8. Second time lucky?

So. We were ‘expecting’ again and oh how nervous we were. The chance of an initial molar pregnancy is around 1 in 750-1000. Once you’ve had one, the chance of a second increases to 1 in 75-100. Once you’ve been a 1 in 1000, then staring a 1 in 100 chance in the face looks huge. Add to that the 1 in 4 chance of a miscarriage, and we weren’t really feeling all too confident.

The joy, the excitement we felt the first time we saw that positive test was muted. The pregnancy books we’d so eagerly bought last time, stayed firmly on their shelf. The excited visits we’d made to our families to share the news remained undone. Once bitten, twice shy.

During the follow-up from the molar pregnancy, our consultant explained that we would need additional early scans in any subsequent pregnancies to look for signs of another (at 7 weeks to rule out a complete molar pregnancy, and 10 weeks to rule out a partial molar pregnancy). So once we got the positive test, I rang the Early Pregnancy Unit (EPU) to book the 7 week scan. We had just over 3 anxious weeks to wait, with absolutely nothing we could do to change the outcome.

Crawl forward to 5 weeks and 2 days pregnant. It was a Monday morning at work (30th January 2012) and I went to the toilet. I was spotting again. It wasn’t bright red blood (usually a good sign – fresh blood is bad), but it was the same as last time and I now knew this brown, watery blood to be one of the signs of a molar pregnancy. I was in tears and terrified. I rang Matt sobbing and then the EPU to ask what I should do. I lucked out with a lovely nurse – she explained it was too early to scan, but she booked me a scan for the Friday when I would be 5+6 (ordinarily they wouldn’t scan before 6 weeks, but she agreed to squeeze me in a day early). I was under orders to get back in touch if the bleeding got any heavier and in the mean time… we waited. Those 4 days passed unbelievably slowly. We had convinced ourselves that it would be bad news again and we were trying to prepare ourselves (if one ever can prepare themselves for news like this).

When Friday finally dawned, we were nervous wrecks. Again. Matt bolstered me, as ever, and told me that we could deal with whatever news the day brought us. I held my breath as the gel was applied. We couldn’t believe it when we were told that everything looked correct for dates – we were pointed to a small sac and yolk sac. It was a bit too early for her to make out the fetal pole, but she was happy all looked fine! Good news! She could see no reason for the spotting and it was attributed to implantation bleeding. We had just under 2 weeks now to wait for the next scan with our consultant. More waiting. More nerves.

I continued to spot on and off, but also got some nausea and ‘felt’ pregnant. Our next scan date loomed heavy on 16th February 2012 (I would be 7+3). The scan would be with our consultant and, all being well, she would be having a thorough look for signs of molar tissue. Again, I held my breath….then she turned the screen and showed us our teeny tiny baby and its precious little heart beating away. We had never seen anything so beautiful. The tears flowed and we stared in absolute awe at the little life we’d created. This meant a complete molar pregnancy was ruled out. Our little one was measuring perfectly for dates and our consultant was happy that everything was developing exactly as it should and she re-booked us for 3 weeks time (8th March 2012), when I’d be 10+5. We left the appointment with the weight a little lifted from our shoulders and a lighter step. We’d seen our beautiful little miracle.

The relief at a good scan didn’t last long and we were now facing 21 days of unknown! We decided to book a private scan to see us through. This was booked for 25th February 2012. I’d be 9 weeks.

Again, we had a good scan! Our tummy person now looked baby shaped, was having a bit of a wiggle around and we got to hear the galloping little beating of the teeny weeny heart – I genuinely could have listened to that precious melody all day long. Another exhale, another sigh of relief. Slowly the pregnancy books crept off their shelves. After a heartbeat is seen at 9 weeks, the risk of miscarriage falls to its lowest point.

The wait to the next scan was a little easier, as we kept reminding ourselves of the three good scans we’d had to date and had our ultrasound pics to look [read: stare!] at and I kept making Matt re-enact the strumming little heartbeat we heard. For once, we sat in the EPU waiting room feeling, whilst not exactly ‘confident’, not rigid with fear. We were kept waiting a while, as the ultrasound machine had gone astray, but we finally saw it being wheeled back through and knew we’d be called through. I remember smiling as I lay down, awaiting seeing our baby again. We therefore waited and watched in horror as our consultant’s face turned from one of smiles, to one of concern and concentration. Eventually she turned to us with the words ‘I’m afraid it’s not good news’. Our baby had died. Our baby, the one we’d seen moving around not 12 days ago, had not developed any further. My memory of that moment was a noise from Matt like he’d been kicked in the stomach. We couldn’t believe this was happening to us again. Just when we thought it was our time, our happily ever after was being denied.

We were shown through to the same consultation room as last time and again sobbed in each other’s arms. Our consultant came through to discuss what would happen now. Whereas last time we had options (waiting, medication, surgery), this time we were told that I would need to have surgery again, so they could test for molar tissue. I was booked in for 5 days time (13th March 2012).

It would be my second surgery in 8 months. Our second lost baby in 8 months. We didn’t deserve this. Last time was hard, this time after having had three scans and having seen our baby moving and hearing its little heart beating was almost unbearable. Yet again, we had to un-tell our families. Yet again, we had to continue to get up, eat, live.

You might think that having been through surgery once before so recently, it might be easier. It wasn’t. It was harder. I knew what to expect. I knew the discomfort, pain, and longing that awaited me.

At discharge, we were told again to wait (ever waiting) before trying again, and that we would be informed of the histology results as soon as they were available. Two weeks later and I was still bleeding from the surgery, we returned for another ultrasound to check that there was no tissue remaining and it was here we learnt that the histology was back and it hadn’t been a molar pregnancy, but there was no reason for our loss, just horribly bad luck.

At discharge from the molar follow-up we were told that I would need to do repeat tests following each pregnancy from then on (successful, or not). I contacted the wonderful nurses at Western Park and shared the news of our loss. After a few weeks a familiar test tube arrived in the post, and a few days later it was confirmed that my levels had returned to normal – my body catching on to the news it was over far quicker than either of us could get our heads around the news that our baby was gone.

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