Monday, April 28, 2008

Our God Is Awesome

God has been speaking to me this morning and yesterday and I need to take this time to share with you the wonders of our Lord and Saviour. This is a copy of the email I sent out to church family and friends just minutes ago.

I just wanted to take a few minutes and encourage everyone today and tell you, NEVER doubt the way God works, He is all powerful, all inspiring, and way cool. Yesterday and today I've been can tell you with 100% filled to bursting faith that our God is a force to be reckoned with. I don't know the results yet from my latest blood work, but I can tell you the results from my last prayer request. With just a few words spoken to our Lord for me by family and friends, God showed up and showed out by giving me comfort, peace, and total understanding with my decision to have a hysterectomy. I felt God yesterday in a way that I'd I hadn't felt in a few weeks. The devil throw in a little doubt and it was squashed like a bug yesterday.
Please don't give up on your faith if things don't go your way, remember that God's way although hard to understand is the best way.
Many blessings on this wonderful day,

Every bit of what I wrote is true. Yesterday as I was typing the blog post, God spoke to me and gave me idea I typed yesterday, He gave me total, 100% complete, understanding, comfort, peace, and hope that He is leading me down the best path for me and my family. I have been able to view my impending hysterectomy with new eyes and an open heart and to be honest, I kind of looking forward to it now. When I see the doctor a week from tomorrow, I be setting up the hysterectomy for the second week of June and if everything goes as planned, I'll only need a total of 4 more treatments. And if everything doesn't go as planned, well we'll just go with the flow. God is the one running this show. Ahha, that rhymed!!!! Somewhat!

I am able to tell you know that with a happy heart and soul, I'm going to be fine, everything is going to work out. I'm making plans to build a new house, to see my son start kindergarten this August, and to see my half sister when she arrives around the same time. I may never have a child, I may never adopt, but I will certainly have a new baby to spoil in ways I can't spoil my own and I'm looking forward to every minute of it. There's something to be said for a 25 year age difference and NONE of it is bad!!!

Like I said earlier, many blessings on this dreary, rainy, but wonderfully beautiful day.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


For those of you who like me where thrown for a loop this past week while reading my blog and are now considering yourself spelling challenged, I've found the answer we've been looking for. Thanks to a dear loving friend, I was laughingly informed that the spittle pooling onto my pillow the other night is spelled d-r-o-o-l. Aaaahhhh, let's all take a moment and slap our selves in the head while saying "DUH!" out loud!!!

"DUH!" (slap). For those of you not participating, don't judge us, you just happen to have a better spell checker than we do!!

Spelling challenge conquered, let's move on. Just hours after writing my blog the other day- here's a God moment- the doctor called to see how I was doing and during the course of the call we discussed our options if this new treatment doesn't work. I was given two choices -1- a hysterectomy that will be followed by a few more chemo treatments, or -2- more intensive chemo that will result in a hospital stay, that will most assuredly make me bald and beautiful and sick as a tee total dog. Not quite and easy choice, but knowing that sometimes the best decision is the hardest, Terry and I have opted for the hysterectomy. It took me a couple bouts of crying and a little time to come to a complete understanding and acceptance that I may never give birth to another child again. During this time, I receive a wonderful piece of advice from my new friend who sent me my cherished pin, she wrote, Angela don't forget God is a miracle worker and he can drop your levels to 5 with one treatment if it's in His plan. So true, God can do whatever He wants and if it's in His plan to cure me without surgery, He'll do it, I have no doubt about it. Yet, that intuition that hasn't been wrong yet through this whole thing is telling me that I'll be undergoing a hysterectomy within the next month or so.

But I've also come to the realization that I'm not looking at the reason for my hysterectomy the right way. I wrote earlier that I wish it didn't have to end like this- with a miscarriage as the last thing my uterus did. I realize that thinking that way is wrong, the last thing my uterus did was to hold the baby that I wanted so bad in a way my arms couldn't. It was the only part of my body that was physically in contact with my baby and how powerful is that. I now look at the possibility of the impending hysterectomy with a new set of eyes, how thankful I am to have it removed, not only to keep me alive, but to keep my sanity alive. What if after going through chemo, I could never conceive again? Or what if I could conceive but never carry to term? Or heaven forbid, I deliver a baby that would never draw breath, would die days or months or years later? How much pain and suffering both physical and mental is going to be avoided by a simple procedure that's preformed everyday. When you look at all the what-ifs that could be lingering in the future caused by a wrong choice, how can you not embrace the hardest most selfish choice possible? Because that's what it is to me, a selfish choice- I really want more babies, I loved everything about being pregnant, I loved breast feeding, and holding that little body close to mine, but what amount of selfishness on my part puts the future of my family in the air for something God's already blessed my with twice. Looking at it this way, this is one of the most selfless acts, I will be able to do for my family, but at the same time selfish in itself because I know I want to be here to do what God has planned for me to do on this Earth, and to one day hold the children my children will bear. And if God has it planned to throw in a little bundle of joy along the way, well, that will just be icing on the very sweet cake we call . . . LIFE.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Good Decision

When I got the call from my nurse relaying my current blood levels, I was relieved to know that I'd made the right decision to go ahead and start the new treatment. My levels had gone up from 2909 to 4285. Not a huge jump, but not something good either. Thinking back on the call from the nurse, I wasn't as emotional as I'd imaged I would have been when I got the call. For the past few weeks, it had been on my mind, what would I do if my levels went up.

