I Still Have Placenta Previa, But My Cervix Is “World-Record-Length”

Once again, I’m a freak of nature.  But, yesterday, that reality thrilled me, for my double-the-normal-length cervix is 6 cm long and closed, making the prospect of a pre-term delivery of my baby boy unlikely, according to Dr. M, the head of my high-risk pregnancy practice.

When I was trying to get pregnant six years ago, my reproductive endocrinologist performed a hysterosalpingogram, which revealed that I had a T-shaped uterus.  The result of exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES) that my mother took while pregnant with me, my uterus was underdeveloped, one-third normal size.  Further, my doctor explained that, while a normal cervix, the bottom portion of the uterus, is about 3 cm in length, mine was 6 cm.

Normal Uterus vs My T-shaped Uterus

My extra-long cervix didn’t serve me well during my pregnancy with my son, who is now almost 5.  I was dilated at 27 weeks of pregnancy, hospitalized and given steroids to advance my son’s development in case he was born pre-term, and then put on bed rest.  At 31 weeks, I was further dilated, my cervix was funneling, meaning thinning out from the inside, and I was having contractions, so I was hospitalized again.  After 13 weeks of restrictions, I gave birth to my son on his due date, thank God, which gave me confidence that I could accomplish the same with a subsequent pregnancy.

My son, all 9 pounds 7 ounces of him, stretched out my uterus a bit while he was in utero.  When my new reproductive endocrinologist performed a hysterosonogram last spring, prior to my first in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle, he described my uterus as arcuate.  Bottom line:  It’s still deformed, but now slightly less so.  This gave me further confidence that, if I could get pregnant again, I could carry my baby to term.

I did get pregnant with twins during my second IVF attempt, losing one in my eighth week of pregnancy, but this time I have an unanticipated problem: placenta previa, meaning the placenta is completely covering my cervix, which can cause hemorrhaging and/or pre-term delivery. 

As I near the 27-week point in this pregnancy, I have become more and more anxious about the combination of incompetent cervix and placenta previa.  Before yesterday’s appointment, I was consumed with fear about the repercussions of my cervix failing me once again, but this time having the placenta on top of it.

At my 16-week appointment, the ultrasound technician said my cervix was 5 cm long and closed.  At my 21-week appointment, my doctor said it was 4 cm and closed.  And, because of placenta previa, he told me to get extra rest, not lift anything and not have intercourse.

My husband and I have not been intimate, but getting extra rest and not lifting anything has been nearly impossible.  So, with almost four weeks between my 21-week appointment and yesterday’s, I was worried that my cervix had become dangerously short, as it had when I was pregnant with my son.  And, with little supporting the placenta from below, I worried I could hemorrhage, forcing either my son to be born way too early or me to be hospitalized for an extended period of time in order to prevent pre-term delivery.  My friend Jessica just told me that one of her close friends had to be hospitalized for two months because of placenta previa.  With a workaholic husband and a 4-year-old, I need to be home…

During my trans-vaginal ultrasound yesterday, the technician said that my cervix is at least 6 cm long—and that she’s being conservative.  She said she was having trouble fitting in all on the ultrasound screen to be able to measure it. 

Shocked, I asked if four weeks of no intercourse, minimal lifting, and minimal extra rest could have resulted in my cervix returning to its original length, and she said yes.  But, when I met with Dr. M afterwards, he said that it’s likely been 6 cm all along—and, that, the two prior ultrasound technicians, not expecting a super-long cervix, just hadn’t caught all of it on-screen when they were taking measurements.

He called my cervix “world-record-length” and said the doctors in the practice want patients to have a cervical length of at least 2 cm, while 2.5 cm is considered ideal.  He said to have a cervical length of 6 cm at this stage of a pregnancy—25 weeks—in his view eliminates any concern about pre-term delivery.  He also said that my placenta previa looks a little bit better, so the placenta could move up in the next 15 weeks, enabling me to have a vaginal delivery after all.

Oh, and I only gained 2.3 pounds in the past four weeks, which I blame entirely on the snow boots I was wearing during my weigh-in.

With such good news yesterday, I’m feeling extraordinarily Zen for the first time in months…

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