Read part 1 here.
While learning more about fibroids, I came across an article from Gessie Thompson regarding fibroids and fertility. At the time, I knew I wanted children and wondered if fibroids would be cause for concern. (Sidenote: I came to this realization at the same age I found out about my fibroids, age 33…so don’t think you have to rush into children because you have fibroids.) My case remained mild throughout my pregnancy thankfully. The fibroids, and my big baby’s size, was monitored with ultrasounds which allowed me to see my little one five times. That doesn’t happen regularly. Some women with fibroids do not get through their pregnancy journey as easily as I did and below is one friend’s story of fertility and the fibroids that put this option in jeopardy.
June, 19, 2015I LOVE talking to other women (and even guys) about fibroids and my issues with them! I love informing and empowering other women, and letting them know not only the RISKS involved with this issue, but the different OPTIONS they have for dealing with/treating it.I’ve been dealing with fibroids since college – when I first started going to the OBGYN. My mom & aunt (her sister) both had them. My mom had a myomectomy (surgery to remove uterine fibroid tumors) a year or so after giving birth to me. But there were complications during the surgery and they ended up having to give her an emergency hysterectomy. Because she had had me, she said she was okay with it. My aunt had a myomectomy as well, but in later years had issues with endometriosis.So then there’s me…I first found out I had them maybe sophomore year in college. Obviously it was to early to DO anything, because I was still relatively young and not even THINKING about babies at the time, so we just let them be. But over time they multiplied and grew, and though at the time they weren’t causing me any physical pain or medical distress, they distended my abdomen making it look as if I was pregnant, which was really bad in itself. I HATED having to tell people that asked “how far along I was” that I wasn’t pregnant. And I hated how I looked in form-fitting clothes. I saw no need to work out (my abs), because it wouldn’t change my outward appearance.So I dealt with this all through college, graduated in spring of ’06. That May/June I had gotten really sick, severe abdominal pain. I couldn’t keep food down. Went to the hospital and found that the fibroids were pushing against some of my organs, namely causing issues with my intestines. They treated me in the hospital a few days, then the doctor I was seeing prepared to schedule me for a myomectomy. BUT, being out of school in 2006, I no longer had insurance coverage.So RIGHT before I could get in for the scheduled surgery date, my benefits were cut off. I was devastated. Not TOO long after, Bush made it so college students could stay on their parents’ insurance for much longer, so I was able to go back to working on this plan at a later date – which was good, because I hadn’t found a good job yet, lol.But before this happened, following me being cut from my mom’s coverage, I had no choice but to just let the fibroids be again. AT THAT MOMENT they had calmed down, so they weren’t causing me issues.As time passed, I found myself a new OBGYN, Dr. Josiah Ekunno, and started working with him. He put me on Lupron a few different times. Lupron is a shot you can get, usually in the top of your butt that will cause the body to think it’s going through menopause, causing you to not have a period, have menopausal symptoms like hot flashes. And due to the hormones in it, it’s known to shrink down fibroids by decreasing or stopping the blood flow to them that allows them to live and grow.However, this is only temporary, because as soon as you stop taking the shot, things go back to normal. Staying on it TOO long could really cause your body to go into menopause, so doctors usually have patients take Lupron IN PREPARATION OF FIBROID REMOVAL SURGERY. This is done to shrink the tumors down enough to make extraction easier, and decrease the risk of serious hemorrhaging.Dr. Ekunno performed my first myomectomy in November 2007. I forget how many tumors he said he removed, but it was ALOT, and he said he got them all! I bled SO BAD in that surgery I had to have a blood transfusion, AND ended up in the ICU for a day or two. Following this surgery I also developed hyper-active thyroid, possibly due to all of the stress my body had been put under during & after the surgery. After all was said and done, I was out of the hospital, and had sat at home healing for a month. I was so happy. I thought it was all over, but it wasn’t.The fibroids came RIGHT back, not even 3-6 months later, but SOONER than that they began forming AGAIN! I couldn’t believe it. All of the “drama” of that surgery…the MONEY and medical bills…and I was RIGHT BACK where I was before!Following the severity of my bleeding, and the riskiness of that surgery, Dr. Ekunno SWORE that he would NOT perform another one on me. Years passed and we tried several different tricks to fight these fibroids. As I mentioned before, we played with Lupron: 3 months on it, 3 months off it. He put me on several different kinds of birth control, then even took me completely off it, thinking that it could possibly be the reason the fibroids were living & thriving. (Birth control is often thought to be a reason, but no ones knows this to be 100% true fact.) So after trying all of these different things, he suggested my boyfriend (no husband) look into other options…like adoption. He had given up on us. 