In honor of National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month, I wanted to tell a happy tale – an unofficial “Part Four” to my series about my Partial Molar Pregnancy last year. After the utter nightmare of that experience, I wanted to say thank you to the women over the past year who have been brave enough to reach out to me for advice or comfort. Pregnancy loss is not so uncommon as people think – it happens every day. It is crucial to refrain from stigmatizing miscarriage (of all kinds) and we have come to a point where a change is needed. Women and families need support, and it is just not readily available.
(If you have not yet read about my Partial Molar journey, you can find the 3-part series here: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3)
After this experience, I have been moved to create a Free Mini e-Course addressing Pregnancy Loss Recovery and the steps involved in navigating positive personal growth. If you’d be interested in this enriching workshop, please enter your info below and I will notify you when it launches!
In February, after 6 months of letting my body clear itself of the toxic Methotrexate treatments, we were finally given the green light by both of my doctors to try and conceive again. In that waiting time, it was necessary for me to NOT get pregnant at all costs due to the high risk of birth defects and deformities in infants when the mother’s eggs suffer exposure to Methotrexate. So, instead of having any additional hormones in my body, I opted for a non-hormonal IUD to serve as my birth control to ensure I did not get pregnant. After all of the heartbreak, turmoil, and struggle we had been through, my husband and I decided that we wanted to try again as soon as we could. In our minds, we had suffered long enough, and wanted to bring joy back into our lives by getting back to our original hope: to start a family.
Once my IUD was removed in February, we found ourselves pregnant shortly after in my first cycle. That right there should have been a good omen for what was to come. After the hell that we had been through, we had gotten pregnant right away; no stress, no pressure, no doubts, no pain or longing. I actually new I was pregnant long before any test could tell me. I noticed the small signs and changes in my body, and I “just knew”. I told Max one night as we got ready for bed that I knew I was pregnant. I told him about the symptoms, and he asked me one more time “Are you sure?” “Yes, I’m pregnant.” He looked at me deeply, nodded, and believed me. We held hands, and we knew.
Even the early detection tests from the store would take too long to tell me what I already knew – they required a higher hcg level, and it would take time for that to rise – I was too excited to wait that amount of time. So, I hopped on Amazon and ordered low level hcg pregnancy strips, and waited until the next day. Sure enough, I was right. I was pregnant, and I wasn’t surprised. I was, however, absolutely thrilled.
Max was, too. Every day I would do more tests and watch the lines get darker and darker. We even told our parents at that point, just days after I knew. I couldn’t keep it from my mom because we are too close, and I couldn’t lie when she asked me (she knew we were trying that month and had done the math in her head as to when we would be finding out). My in-laws we told the next weekend, and my mother in law cried. Of anyone, she had felt the pain of our previous loss the most. She texted me every day during my treatment, asking me how I felt, and giving me moral support. And now, through this pregnancy, she has still texted me every day, with extra emojis on Fridays when I progress to the next week of pregnancy development. I am so grateful for this small gesture every day.
As soon as I could schedule one, I made an appointment with my OBGYN. Because of the partial molar pregnancy, I was so scared that something – anything – could happen again to prevent us from having this baby be healthy and viable. I at least wanted to make sure that my hcg levels were at a normal level (high hcg is an early sign of molar/partial molar pregnancies) and that I was actually pregnant, and not somehow suffering from tumor development leftover from my previous pregnancy. They drew my blood, but it was too early to do an ultrasound still. Once they saw my actual hcg levels, which were normal for how early I was, they were shocked that I even knew I was pregnant. Drug store pregnancy tests would still not detect my pregnancy at this point, and I was going off my symptoms. I would just have to wait for more confirmation.
Waiting. I hated waiting. Each day that passed filled me with doubt. I had spent half a year waiting already, and before that, more than a year of uncertainty, treatment, and recovery. I tried to stay positive knowing that what happened to me was such an anomaly (though, not entirely uncommon) that the chances of it happening to me again were slim. But that didn’t stop the rare from happening to me the first time – chance doesn’t mean a thing. I could still be that .01% in the blink of an eye. I worried that this would be another disappointment, another heartbreak, followed by more treatment or a more severe diagnosis. I needed the confirmation that this was a “normal” pregnancy.
