Tag Archives: Dr. Davis

Stories of Strength: An Incredibly Strong Mama

The amazing mama who shared this story wanted to tell it anonymously. It’s such a horrible shame that she KNEW she needed a TAC and couldn’t get one because of her insurance. It’s a story I hear way too often. No parents should have to lose a child – let alone TWO children! – to satisfy their insurance. Thanks for telling your story, mama. I can’t wait to hear about your rainbow baby.

If you’d like to share your story, please send it and any pictures to tac.questions@gmail.com.

 

On April, 2008, my husband and I welcomed a healthy baby girl at 40+5 weeks. It had been a fairly easy pregnancy. I was induced and she was born eight hours after the induction. I refused an epidural until the pain became unbearable. At that point, I was told it was too late to get it. I got a dose of narcotics, but that didn’t help much. Though I had an episiotomy, baby turned her shoulders on her way out and tore my perineum. It took about a month to heal, but things got better with time. Five years later, we decided to try for baby number two. I had my Mirena IUD removed and I conceived that month. Everything had been going well except for a couple of episodes of unexplained spotting. I had also been having some pressure in my lower abdomen. Each and every check and ultra sound had shown that baby was fine, but that he was low lying. My cervix was also said to be friable; nothing serious.

However, on 7/15/13, I went for an anatomy scan and no sooner had she started the scan than I noticed her tense. She asked if I have fibroids; I said no. She asked if I was having contractions; I said I had been having Braxton Hicks Contractions on and off but that my OB had said it was normal. By this point, I was beginning to get worried. I mean, why all these questions? The tech kept asking me to change position and also kept pressing my tummy so hard it was somewhat painful. Eventually, she mentioned that the baby was very low. So low that she couldn’t get a good view of his toes. She soon excused herself and came back with Dr. White, Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM). He asked if I had been having any pain. I told him that I had spotting and bleeding 2 times in this pregnancy but ultrasounds showed that baby was fine. Each time, nevertheless, they didn’t check the cervix. 15 weeks was the 2nd ultra sound due to bleeding, and the tech had said that baby was fine. She did mention, however, that he lay a little low. Nothing to worry about. After that U/S, a nurse practitioner had done an internal check and said that my cervix seemed inflamed but also mentioned that some people just have a lot of blood during pregnancy. I told Dr. White that about two weeks after the nurse practitioner had checked me, I had started having some pain on my right hip and around my groin – right side only. They were about one to two minutes apart and about ten seconds long. They started about 10 pm and went on till the next afternoon. There was no bleeding / spotting. I called my OBGYN in the morning and she had no idea what that would be. She mentioned I may have kidney stones or round ligament pain, but asked me to give a urine sample to check for the kidney stones. I never heard from the doctor’s office, so I assumed that I was good to go.

Dr. White asked the tech to do a vaginal ultrasound. At that moment, Dr. White announced the bad news. My cervix was open. I was so naïve that I didn’t understand the implications of his news. He very gently explained that the cervix is supposed to remain closed until the baby is close to term. However, mine was already fully effaced and dilated at only 18 weeks. He said that this was very serious and that I would lose the baby as he wasn’t viable. He diagnosed me with an Incompetent Cervix and sent me to a hospital one hour away from home with hopes that I would be given an emergency cerclage. At the hospital, I was checked and was told that I was already 2cm dilated with bulging membranes. They kept me for observation. Luckily, I wasn’t having contractions. Later that night, one MFM came in to check me and she said that she might attempt a vaginal cerclage, but that she couldn’t do it that night. She said to wait until the next morning then the next doctor would do it for me.

The next morning, the MFM on duty checked me and said that he wouldn’t do anything at this point. It was too risky. My membranes had already been exposed to the vaginal bacteria for God knows how long. There was no way he was going to try to push back the membranes and attempt a suture. It was too late. I was definitely going to lose this baby. He told me to terminate the pregnancy or go home and wait for the baby to “fall out.” He tried to “console” me that I was still young and that I would be able to carry another baby to term with proper care. He even went ahead and narrated a story about a young woman who got a stitch after her membranes had bulged. How she got a bad infection that had her in the ICU for weeks before finally killing her. He said even if the infection didn’t kill me, it would definitely kill the baby and that I would possibly lose my uterus . . . meaning no more babies! I hated this doctor. I never ever wanted to see him again or be in the same room with him.

