Things didn’t get worse last week, which means they got better. According to the doctors at the Ottawa General Hospital, this was supposed to be the week my son should have been born. He would have been almost two months premature.
But after our appointment on Tuesday, after the doctor completed my girlfriend’s physical exam, and checked the ultrasound report, he told us the pregnancy should continue another three weeks. The cerclage is still doing its job, it’s still the only thing holding the baby in his mother’s womb. My girlfriend’s cervix is now shaped like a really shallow funnel, the baby’s… sack, for lack of a better term, has almost completely filled the space behind the cerclage.
But, the doctor said, he’s seen worse. We’re still on a day-to-day schedule, things can still go wrong — the cerclage could still fail, the contractions could get worse, the water could still break — but the chances things could go wrong are all within the margin of error. So the baby could be born sooner, but right now it looks like it’ll happen later.
Which is great, because in three weeks it’ll be Week Thirty… which is seven months and two weeks. And then it’s only two short weeks until Month Eight. And being borne one month premature is a lot better than the two or three months we were expecting not too long ago.
Every extra week in the womb is a serious reduction in the complications involved in a premature birth. We’ve been literally counting days since we found out my girlfriend was pregnant, so our doctor giving us an extra twenty-one is a new reality which hasn’t really set in yet. At least not with me.
We’ve got appointments with the Ottawa General Hospital’s high-risk pregnancy department every Tuesday from now until the baby is born. And we’re supposed to be prepared for my girlfriend to move into the maternity word at the end of each appointment, depending on the doctor’s evaluation of the cerclage. But a huge amount of pressure has been lifted. I think.
I’ve felt numb for a little while. Maybe longer. After my girlfriend came home from the appointment last week — she went with her father, I stayed to look after her son — she was panicked, and it was infectious. The doctor had told her, based on the continued deterioration of the cerclage, to expect the baby to be delivered soon. Really soon. Which freaked her out, which freaked me out.
But on Tuesday I asked the doctor a couple of questions based on what my girlfriend had told me about the previous appointment, and right away I could tell he was looking at me with his patient “you’re a first time father-to-be” face. It was pretty much then I realized my level of panic might be justified based on what I thought was going on, but not entirely based on reality.
So this is my understanding of what he explained… the cerclage could fail completely. It would be unusual, but it might happen. But even without the cerclage we would still have hours to get to the hospital — which is a lot better than what I had understood. Based on everything I’d heard up to that point I figured we’d have twenty minutes from strange pains in my girlfriend’s stomach, to the kid asking where his breakfast was.
If the cerclage holds, but my girlfriend goes into premature labour and her water breaks — another unusual scenario, we’d still have time to get to the hospital because the baby can’t get through the cerclage. And, of course, if she simply starts having contractions we’ve got time to get to the hospital.
When I asked about ambulances, and speed — because we’re an hour from the hospital — he suggested we could use the air ambulance to get from our little hospital to Ottawa. But that was the point where I realized I was being “that guy”.
In that moment I realized… we’re not unique. Of course people other than my girlfriend and myself have gone through this before and, since there haven’t been a lot of news stories about women dropping kids out of their uterus while walking through a mall, the survival rate must be pretty high.
Worst case scenario would be the cerclage failing completely, the water breaking and the contractions starting all at once. But what happens then… is my girlfriend gives birth. Taa daa.
For some reason, in my head, this scenario meant either the kid was automatically dead, or the baby would tear through my girlfriend’s spine and pop out of her back like that thing in Alien. But, according to the doctor, all we have to do is what almost every other pregnant human couple living in Canada has done for the past 60 years… we drive to a modern, shiny, socialist hospital where a team of specialists carefully removes my son from his mother.
It sounds like a crazy dream, but apparently it works pretty well.*
Something good did come from spending a week thinking my child was in a life or death situation. Thanks to the panic I was feeling we finally gave the boy a name.
