Have you ever heard of a Molar Pregnancy? Nope? Me either until I had one.
As you know I am extremely passionate about woman’s health, in particular fertility. So I wanted to write this post to not only raise awareness of Molar pregnancies, but also let any woman who has been through a miscarriage of any sort know they are not alone and there is so much support available to them.
Wow it’s been a long time between posts and there has definitely been a good reason for that. I have been wanting to fill you in with what has been happening in my world for the past few months, but I haven’t quite found the word’s to explain until now.
This is my story…
In early October of last year my husband and I decided we would like to try and start a family. A few weeks later on a Friday afternoon we were sitting outside enjoying some quiet time after an extremely busy week. I was about to crack open a bottle of wine but I had a niggling feeling I should take a pregnancy test, I mentioned this to Chris and he joked “There is no way you could be pregnant this quickly could you? I laughed too, saying “Probably not!” as I giggled all the way to the bathroom to take a test. Sure enough two lines popped up – we were pregnant! We were both over the moon, how exciting, we were having a baby!
The next week as my morning sickness kicked in, I booked in to see the local doctor and have my bloods tested, confirming the pregnancy and showing healthy levels of everything I was tested for.
Over the coming weeks I had all the textbook signs of pregnancy: sore boobs, morning sickness – which should actually be called ALL day sickness (lol), food aversions, a heightened sense of smell – which made even my freezer smell disgusting ha! (note: my freezer was a perfect non smelling freezer prior to pregnancy) fatigue, insomnia, odd cravings etc. My doctor and I took this as a sign of a healthy progressing pregnancy and I was advised that I didn’t need to go for an 8 week scan, just to book in the 12 week scan.
As the weeks moved on I was already so attached to this little being growing inside me… I couldn’t believe the changes in me. My husband even joked “Who are you?” as I rushed to the closest KFC as I needed a KFC hot chips fix haha. So much for 100% healthy eating during my pregnancy – that idea was thrown out the window early on when the thought of eating meat and many of my favourite healthy meals made me want to vomit! Although I still did the best I could to remain as healthy as possible.
Week 9 rolled around and on the 18th of December I was on my way to do my raw food certification in Bali. I was so excited and what an experience that trip turned out to be. I was blessed to meet so many amazing people and I learnt so many new tricks that I could use in the kitchen. During the first week away my morning sickness seemed to settle slightly, but I was still battling fatigue and I had developed a huge aversion to any dish that had cashews as well as many of the salads. I was really struggling to eat most of the foods I prepared with the exception of the desserts (the desserts were amazing).
When week 10 passed I remembered thinking “double digits, baby! Only 2 more weeks and we can tell the world all about you”. I was even starting to grow a small baby bump and it was all so very exciting.
However on New Year’s Eve just before our first class for the day where we would be preparing some amazing raw foods for our celebration party that night, I went to the bathroom and noticed some very slight spotting. I immediately started to worry. Part of me was thinking “don’t stress this is normal in early pregnancy”, the other part of me was freaking out! One of my dear friends from the course insisted I go and get checked out at the local hospital in Ubud. I almost didn’t go, but at the last minute I decided I would as I didn’t want to be stressing all day.
So off I went to Ubud hospital with the company of another one of my beautiful friends. As soon as I had my ultrasound I knew something was wrong! By this stage I was almost 11 weeks pregnant and the first thing I said to the doctor was “where is my baby?” as you could not see anything but a black empty space in my uterus where my baby should have been. The Balinese doctor who couldn’t really speak English tried to explain that the baby had not formed properly and I would have to have an operation as soon as I got back to Australia. I was so confused, sad and scared all at the same time, all I wanted was to be at home with my husband. Thankfully I had the support of my lovely friend who was with me and I will be forever grateful to her.
From the hospital I went straight to my hotel, packed and I left my course early to stay with family living in Bali, before flying home to Sydney the next night. Chris picked me up from the airport at 6.30am on Friday the 2nd of January and we went straight to the emergency department at a hospital in Sydney. After a whole day in hospital filled with scans, blood tests and seeing multiple doctors, it turned out things were more complicated than we first suspected. My scan showed a large mass taking up the majority of the space in my uterus and a small fetal pole. All the doctors were very vague with their information and every new doctor had a different opinion on what it could be but none of them could not give me a definitive answer. One doctor said I could possibly have a baby but they could not find a heartbeat at this point and were suggesting I had my dates wrong (which I did not – and all attempts to explain my dates were correct were ignored). Another doctor suspected a molar pregnancy (which I had never heard of before) and mentioned that this can sometimes be cancerous and I may have to be treated for 6-12 months. Another said they couldn’t be certain of what the mass was and I was to wait a week to see if anything changed before getting any answers.
WHAT?! My head was spinning – Cancer, tumour, baby, no baby and possible chemo, how could they expect me to sit and wait a week!! To say the least, I was a mess. My husband and I were also due to fly to Japan for a snowboarding holiday the following week, which now added extra stress.