I was finally able to get an ultrasound at 6 weeks, and to my relief, all the necessary parts were there. Next, I just had to wait for the heartbeat. They scheduled my appointment for two weeks later (8 weeks) to see if there was a heartbeat. But, a week later at seven weeks, I started spotting. I was in a panic – and it didn’t help that it happened at my sister in-law’s Bridal Shower that I was throwing. I was still hiding my pregnancy from everyone at this point and it was a Sunday, which meant no calls to the doctor. I googled all afternoon long, reading that it was normal to spot this early on – but then I also read that it was an early sign of miscarriage. Conflicting information meant only that I would just have to wait until Monday afternoon to see a doctor and receive my own diagnosis. That whole evening I was lost in my own negative thoughts, and stressed beyond belief. The next day at work was also unbearable – I didn’t think of anything else except for the fact that I wanted to get out of there and speed to the doctor.
The ultrasound tech saw me right away, since they knew of my history, and wanted to check things out. It was a surreal experience that I partly don’t remember. What I do remember is the tech saying, “Well, I’m not allowed to say because I’m not the doctor, but that’s not your heartbeat.” She smiled, and handed me a printout of what looked like the lines you see on an EKG. My baby was fine. My baby had a heartbeat.
After meeting with my doctor and having her confirm that everything was alright, it turns out that the culprit of my spotting was three cysts on my left ovary. Basically, normal and nothing to worry about. For only being pregnant for a few weeks, I sure had done a lot of worrying! My doctor insisted that now that we had heard a heartbeat, and my hcg levels were perfectly normal, that I treat this as a normal pregnancy. She wanted me to enjoy every moment, and wipe away the bad memories of my last experience with new experiences; to fill a void with excitement and joy.
I told myself I would do just that, and Max agreed. We knew we couldn’t live each day dreading the “what if”s or else we would miss all of the good stuff, the happy things. Like the fact that I had almost no bothersome symptoms of pregnancy. No morning sickness, no pain, and no exhaustion. At about 12 weeks, we opted to do the fetal cell free (cf) DNA test using my blood – combined with an ultrasound, it would tell us whether or not our baby had trisomies 21 (Down’s syndrome), 18, or 13. It would also reveal the baby’s gender, which we still hadn’t decided if we wanted to find out or not. On a trip to New York City for the Tribeca Film Festival a couple of weeks before, we were able to discuss the pros and cons of finding out the gender. Ultimately, I left it up to Max. I was fine either way – but he thought it might help him feel more connected to the pregnancy and the baby knowing what he or she would be like. So, when the results came in via phone call, I was doing something absolutely stereotypical of a pregnant woman: I was in line at Taco Bell.
Don’t judge me, I was getting an afternoon snack. And when I say “snack”, I mean 2 chalupas and 1 burrito. And a slushie. And cinnamon cream cheese bites. I was hungry.
Not only was our bundle free from any trisomies, it was a she; we were having a girl. I grinned from ear to ear as I hung up the phone, but then immediately thought to Max: how would he feel? I know that his dream was, in an ideal world, to have a boy, then a girl, and then be done. But how would he feel about having a girl as his firstborn? That’s another tale, for another day perhaps. When I let him know about the results, we felt like we had passed yet one more test on our pregnancy journey. The baby was healthy, which was all we were wishing for.
Weeks turned into months, and on Mother’s Day I officially announced my pregnancy to the world on social media. Appointments came and went, ultrasounds showed a cute nose and little kicks, and my belly started to grow and move. I loved being pregnant – every minute of it. I’m sure I had my moments, but for the most part Max got it pretty easy. I felt amazing, and I even told him that I could be pregnant for the rest of my life and I wouldn’t mind. Yet, here we are days away from her arrival, and I will no longer be pregnant, I will be a mother. Even after all the emotional anguish of my first pregnancy experience, it is completely overshadowed by the utter bliss that this experience has brought us. Believe, hope, and know that good can come from pain, and that loss does not always mean forever.
In total, we have been waiting for our baby for two years and ten months; 10 months trying, 2 months pregnant with a partial molar pregnancy, 3 months of waiting for my hcg to come down, 4 months of methotrexate treatment, 6 months of waiting to conceive, and now 9 months pregnant with our little girl. Thirty-four months we have waited to start a family, and now it is finally here.
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