A Long Road and Still Healing

This is my first time opening up about my story on any kind of site.  I have talked to close friends and family about some of this and it has helped me a tremendous deal in healing and surviving all of this, but somehow, you can’t tell them everything.  So I am here to finally put it out, long, raw, and uncut.  I actually started writing this back in May, and although this happened what seemed so long ago, it still cuts deep. More has also recently happened, like within the last month, which goes to show that my journey is not over.  I am only 26 years old but have been through more with in a 4 year period than anyone I know. So here it goes…

It all started in 2008.  I was 21 years old and had just graduated with a degree in Early Childhood education and life was great.  To celebrate, I took a trip with 3 cousins to a weekend spa at the beginning of June.  On the trip, I felt great, but my cousin felt that she could possibly be pregnant.  So about a week after we got home, she wanted to test, but was so scared that I told her that I would test with her, although I had gotten my period on the trip and knew my test would be negative.  I had been with my boyfriend (now fiance) for 3 years, and although I had come off my pill that past February, we were being safe.  So we took the test and they both immediately came out negative, with one dark purple line.  She had somewhere to be so my cousin grabbed her test and left, while I tossed mine in the garbage.  But something told me 5 minutes later to go back and get it, and low and behold, my test now had two, albeit faint, lines.  I was in complete shock but at the same time, so overjoyed with happiness.  I immediately called my cousin’s cell and told her my unbelievable news.

I told my boyfriend about it and he was so excited but also want to be sure, so I called and scheduled an appointment to get it confirmed with my PCP five days later.  The day before, I was so anxious that I took another test and the lines immediately showed.  It was then confirmed by the doctor the next day , in which she also estimated my due date to be February 14, 2009.

Next up was telling our parents.  We both had decent jobs and were always responsible, but I didn’t think this would make them too happy.  He told his mother and sister first, saying “I came by to cut the grass.  Oh and by the way, we’re pregnant.” They understand his sense of humor and were ecstatic.  My family on the other hand weren’t that great.   I was so nervous about telling my dad.  I had tried twice and almost fainted both times.  I was a daddy’s girl and always had been and I though he would have been so disappointed in me.  I told my oldest sister and her mother before I told him because my sister had had her first child as a teenage and since I wasn’t even alive at the time, I wanted to know his reaction from people who were there.  They really helped me to calm down and when I finally told him, somehow he said he already knew and all he needed to know was if we were going to keep it.  Once we told him yes, he was so excited, like it was his first grandchild, although this one would have been his 17th.

The next person I told was my other sister.  She was excited and concerned and I begged her to come into town for the weekend so she could be there when I told my mother.  My mother and I haven’t  had the best relationship so I knew she was going to flip, she and my sister on the other hand are close.  So on the way home from church that Sunday, we told her and at first she was so upset, then she was happy, then she wanted us to get married.  My mother is a devoted Catholic and thought that he needed to marry me out of obligation.  Although I was raised by her, like I said we don’t get along and often disagree and this was no different.  After a talk with me and my boyfriend in which we told her it wasn’t going to happen, she let it go, only mentioning it once a week.

Telling our immediate family all happened within the same week of my appointment with my PCP and we’re lucky it was out in the open because the following week I started having terrible morning sickness that I definitely would not have been able to hide.  So bad that I couldn’t keep anything down and was hoping it was only a first trimester thing when I knew it very well could go on for the whole pregnancy. I started the process with having blood work done.  I had made my first ultrasound for July 21, the day before my birthday and I was anxious to see my beautiful baby and to hear its heartbeat.  I thought it would have been the best birthday present ever.

Dealing with the heat and humidity of the summer while dealing with morning sickness was hard but I knew I was going to have to get through it.  Then a sign of relief:  one cool weekend that July, we took a family trip to Great America with all the cousins on my boyfriend’s side.  I was one happy pregnant lady because, although I could not ride any of the rides, one thing I loved was amusement park food and I was actually able to keep it down, and with 3 vehicles full of family, everyone was feeding my baby that day.

Finally the day had come.  My ultrasound.  I was so excited but I was also nervous.  I scheduled it for my boyfriend’s day off so he could come along, but unfortunately, when we got to the hospital, he was told he couldn’t come in initially.  So I was led to a dark room with the tech and given instruction on how the appointment would go and she then she began.  There it was on the screen: my baby.  The tech started to get some pictures and measurements and then tried to get a heartbeat.  I was asked was I sure I was 11 weeks and when I answered yes, she went to get a nurse. I knew at that point that something was wrong.   The nurse came in and conducted the ultrasound to check behind the tech.  Then she excused herself from the room.  When she came back, she told me she had contacted my doctor and that she wanted to see me right away.  Her office was right next to the hospital to I grabbed my boyfriend from the waiting area and we rushed over there.  When we got there, she sat us down and explained to us that there wasn’t a heartbeat, and the baby looked younger than 11 weeks old.  She also told us that there’s a chance I may not be as far along as I thought and that’s why we aren’t hearing anything yet.  We scheduled an ultrasound for the following week and left her office to get a round of blood work done that she had ordered.  We were devastated but still hopeful.

