February 2013. Positive. I was so happy that day. I worked out that I must have been about 5 weeks along. The lines were so quick to appear and very bold. Over those next few weeks I became increasingly more sick. I would throw up 3, maybe 4 times a day—morning sickness with a vengeance—and at 9 weeks I became poorly with a flu-like virus. I began to feel extremely uneasy about the pregnancy and, looking back, I think I knew something was not right. My midwife appointment was at 10 weeks. Having just gotten over the virus, it was a big pick me up when she thought she may have heard a heartbeat.
As I had been so poorly, I had told only a few close friends and family of my news. In the few weeks leading up to the scan the sickness had started to ease and my 2-year-old daughter was looking forward to seeing her little brother or sister.
20th March 2013. I will never forget that day; the sonographer’s face and the long, drawn-out silence said it all, but I desperately clung to the hope that it was just the machine not giving a clear picture. I fought with myself to say “Is everything ok?” but I knew my baby was gone. “I can’t find a heartbeat,” she said. I felt my husband’s hand at my ankle. I fought to keep the tears from coming for my daughter’s sake, but I felt the stinging in my eyes and the hole in my heart. The tears came and I couldn’t even bring myself to look at the screen. Although I was supposed to be 12 weeks (I definitely looked it), my baby measured more like 9. My ovaries were checked and multiple large cysts were found. I left that room without a picture and I felt heartbroken, incredibly sad, and guilty for having my daughter there. She asked over and over again about the baby, but eventually she forgot—at least I hoped.
My family and friends were, and still are, an incredible support. They gave me strength at a very dark time. I had to wait 2 days for my procedure and at around 8 that evening I was told that my pregnancy was suspicious of a molar (hydatidiform mole). Words that stuck in my mind were “1 year wait,” “cancer,” and “chemo.” I was devastated and very scared.
After a 4-week wait, the diagnosis was confirmed as partial molar pregnancy. I was 1 in 1000. My HCG level (pregnancy hormone) was tested every 2 weeks to monitor molar cell growth. I received my kit from Charing Cross specialist hospital, London, and had the bloods and urine samples sent back.
The first few results came down very quickly and I thought I could have one of the partial moles that reaches negative in 8 weeks. This made me feel instantly more positive. Despite the positive start, the deadline came and went and my results started to plateau. In June, I received a result with a rise in HCG and I broke down again. London Charing Cross called me into hospital pending another HCG result. At work, the day the test was due, I broke down and had a panic attack. I could not breathe and felt a rising knot of fear come up to my chest. I had suppressed the anxiety for so long.
Unfortunately, 2 days later, my result had not changed. I was told to pack for a week as it was likely I would need chemo. The thought of being away from home, and especially my daughter, was horrible. My husband came with me for support. I had a rapid HCG test done along with a chest x-ray (the cells can spread) and ultrasound. Thankfully, the x-ray was clear and I was told my HCG level had dropped again. The relief washed over me and I was so pleased to be walking out the same day, having prepared myself for a week of treatment. I was one of the lucky ones.
My HCG did come down, but it was achingly slow. Even if we did reach negative, we would then need to wait 6 months to be cleared. My due date came on September 29 and I had a little cry for my baby, but once the day passed I felt myself getting stronger again. It took nearly 8 months from my procedure to finally reach negative. I sobbed with relief on the phone. I could finally start to feel normal again. A change in the hospital policy meant I would be cleared on November 4—my daughter’s 3rd birthday. I felt the weight lift.
Through this journey I have become stronger. I feel truly blessed to already have my beautiful little girl; she has definitely kept me smiling. I am also incredibly lucky to have avoided chemo, which so many brave women I know have been through for this disease. I now feel positive and hopeful for the future knowing when we do have our rainbow baby, it will complete this journey and fill a little bit of the hole left in my heart.