When I was 12 weeks pregnant I went in for my first ultrasound. As I eagerly watched the screen, the technician tried both an abdominal and vaginal ultrasound, yet no baby appeared. She quietly went and got the doctor who also tried both methods of ultrasound and still no baby. The doctor quietly apologized and told me I had lost my baby. This made absolutely no sense to me because I had no symptoms of miscarriage, but the doctor told me there was no possible way my baby had survived and scheduled me an appointment at the radiology clinic at the hospital for the next morning to decide what steps needed to be taken next. The next morning my husband and I went to our radiology appointment and two minutes into the ultrasound the technician asked what I had been told the day before. I tearfully told her that I had been told that I had lost my baby. She turned the screen to me and said, “Honey you have twins! They are right there and there are their heartbeats!” Talk about a whirlwind of emotions! She then told me that I had a fibroid tumor the size of a baseball, which must have been blocking the babies the day before.
After finding out I was pregnant with twins I was immediately sent to see a high-risk doctor due to the size of the fibroid. The doctor warned me that the fibroid would grow rapidly due to the excess pregnancy hormone and I would more than likely need a c-section. All we could do at this point was wait and see. At 19 wks pregnant I went to work and started having some abdominal pains. I immediately went to see my doctor, and after a quick ultrasound she informed me that the fibroid was now slightly larger than a grapefruit. It was growing quicker than even she had suspected and I was put on immediate bed rest. She told me that she not only recommended a c-section, but that it would be a vertical c-section with the incision being about 5” in length. At this point she also warned me that if the fibroid continued its rapid growth that I may not be able to carry the twins full term. Her hopes at this point in my pregnancy was that she would be able to get me to carry to 28 weeks because this was the soonest my twins could have a good chance at survival.
As the fibroid grew bigger so did I, and so did the babies. It turned out that the location of the fibroid was actually keeping me from going into pre-term labor. It was sitting on top of my cervix and the babies were sitting on top of it! When I was 35 weeks and 5 days pregnant I went in for a checkup and my doctor said I needed the c-section that day. The babies were fine but I was extremely swollen (I lost 50lbs of fluid within two weeks after their birth) and she was concerned that my blood pressure was rising. At this point in the pregnancy the concern was no longer for the babies but for me. The fibroid was so large that it had a huge blood supply and my doctor was concerned that if it got damaged in anyway during the c-section that I would begin to hemorrhage. My husband and I were both told the risks and what measures would be taken if this happened.
When I walked into the OR (yes I walked in!) for my c-section, I was faced with about 40 people in the room. There were two surgeons, my high-risk doctor, and the head of pediatric surgery. Two anesthesiologists – one for the c-section and another in case I began to hemorrhage and needed to be knocked out completely. There were also two teams from the NICU and the head of neonatology as well and also a team of nurses for me. Less than an hour later Gavin and Sienna were born, weighing in at 5lbs 11 oz and 5 lbs 12 oz, and they were both healthy as could be.
Neither baby spent any time in the NICU! I made it through the c-section without any issues, and opted to have a hysterectomy 9 months later. I could have had the fibroid removed, but it is very common for them to grow back and I was done having children anyway. When they did the hysterectomy the fibroid weighed 4lbs and was the size of a soccer ball!!!!
Although my story sounds scary, it wasn’t for me because I chose to be well informed and make demands. I asked tons of questions at every visit, repeating the same questions as often as I needed to until I felt comfortable that I understood the answers. In the beginning of my pregnancy after learning I was having twins, I was seeing both a high-risk doctor and a regular OB. When I began to feel uncomfortable with the info the OB was giving me, I marched into my high-risk doctor’s office and told her I only wanted to be seen by her from this point on, and she agreed. When the head of neonatology introduced herself to me in the OR, I asked tons of questions about possible risks to my babies and what would be done about it. And finally, from the moment I found out that I needed to have a c-section, especially a vertical one, I asked my doctor tons of questions about the procedure, the reasoning behind it and also the recovery.
I knew exactly how long it would take to recover, what my limitations would be and how much help I would need with the babies while I was recovering. Although a c-section was necessary for my pregnancy, I made sure to ask whatever I felt I needed to in order to be comfortable with the procedure. Often when someone is told they need to have a c-section they feel like they have no control over the situation. You may not have a choice about the procedure, but you absolutely have a choice in how comfortable you feel with it!