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Monday, October 26, 2015

a miscarriage story : Kara Gagnon, molar pregnancy

I am so thankful to know this sweet mom, Kara Gagnon, who graciously shared her story of surviving a partial molar pregnancy. This is a topic few openly talk about, and even fewer understand what a molar pregnancy was. It is a painful thing to go through and Kara so eloquently explains how this felt to her. I know she is going to help someone feel less alone, something I'm grateful for being a vehicle to help that process.

Thank you, Kara. So happy your rainbow baby arrived :)

Images shared with permission from Kara Gagnon, and photographs from photographers kameraimages by Kimberly Morissette, by Felica, Nancy Merrill
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1. When did you experience a miscarriage? How far along were you?
We experienced a miscarriage July 2014, my d&c was scheduled for August 5, 2014. We were 10 weeks along and found the baby passed around 8 weeks.
2. What do you remember physically about the process? What was the most difficult part physically?
The hardest part for me came in two different forms. First being we had been trying to get pregnant for our second child for 8 months and finally fell pregnant and then to lose the pregnancy at 10 weeks. Learning the baby had died weeks before was devastating. I was mad at my body for not recognizing the miscarriage, not bleeding or cramping. Then two weeks after our D&C we found out we had a partial molar pregnancy. Google became my new best friend and worst enemy. 

A partial molar pregnancy is when two sperm fertilize one egg. A baby and a "mole" on the placenta forms. The baby can only grow so long before the mole basically takes over. These molar cells grow rapidly, allowing your body to feel super pregnant even when it's not. I learned I had to go in for weekly blood draws until my hcg went down to 0. These cells can grow rapidly, and travel throughout your body and cause cancer. So they need to make sure all the cells are gone. My hcg level started at 900, this was mid August two weeks after my D&C, it took another D&C in September and then until the end of October for my hcg level to be cleared at a 0. 
3. What do you remember emotionally about this process? What was most difficult emotionally to consider?
With a PMP you learn there is a lot of conflicting information about your care and when you can start trying for another baby. My doctor said 6 months after our D&C, we started trying a month after my hcg hit 0 and got pregnant exactly 6 months after our miscarriage. This emotionally was so hard for me because other women would tell me stories of getting pregnant right after a D&C or a miscarriage, and I knew I wasn't even allowed to try for a new baby. It was hard going to get weekly blood draws, I was always angry at the lab tech and their lack of good words. They just know what they are drawing, and hcg level for pregnancy, they never realized why they were drawing mine. I'm sure the look of me fighting back tears told them it wasn't a happy blood draw. 

I couldn't understand why I was able to have an easy healthy first pregnancy and such a hard time to have a second healthy baby. 
4. What feeling words would you use to describe this experience? 

I would describe this experience as devastating, lonely, and a journey with God.
5. What were some of the thoughts you had in your mind that maybe at the time didn't make a whole lot of sense, but still you were thinking them all the same?
When we first noticed there was no heartbeat, I thought there's no way this is happening, the whole room spun out of control. I had to ask my husband to immediately leave with my toddler who seconds later we were showing his sibling to. I was mad for not having a "normal" text book miscarriage. Where was the bleeding and abdominal pain? I told myself that my baby knew I couldn't handle losing this baby so it just "held on". 
6. What medically happened for you? Did you have any procedures? What helped you through this process medically - medicines, baths, sleep, etc.? 
I chose a D&C, I was already mad about my body not naturally miscarrying I certainly wasn't going to wait around to see when it would happen. It's a good thing since my pregnancy was a partial molar. I opted to just be put under with medication not general Anesthesia. They offered me a sedative before going into the OR, I said no thinking I wanted to tough it out and not have extra medications. Biggest mistake. Seeing the sad faces of the medical staff, seeing the tools and how they would place my legs. It was so sad and I was put to sleep crying lightly. The only thing that helped me through this was prayer, my amazing husband and family and my 2 year old son who reminded me everyday he was my blessing.

7. What helped you emotionally through this process? Do you remember things someone said to you that helped you feel better?
My husband was my rock, he knew the journey we had taken to get pregnant a second time. He cried, prayed, and listened to my fears. Others helped by just being there, regardless of if I was ready to talk. I cried a lot. I found going to church was helpful, I cried there too.

I have to admit the only thing that I found very helpful was when someone said "I have no idea what you must be going through." 

I found this to be true with a partial molar pregnancy, no one knew what it was and I had to explain a lot.
8. What are some of the worst things you heard from people about this time?
The worst things I heard was "well you didn't want an unhealthy baby" or "you'll get pregnant again right away". Obviously no one wishes for an unhealthy child and you have no idea if or when I'll get pregnant again.

9. What is your advice to a mom who has gone through a miscarriage? What do you hope they remember? 
I hope that other moms who have gone through miscarriages understand all their fears and sadness are justified. Even if you miscarry after getting a positive pregnancy test. 

A lot of women dream of a baby long before that positive test. It's hard, sad, and seems like you will never have your sweet baby. Remember this is the beginning of a journey and the chances are you will be holding your rainbow baby giving someone else advice one day.

10. What is your advice to a friend of a mom who has gone through a miscarriage? What do you want to encourage them to do or not do to be supportive? 
As a friend just be there to sit in silence or listen to an earful of mixed emotions. Bringing dinner or helping clean was a huge help, or playing with her other children so she can nap.
11. Why do you think moms don't talk about miscarriages? Why do you think they SHOULD talk about their experience? 
I think moms don't talk because they are worried what others will say, " that wasn't a real baby" "you didn't want an unhealthy child anyway" or "at least you weren't pregnant that long". 

The reality is that so many women experience miscarriages, a loss of a child, or fertility issued while conceiving. Instead of sitting in the dark feeling alone women should open up and support each other. 12. Do you do anything to honor the baby you lost, the due date, or another part of this experience? 
I have a few special things like a bracelet with my angel's birthstone and Christmas ornament. We had a pregnancy announcement photoshoot before we lost the baby and I put those into a photo book with a brief entry. At Halloween I do a pumpkin for our angel baby. I do a lot of little things that no one would even notice, not even my husband. 
13. How has this experience made you a stronger mother? 

I'm a better mother and friend to moms struggling with loss or infertility. I hold my children closer, I know they are my little blessings from above. 

14. Is there a happy ending to your story? 
I'm holding my three week old happy ending as I type this. I have my rainbow baby about 15 months from our miscarriage. I was able to get pregnant 6 months from our partial molar pregnancy and I now have my second sweet little boy. 15. Anything else you want to share?

Every storm has a rainbow at the end of it, never give up, you're in the midst of your journey.

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