I’ve toyed with the idea of not sharing any details of this outside of my friends and family. I was just diagnosed two days ago, so for some, sharing this prognosis at all may seem premature. I worried that many would think I was seeking attention or that some wacko would start a benefit drive in my honor. I was afraid I would look weak. Afraid. Incapable. But-after weeks of counseling I have learned, deep to my core, I am an outward processor. I have to talk about things to make sense of them, or else I begin to self-destruct. I want to do this in a healthy, safe way for both my heart and that of my family, so I am choosing to blog this experience rather than write a social media post explaining the situation, and effectively opening the door to unwanted comments and conversations. However, my ability to be authentically transparent in these moments, through writing, has served as my ministry for the past 5 years. So in light of my weakness, I pray this post magnifies the strength of Jesus in some mysterious way, even if just for myself.
I went to the OB/GYN on Wednesday for my 20 week appointment. I had an anatomy scan (ultrasound) followed by a consultation with my doctor. The anatomy scan seemed routine at best. I saw a spine, a brain, a four chamber heart, and blood flow in and out of the umbilical cord. Ten fingers. Ten toes. Good heart rate. Lots of movement. Baby Boy looked healthy as can be. The ultrasound tech made a comment that my placenta was low, asked if I had a previous cesarean, and stepped out to call the radiologist. Jon seemed concerned, but I assured him a low lying placenta didn’t really affect us because I was not having a vaginal delivery. He left to return to the car.
I made my way back to my nurse, Emily, and began the normal appointment process: urine sample, weight, medications, heart rate, blood pressure, etc. I settled in my familiar chair in the exam room and waited for Dr. Samples to arrive and talk for a few minutes before heading out to the cold parking garage once again. Dr. Samples arrived, sat across from me and began asking about my experience with Covid-19 (three weeks ago our whole family was diagnosed and has since recovered). We chatted about new symptoms, and then she moved to the radiology report.
As expected, Banks was healthy and thriving, weighing in at 1.3 pounds. No issues. I silently congratulated myself for being so aware during the ultrasound that I too noticed no issues. Except there were issues….just not with the baby. Dr. Samples explained that I had developed a condition known as placenta accreta. You can look up all of the gory details yourself, but to put it bluntly, the baby’s placenta has attached too deeply to my uterine wall and is growing out of the uterus. As the baby grows, the placenta could grow into my muscle wall and even to my bladder. Several years ago, this was a death sentence for many women. Thankfully, we are in the days of modern medicine.
Because the removal of the placenta in this case causes hemorrhaging, I will have to have a complete hysterectomy at birth to control the bleeding. I will be typed for blood and will likely have several transfusions. I will also likely be asleep for the entire birth as the hysterectomy process will begin immediately following the delivery. I may have to spend time in the ICU, depending on the severity of the accreta and intricacy of the surgery. In addition, because of the risks at hand, I will not give birth at term but will deliver at 34 weeks at the very latest. Banks will receive steroid shots for lung support and will be in the NICU. I will also have to stay in the hospital for monitoring, at a minimum, four weeks prior to delivery, if I do not begin bleeding spontaneously beforehand. And this is just what I know right now.
In the next two weeks I will meet with a high risk doctor and as well as an OB Oncologist/Surgeon. I will have an additional, more invasive from my understanding, ultrasound to determine exactly what we are dealing with. I will also talk with the anesthesia team to determine if there is any way I can be awake for the birth but put to sleep for the hysterectomy (Dr. Samples noted that the spinal simply wouldn’t last long enough for the whole process and also, I probably didn’t want to know what all was going on at this point. )
To say I am overwhelmed is an understatement. I have so many emotions that the primary emotion taking over at the moment is simply numbness. Obviously, as with any serious complication that involves bleeding there are risks of severe blood loss among other life-threatening scenarios. However, I have a fantastic team of doctors whom I adore and trust-literally-with my very life. And… I spent a majority of the day yesterday on the phone assembling my prayer warriors to pray over the baby, me, Jon, and my family as we navigate this. I even shot a message to some of my former high school friends who made me feel seen, loved and held even 10 years post graduation.
There are a lot of things I’m grieving right now. And I’m wrestling with both the relief of the hysterectomy (no more periods can I get an amen?) and the intense loss it brings along with it at 26 years old. Jon and I planned to discuss a tubal with the doctor that day, so my heart was somewhat prepped for the “no more babies” conversation…..but it was not prepped for the finality of the procedure ahead.
I have a lot more to say-that I am sure I will put into words over the course of the next few weeks and months-but I think this is all I want to say today about the whole thing. I don’t have a spiritual outlook to share. In fact, I mainly assembled my prayer warriors to intercede for me as I don’t have words or emotions to even express right now. I don’t have a “positive outlook”, a “God’s got this” or an “I’m going to be okay” anthem to even muster up right now. I’m about to get up and clean the house and decorate for Christmas and place a grocery order-because that’s the weird thing about all of this, I still have to live life as normal until it’s not anymore. I have people surrounding me-rallying for me-declaring life over me and this baby-and I appreciate it all. Because right now? I’m spinning. And much like a dancer, I’m just trying to find a spot on the wall to focus.