October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month (PAIL for short.) I’m sharing my pregnancy experience, which ended in miscarriage, followed by a Molar Pregnancy diagnosis with hopes to bring awareness to Molar Pregnancy. This is what life was like after my most recent miscarriage.
The Happy Part
My pregnancy started out like my previous pregnancies. I surprised our 1 year old with a “Big Sister” shirt. She put it on and I filmed her walking into the living room to surprise Daddy. We were overjoyed to find out I was pregnant with baby number 2. Our toddler started a daily routine of kissing my belly, rubbing on my Belly Butter, and talking to her little brother/sister from the beginning. Those were the sweetest moments ever! During that time, I was ecstatic to be selected to join Earth Mama Organics Mama’s Bump Squad 2.0. (I had started using Earth Mama Organics products two years prior when our rainbow baby was born, so I jumped at the opportunity to join a supportive group of mothers who were also expecting during that time.)
My Molar Pregnancy symptoms
I welcomed my first pregnancy symptoms, which were sore breasts and nausea. I immediately started taking my prenatal vitamins, sipping my Morning Wellness Tea, and made an appt with my OBGYN as I had previously miscarried before we successfully had our rainbow baby. They did a urine test, an hCG draw, and an ultrasound. The ultrasound looked great except the baby measured 5 weeks and 2 days when it should have measured 7 weeks. (This was the first clue of a molar pregnancy, which was a sign consistent with triploidy, in reference to the unusually early growth restriction.)
I went back to their office two days later to make sure my hCG was going up. Sure enough, it was. My hCG was very high, which was the second clue that this was a molar pregnancy.
My next ultrasound was scheduled six days after the initial ultrasound to confirm the baby was still growing. The baby measured 6 weeks and 1 day, with a strong heartbeat, just as it should. However, the blood work for my thyroid came back showing hyperthyroidism (the third clue.) This confused me as I’d always been considered healthy.
Around this time, I started feeling extremely nauseous (hyperemesis,) and exhausted all the time. My symptoms were far worse than I’d ever experienced, which was the fourth clue. I had never heard of molar pregnancy so I didn’t know what symptoms to look for. (I never experienced any bleeding so there was no reason to suspect anything was seriously wrong.)
I began having episodes of blurry vision, weakness, fast heartbeat, dizziness, extreme fatigue, sickness, and food aversions. People around me kept telling me it was normal, but something didn’t seem right. Nevertheless, I kept the Mama’s Bump Squad 2.0 informed about all the results and they encouraged me every step of the way.
The headaches and nauseousness were so bad that I started losing weight rapidly. I felt worse with each passing day and began having cramps all the time. I started having gall bladder attacks (the fifth clue,) which I’d never experienced before. One night during a gallbladder attack, I was in too much pain to nurse. That was the night I weaned our toddler from breast feeding. We both cried ourselves to sleep that night.
The gallbladder attacks continued, mainly in the middle of the night. I remember waking my husband up one night and telling him something was wrong. He made the comment, “I hope not because we just told everyone that we’re having another baby.” In that insensitive moment, while I was pacing the floor in pain, I thought, why is it such taboo that we can’t share our joy of pregnancy with others until after 12 weeks? We’re not allowed to let others know what we’re going through? We don’t want to make others uncomfortable with our miscarriages and our loss?” I felt alone.
12 Week Ultrasound
Nine days after Mother’s Day, I was scheduled for our 12 week ultrasound. As I drove to my appointment, I vividly remember speaking with my mother on the phone. I said to her verbatim, “I feel like this baby is sucking the life out of my body. I feel like I’m dying. Something is wrong with this pregnancy.”
I knew something was wrong by our our ultrasound tech’s actions. She turned on the ultrasound, immediately turned off the sound, turned the screen away, then turned it off. She asked how much longer until my husband arrived. When my husband came in, she started the ultrasound again. It was quiet and I squeezed his hand because I knew I had miscarried again.
We miscarried 5 years prior, so I knew the quiet routine with immediately shutting the sound off and turning the monitor away. I didn’t want to believe it, so I waited for her to bring in my OBGYN and they told us together that I had miscarried.
I buried my face in my hands and cried as they told me the baby only measured 10 weeks and had no heartbeat. Our toddler comforted me as we scheduled a D&C. I couldn’t bare the thought of carrying around my dead baby inside of my belly for weeks, while my toddler kissed and talked to him/her daily. I broke the news to our family and to the Mama’s Bump Squad. They responded with an outpouring of love and prayers, which were much needed.
Three days later, we arrived at the hospital for my D&C. I hoped and prayed that after this day, I could start the healing process. But little did I know, that was just the beginning.
All of my nurses were so nice and sweet. They asked me why no one was with me. (They don’t allow children in pre-op so my husband stayed with our toddler.) The nurses took turns comforting me and holding my hand at times during the pre-op process.
The Miscarriage Folder
They brought me a green folder filled with miscarriage information. I carefully read through each page, and discovered we had burial options. The hospital could make arrangements for the burial of the remains through a hospital appointed funeral home. The second option was to make our own arrangements for burial or cremation. I wasn’t expecting to have options so I called my husband. He said we didn’t have any plots purchased and asked what I wanted to do. I reached out to my husband’s family to see if they could suggest any local arrangements. The response I got was “Oh okay. That’s interesting. Kenneth (my husband) is there with you right?” I was crushed.
