16-Week Appointment and Ultrasound

After yet-another 3 ½ week gap between prenatal appointments and ultrasounds, I had my 16-week check-up Tuesday. Because of my history of cervical incompetence, due to my diethylstilbestrol (DES)-induced uterine deformity and a previous surgery to remove precancerous cervical tissue, this appointment included a trans-vaginal ultrasound to evaluate the condition of my cervix.

At this point, my cervix is long—more than 5 cm—and completely closed.

I was expecting that, because, when I was pregnant with my 4-year-old son, I didn’t have cervix-related problems until my 27th week of pregnancy, when a physical exam revealed that I was already dilated.

My doctor told a nurse to put me in a wheelchair and push me over to the adjacent hospital.

No, I could not risk going home to gather my personal belongings in advance.

Then, on our long trip through the hallways to the hospital, the nurse noticed my St. Gerard and cross charms hanging from my necklace and started praying over me, which put me close to a breakdown. I assumed my condition was critical, or else this woman wouldn’t be saying prayers for my unborn baby.

My hospital stay lasted 48 hours, during which I was given steroid injections to advance the development of my son’s brain, lungs, heart and stomach, in case he was delivered prematurely. Because I didn’t dilate further and also wasn’t having contractions, I was released and put on bed rest.

Four weeks later, I was dilated even more and having contractions—and hospitalized again.

Whether or not I will have the same problems during this pregnancy is unknown, but my high-risk pregnancy practice is on top of my history and my current risk factors—and therefore extraordinarily conscientious about performing the appropriate check-ups well in advance of when previous complications occurred.

And, in addition to taking care of me and my baby physically, my practice is equally concerned about my emotional health. At this appointment, Dr. D, whom I’d never met before, told me I could make an appointment to hear fetal heart tones in two weeks, because my 20-week ultrasound isn’t for 3 ½ weeks.

Of course, when she walked in, introduced herself, and asked how I was doing, I said, “Well, the baby’s alive.”

Maybe that tipped her off that I can use regular reassurance.

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