess. After examining it, he found that it was permanently dilated between 1-2cm in a NON pregnant state, and that half of my external cervix was missing and flush—badly damaged from my failed TVC. But he also wondered if I had more going on in addition to my cervix. Red flags for him were my placenta abruption with my 1st son, and then the pathology report with my 2nd son showing the placenta being all clotted up. After running many labs, he found that I had 2 clotting issues going on and said I would need to be on blood thinners for future pregnancies. I ended up also setting up a phone consult with Dr. Haney. After much confusion and feeling so torn emotionally, I finally decided to go to Chicago and have Dr. Haney do my TAC, pre-pregnancy. After making this decision, it was the 1st time in months that my husband and I felt peace in what we needed to do.
My TAC surgery went well, no complications. Dr. Haney also checked my tubes and for any possible endometriosis / adhesions, and everything was clear. My husband and I had decided that we would start TTC in 6 months following my TAC surgery, mostly because we were still grieving terribly. To be honest, we wanted another baby SO much, one to raise on this earth, but we really didn’t believe it could happen for us. We were looking at the TAC as a “safety net,” just in case we ever got pregnant again. And to our shock, we unexpectedly conceived just 6 weeks after my TAC surgery, with our 1st TAC baby!! It was a complete surprise, since we had struggled for so many years with secondary infertility. When I took the HPT, I remember we were both so focused on the “negative” window that neither one of us noticed the BFP staring us in the face, LOL.
The pregnancy, though complicated, went better than my other 2 pregnancies. I actually stayed pregnant through my “critical CI weeks” and ventured into UN-charted territory for the first time in my life! And even though my cervix shrank quite a bit at 18 weeks, my TAC held rock solid. I never funneled through it. Starting at 23/24 weeks, I began struggling with contractions. At this point, my MFM put me on tocolytics and moderate bedrest to try and help keep things calm. The contractions complicated things with my previous classical scar on my uterus. At 29+5 weeks, my MFM wanted me to come down for a “mag wash,” (magnesium sulfate) so I would be “re-sensitized” and hopefully start responding better to my tocolytics. When I arrived, my contractions kicked in out of nowhere, and were just minutes apart, so it became trying to stop them. After a combo of meds (and a round of steroids for baby’s lungs), the contractions finally stopped and I was sent home on tocolytics again. Just 2 weeks later, contractions got the better of me, minutes apart again, and my MFM decided to deliver my son. He was worried about possible uterine rupture with my scar, and the fact that I did not respond well to the magnesium sulfate last time. Ryan was born at 31+5 weeks, weighing 3 lbs. 10 oz. He spent 5.5 weeks in the NICU and did really well. He is a healthy, smart 12-year-old today.
Fast forward almost 7 years, and after having a 2nd lap surgery for endometriosis / adhesions, we had a surprise pregnancy. This was our 2nd TAC baby. I was 39 years old this time. It was a complicated and difficult pregnancy, mostly because of contractions—again. Only this time, they began earlier with a couple each day starting at 15 weeks. At 16 weeks, I funneled to the level of my TAC. I was really scared at first, but then, after messaging Dr. Haney and talking to my MFM about it, I felt better. They were not surprised and said they expected that to happen with true CI and that it only proved that I needed my TAC. As long as I didn’t funnel through my TAC, then I was in good shape! For the contractions, I was put on P17 shots again, and started on tocolytics at 20 weeks as needed, and was on moderate bedrest. By 23/24 weeks, contractions were pretty bad as I was having 2 an hour, almost every hour. In spite of all my contractions and my short cervix length (averaged 2.2cm but had measurements as low as 1.7cm), my TAC held rock solid for a 2nd time. I was given a round of steroids for baby’s lungs at 24 weeks this time, given my preterm delivery history.
At 30+5 weeks (on Christmas morning!), my contractions got really bad again. They came on quickly and were 3 minutes apart. My MFM admitted me to do a 2nd round of steroids for baby, and to put me on magnesium sulfate. He wanted to do the mag for the contractions, and also for baby – just in case baby came early (neuro-protection). My contractions slowed down significantly, so the plan was to keep me in the hospital to buy more time for baby. However, the next day, they decided to deliver baby because they found that he was having heart decels on the monitor and was not recovering well from them. This was the first time I had ever seen the look of panic on my MFM’s face. He told me that if they didn’t deliver baby now, we would lose him. They thought the cord was around his neck. We were so upset and so scared for our baby. So off to the OR we went. To my MFM’s surprise, once he had me opened up, he could see my son’s face through my uterus. It had become paper thin and I was on the brink of uterine rupture. And they also found that the heart decels were not due to the cord being around his neck. Instead my placenta was partially abrupting. My MFM thinks it was because I had an anterior placenta (on the front wall), and it had implanted on my classical scar. My little Roman was born at 30+6 weeks, weighing 3 lbs. 12 oz. He did really well in the NICU, and is a healthy little 4-year-old today.
I know my story may scare some people, and it’s definitely not “picture perfect.” But I know without a doubt that without the TAC, my last 2 miracles would not be here today. I’m so thankful to the Lord for leading me to Abbyloopers! It brought our wonderful Dr. Haney, the TAC, my amazing MFM, and my Abbysisters into our lives. And most importantly it helped us get our precious little miracles here. My oldest son was able to have the gift of getting 2 little siblings to grow up with. I will forever be thankful to Abbyloopers, for helping me through the most devastating time in my life when we lost our son, and for giving me hope in being able to possibly have another baby with the TAC.