I didn’t have much of a list to chose from. My girlfriend had thirty names, but half of hers came from novels about vampires… she’s a huge fan of Laurell K. Hamilton’s books. She even had my biological father’s name on her list, because it’s also the name of a character in a vampire novel.
We ended up going with family names. So our kid is named after my grandfather, and her father: Victor David.
I wanted to have names that meant something to us. I would’ve gone with Victor even without the family connection, considering what the kid has been through so far I think it just fits. And my girlfriend’s dad is a good man. I do have… lets call them ‘issues’ with my grandfather. He was distant, he was missing for a good part of my life, but he also led an incredible life. And he’s a good man.
Plus, chances are way better now I’ll be in the will.
I still think ‘Cooler’ would have been an awesome name for the boy. But my girlfriend didn’t want him named after my cat.
* …and it’s all free. All of it. Just saying.
We do have an amazing medical program in so many ways. You and your girlfriend are certainly lucky to have the high risk OBGYN team to help and educate you as you go. I was lucky enough to have boring pregnancies that meant I could use a midwife and birth at home – but that too was covered!
Our health care has a lot of flaws, but I’ve always been thankful that I can call my doctor/clinic and be seen in less than 24hours.
(Also, I love the name. It’s a very strong name for a fighter of a boy!)
Great name… And congrats!
That’s MY grandfather’s name too!
What great news! See I told you to just be patient and everything will work out. I’m so happy for you. My best to all. Take care honey!
I really like that name. It’s a name for a man, not just a boy.
And don’t worry. EVERYONE is that parent the first time. Annoying, yappy, panic filled freaks. At least you have something to worry about-the rest of us are just idiots. 😛
I’m willing Vic to stay put. And hey, Vic and Viv. That could work. 😛
reading this made me so happy. you and your new family have been on my mind often and i’m so happy to hear that things have worked out.
and yes, i agree with everyone about the name. it’s perfect.
very happy for you both.
Congratulation and I’m happy to hear the baby will hopefully have that extra time to grow. Nice name also.
BUT, free, how is it free? Somebody’s paying for it! Sounds like a good situation so far for you, but for alot, it’s not. My friend has family and Canada and alot of it is very sad in regard to healthcare.
I dread the day, and hopefully it won’t come, that we get socialized healthcare here in the states.
We all pay for it, PITN, through our taxes — just like your various governments decided taxes needed to be collected for road repair, police and fire services, we just decided to add the health of our fellow citizens onto the list… and somehow our health care costs are lower than those in the States, we live longer and our infant mortality rate is lower. Thanks to our health care system my child has a better chance of living than if he had been born in the US.
I’d love to hear all about the “sad” things you’ve heard about this system from your friend’s family… then I can give you the lists of “sad” things about yours.
Our (US) healthcare system is definitely the “sad” one. Hopefully change is on the horizon, though.
I don’t want to get into a “who’s sadder” competition between our two countries… generally they just seem to all end with “yeah… but we have nuclear missiles”. The American system lags in a lot of important areas, but when it comes to trauma care, and the big stuff like transplants and heart attacks, and research, it’s the best in the world. If I ever want my conjoined twin cut off, I’d definitely want to be in an American hospital… I can’t speak for him though.
But the American system already has a huge government run, socialist piece to the health care system… I don’t understand why more Americans don’t understand Blue Cross / Blue Shield is government run health care, and it seems to be doing a pretty good job.
Then again, I don’t understand why President Obama wants to re-invent the wheel, instead of just expanding the framework of the Cross-Shield programs.
Amen. Watching my mother die pretty much convinced me I will never, EVER live in the US. My panic at getting sick on a trip to the US, and having to pay for very basic care, solidified it.
The thought of saving money to give birth, or paying premiums or not being able to get insured because the baby is “obese”-gives me the heebies.
hi. just checking in to see if everything is okay. keep coming across your blog and see that you haven’t posted in a while, so i was just concerned. hope all is well.