That midnight, my waters broke and the next day I was induced and delivered my sleeping son. He weighed 240 grams. He was so perfect and handsome. He looked just like his daddy. We were totally shattered. It’s as if our world came to an end. I had always heard of women miscarrying but I had never thought it would ever happen to me. I felt like a failure. My body had failed to do the one thing it was made to do. I felt so guilty. As if I had murdered our baby and destroyed my family. How could this be happening to us? Did we really deserve this? The MFM said that my next pregnancy would be high risk. That I would be followed closely and do a Trans Vaginal Cerclage (TVC) at around 16 weeks. We left the hospital empty handed and left our baby at the hospital, so cold and lonely.

I went back home and threw myself into research. I wanted to know what an Incompetent Cervix was. I wanted to know what my options were. I joined Facebook groups where I heard about other women who had been in my shoes. Though I felt relieved that I was not alone, the overwhelming sadness and guilt lingered. Through the Facebook group, I heard about Abbyloopers, an online group that advocates for a much better stitch than the TVC, the Trans Abdominal Cerclage (TAC). Needless to say, I joined Abbyloopers and delved into further research. As soon as I read about the TAC, how high it’s placed, its success rate, etc., I was sold. I immediately knew that a TAC was my antidote. I was going to get a TAC. I felt relieved and so very excited. Finally, I was going to have my rainbow. No bed rest needed. YAY!

A week after my loss, I saw my regular OBGYN. He told me he had no idea why my first pregnancy went well and this one didn’t. He also suggested doing a TVC at around 13 weeks of gestation and be closely monitored. He also mentioned possible bed rest. I told him I didn’t want a TVC. What I needed was a TAC. He was surprised I even knew what that was. He discouraged me saying it was overkill. It was too invasive, and that a TVC would work just as well. I wasn’t about to let him convince me otherwise. I had to get the TAC whether he liked it or not. He had no idea what I was going through, so to hell with him and his TVC ideas. I looked up a TAC doctor near me and found Dr. Ivar Einarsson at Brigham and Women’s. I scheduled a consult with him and I was so hopeful that this was it for me. Unfortunately, he told me that the kind of insurance I had would not cover the TAC until I tried a TVC and/or had a second loss. What? I almost went insane. How could this be? I was so sure I was going to get my TAC and now this man was telling me I couldn’t until I lost another baby! I called insurance but they refused to authorize a TAC saying it was not necessary at this point. I couldn’t afford to pay $20,000 out of pocket to pay this doctor. I also couldn’t afford the $5,000 needed to have this surgery done by Dr. Davis in New Jersey. This TAC route was looking bleak at this point. It was not going to be a possibility. We had run out of options. Due to this sad fact, my husband and I decided to try the TVC, our only option, and hope and pray for the best. Worst decision ever, needless to say!

In October, 2013, about three months after my loss, I got pregnant. Things started going downhill really early. I had bleeding at around 9 weeks. I went to the Emergency Room and baby was fine. My cervix was checked manually and it was said to be closed. That night, I had a lot of discharge that looked like my mucous plug. At this point, I was in the middle of changing OBGYN, so I had to wait about a week and a half to be seen by my new doctor. She checked my cervix and said that it was so low and open at the external os. She referred me to an MFM who was said to be the best at the area. The next day, I met this new MFM. Ultrasound showed that the cervix was indeed open at the external os but closed at the internal os. She also did a manual check and mentioned that my cervix was bad, that she could easily put a speculum through it. She put me out of work and on moderate bed rest until a week after my cerclage surgery. She also prescribed progesterone suppositories.

At exactly 13 weeks and one day, I had my TVC placed. I continued bed rest at home. A week after placement, I went in for my cervical length check and the doctor mentioned that she didn’t like how my cervix looked. It was tilted backward and she couldn’t see the cerclage too well. She told me not to go back to work until further notice. Each week I had vaginal ultrasounds, things kept looking better and better. My length was always between 4 and 5 cm. However, at 19 weeks, I was told that I was funneling past the stitch. I was given a pessary and put on hospital bed rest with bathroom privileges. Unfortunately, I continued funneling a week later and membranes budged. I was denied an emergency TVC due to slight fever; but was put on strict bed rest. The foot of my bed was elevated, trendelenburg position, and I had to eat, drink, pee, and poop in that position. I was miserable to say the least, but was very determined to do everything in my power to keep baby cooking. I religiously stayed in this position for about a week, but still, my membranes kept bulging to the point that I could feel them with my hand!