No one offered any suggestions or thoughts so I decided to let the hospital take care of it. It was too much to handle. At that point, I was too emotional to comprehend the rest of the paperwork in the folder. The nurse came in and asked me if I would like to have a blessing of the remains. I didn’t even know what that meant, so I said no.
The anesthesiologist met with me and explained what to expect. A team of people including the anesthesiologist and my OBGYN came to get me. I was happy to see a familiar face. When my OBGYN told me that everything was going to be okay, I burst into tears. That’s when the anesthesiologist gave me something to help with the anxiety, and as I started to fall asleep, I realized that was the last time my child would be in my womb. I knew I would wake up empty, once again. I put my hands on my belly and told my child, “I love you.” That was the last thing I remember.
The Recovery Room
I woke up in the recovery room alone. I began to cry as I realized my baby was gone. There was my pregnant looking belly, but it was empty inside. I texted our family to let them know I was out of surgery. The nurse wheeled me out to the car and I was so happy to see my 2 year old. I gave her a big kiss and held her hand as I cried.
Once we got home, I sat down to finish reading the packet and I found the paper that explained the offering of a blessing. It said you could opt to have the chaplain come to the bedside to conduct a blessing over the “products of conception” after surgery. The remains would be respectfully covered with a blanket that you could take home as a remembrance.
I began to cry as I called the hospital back and told them that I now understood what the blessing was and I wanted to come back to do it. They said the baby had already been sent off to the lab for testing, but they could arrange to bring the baby back. They warned me that the baby was already put inside a container with formaldehyde and was sealed shut inside of a plastic bag. I didn’t care. I needed to see my baby with my own eyes so I knew this was all real and not just some bad dream.
Back to the hospital
Although my husband was frustrated that we had just driven all the way home from the hospital, he understood that I needed to do this for myself. We drove back to the hospital and my husband waited outside with our toddler as they took me back to pre-op again.
They put me in a room and a nurse brought in the remains covered with a white blanket that had a blue angel and blue stitching on it. The chaplain came in and we said the Lord’s prayer together. He left, but the nurse remained. As I removed the small white blanket, the nurse nervously said not to open the bag. I assured her that I wouldn’t open it, but I just needed to see my baby with my own eyes and I wanted to pray over my child alone. She stepped outside the room and stood watching me.
It was just like they said. There was my 10 week old baby inside of a small plastic container. It was covered with labels and sealed inside of a plastic bag that read “Caution.” I turned the container around and suddenly saw my baby’s foot press against the container wall. As I cried and wailed in grief, I laid my hands on the container and prayed over my child, while the entire pre-op staff watched from outside the room.
I had no idea how much time had passed. Then I remembered my rainbow baby was waiting outside in the car, and she needed me. I thanked the nurses and the staff for arranging one last blessing for my baby. I walked out of that hospital telling myself, that I was going to get through this because my living child needed me.
Recovery at home
The following day, I woke up with severe cramping, and swollen eyelids from all the crying. I suddenly realized the pink color had come back to my skin and my body felt “good” for the first time in three months. That week, I received the sweetest package from Earth Mama Organics. They sent me this Healing Hearts Comfort Kit with a personal message signed by the entire Earth Mama Organics team.
I began setting aside quiet prayer time in the mornings. I sprayed the aromatherapy Healing Heart Mist, lit the Light of My Heart aromatherapy candle, held my baby’s white blanket, and cried as I read the comforting messages on the sides of the candle’s box.
As the daily cramping continued, due to my uterus shrinking, I began my search for grief resources. I utilized support from www.babylosscomfort.com in addition to my daily prayer time.
Abnormal Recovery Symptoms
The bleeding continued and I began passing small grayish-blu pieces of tissue. I called my doctor’s office but they said it was normal. Eight days after my D&C I had my 4th gallbladder attack. The cramping continued, I passed more tissue and the bleeding hadn’t slowed. I called my doctors office again and my OBGYN wanted pictures of the tissue. She confirmed it was retained products in the photo, and that was the day she told me the lab results finally came back showing that I was diagnosed with a Molar pregnancy.
I had no idea what a Molar pregnancy was because I had never heard of it before. The more I googled, the more scared I became. I realized that this molar pregnancy could actually result in cancer and necessary chemo.
Molar Pregnancy Facts
For those of you who don’t know what a Molar pregnancy is, it is a rare occurrence (1 in 1,000 pregnancies) which is the result of a genetic error during the fertilization process that leads to a growth of abnormal tissue within the uterus. Here’s an excellent resource with detailed information on Molar Pregnancy.
According to Wikipedia, “Molar pregnancy is an abnormal form of pregnancy in which a non-viable fertilized egg implants in the uterus and will fail to come to term. A molar pregnancy is a gestational trophoblastic disease which grows into a mass in the uterus that has swollen chorionic villi. These villi grow in clusters that resemble grapes. A molar pregnancy can develop when a fertilized egg does not contain an original maternal nucleus. The products of conception may or may not contain fetal tissue. It is characterized by the presence of a hydatidiform mole.”
