Jennifer I.

My husband and I talked about starting a family for quite a long time before reaching a decision. I went through a lot of emotions about when the “time would be right” and whether I was ready to be a mom. It was not something we went into halfheartedly. We really talked about it a lot and how it would change our lives. We had been married almost 5 years. When we finally decided that we had talked enough, we knew we were more than ready! We decided to go off the pill in June 2002 and were going to start “officially trying” sometime in the fall. I was hoping to get pregnant in October or November to have a summer baby. However, we also decided that since I was off the pill we didn’t need to worry about other birth control, because if we got pregnant sooner, that would be just fine. Well, that’s exactly what happened!

I had one period after going off the pill, and in August 2002, we found out we were pregnant. It was surprising, scary, and thrilling all at the same time. I remember I was really only a couple days late, and that wasn’t all that big of a deal because I wasn’t sure if my periods were going to be regular or not, but something told me I should take a pregnancy test. I bought a 2-pack and took one as soon as I got home. The positive results came up immediately. I called my husband and told him to get home from work right away. He came right home, and we shared this wonderful moment together. I even took the second test the next morning because I figured, “what am I going to do with this extra test anyway?” The results were the same. We got it all confirmed 5 days later at the doctor’s office.

I was extremely excited. At this point, the only person I had shared this with was my sister, because she was the only one that knew we were even thinking about trying. She kept it a secret until we got a chance to go tell my parents. They were thrilled, and then we told my husband’s mom and sister and they couldn’t believe it. Everyone was just so happy. I wanted to tell the world. My husband wanted to wait till the “safe 3-month mark” but I convinced him not to. So we told our friends and relatives. It was wonderful.

About a week after our announcement, my family received terrifying news. My dad was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He was immediately put in the hospital and prepped for brain surgery. It was unbelievable. I was an emotional wreck. I cried a lot and was very scared. My sister, my mom, and I spent every minute we could with him and my husband was wonderful at keeping us all strong. He also made sure to take care of me as much as possible, knowing that I was still in the early stages of pregnancy. He made sure I ate and got enough rest and was doing all that I could to take care of myself. During this time, I was all over the place with my thoughts. I kept saying, “I wish I could be the one to go through it for him,” or “I wish I could wait and be pregnant when this is over and we can all enjoy it.” It was supposed to be a happy time, and instead it was very sad. We found out his tumor was malignant, and he had to go through radiation and chemotherapy. I wasn’t sure if I could even be around him during radiation and I was worried about not seeing him for 6 weeks. I knew he would hate that. Ironically, the day he started radiation was the same day I was diagnosed with a molar pregnancy.

I went in for my first prenatal appointment on September 24, 2002. I had a terrible cold and just wanted to go to the appointment and then go home and go to bed. I had been nauseous quite a bit for the past 3 weeks. I didn’t give it much thought because I was eating, but not vomiting. I also had a little bit of brownish discharge the week before. Again, I didn’t think too much of it because it didn’t seem alarming. Plus, my sister had just had a baby 10 months earlier, and she had had the same type of discharge. Her baby was perfect, so no need to worry. At my doctor’s appointment I met with one of the four ob/gyns in the group. I had never met with her before, but she had delivered my niece, and my sister said she was great. She performed my examination, and we talked about what I had been going through with my dad and some of my symptoms. Nothing seemed to out of the ordinary. She said she wanted to try to hear a heartbeat but didn’t know if she would because it was sort of early. She didn’t, but again, she wasn’t alarmed. She said she wanted to do an ultrasound since I was having some discharge, just to check things out.

She tried to do an abdominal ultrasound, but it didn’t work, so she tried a vaginal ultrasound. Her machine wasn’t working right, and she was having a hard time seeing images. She said she should be seeing more at 9 weeks and maybe I wasn’t as far along as I thought. Sometimes, being only off the pill 1 month, you don’t ovulate right. She thought it was possible that I was only 4 weeks instead of 9. That was OK with me, and at this point I wasn’t worried. She decided to send me down to the lab and have them use their machine because it was a better one. So I went down and the technician performed another vaginal ultrasound. I was trying hard to look at the screen but couldn’t see anything. I kept asking if she saw anything and she was very quiet. Finally she said she was going to have the radiologist look at the films and read them. I was left alone. At this point, I knew something was wrong. I kept thinking that she looks at ultrasounds every day and she can tell good from bad. She came back and said that the radiologist wanted a couple more pictures and then I should go back to the doctor’s office. They would go over the results with me there. Again, I knew that it was not good news or they wouldn’t be sending me back to my doctor.

