Thursday, September 3, 2009

In limbo

As you can probably tell from yesterday's post, I was feeling very pessimistic at that time. The doctors had given us a very bleak prognosis, and honestly, while it all seemed horrible beyond belief, I was starting to almost feel a bit of a relief at the prospect of escaping the burdens of the life of an HLHS parent. When I got home from work yesterday, I talked with Iggy and told him that if our ultrasound on Friday showed that things were looking worse, that I wanted to just go ahead and induce labor and get this all over with so we can move on. He agreed that that was the right choice to make.

Today, I still think that induction is the way to go if things start to look worse, but have been researching cervical insufficiency and feel like the picture is a little bit muddier than what the doctors had led us to believe. Yes, having a short cervix does increase your chances of going into premature labor, but it's not clear exactly what those chances are. I have read papers and heard stories from other women with a cervix as short as mine at this stage who did go on to have full-term pregnancies. It's not impossible. And given that our baby is large for his gestational age, I think it's likely that he'd have a better than average chance of surviving the surgery if he were born at 34 weeks.

So, we know what we want to do if things look worse. But what if they stay the same or get better? (From what I understand, cervical insufficiency is irreversible, but some women have something called a "dynamic cervix" where the cervix dramatically fluctuates in length over periods of a few minutes, and it's possible that I have that. I guess they'll check for it in the ultrasound tomorrow). We may be looking at a wait of 8 weeks or more, worrying that I could go into labor at any moment, and putting our lives on hold. We have already cancelled our scheduled and much-anticipated trip to Chicago this weekend to visit friends. In a couple of weeks, we're supposed to drive down to Southern California for the wedding of some very dear friends, and it's looking like we'll probably have to skip that, too. I've quit my teaching job and taken leave from my freelance jobs, and spent most of yesterday at work coming up with contingency plans for other people to take over my projects if I suddenly go into labor.

I have to admit that last night when I was driving home, I found myself almost wishing for bad news on Friday. That would give us a clear answer about what to do. But today, I am feeling at least a little bit hopeful. And although we are potentially facing two more months of hellish uncertainty and putting our lives on hold, I don't know if I could live with myself if I didn't feel like I gave this baby every reasonable chance. And maybe tomorrow we'll know a little more about whether this chance is a reasonable one.

Of course at the same time, I definitely have my doubts that this is the right thing to do. Even if he makes it to 40 weeks, our son's future is far from certain. But if he doesn't make it, we at least want to be able to console ourselves with the knowledge that we did everything we could for him.


  1. Have your doctors mentioned taking a fetal fibronectin (fFN) test? If it comes out negative, you have a very low chance of going into labor in the following two weeks; I don't remember what the chances are if it comes out positive. Anyway, it could give you a better idea of what the near-term future is every couple of weeks as you wait the next couple of months.

    So so sorry that everything is so tenuous, and so hard.

  2. Joy, that's definitely something I was planning to ask about when I talk to the obstetricians again (which I hope will be after my ultrasound tomorrow). The doctors we spoke to on Tuesday didn't say anything about it, and at that point I didn't know enough to ask.

  3. HEY JEN!! I don't know if you have a dynamic cervix but you sure are a dynamic woman!! You and Iggy are so brave and strong! It's great how much research and investigation you have done/are doing into all of your and baby's options and so when all is said and done at least you'll know you did the best you could! We're thinking of you often and our thoughts are with you and Iggy.