When it finally happened, because in a way I guess I knew it would, I was at peace with it. Like it was just another step on the road and it was okay. I'm pretty sure Jesus was hugging me then, wrapping me in His comfort, since that's exactly how I felt, comforted. I haven't yet had any bad side effects from my treatment, except I slept a lot yesterday with an nap thrown in and a close to 12 hour sleep session last night. I haven't needed any nausea medicine today and I'm not feeling quite so tired.

Even with the comfort being there, it's just going to be a long wait until next weeks blood draws and results. Because there lingering in the back of my mind is the next step in the road. If this medicine doesn't work, the option of a partial hysterectomy increases drastically. I have to give up the hope of future children, coming from my body at least, and with that an end to certain dreams. And it's with bittersweet longing that I wonder what indeed the future has in store for me as a mother and as a woman.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Actinomycin-D IV Treatments

Okay, I know what some of you may be thinking after reading my last posting, girl can't spell worth a lick. That's right, I spelled the name of my new treatment wrong. Sorry!!! Spell check didn't have a clue either and that's my story and I'm sticking to it!!!!

After checking my schedule (I'm a very busy person . . . yeah right!) I decided that I didn't want to wait a week to start the new treatment and as of 4:15 yesterday afternoon, I am now under going a once every two week treatment of IV injected Actinomycin-D. During the course of treatment that lasted between 45-60 minutes from start to finish, I was given an anti-nausea medicine and steroids. Due to the steroids, I've been awake since 4:30 after sleeping really well last night despite the constant drewll I kept rolling over in. Did I spell drewll right, spell check has not idea!! Or is it druell, I have no clue. Let's call it a small pools of spittle for safeties sake. Added to the nighttime puddles, I'm sure small fish could survive in, my allergies have become 10 times worse since starting chemo, with a few small but annoying nose bleeds thrown into the mix for some added fun and at times, a seeming constant drip of nasal products and what I'm sure it world record setting sneezes. If I'm going to suffer, so are you!!!!

But on the bright side I went ahead and took a nausea pill this morning to get ahead of any up coming relationship that may be in store for me and the porcelain bowl better known as the toilet!!

On a scale of 1-10, I'd rate my overall feeling around a 7, my eyes seem more sensitive to bright lights and am currently wearing sunglass at 10 till 7 in the morning as I type this. I've also expericing a low grade, high level annoying headache that's been coming and going since before I went to sleep and since I've been awake. Strangly enough, the glasses seem to help a smidgen' with this. The eye bones connected to the head bone, come on, you know you want to sing along.

I did learn something interesting yesterday, that along with myself, there are 2 other patients with GTD being treatment by the same group I am. One lady needed to have a hysterectomy after treatments failed to bring her to the "0" range and from what I understand she is now in remission. Another lady started her Actinomycin the Friday prior to my Tuesday because her Methotrexate didn't work either. According to the nurse, who NEVER named names or violated patient confidentiality in any way, they treated 8 , yes 8 patients last year alone for GTD!!!!! Seems to me like this cancer is more prevalent than we're being led to believe and I want to encourage our scientist to learn more and to gather more data updating the statistics surrounding this heartless disease.

Here's to more research and less upchucking . . . sorry TMI!!! Can't help myself. ;)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


So far, I've just been leading you all along without revealing much of my numbers, here's how it's gone so far.

The week before the D and C -253,000- Jan. 25, 2008
The week after the D and C- 10,327- Feb. 6, 2008
Each week following- 9,737 - 8,898 - 10,418 - 10,895 - 15,901 - 14,799, this number was drawn minutes prior to my first shot of Methotrexate, a yellowish medicine that is injected into my lower end and feels like molasses being pushed into my rear. For the first 5-10 minutes, I walk with a bit of a limp due to soreness, but during the hour ride home, this goes away and I'm none the worse for wear. Following my first shot the number took two pretty good downward turns to 10,328- 4,552- but since then it's been real slow- 3,134- 2,909.

My nurse called yesterday and relayed a message from my doctor indicating that he didn't like the way the numbers were moving and if the last draw wasn't half of 2,909, we would be moving on to the bi-weekly IV treatment of Actinomyocin. I'm scheduled to see the doc at 11 next Tuesday.

Working by interfering with cell nutrition, Methotrexate is supposed to cut the level of hcG in half each time it's given. So far the side effects have been real minimal. I've only had a couple of mouth sores that weren't any big deal and one cold sore that hurt like H-E-double L-L. My hair has been thinning slightly, but there's so much of it, I can't really tell except when I pick a few strands off my shoulder or a plate when I'm fixing dinner. I'm not really sure what the side effects for the IV treatment are, I'll find out today, but I know it's not going to be as easy as the shot. I've been told by other women that the nausea is worse with this treatment, as is hair loss, one lady was on the IV for 5 months and lost half of her hair, mouth sores may be worse, as will the fatigue. But in the face of that, I was encouraged by one of my online friends, not to worry they "give you really good med", and she was still able to keep up with her 2/3 year old at the time.

While I may be hesitant to change treatments, it sound to me like my doctor is wanting to go ahead and kick this things butt without giving my numbers the chance to increase. To stomp on it while it's weakened and finish it off for good. I'll know more when I talk to him next week, but already I feel encouraged by his -take no prisoners- approach.

The latest count from all the blood work is around 25 vials of blood so far, adding in to it the bleeding during and post D and C. Yet, except for a bit of tiredness every now and then, I feel really good. Let's pray it stays this way!!!!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Pregnancy and the Mole

Weekly blood draws to measure the hcG level found in the body after a molar pregnancy is vital to detecting the cancer that can develop from the abnormalities this pregnancy brings. Remember not every woman's case is like mine. Many women will not even develop this cancer, their numbers falling to "0" (5 or less than 5) in the matter of a few weeks. Yet for those of us who do, this disease can be described as fickle at best. What one woman may be going through may be different for the next woman. What does remain the same is that while your numbers are being monitored, it is extremely vital that the woman does not get pregnant. For the woman whose numbers go down with out any increase or the need for chemo, they are given roughly a 6 month waiting period in which they urged not to conceive. For the woman that needs chemo this waiting period is extended to a full 12 months. The reason it is so important for a woman to not get pregnant is that with every pregnancy the level of hcGwill rise, and as monitoring these levels are the only way to determine if the cancer has come back, it could be putting you and your unborn baby at risk by not waiting to conceive until the allotted time is finished. This cancer may start in the uterus, but since the abnormal cells can develop as fast as a normal developing baby would, this cancer can spread through out the body starting with the lungs, liver, and eventually the brain without proper and prompt treatment. Sure the doctors will preform an ultrasound to make sure it isn't the cancer, but after going through something like this wouldn't you like to do everything possible to make sure your next pregnancy ends with a healthy baby! For those of us already dealing with a Molar Pregnancy, there is a 1-2% chance for conceiving another mole, and a 10% chance for conceiving a third, with this percentage increase with mole. 1-2% may not seem like much, but when a woman had already beaten the 5% odds and been diagnosed with cancer, 1% seems infinitely high.

But don't despair Gestational Trophoblastic Disease isn't a death sentence for future children that I once believed it was, in fact I have read of a woman who in between 2 molar pregnancies went on to have 5 healthy and beautiful children.

It's important to remember that even after chemo, a woman with GTD can also have a healthy baby. Unlike most other chemo treatments that leave you infertile, with the treatments used for this cancer, a woman should be able to go on and have future children. For most women going through this, just knowing they can still bear children is a life line they hold on to tightly. Just knowing that making it through treatments, through the waiting period, knowing that there is hope for another child makes all the difference in the world.

Knowing that I'll be able to try to conceive again once I am cancer free doesn't stop the fear of recurrence, the fear that another molar pregnancy is in my future, or the fear that I may not be able to conceive again. Yet weighing it all together, there is a part of me that desperately wants the 4 children I've always dreamed about. What the future may bring, no one knows, but just knowing that may dreams for more children won't end at 25 (26 when my 12 months are over) gives me a hope that I may one day hold another baby.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Out and About

The days after learning of the miscarriage were spent fairly close to home. Not knowing what to expect, or when to expect things to happen I put myself on a sort of house arrest after coming to the conclusion it would be better if and when my body decided to miscarry if it was at home. It would never happen. Since that time I'd been getting out and about, doctor appointments, grocery shopping, dining out, small things where you always seem to run into a baby here and there. It wasn't too much of a problem for me, a slight emotion tug as a buggy with a baby seated in a carrier passed us and the kids cry out, "Look there's a baby." And smile passes between the new mom and myself. One baby at at time is okay, I can handle that, but one evening in particular with at the local Mexican restaurant God was surely testing me. I believe this was the Saturday following the arrival of my pin.

While we were eating, a family was seated beside us, to the back of us not a big deal at the time, until I noticed the 10 year old girls seated with them were identical twins, but it still wasn't too bad. They weren't babies, yet having read all the research that pointed to a Partial Mole being a set of twins gone wrong, just seeing them pulled at my heartstrings with much more than a slight tug, it was a yearning, a wanting, a wish that I was still pregnant with the twins I had prayed for each night before that first ultrasound and often kidded Terry about. Even after realizing the girls were twins, dinner was going along fine, I was fine, I was, until two tables were pushed together for a big party. A party that seated a pair of twin girls, not much older than 5 months at either end of the table right in my line of vision. It was hard to see, hard to feel, and as my eyes filled with tears for what wouldn't be, I told my husband, God's testing me. Maybe He was, maybe He wasn't, but I know I passed. I wiped the few trickles that fell and went right on with the dinner I was sharing with my kids, the ones I could hold and the one I could kiss every night before bed. No matter how much I longed for the baby that would never be, I couldn't forget the baby God had already given me. Bringing such joy and entertainment to my life everyday, they are a true blessing.

The next day was Sunday and as I remember the sequence of events, I believe I am wearing my little pin and a red sweater. As two women from the church ask how I am before services, I tell them of the night before, twins, the test, and overcoming the emotions of it all. Then these two mothers with their own children told me each of their own pain with loss. One, a mother whose child died on the operating table as the doctors tried to give him a better life had also been through an unimaginable 8 miscarriages. The second mother had lost her first born son, a Downs baby, either moments after his birth or before he even drew his first breath (this conversation is sort of blurred). These women, members of my church, knew what I was going through and were able to tell me they still think of their babies everyday, and everyday they think of them it doesn't hurt quite as bad as the day before, or as bad as the day before that. And it's true.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

An Emotional Day

February 12, 2008 was an emotional day for me. I tried my best to be upbeat as I walked into the office where I would give my first vial of blood since finding out what it really meant. I was excited to find out that I wouldn't have to pay a co-pay since I wouldn't be seeing the doctor. When I was called back, I took my place in the appointed chair and tried to calm my nerves, by telling the tech what was going on. What started as upbeat, ended a bit like a deflating balloon. It would take 3 different sticks and around 10-15 minutes to get one vial of blood. My veins were already feeling the added pressure of once weekly draws and it did nothing to help keep my spirits high. I wasn't an emotional mess, nor was I strictly trying to hide what I felt, but aside from a few times, I never really cried. You can attribute it to shock or denial, but it just wasn't the time for tears. . . yet.