That weekend, we had a big family dinner for my birthday and although I smiled on the outside, there were all kinds of thoughts flashing through my mind about our baby.

We went to the 2nd ultrasound the following Monday and still no heartbeat.  It also seemed that it was smaller than the week before.  My doctor told me that I had had a missed miscarriage, where the baby had died weeks ago but my body still went on like it hadn’t.  I was in disbelief.   I wanted a second opinion and scheduled it for August 14th, while in the mean time, had blood work done every Monday and Wednesday until then. But by August 12, my body was ready to let go.  I was cramping really bad with what felt like could have been contractions.  I called my boyfriend to tell him what was happening and told him, since it was only half an hour before he got off, that he didn’t have to leave work.  I also called my doctor to  tell her that what I thought was happening and she asked me to preserve it in a ziploc bag so that when I came in the next day for a follow up, they could send it to pathology to make sure that was it and to possibly find out what happened.  Then it happened.  I carefully placed it in the bag, sat it on my nightstand then got in the bed and cried.  After it happened, there were no words as to how I felt.  My mother tried to tell me maybe it was for the best, and for anyone reading this, that is one thing someone who has had a miscarriage does not want to hear.  I did not want to be bothered with the world.   I was mad at the world. When my boyfriend got to the house, he just took me into his arms and stayed with me and let me sleep.

The next day, I was still upset with the world and decided to take myself to the doctor.  I got to the stoplight right in front of the hospital and suddenly I felt a gush.  As soon as I walked into the building, I went into the bathroom, pulled down my pants and blood spilled all over the floor.  I was in shock but I needed help.  I called the doctors office from my cell, but the answering service picked up, because although she knew I was coming in, her office wasn’t normally open on Wednesdays.  I told the operator that I was in the bathroom across the hall from the office and what had just happened.  She connected me to the nurse practitioner and the next thing I knew she was breaking down the door.  By that time, I was hysterical.  She helped me clean myself up and helped me into the office into an examining room where the doctor was prepped and ready to take care of me.  I told them to call my cousin. She was working right next door at another doctor’s office and I needed someone to get the quick.  I finally stopped crying and calmed down. She held my hand while to doctor examined me and cleaned up.  Then I became a complete mess again and ended up getting a shot to calm me down.  I wanted to go home.  When she was finished, the doctor told me to take as much time as I needed before I got up.  I asked my cousin to call my dad so he could take me home.  His godfather lived down the street from the office and he had taken him to an appointment earlier but should have been back by then.  He helped me into the car and took me home and got me in the bed.

Two days later, I went back to work.  I started feeling nauseous, and knowing what I had just went through, I was sent home. And just when I thought my cramping had finally subsided, they came back with a vengeance.  I could hardly drive home.  I made it around the corner from my house when I had to pull over to see if someone at home could come get me from where I was at.  I had forgotten that my sister had came home for a funeral and was in my mothers car, leaving her at home and with out transportation.  Luckily my neighbor was home and brought my mother to me and even offered to take me to the ER, but I wanted to go home.  This time it really felt like contractions.  Like I was giving birth.  I felt another gush and headed for the bathroom. At first I did not cry, but then I began to think “why is this happening to me?”.  I started bawling my eyes out.  It was so painful to the point where I was screaming.  My mother was with me and I told her I wanted to go to the hospital.  She got on the phone with my doctor and told her what was happening.  I calmed down long enough for my doctor to tell me that she was admitting me and would possibly do a D & C, something that I did not want, but because of everything that was happening, had to have.  She hung up, and then I had another contraction and told my mom I felt like I had to push and I did.  I pushed out tissue that was the size of a roll of quarters.  She preserved it to take with us to the hospital, helped me get myself together, and we left.  By the time we got there, my contractions had stopped.  My boyfriend met us in my hospital room, where I was being given an IV.  My doctor explained that I would have to have a D & C and I reluctantly agreed.   My boyfriend held my hand as the wheeled me into pre-op, but he could tell it was something I did not want to do.  He called my doctor and asked could I have an ultrasound first to see what was left and she agreed.  During the ultrasound, she saw that there was just fluid and I was relieved to know that she canceled the D & C.

I finally stopped bleeding the following month.  I was in denial and blaming myself.  Thinking of everything I did wrong.  Depressed wasn’t even the word for what I was going through.  As the holidays came up, it was hard because I had imagined myself pregnant during that time, and I wasn’t.