When I got back upstairs to the office, the doctor called me in and told me she was glad she sent me to have the ultrasound because it showed that I had had a molar pregnancy. At this point, I asked if that was bad. I had no idea because I had never heard of such a thing. I thought at first, well maybe it just means that I had to rest or take it easy. But then she explained and I just started to cry. I was alone because I had told my husband they wouldn’t be doing anything at this exam that he needed to be there for. The doctor was very consoling. She asked if she could call anyone for me, and I said I’d like to call my husband. I was in such hysterics that I ended up giving the doctor the phone to explain because I just couldn’t keep it straight. She said I needed to go get blood taken right away and that I could wait for my husband to get there to go to the lab.

I decided to go to the lab and get in line while I waited. I also called my sister for support. She was so confused because she had never heard of it and had read hundreds of books on pregnancy. She offered to come there, but I said no, knowing that my husband was on his way. He showed up and just held me so tight. I felt better just having him there. We had the blood work done and went back to the doctor to go over a few things. She had scheduled the D&C for 3 days later so she could do the procedure. She didn’t want me to have a stranger doing it. My husband asked if we should get a second opinion. She said we absolutely could, but once we discussed it and understood that there really was nothing we could do to save the baby we opted not to. She did explain that it was not anything we could have prevented and that my odds of this happening again were slim. She also said I would have to wait 6 months to a year to conceive again. I didn’t really understand why, until the word cancer came up. At that point, I think I was numb. I felt terrible because of my cold, and I just couldn’t process anymore information.

I went home with my husband, cried, and ended up vomiting. The anxiety was unreal. While waiting for the procedure I did a little research on the topic, but a lot of it just scared me more. So I had the D&C, and it went just fine. It was almost too quick and painless. I expected to feel more physical pain. It hurt so much in my heart that I wanted it to hurt in my body too. All the doctors and nurses that worked with me in the hospital were wonderful and very supportive. They all showed their sympathy and tried to make me feel comfortable. I went back to work 3 days later.

It’s now been 2 weeks since my procedure. The pathology test shows that I had a partial molar pregnancy. My count before the procedure was 100,000. The first week it went down to 10,000 and last week it went down to 658. Tomorrow I go again and hold my breath for another couple days till I get the results. I have asked work for a leave of absence for a while. I’ve realized that with all that I have gone through this month that I need more time for myself to grieve and deal with what could happen to me. I also feel that I may need a career change, but I don’t want to make that decision while I’m going through all this. I’ve gone from being shocked to being sad and angry. I’m angry that this isn’t something more women know about. It shouldn’t be a tiny paragraph in a 500-page pregnancy book that no one will read until they’ve already experienced it. It should be well documented. It wouldn’t have changed my decision to get pregnant or altered what would happen to me, but at least I wouldn’t have been completely uneducated about it. It also would make it easier to explain to others and have them understand what you are going through if they knew what it was. This type of miscarriage is more than losing a child. It’s the uncertainty of what can happen to your own health.

Thank you for letting me share my story, and for giving me a place to go and discover that I am not alone. My heart goes out to all of you that have gone through this and are still going through this.

UPDATE: MAY 2003
My husband and I were given the OK to try again in March, and we got pregnant in April. I was apprehensive this time and a little nervous about what might happen. The doctor did blood work, and my hcg levels were completely normal. They scheduled me for an ultrasound at what should have been the 6-week mark. I started spotting, so they reran the blood work (it was still normal) and took me in a few days early for my ultrasound. The ultrasound showed that I was only 5 weeks and 3 days, but they weren’t concerned because it was only off by about a week. I went back the next week and the fetus had not grown at all. They knew it was a miscarriage. The only thing was that this time, there was a fetus, a sac, and absolutely NO signs of a molar. It gave me little solace. So, now I have gone through a “natural miscarriage” (I opted not to have a D&C) and will see the doctor in a couple weeks to discuss trying again. She says that she feels this was just two bad things that happened and that I should be able to have a child in the future. I hope she is right. I want to believe that is true.

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