Being pregnant

Shortened cervix: Concerns for second trimester

Tenille receives a chilling reminder that making it to the second trimester doesn't mean you're safe from risk.

Tenille meets with her obstetrician at the maternity triage in her hospital.

“We need you to go straight to the hospital.”

These, I can tell you, are the very last words any pregnant woman wants to hear, and they’d just come from the mouth of my ultrasound technician.

It was meant to be a glorious day. We were at 20 weeks, and we’d finally got to see the nubbins transition from “discarded props from the movie Alien” to “adorably wee human-like creatures.” We cooed as their little legs (so many legs!) filled the screen, and as I lay back for the final check of the appointment — a routine step to measure my cervix — I was giddy with happiness.

Twenty minutes later, the technician delivered that heart-stopping line and we screeched back to reality. My cervix, it seems, is short. Who knew?

With a sense of urgency, but not panic, we were directed to see my obstetrician at the maternity triage area at the hospital a block away. My husband delicately cradled the photos of our twins as we walked across, working hard to keep our minds from the worst. At least we weren’t being told to go to Emergency, right? This was all just routine, yeah? Deep down, though, my stoicism was being chipped away by fear and doubt. What if something was wrong? What if my body was failing our babies? We’d come so far. We thought we were safe. But this was a chilling reminder that nothing in pregnancy is assured.

During the 90-minute wait to see my OB, my husband and I held hands and assured each other that it would all be okay. We cracked jokes with the nurses, assured them I was not going into labour, and eavesdropped as best we could to get more details.

In the end, it came to this: The cervix — that often-neglected girlie bit that links the other girlie bits — holds the babies in. Ideally, it should be 3 cm to 4 cm long. Mine hovers just below 2.5 cm, so is less than ideal. A shortened cervix can be due to a number of factors, and it increases the chance of early labour. There’s nothing one can really do to improve it. We can only make sure it doesn’t get any shorter.

So, it’s increased rest for me, no strenuous activity and more frequent checkups. On the downside, it means my plans to maintain any semblance of buff-ness have been tossed out the window. On the upside, though, no shovelling of snow for the rest of the winter! Sure, it’s a small win, but we just dodged a major bullet — unplanned trips to the hospital are not on our Baby Bucket List. Right now, I’ll take any wins we can get.

Did you face a scare before your baby was born? How did you handle it? Did it change your attitude towards pregnancy?