The past week I have been having trouble sleeping and it has been getting worse. My mind is plagued with worry, fear and a heartbreaking grief that never seems to subside. Most of the people close to Rob and I know that we had a miscarriage in April this year. What almost nobody knows is that we fell pregnant again about two weeks later and at 8 weeks, after a trip to the emergency department and a visit to the hospital’s early pregnant assessment service (EPAS) we learned that I had a missed miscarriage and was very quickly whisked away to have a d&c (which is a suction removal of products of conception in the uterus) for the removal of a possible partial molar pregnancy that same day.
I should take the time to give an explanation on molar pregnancies. Molar pregnancies is where the body thinks it’s pregnant but really a mass of abnormal cells are being produced and the placental tissue is producing the pregnancy hormone (beta hcg) which is why you get a positive pregnancy test result and why you experience early pregnancy symptoms. There are two types of molar pregnancies. The first is a complete molar pregnancy, where the sperm fertilises an empty egg with no genetic information and there is no foetal development, just a bunch of grape-like cysts and abnormal cells, a tumour if you will. Basically it’s like a sick joke played on you by the powers that be. Complete molar pregnancies are said to be rare and affects 1 in every 1000 pregnancies. The second is a partial molar pregnancy where a foetus starts to develop and stops and is taken over by the aforementioned cluster or abnormal cells and cysts, another cruel twist of fate. These are said to be even more rare.
I learned all this in less than 3 hours a week ago. I mean, I had read about it and when I started passing clots without heavy bleeding but a steady increase in beta hcg levels, well I started to suspect a molar pregnancy was my problem. But that didn’t stop the shock when the gynaecologist and midwife at EPAS were explaining it to me. The gynaecologist told me I had to have the d&c operation. It’s day surgery and I got to go home the same day but I had to have it all the same. He explained the risks of this procedure but the one that worried me the most was that he was concerned I would lose blood during the procedure, so naturally I asked if the procedure was necessary. He told me that if we let my body naturally miscarry what they believed at the time to be a partial molar pregnancy, there was the risk that some abnormal cells would remain in my uterus and keep producing, there was also the risk of a rare form of cancer, choriocarcinoma. What the fuck?! First they tell me there is no baby and now I’m at risk of cancer?! So I agreed to do the procedure, I also didn’t want to suffer further by having to miscarry at home and have to see the “products of conception” being passed.
I called Rob and updated him, as I had been that entire morning. He left work immediately to be by my side. I’ve never known anyone to be as devoted and supporting in my entire life. He sat with me and distracted me while I waited to have my procedure. Not long after I got taken to the operating theatres and as they were starting to put me under, the main doctor performing the procedure came to speak to me but saw that I was frustrated and distracted and asked me what was wrong. “Well, I cant hear anything except this buzzing noise!” He laughed kindly and asked if I was nervous because apparently there was no buzzing sound. I started crying and rambling and then he told me he was giving me something to calm me down. The buzzing stopped and I was out.
I woke up in the recovery room, almost like Robin Williams when he jumps out in Jumanji yelling “what year is it?!” I immediately asked the nurse “is it done?!” She said it was and explained that I was in recovery. I was shivering like never before and they gave me heated blankets and were all so kind to me but sometimes I feel like they forget you can hear them discussing your situation. I could hear them all telling the next one that I lost 200 millilitres of blood. I found myself thinking that it couldn’t be that bad if they’re saying it in front of me so casually. Then a nurse came to tell me that I would have to go on a contraceptive, I wouldn’t be able to swim or have sex for 4 weeks. When I get nervous I babble on pointlessly or I become mute. This time I was babbling to every nurse, “4 weeks without sex?!” I asked the nurse. At least I got a laugh out of her. I do that too when I’m nervous, I joke. Then I asked to get up to go to the bathroom. When I tried to get up I realised they had put a pad in between my legs but because I was sleeping on my side I must have caused it to slip. Then I saw all the blood on the pad on the bed, on the actual pad, on my gown and on the sheets. I started panicking trying to clean it up and apologising for ruining their bedding and Manchester and the nurse was trying to calm me and tell me it’s fine, they don’t expect their sheets to stay clean, it was a hospital after all. It was then that the gynaecologist came back to see me. He told me I had lost more blood than they expected, a couple of hundred millilitres (the nurses were right) to which I said “oh well, that explains this…” and I got up and showed him all the bloody evidence. The look on his face scared me and he told me he was concerned about my blood loss and that I should keep an eye on it. Luckily I didn’t lose anymore blood and only experienced the spotting that is expected after such a procedure. He told me I was fine to go home but I had to come back in a weeks time for a follow up and to find out if it was a molar pregnancy.