Unfortunately, my water broke and my pessary and cerclage had to be removed. My MFM explained that these were foreign objects and that she did not want to risk an infection. I was checked every few hours for infection. I was informed that as long as I did not develop an infection, then baby would stay in until 32 weeks. I had hopes. My doctor came in one morning and gave me important dates. Dates that included when steroids would be administered, when baby was viable, when baby would be 28 weeks, and finally, 32 weeks, delivery day. I was so hopeful. I prayed and prayed. Sadly, that same day, my cord prolapsed. The pregnancy had reached an end. I had to be induced. The next day, February 27, 2014 @ 21+4, we lost yet another perfect baby boy. We were beyond devastated, but then my husband and I decided not to lose hope; to look into the TAC once again.

I called up Dr. Einarsson, the TAC doctor I had met after my first loss and after consulting with him it was decided a TAC was my only option if I wanted to have more babies. My MFM was also 100% on board with this option. Luckily, or let me say ironically, my insurance covered my TAC, no questions asked. On 4/20/2014, while the Boston Marathon was taking place, I had my TAC done. It was bitter sweet that I finally had the one thing that I had needed from the word go. I felt relieved and hopeful that at last, our nightmare was at an end. My husband and I felt like we had another much safer chance at having our rainbow. We now have hope. Hope that eventually, we will put this TAC to work and that it will help us finally bring home a sweet and healthy, full term baby.

Stories of Strength: Tanesha’s Story

Tanesha’s story is so sadly familiar. After losing three beautiful babies, she’s got her TAC and is ready to try again. Thanks for sharing your experience, Tanesha.

If you’d like to share your story, please send it and any pictures to tac.questions@gmail.com.

I’m about 2 days post-op from my Dr. Davis pre-pregnancy TAC and decided to share my journey up to this point. I have not given up hope and I hope that you will not either. I’m 35 years old and I have 2 children from a prior marriage – a 16 year old daughter and 12 year old son. My husband and I married in January 2010. We conceived twin boys January 2013 on our 3 year wedding trip to NYC and were on top of the moon.

Vacation

Tanesha and her husband on vacation, when the twins were conceived.

At my 20 week anatomy scan it was discovered that my cervix was open and I had to be rushed to L&D. Long story short, I had an emergent cerclage, and since my membranes were already bulging, they then ruptured. After Pprom (preterm premature rupture of membranes) of baby A’s waters and 3.5 weeks on hospital bed rest, I had to deliver them due to infection and they were born too soon. After meeting with specialists and all, it was decided that due to my history, my issue was more related to the fact that I had twins and not my cervix. No one thought that I’d need a preventative cerclage and that it was more risky since it could cause infection. I would only have p17 (progesterone) shots and weekly cervical length checks.

Angels Tyler and Taylor

Tanesha’s beautiful boys, Tyler and Taylor. Photo by NowILayMeDownToSleep photographers.

Taylor and Tyler feet

Taylor’s and Tyler’s perfect tiny feet. Photo by NowILayMeDownToSleep photographers.

It didn’t take me long to get pregnant and I did so 4 months after my loss in October 2013, the same month my twin boys were due. I was so excited and thankful for another chance. I stayed positive. Had affirmations that I posted daily. I started a journal. I tried to drown out my fears with faith and hope. February 17th, I went and did a little shopping. When I got home I noticed some brown spotting. I was 17 weeks and had just had my first p17 injection about 5 days prior and my cervical length at that time was 5 cm. I decided to go to L&D as a precaution even though I felt that I was overreacting. Of course, as soon as I was checked out, the sonographer told me that my cervix was open and she could already see my baby girl’s hand. Heartbreak all over again! I had my baby girl within 24 hours and started the process of grief and disbelief all over again.

I started researching and found Dr. Davis and Dr. Haney. Since Dr. D was less than 2 hours away from me and I had such a good feeling about him I called, did a phone consult, and scheduled my appointment for a little more than 6 weeks from my loss. My husband had this week off already because my stepson is attending Duke this fall and on Monday we had to go down for Duke Blue Devil days in NC. Thankfully Dr. D had the same week open for my TAC. We went down on Thursday for pre-op. It took less than 2 hours and we checked into our hotel, the Hampton Inn on Blackhorse Road, before heading to his office since we were so early. The hospital rate for our stay was $99 and it was nice, clean, and in a good busy area with lots of restaurants. The hospital was about 5 minutes away and easy to find. Dr. D didn’t think we would get GPS coverage in our area, but we did and found it quickly. We used free valet parking and headed up to the 3rd floor for our appointment. We waited about 20 minutes and filled out some paperwork and Dr. D came and got us. We chatted, admired his collection of sodas, and I cracked up at his dry humor and multitasking skills. He asked me what I was going to have for my “last meal.” SMH. That didn’t help my nerves but it still cracked me up. He then walked us down to show us where to come in for surgery the next day. No food or drink after midnight. He gave us some restaurant suggestions and then we were free to go.

Fast forward to Friday. We checked in in the general same day surgery area around 11 am. Be prepared to wait an hour or 2 to actually go back for this part. I paid $100 copay and finally went back. The nurses were awesome in prepping me. They were really sweet and talked to me a lot. They were sweet even though my veins gave them problems (they give everyone problems). They went and got my husband and explained how everything would work, and then I finally went back around 2:30 or so for the surgery. I did not see Dr. D beforehand and I was knocked out almost immediately from general anesthesia. When I woke up, they wheeled me to recovery and I felt pretty good. I was not really loopy after getting to my room. I was a little hungry but not starving and I was on a liquid diet for 24 hours. My husband said that Dr. D came up to him and told him, “Piece of cake” and shook his hand. That was his post-surgery report in true Dr. D fashion. Lol. The next day after having the catheter removed I did some walking around, had a post-surgical ultrasound, and Dr. D gave me a summary of his reports and helped me with aftercare instructions. We then hit the road and came back home.

Post op selfie

Tanesha’s post-op selfie.

I am feeling a lot better than I thought I would. Besides having D&Cs after each loss, I had never had major surgery so I was pretty freaked out and worried. I felt in good hands and I am glad about my decision. I still have worries about conceiving after the TAC, etc., but I feel like this was necessary to move on. I’m 35 now and I would like to have to my rainbow as soon as possible. Dr. D gave us no restrictions. We can start TTC (trying to conceive) as soon as we feel up to it. I was actually ovulating when he did my ultrasound the day before the surgery (which I already knew) so hopefully things will stay intact and I will bounce back to my normal schedule soon. Sorry that this post was so long but I wanted to share my experience. Wish us luck on our new journey of TTC with the TAC and remember to stay strong and never give up on your dreams!

Thank you to Dr. D

Tanesha saying thank-you to Dr. Davis post-op.

The Big Three

Here’s the most basic contact information for the big three TAC doctors in the US. I’ll keep updating this post as I get new information. If you are specifically looking for a doctor in California, I keep a list of all of the doctors I know of who do TAC/TVCIC in the state, and everything I know about them. Email me at tac.questions@gmail.com for more information.

Arthur Haney
Pre-pregnancy and in-pregnancy TAC, placed traditionally (laparatomy, no laparoscopy)

Currently practicing in Chicago.

ahaney@babies.bsd.uchicago.edu

Center for Reproductive Medicine and Fertility
333 S. Desplaines Street
Suite 201
Chicago, IL 60661
Office: (773) 702-6127
Appointments: (773) 702-5161

The University of Chicago Medicine
5841 S. Maryland Avenue, MC 2050
Chicago, IL 60637

George Davis
Pre-pregnancy and in-pregnancy TAC, placed traditionally and laparoscopically via DaVinci robot; In-pregnancy TVCIC

Dr. Davis has retired, sadly, and is no longer practicing in either New Jersey or Tennessee.

askdrdavis@aol.com

 

 

James Sumners
Pre-pregnancy and in-pregnancy TAC, placed traditionally and laparoscopically via DaVinci robot; In-pregnancy TVCIC

Currently practicing in Indianapolis.

james_sumners@yahoo.com
FB: https://www.facebook.com/DrJamesSumners

Center for Prenatal Diagnosis
8081 Township Line Rd, Indianapolis, IN 46260
(317) 415-8070

Keep in mind, there are other very good surgeons who place the TAC and TVCIC. These three have the most experience of them all, but that doesn’t mean you have to see one of them. Also, please remember that all three of these surgeons are incredibly busy. I have no idea how they do all the work that they do, let alone have a life. They save hundreds of babies every year, so don’t get too frustrated if they don’t get back to you immediately, or even if you don’t get a response. It’s not because they don’t care. They care so much and they help such a huge number of women that sometimes emails or phone calls slip through the cracks. I promise you, they’re doing their best. If it’s critical that you reach them as soon as possible, usually calling is a better option.

