My husband and I had tried to conceive for a year. We had just stared our path of infertility testing. I went in and had an HSG (it checks out your fallopian tubes for blockages), and I was told that a majority of the time women conceive after the procedure because it essentially cleans out the cobwebs in the tubes. To my complete and utter delight, about 5 weeks later I was pregnant. I knew the day my period was due. I had been testing my ovulation and knew the exact day that I conceived. I was so excited; I had woken up at 6am and tested, and within seconds it was positive. After waking my husband I called my Mom. I told everyone imaginable. I had been waiting for this so long. I went in for blood work that Monday. My hcg level was 250 with progesterone of 40 (twice the normal amount). Two days later we checked my hcg level again and it was in the 500s. I was so happy and was told that everything looked great. I wouldn’t need my first OB appt until about 10 weeks. but I couldn’t wait. I pestered the nurses until I got an appointment at about 8 weeks.
The appointment went well; we couldn’t hear a heartbeat, but I was told it was too early. We waited a week and tried again but it was still too early. In week 10 I went in and heard a heartbeat. I cried. But I was measuring big for the date, and we heard the heartbeat in two places on my belly, so we scheduled an ultrasound for the next day. I was thinking, Oh my God ,I am having twins! And I knew I was big for my dates. I couldn’t wear any of my old clothes. I was already in baggy pants and was uncomfortable. I felt like I was carrying heavy water balloons in my uterus (later I found out that I really was—10 inches of cysts). The next day, my husband was unable to get off work, so I went in alone, thinking we would find out we were having twins. WRONG. After 10 minutes, the technician went out to get the doctor. I knew something was very wrong and had already started crying. I told them they were scaring me and to tell me what was wrong. The doctor wasn’t sure. It looked like the baby might have Down’s syndrome, and my placenta was very thick. What did this mean? The doctor was very reassuring and comforting, although I had never seen him before. He asked if I wanted to call my husband. They left the room and I cried hysterically. I couldn’t reach my husband on the phone. I just remember thinking: What am I going to do? How did this happen?
The technician came back in, gave me a hug, and told me they were referring me to a specialty group down in Boston, Massachusetts (I lived in New Hampshire). The Boston group dealt with this on a daily basis and would be able to give me a better picture. I would be getting a phone call later that day to tell me when the appointment was. I sat in the car for 20 minutes crying. I have never cried like that before. I finally told my husband over the phone and while still crying; he barely understood what I was saying. He was and is my rock. He told me not to worry until we went to Boston, but that didn’t happen for another week. It was the worst week of my entire life, but at the same time it was good because it gave us time to prepare for the worst and the best. We explored every option possible, so we thought.
We finally got to Boston, and they did the ultrasound. I could see the screen, and there were two hands, two legs, a head, and a strong heartbeat. I thought, Oh thank God, the baby’s normal. The technician left the room, and I looked to my husband for reassurance. He saw it too. The doctor came in and said the worst I never imagined. The fetus was not viable! It was most likely a triploid anomaly. The fetus probably had three complete sets of chromosomes and would never survive. I also had cysts in the placenta and the ovaries that were consistent with a partial molar pregnancy. A WHAT? This was bad from the start and only got worse. The doctor was very compassionate and offered to do an amniocentesis to confirm the diagnosis, but we would have to wait 2 weeks for the report. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t carry our baby for 2 more weeks, knowing it was already gone. She called my doctor back in New Hampshire, and he said he would meet with us as soon as we got back. She filled him in with all the details, but when we arrived, the doctor I had seen for the first ultrasound was not available. I saw yet another new doctor, who went over what they had said in Boston: partial molar pregnancy, not viable, triploid, termination, cancer. I wanted this over. We asked to schedule the D&C as soon as possible, but the next day was Thanksgiving and they only did emergent surgeries; this was not considered emergent. So it would have to be Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.
Needless to say, Thanksgiving wasn’t very thankful. I spent most of the time trying to figure out what just happened and what was wrong with the baby. I have to say that I am an RN, so I understand the medical jargon, and it scared the crap out of me. I was in a serious health crisis and had lost my baby, even though there had been a strong heartbeat. I was on an emotional roller coaster ride. We went in Friday morning, the day after Thanksgiving. I was 15 weeks pregnant and measured at 20 weeks. My belly looked cute, but it was all wrong and I knew it. I was the only patient there that day, and everyone was very compassionate and loving toward me. The only thing I wanted to know when I woke up was the sex. The doctor said it was too tiny to tell. I think he was trying to spare me more pain. (I later found out it was a girl from the pathology report, and it did make it worse; I spend days thinking what she would have looked like). I found out that my hcg level on the morning of surgery was over 1 million, and because of that I was now having hyperthyroidism, which can happen with hcg that high. I got to skip my first weekly blood draw because my hcg was too high to count in the hospital, but I then went into weekly testing. It took for ever to come down: a total of 24 weeks.