Pulling up at my house following my visit, I checked my mail, noting with happiness that the package I was on the look out for had finally arrived. Days before my mom had let me know it was coming, something a friend of hers thought would help, and I was eager to open it. There is no real way to truly describe what I felt when I opened the package and found what was inside. The first thing that really caught my eye was a book titled, I'll Hold You In Heaven by Jack Hayford, the next was a tiny pin, close to the size of a dime, silver and cast in the image of a pair of feet. Lastly was a card and inside a personal letter from the sender relating to me her own personal story of loss. She shared with me how she had lost her baby at 31 weeks and how she would be praying for me, and while it broke my heart that another mother had been through this same ordeal, I felt a unique kinship with her. A bond created by the loss of a child, not matter the difference in gestation age. Here was someone beside family who understood my pain and had suffered a much greater loss. Tears filled my eyes as I read what she had wrote, but it would be the simple meaning behind the pin of feet that would be my undoing.

Towards the end of the letter, it was simply stated that the tiny silver feet included were cast as close as can be to the exact size of a baby at 10 weeks gestation.

I have and always will have a soft spot for baby's feet. From the time each of my children were born, I would from time to time, and still do, rub the soft soles of their feet along my cheeks. I'll never know why I've always had a special liking to those ten toes, but I can tell you with complete honestly, if my new friend had chosen a pin with a pair of hands, I don' t think that it would have affected me so dearly. Without a doubt I know God chose her for the express purpose of helping me to grieve the loss of my unborn baby and that's exactly what happened.

When the full impact of the meaning of those tiny feet hit me, it was like the flood gates had been released. I cried for the sweetness of the gesture, I cried for the loss my new friend had experienced, I cried for the baby I had lost, and I cried for myself and I cried for my family. And in doing so was finally able to grieve in a way that would leave me healing. I will forever feel the loss of my child, a bittersweet longing that I wouldn't trade for anything, but I know that with this death came a purpose. Because I am a believer in Jesus Christ, my name is written in the Book of Life, and this gives me the ability to one day see the baby I never had a chance hold when I am called to Heaven. For many mothers who have experienced the loss of a child through miscarriage or other means and are not Christians, they will never see their baby again. Such a heartening thought, to never be able to see the one you longed for and lost. I feel that part of God's Will for me to do many things in life, one part of which is bringing the unbeliever to know Christ so that they can one day so I will see my child again. How I will go about this, I'm not exactly sure, that part is still unclear. But what is clear is that so many people need to know not only about this rare and heart breaking cancer and what the women diagnosed with it are going through during this emotional time, but what effect miscarriage has on the non Believer and how coming to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour can help them in ways so many other things can't, as well as helping the believer who's faith in their God has become shaky and unstable.

God will lead me on the path He wants me to take, all it'll take is some time, an open mind, and and open heart for His direction to become known.

Monday, April 14, 2008

My Plan of Attack

Waking up the morning of Feb. 7, 2008, I began to form my plan of attack.

First thing on the list was to send an email to my pastor and let him know what was going on. I had decided that if it came to be that I was diagnosed with Gestational Trohpblastic Disease, I would ask for a partial hysterectomy and shave my head if need be. I would do whatever it took to get ahead of the of this disease, while getting a good kick to the devil in. This chain of thought would become my mantra for the next few weeks, because like the intuition I had before the miscarriage, I had the same feeling that I would need the chemo before it was all over.

My email was then sent on to the rest of the members of the church that were on the email prayer chain and because prayer is such a powerful thing, and I wanted to publicly acknowledge that I could be faced with cancer, that Sunday, I stood in front of entire church, to ask for prayers, letting them know about the miscarriage and the what it could result in. Before the service was over, everyone gathered around me and prayed over me.

We'd been going to our church for close to 2 years by this time and the members there had become like a second family to me. Church had become a sort of safe heaven from the day to day chores during the week, I LOVE the praise and worship service we have during the 9 o'clock service know as Fusion, a collection of upbeat and get you going music designed for the whole family to praise God and have fun. I can't carry a tune and all my musical ability seems to have been placed in my left foot as my hands can't clap a steady beat with the music unless I concentrate really hard, but my left foot seems to be immune to my lack of musical ability and is rarely still when the music is playing. Every Sunday, my mind finds refuge with the songs that are sung, leaving me feel like I'm floating on a cloud almost until the next Sunday.

I used that feeling to help get me through my first weekly blood drawl after learning what it really means, on Feb. 12, 2008.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

What Happens Next

Life doesn't just stop when you get bad news. It keeps going no matter what and when children are included in the picture, you need to keep things as normal as possible. Between phone calls following the ill fated doctors appointment, our first stop was Target. The kids had been bribbed with a new toy if they were good for dad and we had to make good on our word. Better yet, being such country hicks mom and dad hadn't been in Target before!! A new experience for everyone. The kids came away with the newest Dark Watch Optimus Prime Transformer and a Snow White Barbie doll. Mom got a new book written by J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts, my favorite author) and later dad would get a new PlayStation game at the adjacent Best Buy. Lunch was an indulgence of steak and lobster at Long Horn and I swear I've never met another 4 year old who turns her nose up at steak and goes whole hearted for lobster instead.

