Catching Up and Looking Forward

I gather you all had a wonderful holiday. Christmas through the eyes of a three year old is magical. Despite having croup, which turned to full blown cold for the little man; he surprisingly was in good spirits. By the way, overload of candy canes and peppermint patties cure all ailments!

For those that sent us notes in memory of Elodie, thank you. We had over 30 letters to read Christmas morning. Every single one of them blessed us. Some brought on the ugly cry and many tears of joy. We were so moved by your honesty and reflection on how Elodie’s life has impacted yours and we’re forever grateful. It was more than I could have imagined and it honored her memory profoundly during the first Christmas without her here. Thank you.

As we look forward to 2016, part of me can’t wait to put this year behind me…for obvious reasons. But by looking to a new year, it has also allowed me to reflect on this past year to recognize that in one fell swoop, September 24, 2015, changed everything. Life as I know it had been reset, in so many ways like a new year. A gift.

My prayer for 2016 is that I continue to see all things with these fresh set of eyes…that everything is filtered through the lens of purpose. Not the ‘do things that make me happy’ purpose. Or the ‘what have you done for me lately’ purpose. But with a heart that knows God started something through the taking of Elodie’s life and that out of obedience to His will and plan for my life, I look at 2016 with genuine hope. The kind of hope that moves me out of my ruts and old habits and moves me into a place that is good. Which may even feel inconvenient and actually difficult. Whether it be in my marriage to Mason. How we parent. Prioritizing family. Cultivating lasting friendships. My career. I pray that this gift I received this year carries us through the next and the next.

In the not far distant future, our initial prayer for 2016 is our decision to move towards having the transabdominal cerclage (TAC) placed. If you recall my post, Hope in the Fog, Mason and I had a phone consultation with a specialist in Chicago. The call went very well. So well that he was able to address all our practical questions/concerns before we could even ask them. Our next step is processing pre-certification with our insurance and then scheduling surgery. So far, we’ve felt the Lord led us down this path. From researching and finding connections online, to finding this doctor, and even the timing of the call. The timing bit even allowed us to change insurance carriers to one that typically covers this procedure…no questions asked. Don’t ever underestimate the “life event”.

I would be remiss to mention, we are approaching this decision independent of whether or not we actually try for another child. Whether or not we decide to give it a whirl, is still something we are prayerfully considering, but haven’t made a definitive decision. We ask that you join us in that, as we enter into a fresh new year with such promise and anticipation.


Hope in the Fog

Fog is strange…every morning over the last few days there has been a dense fog as we woke. You can see, but not very far. There is light and at times extremely bright…it can almost blind you. And often times its grey and ominous. As you look ahead it looks so dense that it can be frighting…it causes you to pause…slow down…but as you approach that dense area it suddenly becomes clear. Life lately feels like that, especially now…


Mason and I return to work this week…I wouldn’t say back to normal, because life will never be back to what it once was. But we’re looking forward to approaching our work lives with fresh eyes and new perspectives…we’re ready to get back to our new normal.

Over the weekend, our foggy path seemed to have shifted some after doing additional research on my pregnancy history. I posted our story on a uterine anomaly support website in hopes to find other women who may have had a similar experience to me. Several women responded and shared their stories. Many began recommending that I look into a special type of cervical cerclage called a transabdominal cerclage (TAC). There are only about 100 doctors in the country that will perform these and there are only three doctors that actually specialize in this procedure. With one of those three doctors in hand based in Chicago I pulled him up online, found his email address, and wrote him an email on Saturday morning sharing our story, my pregnancy history, and asked for his thoughts…within two hours he responded…

His email took my breath away and brought me to tears. His confidence in diagnosing my case within minutes was encouraging, yet heartbreaking at the same time. Could this all have been prevented? I don’t dare dwell on that reality, but focus on hope…

Dear Ms. John,

I am sorry to hear of your preterm delivery and subsequent loss and am sure these were very difficult for you and your entire family.

From your history, there is no doubt that you have an incompetent cervix (IC) as there is virtually no other way you could present with your cervix 4 cm dilated at 22 weeks in your second pregnancy without funneling from an IC.  I suspect IC was also the cause of your extreme preterm 1st delivery as well but your cervical support at that time allowed you to get further in pregnancy.  Once you have had a delivery of any kind, it is not uncommon to have the same pattern occur earlier in your next pregnancy.  While you have a bicornuate uterus (a common uterine anomaly), a bicornuate uterus does not result in second trimester losses so this is clearly IC.

Without treatment, you are likely to have a similar pattern of cervical change and loss in any subsequent pregnancies.  You have two basic treatment options, a transvaginal cerclage (TVC) as your doctor recommended or a transabdominal cerclage (TAC) and they are very different.  The TVC is placed around 12 weeks, generally requires bed rest, allows you to have a vaginal delivery, results in living children approximately 75% of the time but with a high rate of preterm delivery often with long and risky NICU stays as you previously experienced.

The TAC is easily placed prior to pregnancy as an outpatient, does not need bed rest, requires a C-section (you need one regardless) but virtually assures you a term delivery (> 36 weeks).  I have placed TACs in many women with anomalies of the uterus and they respond just like women with normal uterine configurations with IC. Additionally, you simply leave the TAC in place at the time of the C-section and it will work just as well in any subsequent pregnancies.  I am currently placing over 200 TACs per year in women with histories like yours.

I am happy to discuss your situation with you on the phone to answer all of your questions and make your options clear.  You can arrange that by contacting my assistant Gina Williams at 773-702-6127 and she can find a mutually convenient time.  I look forward to speaking with you.  Good luck.

A.F. Haney

We ask for your prayers.

Specifically as we meet with Dr. Haney. We have a scheduled phone consult with him on Thursday morning. We pray for wisdom for the doctor as he assesses my history and we pray for discernment for us. xo