On the day of my phone consult with Dr. Haney, I paused and invited God into my conversation with him. I asked God for his guidance in helping me to determine if this is the procedure I should complete and if Dr. Haney was the doctor I should go to. I had been thinking non-stop about my consult ever since I scheduled it one week ago with his assistant.
My husband rushed home on his lunch break so that he could be with me during the conversation. With his crazy Marine Corps recruiter lifestyle, I was so grateful he was there to make it to support to me. I called Dr. Haney’s assistant and she conferenced us in with him. He immediately put me at ease and made me laugh when he inquired about my weight. “I weigh that much now but I do intend to lose some pounds, Dr. Haney,” I said. He laughed and replied, “Your husband is a Marine, you’re just fine. You have to be fit to be with him!” Barely two minutes into the conversation and I liked him already. This had to bode well for me, I thought.
He proceeded to ask me more questions about my medical history and gave me a detailed, lengthy explanation of the TAC procedure. I love details and appreciated very much how chatty yet thorough he was. He likened the TAC to a wedding band with tensile strength. He then asked what kind of insurance I have. Side note – I am so grateful that I have insurance from my work and that I have a PPO. I always knew paying the premium price would pay off. Dr. Haney noted that United Healthcare learned that a TAC procedure is more cost-effective in the long run compared to a long NICU stay.
But then he said something that knocked the wind out of me, “Nobody has this. Your friends are experiencing births. Some people you know may have miscarriages but no one has this out of your friends. You just had a loss – and this is a full on loss.”
At this point, I put him on mute and I sobbed openly while nodding my head. I couldn’t talk because he hit the nail on the head. Dr. Haney was right. No one I knew has ever had this experience. All around me, I have dear family and friends who are pregnant and due around the same time I was supposed to be. Instead of experiencing one of the most joyous moments of my life, every day I replay the birth of Ezekiel in my mind. It repeats itself in a continuous loop during random moments of the day. His tiny, beautiful face. His perfectly made hands, feet and baby belly. Watching his chest move up and down as he struggled to breathe. I will never know why this has happened to us. My faith is strong but I’m human. I pray all the time. We go to church regularly. I’m the friend who sends prayers to close family and friends randomly. I’m certainly no Mother Theresa, but at the core of it, I know I am a good person with heartfelt intentions. There are days when I struggle thinking, “What did we do to deserve this?”
These past several weeks on medical leave, I was taking my daughter to school as per usual but walking around NY almost like a ghost. I went to church, yoga, acupuncture and I tried out a Mayan Abdominal Massage. I walked into random coffee shops and would read my Bible, various loss books, and journaled. I volunteered and prayed for my family and random strangers I would encounter in the subway or on the streets. My husband did not have bereavement leave. I do not have many friends here in NY. My support system is located in SD and SF. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for myself at times. People continue about daily life while people like me experience such tremendous grief and sorrow.
I pray daily with an expectant heart asking for God to reveal Himself to me. God, you know how traumatic this experience is for us. How will we recover? Will we ever have children again? Why? A thousand times, why?
While I made my long pause and sobbed on mute, Dr. Haney continued to talk about the history of the TAC. Whew! When I recovered, it was my turn to talk. Mind you, I had spent hours reading his TAC Q&A and reading blogs from all over the world about this procedure. But here are some of the questions I asked:
Q: Why is the TAC only placed by a small number of physicians in the US?
A: Fifty years ago, this was seen as one of the most dangerous operations on the planet. He’s been doing this for over 35 years but there are not a lot of residencies that teach this procedure. He is doing his best to help educate the community and expects that in 2-3 more years, this procedure will be the go-to procedure for women with an incompetent cervix.
Q: Are there differences in success rate if an incompetent cervix was brought on by an infection or by a cervical tear?
Q: How soon would I be able to schedule my TAC with you when our loss occurred on April 5th?
A: 90 days after the loss.
Q: In your email, you mentioned the use of birth control. If we decide to not use birth control and get pregnant now vs the scheduled surgery, how would this work
A: He specifically requests patients to use condoms and not any other type of birth control to help maximize the chances of pregnancy post-TAC. While he does complete TAC’s during pregnancy, he highly recommended for the pre-pregnancy transabdominal cerclage procedure to happen first before trying to get pregnant.
Q: Are there any risks to the baby after TAC placement?
Q: Can the TAC cause infertility?
Q: Will there be a hospital stay?
A: No, pre-pregnancy TAC’s are completed in the outpatient setting.
Q: Do you foresee any issues with a very active lifestyle of walking around and going up and down subway steps?
A: Not at all, he encourages it.
Q: What are the complications you have seen post-TAC?
A: Bladder infections or skin infections. Infections will occur in 1 out of 200 women and they tend to occur in patients who are overweight.
Q: How would you coordinate care with my OB?
A: Does your OB know how to do a c-section? I replied saying, Dear God I hope so. He said as long as my OB knew how to do a c-section, he was happy to have a conversation with her to review the procedure and how subsequent pregnancies would not be any different. I would just need to deliver via c-section.
Q: After the TAC, what kind of management should I expect to receive from my OB?
A: Routine u/s scans and have a section around 38 weeks. Scans would be frequent, especially getting to the point past my loss to ensure peace of mind. I also inquired about progesterone and he said that there is currently no evidence that it helps but it can’t hurt.
Q: If I have further questions, what is your preferred method of contact?
A: Email or phone.
Q: What are the next steps if I want to proceed with the TAC?
A: Just schedule with my assistant.
While my tears had subsided while I was asking my questions, before we ended the conversation, Dr. Haney reassured me about the TAC and mentioned, “I’m sure your husband just wants his wife back.” Again the sobbing returned as I thanked Dr. Haney for his time. Our phone conversation lasted slightly over an hour. I hung up the phone and looked at my husband with a tear-stained, mess of a face and told him I wanted to move forward with the procedure. He agreed with my decision.
I know my husband and my daughter have a wife and mother here on earth. I need to do my best to get back to them fully. I also wanted to increase my chances of having the opportunity to be the mother of more children (God willing).
I called Dr. Haney’s assistant and requested to schedule my procedure. 90 days after the birth of Ezekiel would be July 5th – my 35th birthday. I was initially extremely disappointed to hear that Dr. Haney and his partner would be taking the whole month of July off. But it’s not my will, it’s God’s will. So my TAC is scheduled for August 5. Until then, more praying, waiting, and getting my mind/heart/body right.