the one about Shiloh

This post involves using the word cervix. If you don't like the word cervix, please consider this a fair warning to head to Fox News or ESPN or just scratch your eyeballs out and try to forget it ever happened.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

I have actually been pregnant four times. It's kind of weird to think about. I lost my first baby at about 10 weeks due to a miscarriage. I am not going to candy-coat it. It sucked, and changed my perception of pregnancy and childbirth forever. It was nearly 6 years ago now, and I am in a much better place, but my heart will always hurt for the baby I never got to see or hold.

I went on to have two very successful pregnancies and subsequent deliveries. I have always loved being pregnant. I have never had morning sickness (don't hate), I didn't swell up like the Michelin man until right before delivery with my first, and I could always keep up my usual level of activity with no complications. I'd read or hear about people having issues, and I would always thank my lucky stars.

Little did I know when I was pregnant with Noelle that my body in fact was an alien creature and I did have something weird going on. At 38 weeks pregnant, my cervix (had to just jump right in with it) was dilated to 7 cm without me having any contractions whatsoever. My OB couldn't really believe it and said in her years of practice, I was the first person to present with this weird phenomenon without one single contraction that I was aware of.

If I could, I would have pat my cervix on the back or given it a high five. Yay, Cervix! You are freaking awesome! I am already 70% finished with your ass. Just burn off the other 3 cm and give me my baby. I was a Zumba addict at that time, going to 2-3 classes per week and loving every second. I was certain my intense hip gyrations and frequent pineapple smoothies were to blame/praise for my Super Cervix Status.

I ended up having to be induced because my doctor was crazy scared I was going to deliver along the side of the road (I was commuting from Indianapolis to Muncie for work). She basically told me to take it easy, and then 2 days later, I was induced and Noelle was born (after 4 hours of pushing-- I like to throw that in there).

Fast forward about 2 1/2 years later, and I was pregnant with Charlotte. We were living in Muncie, so no more commuting for work, but I kept my same OB in Indianapolis so that my husband's colleagues weren't witness to my nanny business while I was trying to have a baby. A girl needs some modesty and anonymity, right?

Well, at about 33 weeks, I had this feeling that Charlotte was going to drop straight out of me. No contractions, but I was too scared to even go to the bathroom because I knew I would be the perfect candidate for one of those shows like, "I had my baby in the toilet." I mean, I wouldn't mind being famous, but not for that. Geez.

So I went to the doctor and forced the nurse practitioner to check and see what the heck was going on down there. As it turned out, I was 3 cm dilated already at 33 weeks. This raised some red flags, and they hooked me up to the contraction monitor for observation. After an hour of monitoring with no contractions, they determined that I was a true freak of nature and sent me on my way. Super Cervix was at it again, but it was a little too early to get excited.

The weeks passed on without event, and, sure enough, at my 38 week appointment, I was 7 cm dilated again. I still hadn't had any contractions, so kept trucking along at school, all the while peeing my pants every single time I sneezed (such an awesome side-effect of pregnancy). We had Grandparents' Day on a Friday, and I was set to be induced that following Monday. I expected to have my baby in my arms by Monday afternoon.

That Saturday night, I felt what reminded me of little tiny gnomes inside my nether regions, using ice picks and other tiny tools to poke their way out of my cervix. It was such a strange, yet hilarious visual, that it kept me up all night, all the while thinking, "This is weird." Still, no contractions.

I spent all of Sunday lazing around and mentally preparing for my induction and, quite honestly, straightening my hair because I wanted to look good throughout the induction process. Sue me, OK? By Sunday night, I was feeling some pretty nasty back pain, but no contractions.

It's just that this back pain was coming at steady intervals of about a minute part. No big deal.

Actually, big, giant, damn deal.

By about 8:45 that night, it hit me that I was experiencing that lovely "back labor" phenomenon, and that the baby was going to be born very soon. In between bouts of panic and pure terror, Luke and I made the decision that a trip to Indianapolis would not be happening, as I probably really would deliver along the side of the road. I called my parents to come stay with Noelle at 9 p.m. Luke threw towels in the car just in case, and Charlotte was born at 9:25. The end.

And Luke's colleagues totally saw my nanny business.

So now that you have that information, I will tell you about this third pregnancy of mine. Not as flawless as the other two, but not bad. I've had more aches and pains. I've had more ultrasounds, some elective, some not. I've had to take it "easier" throughout these 25 weeks. However, I have still attended  step aerobics pretty regularly, chased my two girls around, and walked around Target approximately 3,742 times without incident.

OK, I shouldn't say without incident. I did have to be given 2 liters of IV fluids at 20 weeks because I had some pesky, regular contractions for about 6 hours after a strenuous day of zoo-walking in 90 degree heat. But I will slap my own wrist for that one. I have also had very intermittent, at times regular, contractions since then…but nothing to get too concerned about.

Because of my super fast delivery with Charlotte, we now use a Muncie doctor who just happens to work in the same office as my husband. I lost all of my modesty and anonymity during Charlotte's delivery anyway, so I decided to play it safe and keep it local. Because having a baby in a toilet would probably better than having it in my husband's new Suburu along I-69.

We started monitoring for incompetent cervix at about 14 weeks with internal ultrasounds at our hospital's perinatal specialist. The first thing he said upon shaking my hand was "You have a beautiful cervix."