We tried to keep things light for the kids as we tried to absorb the shock into our systems. Since I remembered the nurse mention my numbers had been a few weeks before in the 300,000 range, I was told to prepare myself for chemo treatments. But not to worry my, as my Mom's boyfriend would put it, "If your hair falls out, we'll all make a trip to the Barber shop to have our heads shaved!!"

Tears would make their appearance through the last of my lunch, hearing this. It was a scary thought for someone who's closest encounter with cancer was by way of the t.v. and the radio. My mind had automatically jumped to extreme hair loss and infertility caused by the drugs that safe lives. It was awesome to hear such comforting words, words that would become my first step in this battle should it be needed. I wouldn't sit back and watch my hair fall out clump by clump, I'd get ahead of this disease and show it who was boss, I'd shave my head first!

Trying to find a bright side in what could possibly be a very dark time, I joked on the way home with my husband that if I did need chemo, I certainly wouldn't have to shave my legs for a while.

And it was then on the way home, that for the first time since dealing and coming to terms with his mom's death 8 months before, that I would see my husband cry. My heart that was already cracked and breaking, just shattered. Here was the man who'd given me all his love, his laughter, who put up with my crap and sometimes not very nice attitude, the man who had given me my children, sat there as he drove wiping at the tears that ran down his face, trying to hold back the sobs that I could see racking his strong shoulders. This would be the only time through out the coming weeks that I would see him cry.

Later that night, a little past 6:30, I got a call from my doctors nurse letting me know the result from my first hcG beta test. This is the test that counts the amount of hcG in the blood. It was 10,327. What blew my mind was when she said this number was supposed to be at 5! And reminded me I'd need a test every week until then. When I asked her what they had been when taken the Friday before the D and C, I was astonished. They were 253,000!!! Off the chart for an 8 week pregnancy. This number is usually found in women around their 16-20th week.

I waited until everyone was asleep that night to do my first research on the Internet about molar pregnancy. What I found was limited information scattered all over the place. Partial and Complete Moles are grouped together, without too much individual focus on either one. As I would come to understand later, the underlying basis as far as, statistics, and symptoms are pretty much all the same as is the treatment for the cancer. It's only difference laying in the core beginnings of conception.

That evening as I laid in bed, I prayed for God's Will to be done, for Him to give me the direction He wanted me to take, and for Him to give me the strength and the courage to walk the path He set before me, to give me the answers so that I could understand why this was happening.

I can't say that I've ever heard God speak to me. When He moves in my life, it's more like thoughts coming into my head spoken with my own voice. Thoughts I know He put there. God would certainly speak to me through out the night, so that when I woke up, my brain was already forming the plan of attack I would use to fight this disease.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A Little Information

That same afternoon and through out the following weeks after leaving the doctors office, through a few phone calls and online research, we learned a little bit more about molar pregnancies and the chance of the relating cancer. These are the basics, short and not so sweet.

A Partial Molar pregnancies is thought to be the result of something going wrong when a set of twins don't split, leaving the extra strand of DNA to develop into a tumor that essentially causes fetal death and if life is prolonged severe mental and physical defects. Notice I wrote thought to be. Upon more recent research, this explanation doesn't quite make much sense. Identical twins are made when ONE egg is fertilized by ONE sperm that in turn separates itself, giving the baby's identical sets of DNA as well as features. Fraternal twins are said to be made by TWO individual eggs being fertilized by TWO individual sperm that implant into the uterine wall at the same time. So, how is a Partial Molar conceived is the twin explanation doesn't fly? By ONE egg being fertilized by TWO sperm or ONE egg being fertilized by ONE sperm with TWO set of DNA. I guess it is possible for a set of twins to be conceived from one egg and two sperm if it does split, and this is what many of the scientists are thinking, I don't know if we'll ever know for sure. But what is does boil down to is that due to an extra set of DNA, a tumor was created that ends up killing the fetus, most often before 7 weeks. There have been cases of a mother needing to deliver in their 17 weeks do to a Partial Mole diagnosis, and it doesn't end well. I'm not sure if the baby ever took her first breath, but it was the affects of the mole lead to her death by way of spinal bifida, kidney failure, and severe mental defects and malformations. All my love and prayers go out to the mothers affected by molar pregnancy, more even more so when they are affected like this.

After learning this, I know it was better for my baby's death to have occurred when it did.

Besides a Partial Mole, there is another molar pregnancy called Complete Mole. In this instance, there are no fetal parts as opposed to the Partial Mole. In a Complete Mole, ONE sperm fertilizes ONE egg, but in this case, there is NO DNA in the egg from the mother. When the sperm fertilizes the empty egg, it duplicates its own DNA in order to compensate. When this happens, a complete tumor is conceived and is diagnosed during the first ultrasound with what appears to be a "snowstorm" like appearance due to the fact that a women's body only recognizes that it's pregnant by the hormone levels in the woman's body. When a women conceives, these levels known as hcG increase dramatically in order to do what nature intended, causing morning sickness, no periods, and breast tenderness, along with increased urination and the other bodily functions that plague a woman with child.

