Within a week of my D&C I finally get a call from my OB. "We've found some interesting results from the pathology on your baby's remains," she says. Class, we all know that "interesting" is never a word you really want to hear from a doctor. I am then informed that the pregnancy was a partial molar pregnancy. A what?
This is a rare chromosomal turn of events, "Like one-in-a-thousand," says my doctor. My pregnancy was actually leaving behind tumor-like cells called "moles" that could become cancerous. Luckily for me, the D&C is the precise protocol in a molar pregnancy, clearing out the bad cells. AHA! Things are actually making a strange sort of sense now. Is this why ER doctor couldn't identify what he was looking at in my ultrasound? Did it appear that there were two sacs? Yes, I'm told, there were the beginnings of "grape-like clusters" around the fetus that are the hallmark of molar pregnancies.*
My HCG would have to be monitored for 6 months to ensure that all pregnancy hormones were out of my system and stayed out. "Wait, hold on, I have to wait 6 months before I can try to get pregnant again?" I nearly screeched. My doctor explained that the problem with molar pregnancies was that the HCG was the marker for the moles. If my HCG went down adequately each week (dropped by 50%) I was good. If it rose, or even plateaued, I would need chemotherapy. And if I were to get pregnant, my HCG would rise, but there would be no way to determine whether it was rising as a result of pregnancy or whether I was developing trophoblastic disease that becomes cancer. Lovely. "Have you ever treated this before?" I ask my doctor, and she says that being in a big city hospital she's seen a few patients with this, and once had a patient get knocked up before the prescribed wait time. "It was stressful for everyone," she added. Yeah, I bet it was.
And so I proceed along the path of a new normal. I could barely internalize the loss I experienced because I had to worry about CANCER. I embark on blood draws at the hospital to detect HCG each week to see how fast I can "resolve to zero." Every week I meet a nice new phlebotomist at the hospital asking me if I am pregnant because they're collecting blood in the HCG count vial. Every week I show up to work with a bandage on the veins in my arms and people start to notice (it's summer-time and sweltering). It's actually sort of twisted because after about three weeks of this co-workers start to believe I am really sick. I mean, I sure look sick and anxious and miserable. And bloated, because we all know how fast baby weight comes off. And frankly, I haven't told anyone about the pregnancy, so I just tell them "I am being monitored for cancer," not technically a stretch. I confess spending a few moments of wondering the ethics of this, but fuck, I lost a baby. I wasn't in a state of mind to explain the exact science of what was happening inside my body.
* Fun fact - In a complete molar pregnancy, unlike the partial molar pregnancy, there is no embryo that forms at all, no sac, no nothing, and it is much like a blighted ovum. The body is fooled into pregnancy with a high HCG count from the moles that form immediately. The wait time for trying to conceive after a complete molar pregnancy is 1 YEAR, so I guess I got hit by the lucky stick,