Molar pregnancies rarely involve a developing embryo, although mine did, and the growth of this molar material is rapid in comparison to normal fetal growth. It has the appearance of a large collection of grape-like cell clusters. There are two types of molar pregnancies, “complete,” and “partial.”
Molar Pregnancy Support Groups
Suddenly this healing period turned back into the nightmare that I thought was over. I joined two Molar pregnancy support groups that I found on Facebook, called “My Molar Pregnancy Support Group” and “Molar Pregnancy Support.”
My OBGYN scheduled me for a fasting ultrasound to check my uterus and gallbladder. The ultrasound showed my gallbladder was healthy, with no gallstones. However, it also showed retained products, and very large cysts on both ovaries that had developed over the previous 3 weeks as the molar pregnancy had continued to grow inside of my body.
They immediately scheduled me for a second D&C with ultrasound three days later. Thankfully, I was able to arrange for my closest girlfriend to meet me at the hospital, stay with me for surgery, and drive me home afterwards while my husband watched our toddler.
Recovery after my second D&C was much better than the first one. I used that time to learn more about Molar pregnancy and soon learned that Charing Cross Hospital, in London, is leading the way in Molar Pregnancy treatment and research around the world.
Twin Partial Molar Pregnancy
I was officially diagnosed with a Twin Partial Molar Pregnancy. This is an extremely rare version of a partial molar pregnancy where twins are conceived but one embryo began to develop normally, while the other was a mole. In this case, the healthy embryo was very quickly consumed by the abnormal growth, which is what caused the miscarriage.
I know of a few cases where women have gone on to deliver a healthy baby, and either have or have not ended up in more advances stage of Choriocarcinoma from the twin mole. (Choriocarcinoma is a type of gestational trophoblastic disease.)
Weekly Monitoring after Molar Pregnancy
In the case of molar pregnancy diagnosis, the standard procedure after a natural miscarriage or D&C is to have weekly blood draws to monitor hCG level drops. The goal is for your hCG levels to reach negative, which is zero or <5 within 56 days or less.
From my experience, you may see large drops in hCG levels at the beginning. Then those drops become smaller and smaller. Once your levels reach around 100, from collective experience, the drops slow drastically. They may only decrease by 20-25 or less each week. It seems that the lower the numbers get, the smaller the drop becomes.
My family had put me on a prayer chain and I tracked my numbers each week as we prayed for the numbers to continue dropping. My test results were available the following day at noon. Afterwards, I would call my husband with the results and post in our Mama’s Bump Squad. We all sighed in relief for that week and prayed for a continued decrease the following week.
The doctor explained that if my test results came back with the levels increasing, I would need to see an oncologist the same day and begin chemo. The go-to treatment for increasing hCG levels is methotrexate, which is a form of chemo. If methotrexate doesn’t work, typically the chemo is switched to a more aggressive form, depending on what your oncologist decides is best for your particular situation.
My Blood Test Results
Here are my weekly hCG levels as a reference: (I had follow up testing in October to make sure my levels stayed at <5. I also continue to take pregnancy tests with a sensitivity of 25miu. If one of the tests shows positive, I know to immediately schedule an appointment with my OBGYN.)
4/5/18: hCG 72,673
4/7/18: hCG 91,887
After Molar Pregnancy Diagnosis and Second D&C:
6/16/18: hCG 237
6/26/18: hCG 75
7/03/18: hCG 40
7/10/18: hCG 25
7/17/18: hCG 19
7/24/18: hCG 13
8/07/18: hCG 7
8/14/18: hCG 5
10/02/18: hCG <5
I’m one of a few women diagnosed with a Molar Pregnancy, who thankfully, did NOT end up with cancer. Exactly 5 months later, my hCG levels were confirmed to have remained at zero and my ultrasound came back great! Every cyst is gone, and my ovaries and my womb are completely healed! Praise the Lord!!! Thank you to the Mama’s Bump Squad 2.0 and to Earth Mama Organics for all of your love and support during my pregnancy, miscarriage, and molar pregnancy journey.
If you, or someone you know is experiencing a miscarriage or a loss, I highly recommend this thoughtful Healing Hearts Comfort Kit. I can say first-hand that this kit has helped tremendously through my healing journey. As my Thanksgiving due date approaches, I’m planning to begin personal Christian counseling. I’m also planning to visit the cemetery and light my candle as a birth remembrance for each of my 4 children in heaven.
There is no straight path between grief and acceptance. It’s a twisting, and often uneven road where healing takes place little by little. Trust the process and be patient with yourself. You are not alone.
Molar Pregnancy Support Resources
- Baby Loss Comfort Grief Resources
Molar Pregnancy Resources:
- Management of Molar Pregnancy
- Molar Pregnancy Information (UK)
- American Pregnancy Association – Molar Pregnancy
- Mayo Clinic – Molar Pregnancy
- Cleveland Clinic – Partial Molar Pregnancy
- March of Dimes – Molar Pregnancy
- Charing Cross Hospital in the UK – Molar Pregnancy
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