The body itself doesn't exactly recognize the difference between a tumor or a fetus or a live fetus or a dead one to a certain extent where a mole is concerned. This is the reason it is so important that when a miscarriage occurs to monitor the levels of hcG. With a Molar Pregnancy, these levels are extremely high and even though they may fall into a some what more normal range, any increase can indicated that there was tissue left behind from when the removed the Complete or Partial Mole by way of D and C and the abnormal cells in the tumorous tissue have invaded and infected the lining of the woman's uterus, causing the cancer known as Gestational Trophoblastic Disease. This can also be known as an Invasive Mole.

In the U.S. molar pregnancies occur with every 1 in 1200-1500 pregnancies. The chance of getting cancer following a Partial Mole is only 5%. Thats odds of 80 in 1,920,000. For a Complete Mole, the chance increase to 15-20%. Something like 92-96 in 1,920,000 (I think, math's not my strongest subject). Which ever way you look at it, this would only happen if it was in God's plan. Sure it's the devils doing making such innocence into ugliness, but it's God who will give women the strength to overcome the devil and to triumph over such circumstances.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Telling the News

Through out the ride down in the elevator and the walk out to the car where my family was waiting, I thought through what I was going to say and how I was going to say it. I don't think any of it came out like I had planned. I sort of just blubbered through it, managing to catch all the high points somewhere in between reading what I had written and trying to remember all the doctor had said.

This is kind of how the conversation with Terry went, tears and all.

"I've got a chance of getting cancer from this molar pregnancy. It's a small chance, but it's there."

"What's a molar pregnancy?"

"I don't know. He said that we could get pregnant again later."

"Do you want to? I don't think I do."

"I don't think I do either. I've got to call my mom."

That conversation started out.

"Hey, are you alone?" Tears at bay


"Because I got some bad news." Tears flowing freely.


"I might have cancer."

"What kind?"

"I'm not sure. It started with a G and ended with BLASTIC and its some type of disease that follows a molar pregnancy."

Not a whole lot to go on, but my Mom managing to sift through all my nonsense went straight to the web and gave us our first bit of information, courtesy of Web MD, along with phone calls to friends, we would soon have a better idea of what we were up against.

Pen and paper in hand, I was now clear headed enough to write down what she was telling me and to make some sense out of it.

I know no one is prepared to be diagnosed with cancer, but I don't quite think the doctors understand how hearing the news affects us, or at least mine didn't. Your body seems to go numb and mental thinking is reduce to just trying to make it through the conversation. Your mind instead of absording this new information, automatically seems to reject it in all it's forms, your body just going through the motions as your brain trys to catch up.

A good doctor up until now, I think things could have gone much better if mine had taken the time to do a bit more research online prior to our appointment and to print out what he had found. Some tangible information that could be held in my hands would have gone along way to better explaining the rare situation I was now facing, not only to myself, but to friends and family also. Without vital understanding of this or any disease, a mind automatically assumes the worse case scenario.

I'd always planned on having 4 kids and now I didn't think I'd be able to have anymore, whether from a possibly needed hysterectomy, or a round of chemo that would/could leave me sterile, or the chance of another molar pregnancy following this one. One miscarriage was bad enough, add to the fact that cancer is now a very real possibility and it blows the mind.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Shocking Discovery

On Feb.6, 2008 I was sitting in the exam room waiting on my doctor to come in, casually flipping through the available magazines and jotting down the occasional eye catching recipe. I wasn't sure what to expect for this visit. I was bleeding from the D and C and didn't expect an examination, so what was I there for? Just to tell him I'm okay? That I no longer have any pain? Of all the things that went through my mind, I never once would have considered my doctors true reason for wanting to see me.

After coming in and giving me a brief hug, my doctor sat down and looked me right in the eye.
I will never recall the exact words, but I try and recap as best I can.

"There are normal pregnancies, and not so normal pregnancies. Yours wasn't normal, it was something called a Molar Pregnancy. Not the animal mole, or the one on your skin, it's something more like a tumor. . . This can lead to cancer known as Gestational Trophoblastic Disease, not that you have it, but there is a possibility you could. There's nothing to worry about, one round of chemo and you'll be fine. We do need to start blood work today and you'll need to have your blood drawn once a week to monitor your hcG levels. Let's go ahead and get that done."

I was stunned. Hearing the words cancer and chemo my eyes started tearing up and I immediately began to fight the battle to keep them at bay, while struggling to remember everything my doctor was telling me. After he walked out of the room, I quickly hurried to write everything down I could remember. I'd gotten Molar Pregnancy, but for the life of me I couldn't remember the word Gestational, let alone Trophoblastic, all that stuck was disease. When I asked the nurse handing me the form for my blood work was the words were, she didn't have a clue. Feeling vaguely numb and totally bewildered, I made my way to give blood. I would get my first impression that my veins were becoming greedy as what usually happened in less than a minute would take closer to 2. My head turned the other way as the lady stuck the needle in my arm, I heard her ask me, "Why aren't you bleeding?" Fear grabbed my heart as I struggled to find and answer. "That's where the I.V. was." I offered, while she without removing the needle move my arm in one direction and the needle in the other. "I got it." She said as my blood began filling up the vial. "Must've just needed to poke through some scar tissue."

With my elbow wrapped with tape, I headed out to the car. My problem now, how to tell my husband and my family that I might have cancer.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Next Few Weeks

The next few weeks went by rather slowly and extremely uneventful. The Friday before the possible D and C, I went through another ultrasound that confirmed yet again that my baby was gone. I was told it was needed because my hcG levels were still a little high and the wanted to make sure my baby was really gone. Looking back, this would be my first indication something beside a normal miscarriage was happening. Standing there listening as the nurse read off my levels from the last week, I recall hearing that they were in the 300,000 range. I didn't get an exact amount and I wasn't really worried about it as I didn't yet how much those numbers would impact the coming weeks of my life.

