I am a 40-year-old mother of five wonderful children and have been married to John for 10 years. We have three children together, and I have two from a previous marriage. I decided last November that I wanted another baby to love, and although John was reluctant to conceive again we both decided to go for it, so I stopped taking birth control and started my journey of trying to conceive. The months went by, and I charted and kept track of when I ovulated and when the optimal time would be so we could boost our chances of conceiving. Then, just when I had reached the 6-month mark and was ready to call it quits, I took a pregnancy test on Father’s Day and WOW, it was positive! I couldn’t have been more overjoyed. The baby would have been due around my husband’s birthday in February. I already had three daughters born in February, so this would really be something else.
I went to see the obstetrics nurse at 6 weeks and had the preliminary question and answer session and got started on prenatal vitamins. We were scheduled for the first ob appointment on July 18th. I would be right at 10 weeks then, still too early for a heartbeat with the Doppler. Then the saga began. On July 4th, I began to spot lightly—no cramping or clots, just light spotting. Because I was 40 and never had spotting before with any of my five pregnancies I became alarmed and called the doctor on call. He was very reassuring and just said take it easy, stay off your feet, and everything will be fine. He also said it was quite common for some women to spot in early pregnancy. Although he meant to calm me down, I still felt apprehensive, as though something just wasn’t right.
The next 2 weeks went by, and I was still spotting lightly no matter whether I sat, stood, laid down, or walked. I was grateful to finally go to the doctor, because I felt something might get done once he actually examined me. He did the routine pap and pelvic, then we discussed the spotting. He said that he felt it really wasn’t anything to worry about and that most likely it was just the pregnancy settling in. I voiced my concerns about my age possibly affecting my progesterone level, but he seemed to think things weren’t that complicated. To ease my mind, however, he ordered an ultrasound “just to take a look and see what was going on.” The ultrasound tech was booked up that day, so we had to wait until Monday. I had to go the whole weekend on pins and needles.
On Sunday morning I woke up and when I went to the bathroom there was bright red blood and it looked as though I had started my period, so again I called the doctor on call. It was a different doctor this time, but when I explained to her what was going on and what the other doctor had said she still seemed to think this was perfectly common. She said that if I wasn’t going through a pad an hour and there was no cramping, then things were fine. I stayed off my feet the rest of the day and went to the ultrasound the following afternoon. I was scheduled for a vaginal and an abdominal ultrasound. The tech did the abdominal first and having seen many ultrasounds with my other pregnancies I knew right away that there was something terribly wrong. I could see only some glob type growth that had no regular form and definitely no heartbeat. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. My mind registered it but I just couldn’t comprehend it; I still wanted to believe things were fine.
I was told to go to the bathroom and then come back and we would finish with the vaginal ultrasound, which was highly uncomfortable and had the same result. I couldn’t think or feel at this point and just wanted to crawl inside myself and grieve, but I had to get through this first. The ultrasound tech went to get the doctor, and when he came in he told us the ultrasound didn’t show a normal pregnancy and that what we were seeing was a possible molar pregnancy. He went on to describe this, but I tuned him out and just heard something about a D&C and cancer and getting this out of there right away. I didn’t care what anyone had to say at this point and just wanted to go home. When we did leave we didn’t know what to say to each other. We knew we needed to discuss this, but now was not the time. I did take time to look up molar pregnancy on the internet and after many sites and much info on the subject it all began to sink in. I realized this was going to be a long, drawn-out process. My hopes and dreams for another baby would be put on hold for many months. I thought, man I’m already 40! Waiting 12 months is going to a long time, considering my chances of having a Down’s syndrome baby go up every month over the age of 40. I thought of my reduced chances to conceive, and the increased risk of miscarriage, and then the increased risked of having another molar.
I was told my doctor would call the next morning to schedule a D&C, but the day went on and no one called, so I had my husband call. He was told that the radiologist still had to view the ultrasound films and call the doctor with his findings. That evening the doctor’s assistant called and told me the radiologist looked over the pictures but still wanted to view the tape. He would call the doctor and then the doctor would call me. At 10 pm I went to bed without hearing anything more. The next day the assistant called again. The doctor would call me soon, but first he wanted me to get a beta hcg done that morning so we could go from there. When I spoke with the doctor he told me the same thing the assistant did, that the ultrasound pictures and tape had revealed what appeared to be a molar pregnancy.
At this point I was so upset, I just wanted to get this over with. I felt I really didn’t need to get a beta, because regardless of what it was, something was growing inside my uterus that was beyond normal and had to come out of there, and the sooner the better. I needed to piece my life back together and get back to a semi-normal state of mind. I had the beta done and rushed home to await the doctor’s call, but again the whole day went by with no word. Finally the doctor called and told me my beta was high, that a D&C was scheduled at 9 the next morning, and to be at the hospital at 7am for prep. It was the worst day of my life, and yet I also was relieved because I could finally start the healing process. The worst part, I think, is the fact that the D&C was at the same hospital where I gave birth to my daughter in November 1999—in the same wing, right across the hall from the nursery. Talk about rubbing salt in the wound! I survived it, however, and although it was heart rending, it was done.
It will be a week tomorrow since the D&C and although the bleeding is tapering off now I know I still have many months of tests yet to go through. It will pass slowly for me, but I will be strong and I will get through this. Will we decide to try again once the doctor gives us the okay? I don’t know yet. My husband has been very reassuring through all this, and he has told me constantly that we will have another baby. I want to believe him, and I want to try again, but how will I feel in the next coming months? I am not sure.