In the process of dealing with this, I had another ultrasound to follow up on the ovarian cyst. I had a cyst that totaled about a 10-inch grapefruit in my belly. Not only was I having weekly blood draws, but I was having regular ultrasounds. I spent one day just crying. I didn’t want any of this anymore. I wanted to be normal again. Little did I know I had been changed for ever. I went out that weekend and bought regular jeans, I didn’t want anything maternity. I still had a belly from the cysts and nothing fit; I finally found a pair of jeans two sizes bigger than my usual, but I didn’t care. I wanted regular jeans. My husband was great. He tolerated everything and was wonderful throughout this whole ordeal. You not only have to deal with the loss but then you get to have a daily, or should I say weekly, reminder of the event that happened. I still today live on that emotional roller coaster, I have reminders of the baby all the time!
In addition, my husband got a new job, and we would be moving out of the country down to an island. I had to make sure that the doctors there were capable and aware of what I was going through. If they weren’t, I was going to stay in the States with my Mom until I was in the clear. I met another new doctor, and she has been great. She had her training at Tufts and had dealt with partial molar pregnancies before. It was February when we moved. My blood work continued and I slowly began to feel better. I was allowed to go to monthly blood draws in April, and that was very hard after 5 months of weekly tests. I felt very insecure. I was scared to death after 2 weeks and called to have a level drawn. My doctor agreed, and my hcg was 11, which was considered negative down here in the islands. I had my doctor’s appointment in May and everything looked good. My due date was May 18, 2002.
I still have an HCG level of 1.26, which is negative and I am very happy for that, but it is still there 6 months after surgery. We did another ultrasound and I still have three small cysts on the right ovary and none on the left. She also told me we could start trying again in 3 months. Wow, 3 months! That seems so soon, I don’t think we will. This has been such a long ordeal but it will be nice not to have to worry about it. I had been on birth control, but I went off in April 2002. To me it was a daily reminder that I couldn’t get pregnant, and mentally I was not doing well with it. I didn’t need the reminder. My doctor wasn’t happy with the idea but understood. I will admit I got my first period off the pill later than expected, so I spent 5 days freaking out that something had gone wrong and I made it all worse, but my period came and was just like it had been. More emotional roller coaster!
It has been very long and very hard but let me make one thing clear: I am in some ways now thankful, because when we do have our baby, and he or she is beautiful and healthy, I will appreciate it so much more than I might have if I’d never been through this ordeal. I will appreciate things about that child that I think can be taken for granted by those who have never been through this. I only hope my story helps those who have been through a similar situation and who feel alone. I know I felt that no one would ever be able to understand, and for the most part that was true, except for those of us who have taken the time to share our stories and help others. Thank you again to all of those who have shared. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and it shines brightly. It is our little angels who are in a better place together!
I am happy to report that after my PMP in November 2001, I had a “normal” post-PMP recovery. We started trying to conceive in January 2003 with no luck. I went to my OB in February, who suggested that I might not be ovulating regularly. He gave me a script for Clomid. I took the first round in March, and we conceived.
I have to say it was one of the best days of my life, but also the scariest considering all that we went through. We were followed closely. It was a huge emotional roller coaster ride every day. We waited for the worst to happen again. The pregnancy went well, although at week 36 I developed pregnancy-induced hypertension. Finally, after 3 weeks of bed rest, my midwife induced me. We started the induction on Friday, December 5, 2003, and my little girl arrived December 6, 2003, at 5:27pm. Catherine Victoria is perfect in every way and was worth the events that led up to her birth. I can’t imagine what my life would be like without her now.
I know all women wonder if it will ever happen, and how they would feel. Now I am another person to have a good ending after the molar pregnancy horror. I hope my story offers much hope to those who are on the path that I once was. Believe me, a year wait seems long but it is well worth it once you get to hold your most precious gift ever. Having gone through what we all have gone through, you will appreciate your gift even more.
Best of luck to all and much baby dust when your time comes—and it will come.