When I began writing this blog, I had just been admitted to the hospital at 30 weeks pregnant with a cervical length of 1.1cm. We had spent the last nine weeks watching the damn thing thin out during weekly ultrasounds and now it seemed my body had just decided 'to hell with it' and I had officially gone into preterm labor.
The contractions, which I was mysteriously unable to detect, had only been discovered a couple weeks prior; during a routine non-stress test given before the placement of a pessary.
Oh the pessary. Let me just take a moment of your time to thoroughly gross you out.
When it was first described to me as a newer method of dealing with a failing cervix (more about that in a minute), I figured 'bring that sucker on board, let's do this thing.' My doctor described it as a 'small balloon, inserted into the vaginal canal and then inflated.' I naively pictured something the size of a dime, perhaps a quarter at worst.
Well, have you ever seen an apple? Yeah, it's that size. Maybe not a big apple (certainly not like NYC <--don't laugh at that, it wasn't funny) but it sure as hell weren't no dime.
I had actually heard of this device before. You see, the pessary was originally designed to treat what's called a prolapsed uterus. If you're unfamiliar with this diagnosis, I'll explain. It's typically found in elderly women who have seemingly pissed off their uteruses -- uteri?? -- enough for them to migrate southward in an effort to vacate the premises. That's certainly not the most professional or compete explanation, but you get the gist.
Anyway, when I'm not dealing with the outcomes of a faulty reproductive system, I work as a Physical Therapist - primarily with the geriatric community. I once treated an unfortunate woman with significant dementia and an assortment of other medical issues. One of these issues was a prolapsed uterus. She would squirm around restlessly in her geri-chair (essentially a recliner on wheels) and frequently shove her hands in her pants. If you didn't watch her closely, she would remove her pants altogether. My supervisor explained that this was probably because of the pessary.
I suddenly understood her pain in a very real way. The pessary sucked balls and I wanted to murder it. But because I wasn't suffering from senile dementia, I put on my big girl pants (they're the only ones that fit over my pregnant belly and my inflated vagina) and dealt with it.
Back to my hospital admission.
The blog was originally designed to help me cope with what I quickly termed 'my captivity.' The goal was to stay pregnant until at least 35 weeks. My working days were over. In fact, it seemed that all activities minus 'bathroom privileges' had come to a screeching halt. So I figured I could spend the next month lying flat on my back in a magnesium and depression-induced stupor (the magnesium would only be on board for a week, at which point the depression would surely take over) or I could spend that time therapy blogging and f-ing around on the internet.
Aside from the sporadic text, phone conversation, or evening ice cream date (turns out, everyone loves an excuse to eat ice cream), Facebook became my only regular social outlet. And so, I almost unwittingly morphed into a mommy-blogging-Facebook-phile (who occasionally binged on ice cream). And frankly, I became a little bit bitter.
See, this friend of mine had recently spent over two months on hospital bed rest when they discovered her cervix had called it quits about halfway through her pregnancy.
That was the first time I heard the term 'Incompetent Cervix'. Because at the time she was admitted, I was newly pregnant and a year before, I had delivered a 31-weeker very suddenly and for no apparent reason, my friend reached out to me in the way us non-medical doctors tend to do, to offer support and medical advice. She also added me to a Facebook group called 'Incompetent Cervix Awareness'.
That, dear readers is where the bitterness officially began. And it wasn't even bitterness for myself, it was more directed from my vantage point as a female with the crazy notion of wanting children of her own.
Suddenly, my newsfeed was action-packed with stories that would make even the most cold-hearted bastard's heart thaw instantly and then rip right in two. Women post pictures of their 'angel babies' who had been 'born sleeping' and I would burst into tears on the spot.
Ladies write about their bed rest which began at 13 weeks and left them unable to work or in some cases, properly mother their other young children for months on end.
They post about the un-mendable heartbreak of multiple second trimester losses and the anxiety over current or future pregnancies.
They talk a lot about treatment and the tiny number of specialists available in this particular area.
What these women do best is comfort, support, and encourage one another through all the tragedy, pain, and anxiety. They also celebrate each other's victories, everything from a beautiful and healthy full-term baby to making it past week 25.
So where did this bitterness come from, you ask? If you've been reading this mess of a blog from the start, you may have guessed it already.
Here it is: Incompetent? Really? Thanks medical community. Thanks for proving to be the arrogant, insensitive machismo bastards we have always suspected were standing behind those copays and lab coats.
I was so put off by the term, it inspired my initial blog name: The Incompetent Mother @offensivemedicalterms.blogspot.com.
Until the other day, I felt a little like I might be the only one outraged by such an insensitive diagnostic term. But then the topic came up on the Facebook group and the floodgates came crashing open.
Ladies responded to the post in droves with all sorts of reactions ranging from the predictable outrage to ones I hadn't previously considered. Most shared in my bitterness and expressed their dismay that the term was indicating a personal failure of some sort.
However, one woman said she didn't care what the term was, she was just relieved to find a diagnosis with some possible treatment options.
Other ladies joined in on my bitterness game and reported they had gleefully renamed their conditions 'asshole cervix' (which makes me think maybe the perianal area is simply having geographical problems?) or my favorite, 'flumpy' cervix.
The most heart wrenching response was a story about a resident who reported to his patient that her baby would soon be dead and in the same breath explained that it was due to the incompetency of her cervix.
The poor woman said she just wanted to 'punch him in the face.' That, to me was a decidedly tame response. My sick inclination says why stop there? Punch that sorry mother f*cker in the face *and* the balls. Then severe those worthless man-parts from the rest of his sorry body and serve them up forcibly into his still throbbing mouth.
(Wow. That was shockingly violent. I knew I could be one angry mo-fo, but had no idea I was also a sociopath?)
I cannot emphasize enough how fortunate I feel when one of those tragic updates pops onto my FB feed. My babies might have blasted past my incompetent mommy-parts nine weeks prior to their scheduled arrivals; but they're both here, healthy, and kicking all sorts of ass.
I suppose that means my cervix is more competent than some. Maybe it paid better attention in math class than those other cervixes.
Still, as a women, I cannot help but feel that the medical community has some revising and apologizing to do. If not for me, then for those poor grieving women on my Facebook feed.
Hey docs! Let's just all agree to be more sensitive when it comes to defining a woman's reproductive health, shall we?
Or, as I've suggested before, we could just say 'to hell with it' and start blaming everyone equally.
If you need me, I'll be sitting around waiting patiently to see Al Gore star in a commercial for a popular drug to manage his 'Lazy Shlong.'