The (Cervi)X Files: I Hate SonogramsRebekah Kuschmider
In about an hour I need to leave for my weekly meeting with the transvaginal sonogram wand that checks my cervix for signs that it’s getting shorter. I hate that wand. I know no one likes them but I harbor an extra dislike of sonograms, vaginal or abdominal. The lead-up to having one makes me anxious and a little depressed.
Last summer, I had a miscarriage that happened at either 7 weeks or 9 weeks, depending on who you ask. I think it was 9 weeks because I was there the day I had sex without a condom. But the sonograms I had during that brief pregnancy told a different tale. The first one I got for spotting at what should have been 6 weeks showed that I appeared to be only 4 weeks pregnant. I never felt right about that pregnancy from that moment. Subsequent sonos kept giving me bad news. I was behind for dates. The sac was collapsing and there was no heartbeat. The miscarriage was happening too slowly and I would need a D&C.
Every sono appointment was bad news. Now, I think of all sonos as an opportunity to be told something devastating instead of as a magical window that I can use to peek at my baby.
This pregnancy has been entirely different and all my sonos have showed a perfectly developing fetus. I’m also doing well as long as I don’t look at my thighs and butt in the mirror and confirm that yes, yes I really have gained as much weight as the scale says. By 20 weeks, when I headed into what I thought was the last sonogram of the pregnancy, I was actually over my anxiety enough to look forward to it.
Then my doctor told me that I’d need a few more because they’d changed the protocol for the cervical surveillance for women with known risks for cervical incompetence. I don’t have cervical incompetence, mind you. I just have known risks, namely a history of cervical surgery. But I felt ok about it. Everything was going well. I could put my anxiety about sonos on low simmer and smile through these last few extra ones. It as ok. Everything was ok.
Then two weeks ago, I had a day with pelvic pressure and frequent Braxton Hicks so I went in for a sono just to get checked. The baby is fine. I am fine. The Braxton Hicks were probably the result of too much activity and not enough water. My cervix is almost fine – a touch shorter, but closed up tight. The prescription for a woman with my history and a cervix that’s shrunk two tenths of a centimeter? Pelvic rest and weekly sonos to check to further shortening and signs of dilation.
Why is my cervix shorter? They don’t know. It might be a sign of something ominous, an indication that I’m at risk for preterm labor. Or it might be nothing, the natural effects of my weightier uterus compressing it’s own opening a bit. Could this just be how my body works at this point in pregnancy, I asked them. Yes, they told me. But we don’t know because we don’t usually look this closely unless there’s a chance something could go wrong. But do you think something will go wrong?, I asked, Because I’m terrified. Probably not, they told me, We’ll keep checking with sonos for a few weeks then internal exams. If it goes below 2.5 centimeters, we’ll take additional steps. For now, don’t worry.
Sure. That’s possible
So, another sono today to measure my cervix in minute detail. And another next week, too. I think of them as hurdles I must leap, potential harbingers of bad news. The clicking sounds of the sono tech’s mouse frightens me to no end. I don’t want to hear her careful measurements. I want her to say Your cervix is stable” like she did last week and send me home. I want this sono to be over with no bad news. I want the next one to be over with no bad news. I want to get to the point where I’m only checked gently for dilation, not these highly technical visual exams that tell me to within a fraction of a centimeter how afraid I should be and how close I am to progesterone shots, or bed rest, or, heaven forbid, preterm labor and the NICU. I want to truly believe this pregnancy is normal, without the shadows of doubt these sonos keep casting on it.
I don’t want to ever see a sonogram machine again after this pregnancy.
Update: Today’s sono revealed no change from the last one. Woohoo!
Photo credit: photo stock