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October 7, 2019

“You’re not pregnant, you have cancer” {Chapter 1}

*Editor’s Note: This piece is part of a series—lucky you. Head to the author’s profile to continue reading.


My husband and I got pregnant for the first time on our first try, and you could say we were equally excited and terrified. We just had our dream wedding and honeymoon a few weeks before and thought that it was time to start trying for a baby since that was the logical next step. “Who knows, it could take months…it could take years,” we said, and we felt like we were ready. I was 29 – ancient by child-bearing standards – and wasn’t getting any younger.

At six weeks, I knew something was wrong. It was a Friday morning in December, I was working from home and had just made breakfast. As I was digging into my scrambled eggs and toast, I felt a sharp, stabbing pain through my uterus. And then I felt another. And then I was on the floor, doubled over –paralyzed, groaning and crying. I called my husband to come home and take me to the emergency room. The pains slowly subsided and I crawled into the bathroom to take a shower (you know, to be more presentable for the ER). As I removed my clothes, we both saw it at the same time – blood, bright red blood, between my legs. I resumed crying and got into the shower.

The ultrasound and bloodwork confirmed what we already knew: I was about six weeks pregnant. No signs of any abnormalities, no cause for concern. “It’s probably just your uterus expanding,” the nurse said to me. I took comfort in her simple explanation while terror slowly wound its way up my uterus, through my knotted stomach and into my heart, where it settled and stayed for the next four weeks. When I got home, I was exhausted and bone tired. I remember crying to my Mom that I was terrified I was going to lose the baby.

At eight weeks along, on Christmas, the extreme pain came back once again. I found myself lying in my Mother-in-law’s bed (who was hosting an otherwise lovely holiday), once again writhing and taking deep breaths so that I didn’t vomit. By that time in my pregnancy, I was severely and perpetually nauseous. I was thankful that it was winter and I could cover up both my expanding belly and unbuttoned pants with long, bulky sweaters. I had to eat every two hours so that I didn’t feel even more sick, which was bizarre.

The next day I had my first appointment with the doctor since most won’t even see you until you’re eight weeks pregnant. The nurse practitioner did a physical exam and told me everything seemed fine, that the spotting that had continued was normal. I mentioned my ER visit to her and she didn’t seem concerned. She told me I’d have my next visit at ten weeks to confirm the due date of August 6, then ended the appointment by saying “If we don’t hear a heartbeat, that’s a problem.” I didn’t know at the time how right she would be.

Fast forward two weeks: I have somehow managed to continue living in this seriously miserable existence. Sick. Bloated. In pain. Spotting. Barely able to work. Sleeping in the wellness room during lunch. Falling asleep on the couch at 7 p.m. And now here I am – my husband by my side, my pants unbuckled and warm jelly on my stomach. As the ultrasound tech begins to have a look, she is quiet. She is so quiet that you can hear a pin drop. I was holding my breath. 30 seconds that felt like 30 years had passed. “I’m sorry, but I don’t hear a heartbeat and you’re only measuring 8 weeks.” She rushed to get the doctor, who told us it looked like a molar pregnancy, which is a rare complication that affects about 1 in 1,000 pregnancies. I struggled to comprehend between my sobs. There was a problem during the fertilization process and my uterus was expanding rapidly, growing with a tumor. They scheduled a D&C for the next day. We followed a family of five back to the parking garage, and I was crying the whole way.

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