Stories of Strength: Brittany’s Story

Brittany, whose cervical insufficiency was compounded by treatments for precancerous cells on her cervix, had her TAC placed as an emergency procedure late in her pregnancy. Unfortunately, the damage was already done. This is one way that a TAC can fail, and one option for how to proceed when it does. Thank you for sharing your story, Brittany. You’re a strong mama, and we wish you the very best.

If you’d like to share your story, please send it and any pictures to tac.questions@gmail.com.

My name is Brittany and this is my story. I was 19 when I found out I was pregnant and while I was happy to find out I was carrying twins, I also had found out I had pre-cancerous cells in my cervix. Due to a weak cervix, I had my twin boys at the gestational age of 24.5 weeks and they had to stay in the NICU for four months. I had to have two surgeries on my cervix and was only left with 9mm functional cervix and was told I am lucky to already have my kids.

Fast forward to 2013, my husband and I wanted to try for another baby because our kiddos are now 5. Remembering what the other doctors said about my cervix, I told my new doctor I would need a cerclage done. I was about 6-8 weeks pregnant when I started to have some bleeding on and off but my cervix was still shut. But I kept insisting bleeding is not normal and my cervix is barely there . . . Unfortunately, at 15 weeks I went into full on labor and that’s when the military doctors FINALLY believed me and my cervical issues. So they rushed me to a hospital in Savannah, GA. I stayed there over night and all contractions stopped. We were referred to Dr. Davis but had to drive up to NJ to be seen for the TAC (trans-abdominal cerclage). Two other doctors said I was too far along to have it done, but Dr. Davis had hope as long as we could get there.

We made it up there and had an amazing surgery. I got to see my baby, got the TAC, and Dr. Davis was amazed at how well it had gone. I went from 9mm to 3cm. He told me it looked great but we weren’t out of the woods yet. Mind you I had been bleeding and while Dr. Davis was doing my TAC, he couldn’t see why I was bleeding/clotting. Sadly, at 18 weeks my waters ruptured which is known as PPROM (preterm premature rupture of the membranes). The TAC did not fail – my cervix never opened – but since I was bleeding, the blood was like sandpaper and tore my membranes. I was told to abort our baby, but I had faith and had heard so many stories of fellow ladies going through the same thing, so I chose to be on strict bed rest. But, on week 19+6 I went into labor and had to go to the hospital. Since my daughter was not at a gestational age where she could survive, Dr. Davis told my doctor to just go in and cut the TAC instead of having a c-section since a c-section would further damage my uterus. I delivered the next day at 20 weeks. The nylon “string” he used is still around my cervix. I am currently trying to see Dr. Davis again to have it removed and get a pre-pregnancy TAC to eventually try again one day for our rainbow baby. It is not a guaranteed fix but I know it will hopefully help get me to a gestational age of a healthy baby. I hope my story can help in some way or give information on some questions you may have. Thank you for reading my story. Please keep your fingers crossed for us that everything goes well in the future and we get our rainbow we so desperately want.

My TAC Experience

If you have questions, or would like to contact me privately, please email tac.questions@gmail.com.

Well it turns out that it’s difficult to do things like write blog posts with a new baby. There are people who are much better at it than I am, but the fact is that I’m not very good at it. It’s hard enough to stay on top of the house work when I just want to spend all day cuddling my little boy. I thought my next blog post would be a picture-heavy run-through of William’s first several weeks, but instead it’s going to be about how he got here. No no, not that, get your mind out of the gutter.

If you’ve already lost interest, that’s fine. This is really for all the women who find this blog looking for information about incompetent cervix and the Transabdominal Cerclage (TAC). This is my experience with the TAC surgery and how it’s held up since. But I have to start at the beginning. Feel free to skim – as you know, I’m a talker.

The day that Lucy died, as we were driving home from Bakersfield, David and I looked at each other through our shock and grief and agreed that we’d still like another child. This may not seem like a big deal, but you can’t understand what that decision feels like right after you’ve lost your baby (unless, of course, you’ve lost your baby, in which case I’m so sorry and I’m sure you do understand). But we knew even then that we wanted Lucy to have a little brother or sister, as she would have had she lived. So it didn’t take long – maybe a few weeks – for me to start researching my condition. It was easier for me to start than it is for many women, because the doctor who delivered Lucy had diagnosed me with incompetent cervix. This, unfortunately, is not the case for the majority of women who lose a child to IC. Doctors are reluctant to diagnose IC as it is not a straightforward or easy diagnosis. Sadly, this sometimes means a woman will lose more than one baby before she figures out what the problem is. As I said, this was not the case for me, so a few weeks after Lucy’s memorial service I sat at my computer googling “incompetent cervix.” It didn’t take me long to find the most common solution, which is what my doctors had suggested for next time – the simple TVC (transvaginal cerclage). I then found a group of women who had taken it one step further with the TAC. I won’t get into all the differences and pros and cons here. If you’d like to read about that, I wrote about it here.