Over the weekend, my body never did miscarry and 20 days after learning we'd lost our baby, I was scheduled for a D and C that would take it out for me. During this time, a total of 2 more vials of blood were taken, with a third to be drawn that morning as we were scheduled to be at the hospital bright and early around 5 for all the needed prep. Being a Monday, I know getting back into the work week is always rough, yet while I laid in my pre-op bed, my doctor was at home drinking coffee with his family. I really liked my doctor, but this would be one in a few things that will have me looking for a new ob/gyn in the future. My surgery that was scheduled for 7 in the morning didn't end up happening until 2 to
2 1/2 hours later.

As I began to wake up, I felt tears gathering in the corner of my eyes and dripping down onto my pillow. The nurse taking care of me asked if I was in pain, which I wasn't and I told her so. "No, I just wanted my baby." With my eyes still shut, I felt the nurse pat my shoulder as she told me she was going to get my husband, who when walking in on me crying was worried something was wrong. It would be another 10 minutes until I became fully awake enough to eat a few crackers drink some juice, and realize that little shutter noise I heard was my husband taking pictures of me with his cell phone. During this time, my tears having come when all my defenses were down were now dried and being replaced by laughter. Eyes still shut, cracker in one hand, laying there so pale I matched the sheets on the bed, I was not at my photogenic best, and the pictures prove it.

Following the surgery, there wasn't as much pain as lethargy as I had lost in addition to the 8 vials of blood already taken another 1000ml during the procedure. My doctor told my husband that everything went well and that he'd thought he'd gotten everything. Before leaving the hospital, a check up was schedule for the following week.

I barely bleed the next two days but things changed as by the third day until 3 weeks to the day of the D and C, I would need to change my pad at least twice a day. A decent bit of blood loss already, followed by more, that make me real glad the liquid gold flowing through my veins reproduces itself daily.

As my check up appointment on Feb 6 rolled around, I was dealing fairly well with the fact that I had lost the baby. The small comforting thought that we could try again was always there. I just wouldn't know how much pain that one thought would bring until after my upcoming doctors visit.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Day After

In the wake of our loss, we spent the evening veggin' on the couch with a few movies. Having gotten a call from the nurse, we had an appointment set the following afternoon with the doctor to discuss our options concerning the miscarriage.

The Day After started with phone calls from family to check on us. I made it through the call first thing in the morning from my mom okay . The second phone call from my sister later on was a different story. By then I was feeling nauseous and beginnning to greive. Combine the feeling of morning sickness with the knowledge that there isn't really a reason to be feeling this way, my emotions got the best of me, allowing me to cry the first and basically last tears of the day.

Dropping the kids off at their Aunt's house, Terry and I made our way to the doctor's appointment, not really knowing what to expect. Aside from the nearly 2 hours in the waiting room surround by a few expectant moms, which I was okay with, the visit was pretty well routine. We were given 2 options, a D and C to go ahead and remove the fetus, or Expectant Management, a wait and see approach. Since this was my first miscarriage and I hadn't been through any major surgery before, we chose Expectant Management. Weekly blood draws would be done to monitor my falling hcG levels, which when low enough should cause my body to expel the no longer living baby. The first of many blood draws would begin on January 9,2008, bringing our total to 5 vials of drawn blood.

Leaving the doctor's office a little after 5, Terry and I stopped for dinner, a nice semi-romantic setting that allowed us to start healing together. We had each been battling against our internal emotions and dinner without kids was going to give us a nice time to relax, and it was good. I tried not to dwell on the fact that I wasn't going to be expecting like I had planned and instead did my best to focus on the two children I already had. Seated directly behind us, a couple was discussing what sounded like their new addition to the family. Placed there by God, the couple was talking over what they knew about their new baby, specifically the weight that means so much to both, mother, grandmother, and reproductive females alike. I heard 5 pounds 14 ounces. Not much when you think about it, but it was exactly what my son weighted when he was born. Hearing this Terry and I each had tears in our eyes as we finished eating, a gentle reminder of what we had lost, but also a reminder of what we had waiting for us when we got home.

Monday, April 7, 2008


I must have sat in the waiting room for close to an hour before being called in for the ultrasound that would eventually confirm the death of my baby. The techs doing the ultrasound were both sympathetic and understanding, handing me tissues while the tears rolled down my cheeks and with a bravado I didn't much feel, I did my best to reassure them I was okay. I had to beautiful, healthy children, we could always try again. . . right?

I will never know exactly when my baby died, but with medical technology in its advanced stages the ultrasound showed that there was no change past 8 weeks. The baby lived approximately two days past the first ultrasound, and for nearly 5 weeks I had no clue. As I sit here and write, I have often wondered many times would it have been better to have not seen or heard the heartbeat like I did! I know that God has a plan for all of us and this was part of His plan for me and though I may time to time question this part of the plan, I do realize months later that seeing the heartbeat when I did was a rare occurrence and I know a miracle in and of itself. Just how rare will be explained in time.

