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The "Incompetent" Cervix

I am paranoid about everything; any time I sneeze, bend over, or even take a dump, I worry if I’m hurting the baby. In my brain, I know that I’m not, but I still worry. It’s because there is never a reason for all the potentially terrible things to happen.

I recently talked to a fellow pregnant mom about cervical cerclage. It’s a stitch to keep your cervix closed due to an “incompetent” cervix. Brushing past the fact that doctors need to sew your cervix shut to keep a baby from coming out too early (I’m still horrified about this), let’s talk about the word “incompetent.” The Cleveland Clinic website actually uses the word “incompetent” to describe this condition.

I’ve always associated the word incompetent with someone being unskilled due to personal inaction. You know who I'm talking about, that person in your workplace that is lazy and unqualified for their position. Yet doctors have deemed it an appropriate word to use on our cervixes. What kills me, though, is if a penis doesn’t work properly, it gets the word “impotent,” meaning helpless or powerless through no fault of its own. Doesn’t that make it seem like our cervixes aren’t working because of something we did? It’s not said outright, but it sure does feel that way. My theory is that subtle vocabulary like this contributes to this self-blame and guilt women feel regarding their pregnancies. It’s why we are paranoid over every little thing, and it’s why we rack our brains for every what-if when something does go wrong. We are not crazy; we’ve been brainwashed like those subliminal Mickey’s at Disney Land that get customers to buy a pair of Mickey ears.

If you need more proof, let me introduce the term "hostile uterus." While this term is now considered outdated, I see articles from 2019 still using this term. It is supposed to refer to the thickness of the cervical mucus preventing sperm from penetrating and even contributing to its destruction. Not something we can control as women, but it occurs in about 20 percent of us. When I tried to look up the medical term for hostile uterus, Google gave me this.

The first four results ALL included the word hostile, but no medical-sounding terms were used. By medical-sounding term, I mean something like "oligospermia." That is the medical term for a low sperm count. Also not something a man can control, but it has a medical name that doesn't include the word "hostile," "insufficient," or "imbalance."

So if you feel like something is your fault even though you have no control over it, it's not your fault. I'm not going to tell you to stop feeling that way because I don't think I'm more powerful than the brainwashing you've endured just from learning the English language. What I am going to tell you is that it's not your fault. I will tell you that until I'm blue in the face because that might be precisely what it takes to wipe away how messed up all this is.

I am going to start making an active effort to stop being paranoid or feeling guilty. I know I am a good mother because of everything I am already doing. That is what I want to focus on moving forward.

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