That night Rob took me home and took care of me as he had been throughout that whole pregnancy, as he does whenever I’m sick or depressed or can’t take care of myself. I distracted myself by planning my 30th Birthday and watching TV. The next day my sister took off work to stay with me and keep me company and my brother, Aunt and cousin came to see me too. They distracted me a lot and I felt like everything was going to be fine but then I got home and it all started to sink in. I wept to Rob that night. I was inconsolable and could barely speak from how hard I was crying. I cried to him about how unfair it was, and how I was only recovering from the previous miscarriage because I was pregnant again. I cried about how I couldn’t understand how my mum could have 4 healthy pregnancies with one of those resulting in twins (pregnancies with twins are considered a risk sometimes), why is it that I had to have the failure reproductive system?! I cried because I felt and still feel broken and defective. I felt as though my body was betraying me! I cried myself to sleep in his arms that night and every night since I’ve been crying myself to sleep.
I cry at random times in the day, like in the shower or while I’m eating. Everyday seems to get worse. Everyday I was crying because I was mourning the loss of a second baby. I was angry at my body and angry at my genes because apparently women of Asian heritage, in particular Filipino descent are more at risk of molar pregnancies. I was angry with God for abandoning me yet again and all of that hit a boiling point yesterday. Right now I’m writing this at 12:55am, my trouble with getting to sleep is worsening so I felt the need to write about everything. Yesterday I had my follow up with the gynaecologists at Liverpool hospital. The told me that it was a complete molar pregnancy and that they would have to further test what they took out of me to see if I have cancer. They also told me that we couldn’t start trying to conceive again for a few months, until the beta hcg is down to 0. That was heartbreaking too. I don’t know what’s worse, losing a baby or thinking that I was pregnant for a month and learning that my body had actually failed me and grown a mass of abnormal and possibly cancerous cells instead.
As with the first pregnancy we planned our lives with our child to be and that was so cruelly and quickly taken away from us. But this time it’s much harder. This time I didn’t have time to process that those dreams were gone. I found out a baby was not in our cards yet and then barely 4 hours later I was rushed off to have those dreams literally sucked out of me. I’ve spend the week feeling empty, not so much emotionally but physically. Before yesterday I thought it was partial and that a fetus had started to develop. But now I know there was never a baby and that makes it much harder. It’s very confusing and I don’t know what to feel. What am I mourning? A loss of cells? Why am I feeling empty? Now I’m just angry again. I’m angry that my body released an empty egg. Angry that nothing has ever gone right for Rob and I. This is beginning to be the most difficult experience of my life and I feel completely alone if it wasn’t for Rob, my two best friends, Bernie and Cati, and my sister. As I think about how much these four have helped me I can’t help but cry because this experience with molar pregnancy has been the single, most isolating and lonely experience I’ve been through and I’m blessed to have them. I don’t know of anyone having gone through this, and a lot of people tend to suffer privately, so I still wouldn’t know anyway. Any time I told anybody about it they didn’t know what it was. We don’t have a family history of it either and I couldn’t talk to my mum about it anyway. It’s hard to go through pregnancies, miscarriages and molar pregnancies without a Mum, yes she is alive but she is very sick mentally and has not been around for a while now. She’s not even in the country. I don’t don’t even have a relationship with her anymore but at times like this a girl really needs her mother.
Today I left the hospital fearing the worst and expecting to be told in a week or two that I have cancer. I still expect to hear that even though I got told that my bloods today showed that the beta hcg had dropped from 64,000 the day before the procedure to 2,000 today. That’s supposed to be good. But I have to do weekly blood tests until the numbers are back down to 0. I can’t tell you how sick to death I am of blood tests. I can’t even count how many I’ve done now in the past 6 weeks. Still, I keep expecting to be told I have cancer because I don’t believe that I’m due for things to go my way for once. Everyone has said to me I seem so happy this past year and yes I have been but that’s because I chose to stay positive even after every single damn set back that Rob and I have faced in our 4 years together. But I don’t have anymore positivity left. Have faith people tell me, well unfortunately I don’t have that anymore either. God’s plan? Well I couldn’t care less for his plan either anymore. My belief in God hasn’t wavered but over the past year or so my relationship with the Almighty has been very complicated and strained, this has made it so much harder for me to go back to Him. I can’t explain to you the anger I feel and I certainly can’t explain the sadness, not well enough anyway. I know people tell me I’m not flawed or damaged and there’s nothing wrong with my body, but I’m sure any woman who has experienced miscarriage or molar pregnancies will have at some point felt like their bodies didn’t do what they were supposed to do.
Everybody I speak to tries to say things to comfort me. I’ve heard it all and I truly appreciate the attempts and even though I don’t believe what’s being told to me about God’s plan or my body not being a disgrace to its reproductive role, I appreciate the sentiment. I understand that people comfort me the way they would rationalise it to themselves. And for anyone who I may have come across wrong to, I apologise. I’m just so poisoned with anger and grief at the moment that it’s nearly impossible to be positive.
I’m afraid of being told that the molar pregnancy grew back. I’m afraid of being told I have cancer. I’m afraid that this depression that has come over me won’t leave until I finally do have a healthy baby but I’m also afraid to start trying again. I’m afraid that if I do get pregnant again it would only turn out badly and I’m afraid that I won’t ever have a viable pregnancy or a healthy baby. I don’t know what’s in store for me and I’m almost to afraid to find out.