In 2015 as I began dating and getting acquainted with my boyfriend at the time (now husband and BFF), I also began getting reacquainted with uterine fibroids. Specifically, with how prevalent uterine fibroids are for African American women.
After my husband and I became sexually active, I began experiencing post-coital spotting and irregular menstrual cycles. Given that I had not been sexually active for years prior to us getting together, I wasn’t sure if the spotting was due to my body getting re-acclimated with having sex, an STD, or some irregularity.
To make sure that everything was OK, quickly, I scheduled an appointment with my OB/GYN to obtain a pelvic ultrasound. The transvaginal sonogram and hysterosonogram showed that I had several uterine fibroids. I had a large pedunculated fibroid from the left posterior wall, another medium-sized intramural fibroid, and two small submucosal fibroids protruding into the cavity by at least three quarters.
It turns out the submucosal fibroids protruding into my cavity were the culprits! My doctor explained that these fibroids were not only likely to continue causing discomfort and spotting, but may also affect my ability to conceive and/or have a healthy pregnancy.
Honestly, I don’t recall how I felt about the news of having fibroids. Over the years, several family members and friends have dealt with fibroids. Each experience is unique, some affected more than others. However, one thing that gave me solace about my fibroids was that the fibroids were in a location that would not require invasive surgery. My fibroids could be removed using a minimally invasive out-patient hysteroscopic myomectomy. Using this procedure, my fibroids could be shaved down, vs removed via incision.
I decided to have the procedure and the myomectomy went well. YAY! I was up and running literally on the treadmill two days later running a 5K (that wasn’t a smart move :/). The irregular bleeding stopped and the discomfort subsided.
In August 2018, approximately 1 1/2 years after my surgery, I woke in the middle of the night in excruciating pain! My husband took me to the emergency room where they informed us that we were pregnant! We were a bag of mixed emotions given that we were not trying to get pregnant at the time. Ten minutes after receiving the news, the doctor informed us that it was an unviable pregnancy. Specifically, he told us that we had an ectopic pregnancy where the fertilized egg did not implant inside the uterus, and therefore would not survive.
Within a matter of minutes my emotions went from excitement, to nervousness, to being out right scared! Ectopic pregnancies can be life threatening for women and/or cause irreparable damage to your fallopian tubes.
Luckily for me we caught the pregnancy early. I was able to terminate the pregnancy using a medication called methotrexate. This medication was used to dissolve the egg’s existing cells, and prevent more from developing. Going through this process was challenging simply because it quickly made me realize just how difficult getting pregnant could be, especially being over 35.
My husband and I hadn’t even officially begun our “pregnancy journey”, and we were already confronted with an issue. However, despite having to terminate the pregnancy, I still felt blessed that I was healthy, and my organs were left intact. After a month or so, the egg completely dissolved and I was back to my healthy normal self.
In my follow-up appointment with my OB/GYN she recommended that given my age and recent complication, my husband and I start preparing to “try” to get preggers. With that she scheduled an HSG (Dye Test) and another hysterosonogram to check for the recurrence of fibroids. A dye test is an out-patient procedure used to test for blockage in your fallopian tubes. During the test, dye is placed in the cervix, and an x-ray is used to evaluate the uterus and fallopian tubes.
The HSG went well! Initially, the tube where I experienced the ectopic pregnancy did not allow the ink to flow through. But after a few attempts the ink finally passed through both tubes, and the radiologist confirmed that I did not have any blockage (praise)!
Unfortunately, it turned out that my fibroids came back :(. So like last time I opted (with the recommendation of my OB/GYN) to have them removed via a hysteroscopic myomectomy. Like the previous myomectomy, I was on my feet in no time! But this time around I skipped out on the exercise for a while :).
One month after having my second myomectomy, I noticed that my period was late. This was odd for me because my period was usually like clockwork. Knowing this I immediately took a pregnancy test!
When you have an ectopic pregnancy, they encourage you to take a pregnancy test as soon as you think there is a possibility that you might be pregnant. This is because statistics show that women who have had an ectopic pregnancy are more likely to have another one. So if your pregnancy test is positive, then you need to go to the doctor to make sure that it’s viable.
Well it turned out that I was in fact pregnant, and more important it was viable! I WAS SO HAPPY AND EXCITED!!! Our prayers had been answered and the process worked! What this experience showed me (aside from babies truly being miracles from God), is that every pregnancy journey and story is written differently. For a lot of African American women, the road to motherhood is often riddled with road blocks in the form of uterine fibroids. However, for me, it was God, pre-pregnancy education, a solid OB/GYN team, and a supportive partner, that helped me get to my destination – #boymom! 💙
For you created my inmost being: you knit me together in my mother’s womb Psalms 139:13