I couldn’t just sit back and wait to “see what happens”. After a very stressful weekend I went to another hospital first thing Monday morning to get a second opinion. After 2 days in hospital after various opinions from different doctors, the obstetrician finally agreed that the best course of action was to have an operation that day, called a “Dilation and curettage (D&C)” to remove the mass. This D&C is a brief surgical procedure in which the cervix is dilated and a special instrument is used to scrape the uterine lining to remove whatever is inside the uterus.
The operation was successful and I was discharged from the hospital the following evening however, I could not be diagnosed until they did some more tests.
That week was a huge emotional rollercoaster. I would have been 12 weeks pregnant a few days after my operation and we had been so amped to tell all of our family and friends our special news but instead we were grieving our loss.
Thankfully I was given the all clear to fly out to Japan the next morning, so after a very hurried packing session we were off. Even though I was still bleeding heavily from the operation, time away was just what my husband and I needed to have space to grieve and reflect on the crazy emotionally draining week that had passed.
I remember sitting in the airport and I felt like I was going to burst into tears, I was looking around at everyone thinking oh my gosh less than 12 hours ago I was in hospital and no one around me would have a clue about what we had just been through. For me it was a huge reminder to never judge anyone as you don’t know what they are going through or anything about their background.
Although heading to Japan was not ideal timing, it helped to ease the pain of our loss and get away from all the craziness for a short time. It was such an amazing trip and really helped me to start my healing journey. I will always be grateful that we were still able to go as the trip was so close to being cancelled. We took it easy for the first week and after that I started to feel much stronger and was even able to snowboard, which was a perfect activity for clearing my mind.
The day we arrived home we received a call from the hospital. I was diagnosed as having had a partial molar pregnancy, and of course I was devastated.
There are 2 types of molar pregnancies as detailed below:
“A molar pregnancy is a rare complication. It happens when an egg and a sperm meet at fertilisation, the cells do not grow in a way that can support a pregnancy. In a normal pregnancy, the fertilised egg has 23 chromosomes from the mother and 23 from the father, making a total of 46. In a molar pregnancy the wrong number of chromosomes come together, and there are abnormalities in the cells that grow to form the placenta. There are two types of molar pregnancy:
- complete molar pregnancy
- partial molar pregnancy
In a complete molar pregnancy, the fertilised egg has no chromosomes from the mother and the chromosomes from the father’s sperm are duplicated. This means there are two copies of chromosomes from the father. In this case, there’s no embryo, amniotic sac or normal placenta. Instead, the placenta forms a mass of cysts that looks like a cluster of grapes. These cysts can be seen on an ultrasound scan. In most partial molar pregnancies, the fertilised egg has 23 chromosomes from the mother but a duplicated set from the father. This means there are a total of 69 chromosomes instead of the normal 46. This can happen when chromosomes from the sperm are copied or when two sperm fertilise the same egg. In a partial molar pregnancy, a placenta will start to grow. This means an embryo does begin to develop. There may be a fetus, or some fetal tissue, or an amniotic sac. But even if there is a fetus, it is important to understand that it simply doesn’t have the right genetic make-up to survive.”
This information has been taken from www.babycenter.com.au
There is a small chance that this condition can turn cancerous, which is thankfully lower in instances of partial molar pregnancy. Regardless I now need to have weekly blood tests to monitor my hormone levels for 6-12months to ensure there is no further growth of the abnormal cells. We have been advised we are unable to try for another baby for at least 6 months or possibly longer, depending on the test results.
Thankfully my test results are looking really positive and my hormone levels are almost back to normal, so hopefully they continue that way.
However, some women who have had a Molar pregnancy have not been so lucky, and have had to have rigorous chemotherapy to treat the cancer which has an 85-100% cure rate.
I have 2 reasons for wanting to share this very personal information with you.
The first reason is to bring more awareness and understanding of a Molar pregnancy because until I had been diagnosed, I had never ever heard of this condition. And although I had a wonderful support group of many family and friends (many of whom also had miscarriages themselves), not one person had heard of a molar pregnancy and I still felt very alone. Although every miscarriage is different and there is a sad story to all of them, I found it hard to make sense of the situation as a Molar pregnancy is not a well-known condition.
If you or anyone you know is going through this, please feel free to send me an email! There is also a wonderful supportive group on Facebook called “Molar pregnancy support group” with nearly 800 members. I found this group to be very helpful, I asked many questions in the beginning and it was really nice to speak with others who truly understood what I was going through.
The second reason I wanted to write this post was I wanted to let any woman who has ever been through a miscarriage, whether that is you or someone you know (no matter what stage of pregnancy), know that you have every right to grieve. You become so attached to the little being growing inside of you from the minute you find out you are pregnant, so please be easy on yourself and allow yourself time to get through it.
Below are a few link to websites with tips on how to cope with your loss:
Also for anyone who lives locally there is a group on Facebook called Illawarra Parents of Baby Angels (IPOBA), which can also offer support:
Although I still have a few rough days, both my husband and I are feeling very hopeful about our future chances of having kids and we both know that this condition is a “freak of nature situation” that could happen to anyone. Also the chances of a reoccurrence are very slim.
I hope you have found my post helpful and if you are currently going through this please know you are not alone and I am giving you a giant air hug.
Thanks for your support.
Love Amy xx
*Top photo “someone I love was never born” courtesy of Instagram account @bumpbirthandbeyond