After reading the posts of the Abbyloopers (on the web here and on Facebook here) women for a week or so and researching the TAC extensively, David and I decided it was the only way for us to go. If we were going to try to have another baby, we were going to give it the best chance we could. I contacted Dr. Davis in New Jersey and Dr. Haney in Chicago. They, along with Dr. Sumners in Indianapolis are the experts on the TAC in the US, and perform the most surgeries in the US as far as I know (although rumor has it Dr. Davis is nearing his retirement). I discussed my case with both of them (by email and by phone), and they agreed that it sounded like a classic case of IC and suggested I have the TAC surgery. I started checking into insurance coverage for a pre-pregnancy TAC. Then, out of the blue, I found out I was pregnant. I had always had irregular cycles, and it took us so long to get pregnant with Lucy that I didn’t think anything of it when my period was one week late, then two. When I finally took a pregnancy test and got my positive result, I was already 7 weeks pregnant. As in-pregnancy TACs are usually placed between 10 and 14 weeks, I hit full panic mode. How was I supposed to schedule a cross-country trip and clear everything with my insurance that quickly? I originally intended to fly to Chicago to have the TAC placed by Dr. Haney, but after two weeks of trying to get in touch with his assistant she finally told me he would be on vacation during the time I needed to have the surgery. Now I really panicked. Here I was, 9 weeks pregnant and without anything scheduled. Fortunately I was able to get in with Dr. Davis, and we planned our trip from Southern California to New Jersey. And because of Lucy’s time in the NICU, we’d already hit our catastrophic limit with our insurance and didn’t end up paying a thing for the surgery, which was covered without incident (again, many women are not so lucky, so I count myself very fortunate). Dr. Davis is outstanding at getting insurance to cover the procedure, and he usually takes care of everything. If you don’t have insurance, or they won’t cover a TAC, Dr. Davis is the only doctor I know of who offers an out-of-pocket option at cost. It runs about $4500-$6000, I think.

I planned for our trip through my morning sickness, which completely disappeared the day before we were scheduled to fly out (hallelujah!). We flew into Philadelphia (PHL) on Wednesday, which is definitely the closest airport to Kennedy Hospital. We got a rental car and settled into our hotel, the Hampton Inn in Turnersville. We got the federal employee rate, and the hotel was nice, clean, had a decent breakfast, and was pretty close to Kennedy Hospital. Next door is a Friendly’s, and there are many other (mostly chain) restaurants very close by. Be warned if you’re not from the area: New Jersey has these really weird left turns called jug handles. You go right and loop around to make a left, and it’s strange to get used to. There’s at least one close to the Hampton Inn, so you’ll probably see what I mean.

The next morning I had a consultation with Dr. Davis, then later met my friend Ruth and her wonderful family for dinner. The morning consultation was easy – a quick vaginal exam to check my cervix, an abdominal ultrasound to check out the baby (then almost 13 weeks and measuring large), and a question and answer session. I had him take me through what would happen during the surgery (he had a handy Powerpoint presentation to show me) and we asked a bunch of questions about safety of the baby and other things. He didn’t rush us at all, and he let us get all of our questions out. He has a dry sense of humor, and he’s easy to get along with. The truth is, Dr. Davis is a bit of a talker too, which is actually nice when you’re used to doctors rushing you out. We also discussed food – I asked him where we should eat, and he had a lot of ideas. We wanted the quintessential New Jersey experience, so he recommended a diner that we enjoyed for lunch. We were there for over an hour and left feeling very reassured. Oh, after we left his office I went down to the lab to do my pre-op bloodwork also.

After dinner with Ruth’s family we went back to our hotel to relax. I wasn’t to eat or drink after midnight, and we had to be at the hospital at 7:00 am to get registered. Both our consultation and the surgery took place at Kennedy, by the way, although Dr. Davis also has offices elsewhere. We got to the hospital, registered, then waited and waited and waited because they were running a little behind. I didn’t mind too much, but I was hungry and thirsty of course. Finally they brought me back to the pre-op room without my husband where I dressed in a gown, met the anesthesiologist, got my IV, briefly met with Dr. Davis, then waited some more. At some point David was allowed to come back and sit with me.

