How My Emergency Cerclage Prepared Me For Parenthood

I talk and write a lot about pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting. Because of my unique experiences (I’ve lost a baby, I’ve had children in the NICU, I’ve had traumatic births, and I have a multiracial son), I tend to have a lot to to say. However, while it seems most folks already know what a rainbow baby is, or what a high-risk pregnancy is like, not that many know what a cerclage is. Essentially, it’s a stitch in the cervix, and my emergency cerclage prepared me for parenthood in a way I couldn't have possibly imagined. More important, it quite possibly saved my baby-to-be’s life.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, a cervical cerclage is used to prevent a premature birth. If a cervix is "weak," meaning there's a high chance the cervix will open too early, a stitch is placed to keep the cervix closed until it's time to go into full-term labor and delivery. Because my daughter was born prematurely and passed away, I was considered to be high-risk when I was pregnant with my son. I was put on a regimen of progesterone shots, and had weekly ultrasounds to check the length of my cervix. When doctors noted how short it had become, I was told I should have an emergency cerclage placed to keep my son in the womb for as long as possible.

There were risks involved, sure, but overall the outcome looked good. Little did I know how the procedure would serve as a primer for my first year (and beyond) of motherhood.

It Forced Me To Think On My Feet

As a mom, you often have to make quick decisions in the moment. When I was told I needed a cerclage, I didn’t exactly have time to go home and mull it over.

It Was The First Time I Made A Really Major Decision For My Baby-To-Be...

Once I decided to keep my pregnancy, I didn’t realize how many more times I would have to make decisions that could alter my son’s future life. My choices were to go on bed rest and hope for the best, which could have resulted in preterm labor, premature birth, and potentially death, or get the cerclage and hope it didn’t also make me go into early labor.

It was an extremely difficult choice to make, but now I know I made the right call. It made me realize how much responsibility I would have for the rest of my life, and how my decisions wouldn't ultimately impact my son.

...And It Was The Type Of Decision I Knew I Could Never Take Back

Much like how you can’t take back having a child, you also can’t really take back getting a cerclage. While it’s not a “for life” thing, once you get it placed you can't get it removed until you’re at 37 weeks gestation. This was one of those choices I knew I’d have to sit with for an extensive period of time.

It Gave Me A Preview Of What Epidurals Are Like

In order to have the procedure done, I would first need to be given an epidural. While I had never intended to get one during labor and delivery (and actually never did), it was good to get a sense of what the process is like. Mainly, it was nerve racking and made going to the bathroom a hellish ordeal for the next few hours.

It Gave Me A Preview Of What My Hospital Experience Might Be Like

For my cerclage, I was placed in the same group recovery area as many women who had just given birth. Unfortunately, the hospital I was in was rather crowded and the nurses were less than wonderful. I wound up not giving birth at that hospital, in part, because of this experience.

It Showed Me What True Pain Actually Is

So, having the emergency cerclage places wasn't that bad. However, having it removed felt like the world’s worst pain in the history of all pain.

I mean, the doctor rips out the stitches from your cervix without giving you any pain medication, you guys. So, yeah, I was definitely good and prepared for an unmedicated birth.

It Highlighted The Types Of Sacrifices I Might Have To Make As A Parent

Not all of parenthood has to be sacrifice, but there's definitely a lot to give up in order to be a good parent. You can’t be selfish, can’t sleep in, can’t have any privacy — the list goes on. Allowing doctors to poke and prod at me, then staying in bed for the better part of each day for several months, was just the beginning of the sacrifices I would gladly make for my son.