Editor’s note: Jake Sherlock and his wife Jenny are expecting their first child in March, and they’ve chosen to share their challenges and experiences in this new column. Look for it periodically here at ColumbiaMissourian.com.
It was a rowdy Saturday night in Cheyenne, Wyo., when I realized how jarring fatherhood will be.
I was back in my homeland, spending the weekend with my best friend and enjoying the annual Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo and celebration. We were at one of our favorite watering holes, drinking beers, reminiscing about the old days and talking excitedly for the future.
That’s when my phone rang, and I was jarred right back into reality.
It was my wife, Jenny, who had stayed in Columbia while I had my boys-only weekend. Frantic and crying, she told me she had called a friend to take her to the hospital because she was having a miscarriage. She had been working on a remodeling project when the blood started flowing heavily. The bleeding, coupled with some cramping, had her convinced it was a miscarriage.
There was no worse feeling of helplessness than being 800 miles away when the person you love most in the world needs you the most. Fortunately, our friend rushed over to take Jenny to the hospital. All I could do was call ahead to the emergency room for her, then wait.
Jenny spent about five hours in the emergency room that night. Thankfully, it wasn’t a miscarriage. But we weren’t entirely sure what it was.
We figured out several weeks later when one of our doctors diagnosed Jenny with a bicornuate uterus. As I listened to the doctor explain it, I got that same jarred feeling again.
A bicornuate uterus means our baby doesn’t have a full uterus to work with. Essentially, it means that the uterus is somewhat heart-shaped; in Jenny’s case, the heart-shape is severe enough that it has created a “horn” and a “main chamber.” The baby is growing in the main chamber; the horn is where the doctor thinks the bleeding likely came from. Essentially, the “horn” also thought it was pregnant and then expelled the extra material when it realized it wasn’t.
What this will mean for our baby depends on how much the uterus will stretch. The baby could go to a full term or come early. That’s why we’ll have more ultrasounds than the average couple – the doctors want to track how fast the baby is growing. There’s also a greater likelihood that Jenny will have a breech birth or a Cesarean section.
We left the doctor’s office that day scared out of our wits. Jenny made a couple of follow-up phone calls to the doctor and started doing a ton of Web research. I tried to pretend that everything would be fine, but I was still scared. I just wanted someone to tell me it was going to be OK.
Thanks to Jenny’s research, we’ve gotten past our initial fears. For one, many women with this condition have a hard time getting pregnant. We got pregnant within two months. That’s a good sign.
Secondly, we hear all the time about women having four, five or six babies at once thanks to fertility treatments. Those babies often come early and they might be a little lightweight, but they still come out healthy. We take comfort in the idea that if a uterus can stretch enough to bring sextuplets to term, certainly Jenny’s can handle one child.
I’m back to my hopeful state of mind. With any luck, the next time the child jars me from that state won’t be until prom night.
Jake Sherlock is a news editor at the Columbia Missourian. E-mail him at SherlockJ@missouri.edu