I finally picked myself up and after talking it out with people I trusted, I was able to go on with life.  I was working more and looking into going back to school. Then in May of 2009, I started having cramps. I didn’t think anything of it because I was expecting my period soon.  When the day came and went, I tested and I was pregnant again.  I cried with excitement.  I text my boyfriend and told him I had something to tell him when he got off work.  Then I called my doctor to tell her and did a run down of my previous history with the nurse to make sure everything was right.  They wanted me to start everything right away.  I came into her office the next day to have blood work done.  I was told to drink plenty of water to get the cramping under control.  They weren’t bad but I didn’t want to take any chances.

Then one morning a few days later the cramping felt different.  I got up to use the bathroom and I was spotting.  I called my boyfriend who was up and already on his way to work and told me to meet him at the hospital.  When we got there, I told the ER doctor what was going on.  He started to exam me, where I immediately started crying.  He said that my cervix was still hard, meaning that there was a chance that I was fine.  I was told to go home, drink lots of water and follow up with my doctor.

I couldn’t go home.  We had just found out that we were pregnant again and hadn’t told anyone except my sister that lived two hours away, and with the state of devastation that I had found myself back in, I know I couldn’t hide it.  As far as anyone there knew, I was at work.  We had keys to his mom’s house, so instead my boyfriend called off and we went there where no one was home.  We just laid on the couch and he let me cry.  And then the cramps got worse.  I tried to call off work, but when my supervisor picked up the phone, I was unable to speak.  When I finally made a noise, she instantly knew what was going on, given my previous history and told me she’d take care of everything.

I ended up miscarrying that afternoon.  I called the doctor to tell her and she made me another appointment.  By the time his mother and sister got home from work, I was half asleep. They were baffled as to why we were there because they knew we usually were at work at the time.  I stayed on the couch asleep, but heard a loud thud.  I thought I was dreaming but went back to sleep.  The next thing I knew.  His mother and sister were hugging me and all of their eyes, including my boyfriend’s, were blood shot red and full of tears.  I found out later that week that the loud thud was the sound of him punching a hole in the wall.  When they got home the day I miscarried, they left me on the couch to rest and my boyfriend went into his mother’s office to tell them what had happened.  His mother told me he was so upset.  He couldn’t comprehend why this was happening to us again and he blamed himself.  He held himself together for as long as he could for my sake, but finally broke.

We decided that we wouldn’t tell anyone.  It was hard, especially because the following week I was scheduled to take a trip to California for my cousin’s wedding.  I tried to hold it together but there were periods where I just broke down and cried.  Luckily my sister who knew was there and she was able to help me when she could.

We decided we would wait awhile before we tried to get pregnant again, granted, we didn’t try for it the first to time.  I decided to go back to school.  Maybe it would help me get my mind off things.

Everything was going well.  Then one day while I was at work I started having leg cramps.  This was nothing unusual.  I had been active with sports in school and attributed it to past injuries.  But then I started having abdominal pain, which eventually had me doubling over in pain.  I left work and called my brother at home and asked him to take me to urgent care when I got there, but half way home I had to pull over.  I was nauseous and dizzy and my leg was cramping so bad that it was starting to feel numb.  I told him he had to come get me and take me to the ER.  While I was waiting on my brother, I called my boyfriend but got no answer because he was still at work.  I called my best friend and told her what was going on and asked her to keep trying to call him because I felt like I would pass out.  By the time we get to the hospital, I was in so much pain that I could not walk and again I was hysterical.  My boyfriend met us there,  curses out the reception desk because I had been sitting in the waiting room in extreme pain for a while.  When I finally get to triage, I feel so dizzy that I did pass out.  My brother and boyfriend get me back into the wheelchair and they put me in a room.  I was in so much pain, however they wouldn’t give me anything for it until they knew for sure that I was not pregnant.  When they finally gave me something, it worked for about 10 minutes and then the pain was back.  They waited awhile longer and then gave me another shot that worked.  It really worked.  I was so out of it that when I finally came to, I was told that I cursed at the triage nurse to get the blood pressure cuff off,  at my brother out for being in the room while I was trying to put a gown on, and the intern, telling her I needed an actual doctor.

The doctor ordered a CT scan and decided to admit me.  After being in the ER for almost 8 hours, I was finally given a room.  The pain meds were really working, but I was still nauseous.  By the next morning, I went in to have another scan and was told I would be seeing my doctor that afternoon.  The attending OB/GYN, who also happened to be my fiance’s mother and sister’s doctor came to see me.  He told me that after examining my scans that it appeared that I had a large mass on my right side and they would forward the test results to my OB/GYN for further observation and that I would have to follow up.  I was given prescriptions that I was to take for the pain discharged that afternoon.

That week, I went to see my doctor and was told that I had a dermoid cyst growing on my ovary.  I was so worried because I had never heard of it.  I was scheduled for surgery the following month to have it removed.

