This week’s story of strength is the first part of Polly’s experience with cervical insufficiency. Polly, like most of us, was blindsided by her incompetent cervix. Thank you for sharing, Polly.
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After 6 ½ years, the morning of February 2nd, 2012 would change our lives forever. We got our first positive pregnancy test. Excited as mess, I called Robby to rush home just to make sure I wasn’t seeing things! Coming home, I sprung the test on him. All he could do was smile, a smile that you could tell had fear in it. After confirming through a local place, we were on the hunt for an OB. Sadly the OB that we were using was too far for us to travel. So we decided to search for one where we lived. A friend I had met in school told me about this OB that was really good; she listened, and cared. Excited, I booked the first appointment. I wasn’t sure what to expect, as it was too early for an ultrasound. Instead all my levels were checked. My progesterone was low and dropping, my body was not producing enough. Easy fix, progesterone suppositories. The next appointment I was far enough along to finally get an ultrasound. I was so scared; what if there wasn’t a heartbeat? What if I was wrong? Thankfully there it was, a heartbeat. 152 bpm! Perfect! Things were perfect, no problems for the next few weeks.
Around 13/14 weeks I started having really bad back pains, bad enough that when one struck it literally brought me to the floor. I was not able to stand, I would fall every time. Going back to my OB, I explained what was going on. It was the first time she told me to stop being paranoid. This pain continued for another 2 weeks then magically stopped. At 17 weeks I started to spot red blood. Not a lot, but enough to notice on tissue. I called again, and again was told to stop being paranoid. All first time moms “see” things. After this I decided that since I was out of school I would take it easy. I just had a feeling that I needed to.
At my 20 week scan we discovered that we were having a boy. Gabriel would be his name. We were both so happy, that is what we were hoping for. We wanted the perfect family, a first born son then a second born girl. You know to have that big brother protection when she gets older. That was our dream, and this was the start of it! The next 6 weeks I rested, relaxed, didn’t do much of anything. At 26 weeks I woke up with the most intense pain I ever felt! I literally screamed waking my husband up from a deep sleep. It felt like something was ripping my insides apart. The pain did not let up until a few hours later. I again called my OB, told her exactly what happened. She told me it was normal to feel pain and that I needed to get used to it. But this kind of pain? Yes that kind of pain she told me. Stop being paranoid! After that I laid around even more. At 28 weeks 2 days I started to spot red again, and I started freaking out yet again. I call her, and again, “stop being paranoid! It’s probably from sex,” but I hadn’t had sex since 26 weeks after the pain I had. “Oh well you’re just stressed/paranoid for nothing.”
That Thursday night, at 28 weeks 3 days, I felt funny, just a feeling that was jerking me. This feeling wouldn’t go away, it just kept growing. I decided that night just to go to bed, maybe I am just being paranoid. I started to believe that I was being a pest, and I was paranoid enough to make myself feel/see these past things. I woke up around 1 am Friday morning hungry as normal. That feeling was still there, but I ignored it. After I drank some milk, I started to vomit. Why was I vomiting? My morning sickness stopped around 16 weeks. Every time I would vomit, that feeling got intense and I felt something weird. After about the 5th time, I decided to hell with my OB. I’m going to the hospital. So I woke Robby up and told him we gotta go now. On the way to the hospital that feeling, it grew so intense my anxiety started to rise. I was close to having an anxiety attack, even though I didn’t know what the feeling was.
After we arrived at the hospital, they wheeled me up to L&D. Since I was up walking, joking, cutting up, they didn’t check me right away. They went ahead and hooked my belly up to the contraction monitor, but no contractions were shown. They thought Gabriel was just swimming around, and that was the reason they couldn’t keep his heartbeat on the screen. It was actually an hour before they checked me. The nurse and I were joking about something keeping a smile on her face. She told me she had to check my cervix, that it was required, and that was fine by me. The smile on her face turned into the most lost, afraid look I’ve seen. After taking off her gloves, she literally ran out of the room. My heart sank, and I knew then that those feelings were telling me something was wrong with Gabriel. Oh my god, the first thought was he died. Next thing I know, a doctor and a slew of nurses rushed in. All talking to and over one another, next brought an ultrasound machine in. I couldn’t breathe; I just knew something was wrong. When I was able to hear his heartbeat on it, I could breathe again.
That is when we got the news, he was head down engaged in my birth canal, and I was 7 cm dilated fully effaced bag bulging out. There was no time left, he was coming that morning. My baby boy would be here within hours. NO I can’t believe this. He’s not ready, I’m not ready. They told me there was nothing they can do, I was too far along. The fear I felt before was nothing compared to what was in my heart then. After breaking my water, he told me they were putting me on Pitocin to speed things up. After it was started, a new OB walked in. It was my OB, the one who kept telling me I was paranoid. The one who made me feel like I was being a pest to them. She looked shocked that I was there. After everyone left, all I could do was cry. I cried for myself, I cried for Gabriel, I cried for Robby, I even cried for the nurse who said she was hungry! I was so upset, I was not ready for him to be out.
At 11:15am, Gabriel Aiden Marion Swafford was born at 2 pounds 10 ounces, 16 inches long. My perfect baby boy, but he wasn’t crying. I didn’t hear him, “what is wrong with him” I kept screaming. Why is he not making noise? He was rushed away shortly after, and I was wheeled into my room. I didn’t know if he survived, if he was alive or not. When I got into my room, the nurse would not tell me anything about Gabriel. She acted as if he didn’t exist. At 1 pm my OB came in to ask me what hospital I wanted to send him to. Finally at 2 pm, I got to see my son for the first time. After 3 hours, there he was. There was the baby that was growing inside me. He was so small, but oh he had some of the longest legs I’ve ever seen. The nurse and the lady from the hospital kept hounding me about paperwork. Every time I tried to look at him or ask about him, they would redirect my focus back into filling out form after form after form. Finally when I was done filling out forms they took him away. I wasn’t even fully introduced to him and they took him away! I begged them not to, just another 5 minutes. No they told me, that I can see him when I’m discharged out of the hospital. He was transferred 70 miles away from me.
That night was one of the worst nights of my life. Not knowing what was going on, not knowing what was wrong with him. The only reason I could sleep that night was narcotics. Finally it was sunlight, it was morning. Time to get out of here and haul butt to Tupelo! At first my OB refused, she wanted to keep me an extra day. I told her bluntly and rudely, either discharge me or I’m walking out. I WILL GO SEE MY SON! Finally she agreed, and I was discharged around 12 pm. We went home, packed what we could and left to Tupelo. When we got there a new set of fears came over me. What if he died over the night? What if he’s so sick that he won’t make it? Did I fail him? Why did my body fail him? So many questions came in my head as I walked through the lobby into the elevator. Second floor, NICU. A place I had never been, nor did I ever want to be. Front desk clerk said more paperwork before we went back there. Finally done signing our life away, he gave us the tour. Instructed on what we needed to do every visit, where we needed to go. He escorted us to his room. There he was . . . in a weird box looking thing. I was so scared to go into the room. Tears came pouring down violently. It was so hard to breathe, but I went in. There he was. My perfect baby boy.