If the doctors are right my son will be born next week. The surgical procedure they performed on my girlfriend, called a cerclage, has almost entirely failed.
A cerclage is a stitch, or clamp, placed in or around around a woman’s cervix, it’s meant to prevent a miscarriage due to an incompetent cervix. Ideally it would have lasted until our son’s natural due date of January 10, 2010. But no one really believed we’d get there. The idea has been to get to the mystical twenty-sixth week, when the boys’ lungs will have developed enough so he can survive outside the womb.
He made it to the twenty-sixth week marker six days ago. On Tuesday, during our regular hospital visit at the Ottawa General, the doctors told us the cerclage had slipped from 13mm to six. If you point your fingers downwards, and squeeze them together, that would be the cervix… the cerclage should be located between the top and middle knuckles. 13mm would be between the top of your fingernail, and the bottom knuckle.
The cerclage inside my girlfriend, which is the only thing holding our baby inside her womb, is now located about halfway between the end of your finger and the top of your fingernail.
If there’s any change, or increase in the pain my girlfriend experiences, we are to get in a car — preferably someone else’s — and get to the hospital as soon as possible so they can monitor what’s going on. If she experiences more than five contractions in a day we’re to call 911.
Either way I’m calling the paramedics.
We have another appointment this coming Tuesday, for however long our kid stays where he’s supposed to we’ll be having weekly checkups from now on. But I’ve spoken with my girlfriend and we’ve agreed that she’ll be staying in the hospital starting on Tuesday.
For months the doctors have been telling us… telling my girlfriend she must, absolutely, not drive, not walk, not take baths, not get into stressful situations in order for the cerclage to work properly. Just last week, over two days, she drove almost 200km. And she was still insisting on confronting her mother’s insanities, and walking into town.
Every time she has squatted down to pick up her son I’ve counted ten minutes off our kids’ life. Every time she got in a car I counted off another thirty minutes. I don’t want to count hours off our kids life every time my girlfriend decides to spend an entire day standing around watching her father cut wood, but it happened.
This isn’t an irrational boyfriend flipping out, or being controlling, this is the medical commandments of the doctors and nurses of the high risk pregnancy department at the Ottawa General Hospital.
I did my best to make sure she stuck to the rules. I walked to the store for her groceries, I made sure her soon-to-be-ex-husband (STEBH) picked up their son on his visitation days, I inserted myself in between my girlfriend and STEBH at every opportunity to keep her stress level to a minimum.
But it didn’t work. I don’t know if the cerclage slipped as far as it has because she broke the rules so often, but I do know if doctors tell you not to touch something because it’ll get infected, and after you touch it twice a day for a month it gets infected, there’s probably a connection in there somewhere.
The thing is… I’ve been angry with her for weeks. It came to a head last week during her three day, 200km excursion. She had several options, but she chose the one with the most travel time.
The other thing is… I can’t be angry with her. My being angry is stress on her. Stress is not allowed according to the doctors. So all summer, whenever she decided she needed a walk through town — something which always leaves her exhausted, and caused her an incredible amount of pain — I’d suggest, never demand, that taking a walk in our large backyard might be preferable.
Or when she drove her son to school because it was raining, instead of letting the babysitter take him under an umbrella, I’d suggest that her kid was not made of sugar, and would not melt in the rain.
But last week I had enough. She drove all over the fucking county, but I didn’t yell, or throw a fit, I just shut down. She apologized that night, but I think I just ran into a wall… or finally acknowledged the wall I had been leaning against, thinking I was still running. Whatever, I stayed shut down for a couple of days. Until I realized I was causing her stress.
Since then she’s been following the rules. And now, with the doctors telling us about how low the cerclage is, and how the baby is coming within the next week or two, I think the full gravity of the situation has finally dropped on her. Hopefully, hopefully, if she stays still, gets admitted into the hospital on Tuesday, we can buy a couple more weeks so our son can develop further inside her womb.
But, as of right now, this thing is happening in a matter of days.
And I don’t think anyone is ready. I’ll be moving into the hospital for, probably, three months, to be with the kid while he grows up in an incubator. My mother has volunteered to spend a couple of days a week with him. My girlfriend will be there, but so far her parents have refused to get involved.
We have a crib, a space for him in my girlfriend’s apartment, we have people knitting him jumpers and hats, we even have the start of an education fund.
But first things first… tomorrow we give the kid a name.