I didn’t believe the first doctor who told me I’d probably need a cerclage before I had any more babies. In fact, so completely in disbelief was I, that I threw possibly the biggest public display of rage I’ve ever had in my life. She got a fright. I have a feeling that probably doesn’t happen to her everyday. I thought my appointment with her was just a formality in a series of formalities and instead here she was telling me that I had a higher than average chance of giving birth to a preterm baby unless there was some kind of intervention.
I didn’t believe the second doctor either. Even though I cried for him too. And his registrar. But that was because he was telling me that not only was he recommending this cerclage but that it should be a transabdominal one, which was permanent and would mean that any and all babies would have to be born by Caesarean section. He didn’t think a cervical cerclage would hold a pregnancy in my case. I was a home birth mother. He had just spoken to me in another language, which unfortunately, I understood all too well.
By the time I got to doctors number three and four, I was pissed off that they were all singing from the same hymn sheet and the last one was more interested in hysterectomies than C-sections.
I wanted someone to tell me the others were wrong but nobody did. I wanted the decision to be black and white – which one doctor thought it was – but really two of them said it was very, very grey. And fuzzy. And completely, 100%, absolutely, solely, my decision to make.
I read all the research. There’s not that much. The samples sizes are small and the quality of the studies are poor.
I got friends to read the research too, both the sceptical and the evangelical. Opinions were varied. For some it was a no brainer. For others it was an over-medicalised, potentially unnecessary intervention that there was no coming back from.
But therein lies the rub. Potentially. The gamble was all mine. Do nothing, get pregnant and potentially have a perfectly, normal, healthy, full term pregnancy. Do nothing, get pregnant and potentially have a mid-term loss at any stage of the pregnancy or a premmie baby. Have the surgery, permanently remove my option for a preferable, healthy, vaginal birth, but significantly minimise – to the point of almost zero – the chance of a preterm birth. Does it sound like a no brainer to you?
It wasn’t. I flipped. I flopped. One day I was definitely doing it. The next day I was outraged that I was being bullied into this and there was no way it was happening. I re-read the research. I cried. I got angry. I wondered that maybe I might never get pregnant again anyway and all of this emotional turmoil would be pointless.
A good friend said the wisest thing to me one day. She said I could read all the research in the world and it still wasn’t going to make my decision for me in the end. My heart would make the decision.
She was right.
My brain was telling me that the recommendation wasn’t evidence based, or rather, that there wasn’t enough evidence on either side for my particular case to make an informed decision either way.
My heart was telling me that I could never, ever forgive myself if I lost a baby mid-pregnancy. Maybe the irrationality of fear made the decision for me. Who knows. But it’s done now.
The TAC is in and there it will stay. I’d like to say once the decision was made I let all my earlier concerns wash over me and I was calm and at peace with it. But the truth is that right up until the week before, I still wondered if it was the right thing to do. I still don’t know if it was the right thing to do. The difference now is that there’s no going back and I am looking forward.
I am looking forward to a day where I can use it and it will work. At least once, hopefully. But once would do.