🙁So I was back to the “leave them alone and let them be” option. But besides looking like I’m 4-6 months pregnant, we all know what “leaving them alone/ignoring them” leads to: abdominal pain, vaginal bleeding, and another trip to the ER. This happened a quite a FEW times in the several years following my myomectomy. I’d be okay for a few years, then out of no where, it’s like the tumors would start acting up.So, a few years after my husband and I had moved to Columbus, I found a Women’s Reproductive Health Specialist, Dr. Grant Schmidt, who had very lengthy and positive experience dealing with fibroids. Once I had an appointment, I told him my reproductive history, and let him know that no matter what, through ALL of that, I STILL wanted to try to have kids (or at least A CHILD). He totally understood my desire, and was more than willing to work with us, and do his absolute best to come up with a plan to make this goal a reality for us.So neither Dr. Ekunno NOR Dr. Schmidt suggested I get pregnant WITH the fibroids I had at that time in and around my uterus. I had a couple MRIs done to paint a picture of how many there were, what size they were, and where they were located.We first decided to try Uterine Artery Embolization (UAE). In this procedure, they insert these little, hard particles into the 2 main arteries that go to the uterus. The particles block and thus cut off the blood supply to the uterus and the fibroids there-in, causing them to shrink down and in SOME rare cases totally deteriorate and disintegrate. I had this procedure done in May 2013, the month before our wedding. It was outpatient, and the downtime was a week or less. They wanted to keep me overnight in “observation” though, just to monitor me, and make sure there were no complications. Everything went well, and following the procedure, besides a little random, non-period spotting, there were no issues. I was to have another MRI done months later to see if it had successfully shrunk the tumors down…and I later found that it had not…but at least the ones I had had not multiplied or gotten any bigger, so that WAS a positive.We next talked about a myomectomy; what would be my 2nd. I shared with Dr. Schmidt Dr. Ekunno’s write-up about my first one, and about how much I bled once the tumors were removed. We talked about what the most recent MRI had shown as far as the fibroids I still had, their size, their number, and location. Any of the fibroids that had attached themselves to my uterus, were the trickiest and riskiest ones to deal with. (Luckily I didn’t have any inside of my uterus; all on the outside.)He told me that removing those fibroids (from the uterus) especially, not only causes intense bleeding, because of the act of separating them, but can also leave the uterus very flimsy and weak afterwards (think a piece of swiss cheese). He said if it was too weak afterwards, it would not be able to support a growing fetus. He also told me that during procedures like this, if serious complications were to arise (with hemorrhaging, etc.) a last minute hysterectomy could be the only answer to stop the bleeding, and thus save my life. I told him that I understood all of this, and wanted to take the risk and at least try. My husband reassured me that I did NOT have to do this, and we did NOT have to have kids, that I was his number one priority, and the having and marrying me was all he needed. I SO love him for that.We went through with the myomectomy in May 2014. I DID bleed a lot again, and needed a transfusion, but this time wasn’t NEARLY as bad as the last time. I stayed in the hospital almost a whole week, but I was okay. I took pictures of my stomach before and after, and you’d be amazed at the results. It was CRAZY to see!I had taken about a month off from work (good ole FMLA), and was feeling good. Dr. Schmidt said in June that my husband and I could start trying for a baby, as he suggested the sooner the better, because we both knew that they could (possibly) come back.I found out on Thanksgiving 2014 that I was pregnant. After doing the math I realized that I had conceived in mid to late October. So it took about 4 months. And I had NEVER been pregnant before…not even on “accident”, lol. I had always been very careful (condoms, birth control), and once I was told NOT to with the fibroids, I was scared to even THINK about slipping up. But we were SO thankful to GOD, and Dr. Schmidt and his team. I was so grateful that he agreed to work with us. He took a chance on me, even with my background, and ended up doing a great job, and a great thing for our future.Fast forward 7 months later, and here I am preparing for a c section of my baby girl, that has been moved up, twice now. My original due date was July 29. At first the doctors suggested taking her at 37 weeks, which would’ve been July 8. Then they changed their minds and decided on 35/36 weeks on June 29.Here are the reasons: 1) Because of my previous abdominal/reproductive surgeries, I have NO choice BUT to have this baby by c section. 2) Because of these myomectomies, my uterus is not as strong as the typical, non-fibroid having woman’s. 3) Because of this, they a) Do NOT want me to carry this baby until my body NATURALLY goes into labor, because I will not be able to handle it, and they b) Do NOT want me to carry this baby full term because it could “rupture my uterus” due to the pressure of a ready-to-be-delivered baby.Along with this growing baby, I DO still have some fibroids in there. They’re not as big as they’ve been in the past, and there aren’t nearly as many, but they are there, taking room away from my baby. The doctor will not try to remove them when they deliver the baby as this could cause even MORE bleeding than what will already be occurring, not to mention, we all know that I’m a bleeder when it comes to this. So unless it becomes necessary to bother the fibroids, they will not touch them. But they have made other preparations for me, and the fact that I am prone to bleeding so much during these types of procedures, and I am thankful for that and pleased with their approach to this important event. At my last ultrasound, they say the baby weighed approximately 5 lbs and 1 oz, so that makes me feel a little bit better delivering her so early, knowing she won’t be SUPER small. The doctors also said that baby girls’ lungs (and possibly some other organs) develop faster than little boys’, and that genetically (for some reason), African-American babies do better when born early/prematurely, than other races of babies. ??? I didn’t know this and was shocked. So they told me that this baby had those 2 odds in her favor.:)I will see how this (c section) delivery goes. If all goes well, I would down the road (but not TOO far down), try for another baby. I used to want at least 2, or maybe 3. And I’d like to be able to give my husband one boy to carry on his name. But if things do not go well, it could be one and done…and we are ready and prepared for that, should it happened, and it will be okay. We are so happy and BLESSED to have made it THIS far, ya know?[To a woman with fibroids considering children] in my opinion, when that time is approaching, and is maybe a year or so out, that would be the time to start looking into doctors or specialists to go to and get comfortable with so you can set up whichever procedure you decide on. If your fibroids remain small and don’t multiply over time, and haven’t caused you any physical/health problems, a doctor may tell you to CONTINUE to do nothing about them. AND may tell you that when you’re ready to get pregnant to go right on ahead with them still in there. Just make sure you’re monitoring them over time, even if it’s so much as you keeping tabs on your lower abdomen, watching for the “pooch-like” protrusion that accompanies growing fibroids.For those with more growth in fibroids, tell them to look into Uterine Artery Embolization (UAE), and the use of Lupron, and leave myomectomy as a last resort. Again, they’ll need to be monitoring THEIR individual situations as well, and talking to THEIR specialists/OBGYNs about their options…and it doesn’t hurt to get a 2nd (or 3rd) opinion either. Remember how Dr. Ekunno had given up on me? Women need to make themselves aware of ALL the risks, talk with their spouses/families, weigh out all of their different options, and go from there.July 30, 2015I just wanted to give you the details of my delivery, for you & for you to share with your friends/fam that’s also going through the “reproductive drama”…We went INTO the c section knowing that a piece of the placenta had FUSED itself to my uterus, and would be problematic to remove. Not to mention my history as a bleeder during surgical procedures.So the doctors prepared by having me take iron pills to boost my hemoglobin (in the blood), plus they took me into the hospital a day early to give me a bag or 2 of blood to up my levels, but actually ended up not having to, because they were decently elevated enough already going into it. At the last minute before surgery, they changed their minds and decided to actually put me under for the c section instead of allowing me to be awake. So that also meant my husband couldn’t be in the room. They wanted me to already be under if they encountered problems with the surgery – and they did.When removing the placenta from the uterine wall, it started bleeding and they couldn’t get it to stop. Plus the uterus was damaged when they pulled off the placenta…so they had no choice but to remove it. I underwent a partial hysterectomy. I still have my ovaries, & could produce eggs that in turn could be “fertilized” by my husband’s sperm using in vitro and hiring a surrogate mother…but…until I am balling financially, this won’t realistically be an option, lol. But we have our daughter, and she is good and doing GREAT. So I’m not complaining. I won’t have periods anymore either, lol, so that’s a positive out of this situation, lol. But yeah, we may adopt one day…who knows…only time will tell.
We’re just a few weeks shy of July which is Fibroids Awareness Month. Please share this and other articles and information with a woman you love!
Sites to check out:
http://mynaturalreality.com/?p=7247 (part 1 of “The F Word”)