I remember being in so much pain the night before my surgery.  It had been my last day of class before the winter break and I had to go in to take my final.  I had also started my medical leave that day before to make sure everything was in order, although I was only estimated to be off work for 3 weeks and would only miss the first week of class because I had opted to have laparoscopic surgery versus the traditional surgery.  On December 17, my mother’s birthday, I went in for surgery.  I was so stressed because I had never had surgery before and I was so scared.  It didn’t help either that there had been 4 attempts to insert my IV.  My parents and boyfriend were with me before surgery, but my boyfriend had to go to work.  I did not mind that he had to leave because there was nothing for him to do but sit and worry and I was told that by the time I was out of surgery, he would be off.  He stayed with me until they wheeled me into the operating room and the next thing I remembered was waking up in so much pain trying to focus on the clock in the post-op room.

Once they put me in my room, I was asking everyone how did it go and was I OK.  My boyfriend had just arrived and my parents said everything went OK and that they got it, but something seemed off about their explanation.  I felt like I was in more pain than I thought I would be for a laparoscopic surgery. But then my doctor came in to give me a breakdown of my surgery.  The dermoid cyst was the size of a baseball.  She said she was able to remove it, however, it was not on the right ovary, it was on the left one.  She started surgery laparoscopically, but when she realized where it was and that it had gotten so big that it was growing scar tissue and pulled itself over to my right side, he ended up doing traditional surgery.  She said she also had to remove my ovary and part of my fallopian tube because it twisted the tube when it moved and therefore was pulling all the blood supply from my ovary.  I was also told that, although it could have just been from the cyst,  there was a chance that I could have endometriosis.

I was so devastated.  My boyfriend and I were also concerned if this was going to affect our chances of having child, as she already knew our past history.  We were told that it shouldn’t, but that now that I have had one dermoid cyst that my chances of having another on was more likely than normal and that I would just have to be monitored and go through some extensive family planning when we were ready.

Because of the surgery, I also had to stay home longer that usual, 7 weeks instead of 3. And because of the pain, I was confined to my bed for most of the time.  This did not bother me much however because I was living in Chicago in the dead of winter and going outside was close to impossible anyway.

So let’s fast forward to fall of 2011.  I have managed to heal and to be ok with everything that has happened.   It also turned out that i don’t have endometriosis either which was such a relief.  I had been going in often for testing and ultrasounds and check up to make sure everything is ok when I receive another blow.  After a routine pap smear, my doctor tells me that she found abnormal cells that could cause cervical cancer.  I’m just thinking if its not one thing its another.  I ended up having a biopsy. At this point, I have been to my doctor’s office so much, everyone knows me like we are family.  It was the scariest thing I have had to have done to date. The procedure did not hurt as much as it was uncomfortable, but before I even got undress, I broke down crying. I love the staff at my doctor’s office because, since they know my story, I knew when they came to comfort me that it was genuine and they knew what I was going through.  About a week later, my biopsy came back fine and that the cells weren’t cancerous and would go away on their own.  I was so happy, but I would have to go to the doctor every 6 months for a pap smear just to check, but by this time I am use to it.

Let’s fast forward again to this past June.  I’m happy and hopeful for the future, planning my wedding with my fiance when I start to experience cramping on my right side.   I know that as women, we sometime feel cramping or twinges in our ovaries before our periods, but what I was feeling felt different.  I grew more concerned when the cramping led to tingling and numbing down my right leg and then to my left.  Called my doctor to tell her what was going on.  We had a conversation about cramping and twinging earlier this year and agreed that it was just scar tissue pulling from my surgery, but she said if anything feels off to call her immediately.  I went in for an ultrasound and got the lab results on my 26th birthday.  It said there was a cystic mass growing on my right ovary, about 35mm at its widest point, and that waves on the ultrasound represent hemorrhage.  We were out for a family dinner when I found out and it just about killed me to get this news, especially since me and my fiance decided that after we were married next year that we were going to immediately start trying to get pregnant.

I went in to talk to my doctor about this.  My fiance and my sister came with me.  I was so relieved to find out that it was nothing.  She explained that all women have cysts when during their cycle and that they rupture when we ovulate.  The hemorrhage that was described in my lab results was just saying that I was beginning to ovulate.  She also explained that cysts on average are about 30mm.  Mine was slightly larger, but nothing to be too concerned about.  I was so relieved and cried tears of joy when we left the office.

It has now been almost a month since I have gotten my ultrasound results and I feel better.  The cramping has gone away and I am so relieved.  I cannot wait until next year.  I am counting down the months before I plan to go to my doctor and discuss trying for a baby, especially now that I know that I am fine.  It’s been a rough couple of years, but every time I’m given something that I think is going to break me, I somehow manage to pick back up and I will continue to do so as my fiance and I continue our journey with the continuous support of our families and by putting our faith in God.

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