Walking out of the ultrasound room, I was able to staunch my tears long enough for me to get to the car and not draw too much attention to myself. But once again, knowing my husband was and is my rock, I let myself go when I saw him. A torrent of tears that I couldn't have stopped even if I tried. My heart was broken as tears ran down my face and sobs tore from my chest for the baby I had longed for, for nearly 4 years. Pulling myself together to tell my children that the baby they were also looking forward to was now in heaven, another angel for God, and someone for their Nana to play on the swings with. With my tears dried for the moment I was able to call my mom and let her know the news before we left the hospital parking lot, the first of many calls I would make that day. Aside from family, the most important call I would make would be to my pastor. I can't recall the exact words of our conversation, but I remember the most important, coming to the understanding that God allowed the baby, which was His baby first, to come back home because He knew it wouldn't be what was best for our family. And he was right. I knew that from the moment the words came from my pastors mouth. With two healthy, energetic children would I be able to be the extraordinary mother I see from time to time taking care of a mental or physically retarded child, or would I have been strong enough to go through an entire pregnancy and heaven forbid give birth to a baby that would never draw it's first breath or only live for a matter of months. I don't think I would have and I believe that God didn't either. What I do believe is that God knew exactly how strong I could be and how strong I would become when faced with the mind blowing reality that this pregnancy and miscarriage would be anything but normal in the coming weeks.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Second Visit

I wouldn't see the doctor again for the next 5 weeks. From the ultrasound, I knew I was 7 weeks 5 days along and that on the next visit, I'd be close to 12 weeks if not a little over. Through out those next few weeks, little changed. Life was pretty much the same with the kids keeping me busy during the day. Without the constant morning sickness that I'd shared with both previous and perfect pregnancies, the lack of morning sickness was wonderful. Fatigue and queasiness were my number one complaints, but easily dealt with. But still, I felt that I knew almost from the beginning that this pregnancy was going to be different. I was still feeling a bit surreal about the whole thing. The lack of morning sickness was great, but in a way, because I wasn't getting sick, I didn't really feel pregnant. As I look back, I can see that these small signs were my God given intuition letting me know things wouldn't turn out like I had planned.

Instead of going all the way to the doctor's office in Alabaster, I had scheduled my appointment at their smaller branch in Clanton. Going through the process of being weighted, I noticed I'd gained another two pounds. My blood pressure was the same as it always was and all I needed then was to hear the heartbeat by way of the Doppler and I could go home. A short, sweet, and repetitious routine I'd done twice before. Only this time there was one big change. . .

. . . There wasn't a heartbeat. . .

I watched and silent prayed in the five minutes that the doctor would find the heartbeat he so diligently looked for and I so desperately wanted to hear. It wouldn't happen. As the doctor gently wiped away the gel used for the Doppler, he asked me if I was okay. I let him know I was fine, even as I fought back the tears threatening to spill. Through out the process of getting an immediate ultrasound scheduled at the local hospital I managed to hold my tears back, smiling at the receptionist as I left. It wasn't until I was in the car and calling my husband who was home watching our children that I let myself cry and even then it wasn't much. Though I prayed for God's will to be done, I hung to the small hope my doctor had given me, that the baby had nestled itself behind my pelvic bone and was playing hide and seek. As I drove home to pick up Terry and the kids so they could go with me, I called my mom and let her know what had happened, telling her I'd call her when I knew something definite.

I drove home by myself, tears running intermittently down my face. I'd try and hold them back, give up and let them fall, and then hold them back again. Almost home, I had to stop and put gas in the car in case we had to drive to Alabaster later. I couldn't hide my tears from the women and friends running the local gas station. With broken and halting sentences I told them what happened and asked if they could pray with me, and they did. The words being spoken were a comfort even knowing we were asking for God's will to be done and not mine. The power in that prayer calmed my sould, allowing me to drive home dry eyed, to see my kids without crying and to answer their questions as they wondered what was wrong.

We made it to our local hospital thirty minutes later without any tears, but more importantly with laughter. Children are like a balm to the soul and in this case, it was no exception. Hearing them laugh and become so excited because they'd be getting a chocolate chip cookie while I was inside as they sat in the car, brought forth a much need laughter that had already begun to heal my heart.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The First Visit

December 12, rolled around and with it the long awaited doctors appointment. Having been through the first visit twice before, I felt like an old pro. I already knew most of what the nurse was explaining to me as she read from the booklet, pamphlets, and extra papers they prepare for the soon- to- be mom. I whizzed through the process of giving up 4 vials of blood for the much needed prenatal tests, and noticed with some mixed feelings that as I was embarking on my new journey of motherhood, my weight already had a five pound head start! Then it was time for the ultrasound.

A beautiful experience that was put off for a few agonizing minutes as the tech. looked at my ovaries and other female parts first before and I got to see the little peanut for the first time.
A kidney bean shaped looking thing in it's beginning life changing formations that seems to take your breath away from the moment you hear the fast paced rhythm of the heart beat. A security blanket in and of itself that right then sets everything in the world to rights. Combine the first look at my new child with the fact that I hadn't had hardly any morning sickness and this was the pregnancy all women dreamed about, or was it?

Friday, April 4, 2008

How It All Began

My battle with Gestational Trophoblastic Disease started out far more innocently than most of you can imagine. . . I found out I was pregnant!

A little after 4 o'clock in the afternoon on Thursday, November 15, 2007, I was excited to see that little extra line on the pregnancy test that told me I was indeed pregnant with my third child. After close to 4 years of cajoling my husband that we should add to our family, I had been just a few weeks earlier in late September to have my IUD removed so that we could try for baby number 3. It was amazing we'd gotten pregnant that fast. I called that day to set up my first prenatal appointment, and with that coming visit set, I waited on pins and needles for the first ultrasound that would come on December 12, 2007.