The last 3.5 months have been the longest and most trying months of my life. But I'm thrilled to be able to say they are finally behind me! In March we found out that we were expecting a third child. While we were completely surprised by this news, we were also beyond excited! A baby born right before Thanksgiving; what could be better than that? When I was about 10 weeks pregnant I started bleeding. I knew something was wrong as I've never bled during pregnancies before. We went to the doctor the next day to find out that the baby had stopped growing at about 8 weeks. In the 6 weeks that we knew we were pregnant, we had already started planning our future with a third baby. We'd purchased a few small things and began looking for a new house to buy to fit a family of five! All of these happy things coming to an end so quickly was devastating.
Unfortunately, that was just the beginning of our bad news. The next day my doctor called to tell me that my ultrasound revealed that the placenta had grown through the scar in my uterus from my previous two C-sections. Yes, right through it. It's called placenta accreta, but if you look it up, you won't find it, at least not occurring in the first trimester and definitely not combined with a miscarriage. My doctor, nor anyone in his practice, had ever seen it under these circumstances before. When accreta happens during the third trimester of a viable pregnancy, the treatment is always a C-section followed by hysterectomy. It is impossible to remove the placenta without causing too much bleeding for the mother. After my doctor told me all of this, he said, "I'm assuming you and Matt want more kids?" I almost yelled at him, "Yes! Of course we do!" He said he would call around and try to come up with a plan, but most likely, we should prepare for surgery within the week that would most likely lead to a hysterectomy. In two days I went from thinking we'd be having a third child to thinking we won't get to have any more ever.
I know many people have way worse struggles: Death, illness, infertility, etc. But for me in my life, this was the worst thing that had ever happened. All I've ever wanted was to have a big family. Being a mom brings me more joy than I ever imagined, and I wanted more of mine and Matt's little babies.
After conferring with other doctors, my doctor decided to try an approach other than surgery. He gave me two shots of methotrexate, a super tiny dose of chemo that's meant to stop the growth of living cells. It's most commonly used in tubal pregnancies and works well, so he hoped it might work in my case to stop the placenta from growing and help it safely detatch from the uterus. He also thought that, eventually, I would start to hemorrhage and need to go to the ER, so warned me constantly regarding how much bleeding is safe and to be mindful of when I'm bleeding too much. The next four weeks were a mixture of waiting and weekly blood draws and ultrasounds, waiting and hoping I didn't start to hemorrhage, blood draws to ensure my HCG levels were dropping, and ultrasounds to see if the placenta was deteriorating. Week after week, things looked the same; the placenta was still there attached through my uterus. I was bleeding more every day with no changes inside of me. I was getting more discouraged every day. Every night I'd go to bed wondering if I would wind up in be ER before morning. I was pretty much a wreck all the time from worry and anxiety.
As it turned out, the day after Mother's Day, I bled so much that I passed out and went to the ER. They admitted me right away, and I stayed for three days, received three blood transfusions, and also was lucky enough to have an allergic reaction to the blood, resulting in giant lips. (Side note: I've honestly contemplated Botox now because I loved my big lips!) The amazing thing, though, is that a new ultrasound at the hospital showed that the sac and placenta were gone! It was honestly a miracle, and the doctors were shocked. They kept telling me how rare it is for this to happen at all, but how lucky I was for it to have gone away without surgery. Methotrexate is apparently a miracle drug for which I'll always be grateful. After the three days, my doctor sent me home to rest and wait (wow I hated waiting) for four more weeks for a final ultrasound to see how my uterus had healed. I was hoping the ultrasound would be clear so I could move on with my life.
Sadly, the ultrasound showed a golf ball sized mass on the outside of my uterus. He didn't know if it was a hematoma or tissue or what, but he knew it needed to be removed. So a few days ago I went to the hospital again for surgery to remove the mass and repair my uterus. While I was still waking up from anesthesia, my doctor talked to my mom, and she said he was more optimistic than he'd ever been in the last three months. Through a large smile of relief, he explained that the mass removed perfectly (he thinks it was fetal tissue and dried blood, but it's getting tested now) and that my uterus was extremely thin and damaged in the area affected, but that he sewed it and stitched it three times over. He is sure now that after a few months of healing, I'll have a healthy, strong uterus, and that next time in the hospital it will be with a healthy little baby. :)
While it's been a long and tiring few months, I'm beyond grateful for how everything turned out. I'm grateful for my doctor who called around to get second opinions, and was patient enough to wait things out in hopes of a happy ending for our family. I'm grateful for Matt who has been kind, loving, and supportive while I've been emotionally crazy. I'm grateful for my mom, who stayed at the hospital with me both times and brought me food and kept my spirits up and reminded me to be optimistic. I'm grateful for my amazing friends who literally cried with me when I was upset, helped out with my kids, and brought me meals and treats. I'm grateful for Matt's parents who helped out with my kids a ton, making it so fun that my kids barely missed me. And most of all I'm grateful for my faith, prayers, and miracles because this scenario couldn't have turned out better than it did, and there's no doubt in my mind that prayer works! If you made it this far, I'm impressed. I'm attaching some pictures. If bloody pictures bother you, don't look at the last one.
My big lips from the allergic reaction. Beautiful right?
The kids loved coming to visit because the hospital has Sprite and cookies.
The kinds of pictures Matt would send me when I was in the hospital. They made my day,
Warning the next picture is a little graphic. My doctor texted this picture to me saying "the culprit." In his hands is my uterus, and that big old mass on it is what grew through the scar tissue of my uterus and caused almost four months of anxiety. But now it's gone forever!! :)