By: Vernitta Walters
Tuesday, December 12, 2017. The time had come, our “BIG” 20-week appointment! I was so excited and slightly apprehensive at the same time. Weeks leading up to the appointment, I kept telling myself, if I can just get past the 20-week appointment, I could breathe a sigh of relief. By then, I would be considered in the “safe zone” and past the point where things could go wrong; or so I thought.
The appointment began like all of the others. We were so excited to see our baby boy, Cameron Joseph Walters. As the nurse took pictures of him wiggling around on the screen, my husband took out his cell phone and secretly recorded all of the baby’s moves.
He was so active that day, so full of life and our hearts were so full of love and excitement. Then suddenly things changed.
The doctor came in and examined me and asked a question I will never forget, “Are you having any cramping or experiencing any pressure down below?” I answered, “No, why would you ask that, Doctor?” She responded, “Your cervix is dilated 3cm, we need to take a further look”. And just like that, our lives changed forever. As she continued to look, I held my husband’s hand tighter and tighter, we were still, silent, unsure of what to ask or expect until the doctor spoke again. Then she said those two ill-fated words: Incompetent Cervix. What on Earth is that, we thought. I had never heard of it. She went on to explain that it is a condition where the cervix dilates early (before 37 weeks), without pain or contractions and can lead to premature birth and/or the loss of our baby. We were floored! She advised that she needed to run more tests to see what options we had.
As I lay on the table inconsolable, my husband remained the rock that he is and tried his best to ask sensible questions about the totally non-sensible situation that we found ourselves in.
To our dismay, we were beyond the point of the most popular option for this condition, a cerclage. I was placed on strict bed rest and was advised to only be on my feet to go back and forth to the restroom and to hope for the best. One could only imagine our shock at this point. In the course of an hour, we went from watching our baby move around so vibrantly in my stomach to now, begging the Lord to keep my baby safely inside until at least 23 weeks.
We were prayerful and optimistic that our prayers would be answered, but on Sunday, December 17th at around 5:30 am, things took a turn for the worse. My water broke and I knew at that moment, my chances of bringing our baby boy into the world were over. We rushed to the emergency room. We met the doctor and he advised that there would be nothing they could do to save our Cameron, and I was prepped for labor, epidural and all.
The agony of knowing that I was being prepped to give birth to a baby that would not be alive was and still is unbearable.
The feeling is indescribable. The sadness of it all, the guilt of knowing that my body failed a perfectly healthy baby, the unanswered questions and unanswered prayers; it was all too much to bear. When I gave birth, the silence was deafening. The emotions did not stop there; the anger and the resentment, the disappointment, the questioning of my faith, the jealousy and envy, the ignorance I felt about not knowing of this condition that stole my baby from me.
I felt horrible for letting my husband down, for not being able to give him the son he always wanted. I also felt terrible for letting my daughter down. It took us so long to get pregnant again and she was so excited to become a big sister, and I felt as though I disappointed her. All of these emotions were very real to me immediately after the birth and death of our son. I could not shake them for months after, even after I began to adjust to our new normal. Now that some time has passed, I am aware that I did not let my family down and my faith, oddly enough, is much stronger than before. I still battle some of these emotions today, for example, the jealousy when I see an infant baby boy or hear the news of someone else who has a child is giving birth again. These are feelings that I pray will ease over time, but today, I must admit still exist.
Incompetent cervix (IC) altered my entire being. It came into our lives, truly like a thief in the night and stole our baby from us.
To this day, I still feel robbed and cheated of the opportunity to mother the son that my husband and I greatly desired. That is my truth and that is how I feel, right, wrong or indifferent.
I still struggle with the fact that this condition is often not detected until it happens to a woman. Incompetent cervix is not routinely checked for in a pregnant woman and therefore not diagnosed until a second or third trimester loss. Statistics show that incompetent cervix happens in 1-2% of pregnancies and roughly 25% of losses in the second trimester are due to incompetent cervix. (AmericanPregnancy.com). If you’ve been diagnosed with this condition, early intervention is key.
In honor of Cameron Joseph Walters. December 17, 2017
References: AmericanPregancy.com: http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-complications/incompetent-cervix/
Vernitta is a wife and mom whose resides in Fayetteville, Georgia with her husband and daughter. Their angel baby, Cameron Joseph lived for a blissful 21 weeks and 1 day in the womb and was born silently on December 17, 2017. After the loss of their son, due to incompetent cervix (IC), Vernitta desired to take a different path in life. She recently retired from her corporate job of almost 25 years and began to pursue her lifelong passions. The most important being creating an awareness around incompetent cervix and offering support to those who have suffered the same loss.
The topic of infant loss is one that is all too familiar to Vernitta and her husband. Prior to and after the delivery of their daughter, Vernitta suffered 8 miscarriages and 1 ectopic pregnancy, which resulted in the removal of her left fallopian tube. This most recent loss, however was very different and by far, the most difficult, as she thought she had made it past the “safe point”. Since the stillbirth of their son, Vernitta hopes to educate as many as she can about IC and be that shoulder or ear that is so necessary to others who share the same grief. She desires to write for publications on the topic of infant loss, in hopes that it will not only educate others but help to heal their hearts in some way.
Her and her husband are still trying for their rainbow baby but will always mourn the loss of Cam (as they nicknamed him). Vernitta is now a licensed Realtor in Georgia and plans to write a book on her experience, when the time is right.