Since I was pregnant and wanted the least medication possible going to my baby, I opted to be awake for the surgery with a spinal, just like for most cesarean sections. I’d had surgery before, but never awake, and that part was a little scary. Finally (after noon by this time – I was starving and so thirsty!) I said goodbye to David and they wheeled me back to the operating room. The anesthesiologist placed the spinal, which was weird and hard for me to deal with (needle issues), but it was actually nice when I felt it moving down my legs because I’d been so cold, and then only my top half was cold. Oh, there was a really nice nurse, a handsome Marine, holding me steady and keeping me calm while the spinal was placed. They then put up the curtain and flipped up my gown. By the way, when you’re awake for a pelvic surgery, you have to just let go of any dignity you thought you had. Actually, just get used to it, because it only gets worse when you actually have the baby. I chose to have the TAC placed with a traditional open incision – the same kind they use for c-sections. They gave me a quick shave where the incision was going to go. I normally might have been pretty embarrassed by that, but when you’re numb from the chest down and you can’t see it, it’s like it’s happening to someone else. Oh, at some point in here they pushed some antibiotics through the IV in my hand, which was incredibly painful. In fact, that was the most painful part of the whole surgery I think. It burned, and it made my wrist feel like it was breaking. The anesthesiologist was really nice though and brought me warm blankets for the top of me that was still cold. I mentioned that it might be cool to watch the surgery on the TV screen they had in there, and they would have let me except I didn’t have my glasses. So if you’d like to watch, ask them to let you bring your glasses back if you need them.

I remember wondering when they were going to start, and then I smelled burning. I wondered what it was for a second, then realized oh, hey, that’s my burning flesh as they cauterize the incision. It was a bit weird feeling a lot of pulling and tugging and not knowing what was going on – I kind of wish they’d say “ok, this is what we’re doing now.” But Dr. Davis was just chatting with everyone in the room, and at one point started quizzing people: “how many cups in a pint?” and “how many feet in a mile?” Then he asked “how many two cent pieces in a dozen?” Trick question of course, and his assistant surgeon fell for it: “umm, 6?” “Nope. Anyone?” Nobody answered, so finally I said “12. There are always 12 in a dozen.” Everybody stopped, then Dr. Davis leaned over the curtain to look at me and said “Yes, Jill is correct.” Haha. Anyway, the surgery was progressing fine, and it didn’t hurt at all, but it did feel like they were trying to pull my lungs out through my belly. Partway through they put me into a steep Trendelenburg position, which means that they tip you head down. I had to lay like that the whole time I was in labor with Lucy, but this was a steeper angle and they did it so quickly it felt like I was going to slide off the operating table. When he was finished placing the TAC he did an ultrasound directly on my uterus, and I got to see my healthy squirmy little baby looking fantastic.

After what felt like kind of a long time, they finished up and cleared out really quickly, wrapped my torso up tightly with a binder, then I was wheeled back to recovery. They brought David back to see me, and he told me he’d received texts letting him know the surgery was going fine. I thought that was a nice touch. After a little while (not sure how long) they took me to my regular hospital room. I was happy and awake and felt pretty great. They gave me Duramorph – a morphine injection – through my spinal that lasted most of the next two days, and I didn’t need any other pain medication until I left the hospital. I was on a liquid diet (bummer) until the next morning, and I also had the catheter until the next morning. I HATE the catheter, but it wasn’t a big deal. After they took it out, they wanted me to get up to use the bathroom. It was a little tricky at first, but I managed fine and just held a pillow against my incision while I walked. The next morning they took off the binder and said my incision was all the way closed after 12 hours, and I could shower after 24 hours. (I showered back in the hotel before we left.)

Just an aside, and probably TMI, but this is a concern for many women having this surgery. Many, many women had trouble with constipation and painful bowel movements after the surgery. This was NOT a problem for me, but I think I’m in the minority. They give you Colace stool softener in the hospital, and you should definitely take it, but you should probably start it a few days before the surgery if you think you might have any trouble. Also try to eat foods high in fiber, and you should be fine.

The most important thing (as everyone will tell you) after the surgery for your recovery is to get walking as soon as possible. Right after the surgery, it will help your body get rid of extra gas caused by the surgery. This is a problem for every surgery, but is even worse for laparoscopic procedures, so keep that in mind. It’s scary, but walk as much as you comfortably can. Your incision will probably burn at first, but the more you move the better it will feel. Don’t overdo it, of course. In the long run it’s even more important to walk a lot right off the bat. If you don’t, you’re more likely to develop scar tissue, and I can tell you that it is not pleasant. As my pregnancy progressed it became apparent that I had some scar tissue (confirmed by ultrasound), and it was incredibly painful as the baby pressed against it. One of the most painful things I have EVER experienced, in fact. So walk. Just do it. This is probably even more important if you’re already pregnant when you get your TAC, especially if there’s any chance that you’ll end up on bed rest like I did. You want to be as active as possible while you can, and if you have a complicated or difficult pregnancy, you might have trouble with it later.

I was discharged from the hospital the next morning, less than 24 hours later (so it was an outpatient procedure, not requiring pre-authorization from our insurance). They took me in a wheelchair down to the car, and we drove straight to the pharmacy. I took other women’s advice and filled the pain-medicine prescription at a Walgreens near there. I’ve heard that you can’t fill it out of state (although that doesn’t make sense to me, so I don’t know), and that the hospital pharmacy takes a long time. Anyway, we picked up my Percocet and I took one since I knew I’d be moving more. We drove back to our hotel and hung out there the rest of the day (Saturday by now, surgery was on Friday). I slept a lot, and David went and got dinner and brought it back, then we got a sundae from Friendly’s. I took the Percocet the rest of that day and mostly stopped it by Sunday. On Sunday David and I took a drive out to the Pine Barrens to explore. On Monday we went back to Dr. Davis’ office. He removed the staples (he uses staples instead of dissolving stitches), which didn’t hurt at all. I couldn’t even feel it really. He covered the incision with steri-strips. He also did a vaginal ultrasound to check the TAC and take pictures to send to my OB. We saw the baby again, then sat with him while he wrote a letter to my OB. We thanked him and left the hospital, driving straight to the airport. Oh, not quite, we stopped for bagels.

Back at the airport in Philadelphia we got a wheelchair escort. I could have walked very slowly, but we were running a little late, and I knew I had a long day ahead of me. I’m a little paranoid about the full-body scans, so I opted out of that and the TSA agent very gently patted me down. The escort left me at our gate, and I realized I needed to use the restroom before we left, so I set out to find one. It took forever, it was way back out of the terminal. When I finally got back, people were asking David if I was going to be okay. It was nice that people were so concerned; you don’t normally think of strangers being that worried about you. The flight attendants offered to let me board first, and I did very gratefully. We had booked a nonstop flight, thinking it would be easier not to have to transfer. I had an aisle seat (definitely recommend to my fellow TAC mamas) because you need to get up and move during the flight. Unfortunately, it was a very turbulent flight, so the seatbelt light was on most of the time. I got up when I could, and was fine. Oh, you should also be drinking a LOT, and therefore will probably pee a lot. Try to get a seat near the bathroom if you can. I took the Percocet at regular intervals all day Monday, more because I wanted to stay on top of the pain than because I was actually in pain. We got back to LAX, where I didn’t use a wheelchair. We just walked slowly and took the shuttle back to our car. We had a 3 hour drive home still so we set off immediately. We stopped once to stretch and use the bathroom and got home pretty late.

I think I only took one Percocet after we got home because I felt fine really. I stayed mostly in bed for a couple of days and took a shower after a few days. The steri-strips mostly just fell off, and my incision healed really nicely. In fact, my OB used the same incision for my c-section, and 6 weeks post-op it is still just a thin, flat red line. David took really good care of me. Dr. Davis hadn’t given me any restrictions. He said I could do anything that felt okay whenever it felt okay. I asked about swimming and he said it was one of the best things I could do. He said sex was fine whenever we felt up to it. I was swimming very gentle laps a week after the surgery, driving myself to the dentist ten days after surgery, and feeling pretty much completely back to normal a week and a half after surgery. Again, probably TMI, but sex did happen pretty shortly after surgery and it was perfectly fine.

So that was my experience of the surgery. I had other complications of my pregnancy, and they may or may not have been related to the TAC. I will write about that at some point, but here’s the most important thing: the TAC held strong until I was full term (39 weeks) and had reached my scheduled c-section date. I have a delicious, wonderful, beautiful, perfectly healthy baby boy because of Dr. Davis and the TAC. I only wish I had known enough to have it done when I was pregnant with Lucy, because then I’d have my sweet little girl with me. Of course, if that had happened I never would have had William (he was conceived before Lucy’s due date).

Okay, I hope this is informational for women thinking of or planning on having the surgery.