3.5 years ago, Erin had a perfect pregnancy with our only child Lauren. The day before her due date she had some blood. We rushed her to the hospital. The Dr.'s checked her and Lauren out and everything seemed ok, so we proceeded with natural labor. She labored for 25 (pushed for 3.5) hours before there was a nurse shift change. The new nurse concluded that Lauren was "cockeyed" and wasn't coming out naturally. A non-emergency C-section was conducted without incident. Soon after she returned to her room she hemorrhaged. Before it was over she was transfused 10 units of blood & had emergency surgery where they did a "B Lynch suture" which stopped the bleeding, saved her uterus, and her life. Erin was in the hospital for 10 days after delivering Lauren. She didn't have any complications once she was released.
Erin saw specialists in Chicago, Seattle, and Portland to determine if she would ever have get pregnant again. All concluded that she would not. The surgery that saved her life also "obliterated" (what Drs said) her uterus (so they thought).
As we really wanted to have 2 children, we went through surrogacy a couple years ago. We found an angel of a surrogate mother. We tried once, got pregnant, but then sadly, the baby miscarried at around 7 weeks. Surrogacy is freakishly expensive (we spent at least $25K) and emotionally taxing. The fertility consultants told us that Erin's egg count was low for her age and hypothesized that this may be related to what she had been through. Based on the cost (financial and emotional) we decided to discontinue the surrogacy approach.
We looked into adoption next. I love my wife dearly and am open to whatever she would be comfortable with. At this stage, Erin was pretty drained. We decided that there were a lot of benefits to having 1 child and over the last year have gotten used to and happy with that idea.
A couple months ago, Erin started noticing strange symptoms that indicated that she was pregnant. She didn't believe this given her history so she feared some sort of problem. She went to her Dr. and they did a test and discovered she was 7 weeks pregnant. My parents were in Portland for Thanksgiving. They shared the shock with us. Erin and I got a last minute appointment with her Dr. before Thanksgiving and saw the apparently healthy 7.5 week old baby.
Given Erin's history and anatomy, she was referred to a high risk OB. Upon examining her and understanding her history, her HR OB determined that her cervix was very short. He and another Dr. attempted a trans-abdominal cerclage. They were able to do the operation laparoscopically. It took 6 hours. They removed a lot of scar tissue that will make future operations easier (potential C-Section or hysterectomy), but unfortunately, they were unable to place the cerclage. They discovered that the lower 1/3 of her uterus is 20% as thick as it should be. Placing the cerclage risked puncturing her uterus and terminating the pregnancy.
After the surgery, Erin's Dr. said we are in uncharted territory. There is no data to guide the Dr's or us in making decisions (e.g., 100 similar cases). Apparently, until a couple years ago, a woman in Erin's original situation (the hemorrhage) would have been given a hysterectomy and we wouldn't find ourselves in this situation. Another Dr. we met recently told us that only now are cases like Erin's starting to occur more regularly (there are more women out there like Erin). Erin's Dr. told her that at this point, he can't advise us to take any path - that we have to choose to either continue the pregnancy with risks to Erin and the baby or terminate the pregnancy (also has some risks given her anatomy). He proscribed her progesterone to see if it can help thicken her uterus/cervix. Over the next 2 weeks, they will learn a bit more about how the placenta is doing. That will likely be the deciding factor in determining if we can continue. If she has placenta accreta, risks will likely be too high for us continue given her history and the other risk factors involved. The Dr. said that our situation is the type of situation that comes up with abortion arguments of "except in the case where it affects the mother's life". He said that Erin is on the low end of that spectrum right now and it currently is not reckless to continue, but it could become that way in the coming month or so (or the situation could improve). There could be innovative ideas out there depending on how things emerge (another HR OB mentioned perhaps a pessary).
So here we are. Erin is 11 weeks 3 days pregnant. Baby looks great, but serious questions remain about his/her viability.
Needless to say, this is a fairly intense time in our lives. Luckily we have great Dr's. Great friends who are Dr's. great non-dr friends, and a great family who love us dearly. We will be struggling with a lot regardless of where this goes over the next few months and ask that you pray to any God you believe in or just hope for us if you are a non-believer to give us strength and wisdom to face this situation and make the right decisions.
We'll update this blog as we go as we are feeling up to it. If this type of situation is getting more common, it might help for us to share our story. It might help us or those that are dealing with the same thing now or in the future. And of course, if you have any opinions, ideas, etc. please share them!