High five, Cervix. You're magical!

Everything was measuring normal at the following 18 week ultrasound. Still holding strong and given over-achiever status.

However, at our most recent, 25 week, ultrasound, the air was let out of the room when the ultrasound technician said with a stern face, "Where did your cervix go…?"

It had shortened from 4 cm to just barely over 1 cm. If you look at ONE measly little centimeter on a ruler, you will see that that is all that is keeping my sweet baby inside of me. When people write gross things on Facebook during labor such as "I am 75% effaced," well…that's me. Right now. 25 weeks.

Over-achiever alright.

But no one is congratulating me on this. It's actually pretty serious.

You know how I know? Because my husband is a doctor, and he doesn't worry about things. In fact, I have told everyone who will listen about all the times he has under-reacted to my health ailments. Like…when he told me to gargle salt water when I really had developed pneumonia and barely had O2 saturation levels over 90%. Or when I was writhing in the emergency room 3 days before Christmas with abdominal pain, doped up on dilaudid, and he thought they should just release me and we could "manage it at home." Ended up having an appendectomy which revealed a ruptured ovarian cyst. No big deal. No big deal at all.

So basically, he does not give in to every little ache and pain because he knows that most of the time, it is nothing. It's all normal. But if you would have heard the sighs and seen the head shakes come out of him, you would know that this was the real deal.

My cervix had gone and done it now. No high five, Sir (my cervix is a male-- coincidence? I think not). I kind of want to smack the shit out of you.

All I wanted to know was what does this mean and what do we do about it? Well, it is a humbling experience when the perinatal guru says "I can nearly guarantee you won't make it to 36 weeks." OK, I can handle, like, 35.5 weeks.

But what if I had her at 28 weeks? Or 30 weeks? She's viable, of course, but what kind of complications are we looking at? What kind of implications on her future does this present?

Or worse…what if I had her this week? My mind just kept racing through all the different scenarios. All I could think about was delivering a tiny, helpless, premie baby who may have difficulty breathing on her own…or functioning later in life.

It's a scary, sad, anxious situation to be in.

And let me make this clear. I am scared for her. I am sad for her. I am anxious for her. I will do whatever I have to do to get her as close to full-term as possible. I am determined to do it. I see no reason why I can't have her at 37 or 38 weeks like my other two.

So, we have started steroid shots for her lung development. Do you know they stick that needle in your ass? Just checking.

We also are starting some other medications to prevent preterm labor. Since I have already had contractions, I am not eligible for a cerclage (i.e. sewing up my cervix) according to perinatal guru.

And of course I have been told to be on bed rest. After I glared at perinatal guru for 3.7 seconds, he said, "Bed rest, not bed ridden," as all I could think of was "How will I take care of my girls while staying 'relaxed' and 'rested.' " And how fair was this to either of them? One thing I know for sure is that I won't be able to be the same Mama to them for the next (hopefully) 12 weeks. It is difficult to say over and over again, "Mama can't chase you." "You can't come up and sit on Mama's belly." "I can't pick you up." "Wait until Papa gets home to go outside and play."

Obviously, step aerobics class is out. Unnecessary trips to Indianapolis or even just walking around stores alone are out. I cancelled all my photography clients for August and September because I'm pretty sure running after toddlers, playing "Scare the crap out of Ashley" for a smile, and crawling around in the grass for the perfect shot, in summer heat, is frowned upon while on "bed rest." Basically, when I can, I should be "resting." I cannot and will not take the risk of doing something frivolous and silly and then sending myself into preterm labor.

My biggest priority is her. And we have named her Shiloh.

We haven't kept her name a secret. If you have asked me, I have told you. But this is her public name debut. It means tranquil. It's a town mentioned in the Old Testament. And the teacher in me recalls it as my favorite novel to read with my 4th graders. It's a story of perseverance and pride and growing up and realizing the world isn't fair. It's a story of standing up for what you believe in and risking everything to help someone (in that case, an abused dog) in need.

The Battle of Shiloh was also a major battle of the Civil War.

I think it fits her perfectly.

And my, is she perfect. She's measuring right on track. She moves like crazy and has a strong heart. We have every intention of having a very healthy baby.


She's going to be such a wonderful addition to our family…no matter when she comes or how she comes or what we have to do to get her here.

I'm ready to fight for her and stand up for her and persevere through the toughest situations, if it comes to that, for my sweet Shiloh.

So now that you know her name, could you pray for her? Could you picture her as a fully-grown, healthy baby?

No matter the battle we will have to conquer to bring her safely into this world, it will be so worth it.

But damn you, Cervix. Damn you.

1 comment

  1. Oh Ashley, please know that I am praying for you and Shiloh and will on a daily basis. I can't say I understand what you are going through because while I had 2 babies my stupid extra long (impressively as doctors put it) would never dialate. I mean Logan stayed In an extra week and was measuring close to 42.5 weeks when he was born (10 lbs baby) and still my cervix never dilated on its own. I mean doors shut not coming out for anyone! You situation... My heart goes out. Please remember God is in control and he will help you through this. It you were to ever need help with the girls I would be more than happy to help! I do have 2 kids around the same age. Praying for you!