Jeannie’s incompetent cervix story is one of love and loss and raises awareness about cervical insufficiency. It’s also a story to honor her daughter, Marion.
Incompetent Cervix Story
Trigger warning for infant loss. Below we also honor Marion by sharing a cherished photo that might be hard for some people to see.
Jeannie wants people to know that it’s not your fault if you have an incompetent cervix. She knew she could develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy or have other complications. But nothing prepared her for an incompetent cervix and giving birth to her daughter Marion at 22 weeks.
Jeannie’s Fertility Journey
Jeannie met her husband when she was 18. At 29, she felt ready to start a family and got off birth control, assuming she’d get pregnant immediately.
She learned about her cycle and different fertility tracking methods, but she still wasn’t pregnant after a year of trying. So, Jeannie and her husband looked into fertility treatments.
As a plus size woman with a BMI over 40, she was nervous it would be difficult to find someone to support her fertility needs.
Luckily, she found a great fertility clinic nearby in Toronto, Canada, that welcomed her into their care.
Her doctor was very supportive, and nothing about Jeannie’s health showed why they weren’t getting pregnant. Instead, her husband’s sperm showed some limited motility.
Her doctor offered them different fertility interventions, from IUI to IVF.
They first tried IUI.
Jeannie found the process easy, but the two weeks wait to find out if they were pregnant was grueling. Sadly, it didn’t work.
So they tried again and again – five times in a row.
Next, they moved forward with IVF.
One of the most upsetting things about getting IVF as a plus size woman was that they wouldn’t use anesthesia during the egg retrieval process. Jeannie was determined, and nothing would stop her from moving forward. And thankfully, she wasn’t in terrible pain during the retrieval.
They got 12 eggs! And after time and testing had three viable embryos.
This time, the fertility treatment worked, and Jeannie was pregnant!
During those first few weeks, Jeannie experienced a lot of morning sickness, and all scans and tests were routine.
At 16 weeks, everything still looked good. A scan showed Jeannie’s cervix was long and closed.
When she transferred care from her fertility clinic to an OB-GYN, she was thankful her provider didn’t make her feel bad because of her size. They went over some increased risks but treated her like any pregnant person.
At 20 weeks, she had her anatomy scan, and everything looked good, but her baby wasn’t showing all of its parts, so she’d need to return.
The following week, she went in for another ultrasound. Jeannie not only learned she was pregnant with a daughter, but her little one gave a thumbs up.
Again, nothing was off, and they named their daughter Marion after Jeannie’s mom.
Jeannie had extreme love for her belly for the first time and was eager to watch her belly continue to grow.
Her life, at that moment, was everything she had ever wanted.
The following weekend she noticed a bit more discharge than normal. She had just swam in a new pool and thought the discharge could be related.
She messaged a few friends, who reassured her that nothing seemed worrisome.
The next day there was a bit more discharge, so she contacted her OB’s office. Again, she was reassured everything was normal. Her OB’s office didn’t recommend she come in for an exam unless there was blood.
But this little voice told her what she was experiencing wasn’t normal.
A few days later, she went for a scheduled ultrasound, and everything looked fine.
The following day, she saw a spot of blood when she went to the bathroom and went into full panic. She called into work sick for the first time in years.
The second the OB’s office opened, she called and was encouraged to go to the hospital because she sounded upset. So, Jeannie did her best to calm down and nap rather than rush to the hospital due to anxiety.
She decided to distract herself with a trip to Costco. But as soon as she arrived, she was bleeding even more, so she drove straight to the hospital.
Immediately Jeannie was monitored, and her blood pressure was skyrocketing.
When a doctor finally examined her, he immediately assessed something was extremely wrong.
The care team sprung into action and tuned her bed into the Trendelenburg position, with her feet above her head.
Tragically, she was four centimeters dilated, and her waters were bulging.
This was an emergent situation, and Jeannie called her husband. And as he arrived with her mom, they transferred Jeannie to another hospital.
She remained in that head-down position during the ambulance ride. A sweet nurse helped reduce her anxiety and take her mind off what was happening for a short while.
Marion’s Birth Story
Once she arrived at the hospital, she met with a doctor who talked to her compassionately, but Jeannie knew things were very bad. She never heard of an incompetent cervix story, and now this was her impossible predicament.
Her baby girl had just given her a thumbs up – how could this be happening?!
If she could make it to midnight, she’d be 22 weeks pregnant, but until then, they’d do nothing for the baby. So, told she’d likely deliver in the next few hours, Jeannie tried her best not to move.
At midnight, they relocated her to labor and delivery.
Her husband stayed by her side, and loving nurses supported her—nurses who also informed her that her mom could come to the hospital.
A new doctor met with her in the morning and said they could resuscitate the baby because she’s 22 weeks. But he also shared all the reasons why they shouldn’t make that choice.
Then Jeannie was given options for trying to hold off labor or to be induced. In the doctor’s professional opinion, she thought Jeannie would’ve already given birth.
The nursing staff and care providers held so much space for Jeannie and her family. Ultimately, they decided to induce. And the staff broke all the COVID rules to allow her to have as much family as she wanted by her side.
The induction began at noon, and things came on fast. An hour later, Jeannie gave birth to Marion with a supportive nurse, her husband, and her mom in the room. Marion was born at 1:10 pm, weighing 14 ounces, and looked just like Jeannie.
And Marion was held and loved until the moment she passed away at 2:25 pm.
We honor Marion and hold space for all loss families!
Below you can listen to Jeannie’s full incompetent cervix story in her own words during episode 179 of the Plus Mommy Podcast.
Information About Having An Incompetent Cervix
Cervical incompetence, also known as cervical insufficiency, is when your cervical tissue starts to open prematurely.
If caught early, a cervical cerclage that involves sewing the cervix closed can help to prevent preterm birth. But this typically happens around 14 weeks of pregnancy and was sadly not an option for Jeannie.
Symptoms of an incompetent cervix include a sensation of pelvic pressure, a new backache, mild abdominal cramps, a change in cervical discharge, and light vaginal bleeding. These are all common pregnancy symptoms, so it’s imperative to trust your gut and contact your care provider with any concerns.
Recording & Show Notes: Plus Mommy Podcast Episode 179
Transcript happily provided upon request.
Resources Mentioned On The Show: