My Molar Pregnancy: Hannah’s Story

I find it difficult to tell this story, not in the fact that it overwhelms me with emotion, but
because it is really hard to share about something rare. So often I find that the whole
explanation becomes a description of what a molar pregnancy is and less so about my
experience going through it. I tend to just tell people that I had a miscarriage because its easier,
people understand miscarriage. It’s easier to be 1 in 4 then it is to be 1 in 1000. I also did not
want to write the story as a plea for sympathy or empathy, it’s an experience that I have gone
through, I have processed it and I am okay. I want to tell the story in hopes that it helps
someone in the future, maybe your friend, or daughter, your wife, or you yourself will have a
molar pregnancy and feel a little less alone.


My husband and I had been attempting to get pregnant with our second baby for 6
months. Our first born was almost two when I had my IUD removed in the summer of 2020 and
everything felt right. I knew that it would probably take a little while for my cycle to regulate as I
am fairly sensitive to hormonal birth control but there was no rush. We just felt like it was a good
time whenever it happened. I did not however, think that it would be a six month process and I
was starting to grow impatient. I got pregnant with my son almost right away and this just
seemed to be dragging on. Finally it was Christmas morning 2020 and I had a feeling, I was a
couple of days late and I decided to take a pregnancy test, the lines were faint but they were
there, two lines, my August baby. My husband and I are dairy farmers so he was already in the
barn that morning and I quickly wrapped up the test and put it into his stocking. It was joy and it
was excitement, it was such a good day, such a good morning.


We had told a lot of our immediate family early on because I was so sick that I needed
help with my son. I had experienced hyperemesis (severe nausea and vomiting associated with
pregnancy) with my first pregnancy and so I was expecting it this time around as well, but this
time it hit different. I felt so sick. With my first we were able to control it with medication, I always
felt nauseous but other than that I felt fine. With this pregnancy I was on all of the meds but was
still vomiting, I had no energy, I was dehydrated, I could not get on top of it. My muscles ached
and I felt depressed. Taking care of a toddler was exhausting me and I needed help. Everyone
knew around the 6 or 7 week mark of my pregnancy, before any prenatal appointments, or
blood work or ultrasounds.


Due to the hyperemesis I had been in close contact with my doctor, he organized IV
fluids and medication for me in our local hospital so that I didn’t need to wait in emerge, he
ordered a lot of blood work to help make sure that the vomiting wasn’t causing anemia or any
other deficiencies. He went above and beyond to make sure that I was as comfortable as
possible. I was taking medication to stop the vomiting, to control the nausea, to reduce my
stomach acid, and to coat my stomach lining to prevent ulcers. My blood work all checked out
fine, I don’t know what my BetaHCG levels, (a measure of the pregnancy hormone in blood)
were then but I assume that they were normal, my urine test was normal, during my in person
prenatal exam everything was normal, on palpation the size of my uterus was, once again
normal. I had every single reason to believe and to hope that this was a normal pregnancy. We
booked a dating ultrasound for 11 weeks. Wednesday February 3, 2021.


The morning of that ultrasound was hectic. Upon first waking up I realized that the
house was cold. The furnace wasn’t working, right before the temperature was supposed to
drastically drop. On top of that, my husband was supposed to watch our son while I had the
appointment, but he forgot and had to head out of town with my father in law to look at some
new farming equipment. I had to rush my son to my mother in laws, 20 minutes from my house
and in the opposite direction of the hospital where my ultrasound was to take place, and then
had to circle back and drive the 30 minutes from my mother in laws to get there. I was late, I was sweaty, and I was so pissed off at my husband.


I laid down on the bed for the ultrasound. I was just relieved to have gotten there and to
finally be done rushing around. I honestly hadn’t had a lot of time to think about the ultrasound
or to be nervous, I hadn’t even had time to shower. The ultrasound technician asked me if it was
okay for a student to begin my ultrasound and that she would come in in a few minutes. I
agreed, I didn’t mind – everyone has to learn. The student and I were making small talk, I was
telling her how it’s so weird to be pregnant for 11 weeks and to not really know what’s going on. I
jokingly asked her to make sure that she saw something in there – and mistakenly she said a
very confident yes you are pregnant! I now understand why they are not supposed to tell you
anything. A few seconds passed, she was still doing the external ultrasound and I noticed her
brow furrow, a sort of cloud washed over her face, she got quiet. I knew right away that
something was wrong. She said a cheerful, “I’m just going to go and grab my supervisor!”
When the technician came in she didn’t say much. She apologized that it was taking so
long and assured me that it wouldn’t be much longer. She used a lot more pressure with the
ultrasound then the student had, I felt as though she was digging into my abdomen and very full
bladder. She was working silently, moving the wand, taking a picture, move, “click”, repeat. I
asked what she was seeing and she replied that she wasn’t sure and said that we would have to
do an internal ultrasound for better imaging. I could go pee and undress, dawn a gown and
come back to the bed.


I was lying there half naked and I looked at her and I said “there’s no heartbeat.” It was
more of a statement than a question. I knew. She didn’t deny it. She spewed a few lines about
how she was a technician and not a doctor, that she did not have the authority to make a
diagnosis or to say anything for sure. But she did tell me that she could not detect a heartbeat.
“Well what do you see?” I asked impatiently, tears streaming down my face. “Is there
anything at all in my uterus, I didn’t imagine this pregnancy did I?” I was starting to panic, the
reality was crashing down on me like a ton of bricks, no baby, it’s not a baby.
“I’m so sorry honey,” she replied. “Have you had any cramps or bleeding?”
“No,” I replied, and through my tears I again asked her point blank “what do you see?”
She said that she saw multiple sacks or cysts inside of my uterus. In a normal
pregnancy there would be one sack (embryo) and inside there would be a fetus with a
heartbeat, she said that she saw multiple sacks but none of them contained a fetus. She wasn’t
sure of what she was looking at. She told me that she would send the ultrasound results to a
specialist and to my family doctor. They would review it and my family doctor would call me the
next day. Thursday. She said that I could probably anticipate having to go in for more imaging.
I got dressed and I left, trying to control my sobbing so that I didn’t make a scene while
walking through the hospital to the parking lot. I got to my car and I broke down. I had to call my
husband; but how do you make that call? What could he be expected to say while 2 hours away
and driving. I called him. I knew that he was in the truck with his dad, the first thing I said was,
“please take me off of bluetooth.”


Of all of the things that upset me the most about that day, what sticks is the fact that
my husband and I never had a minute to process alone before we told people. He wasn’t at the
ultrasound due to COVID. His dad was in the truck with him. My sister in laws were all visiting
with my mother in law that morning when I text asking if she could bring my son home. I told her
that there was no heartbeat, and she told them. She came to my house with my son and she
held me while I cried, she waited until he was down for his nap and then she left. I felt like
everyone knew the news before I had had a chance to even talk to my husband about it.
Hannah had a miscarriage – that was the story.


Thursday came, it was the afternoon, my house was freezing. The furnace was not in
need of repair, it needed to be replaced and they could not get a new one until the next day. I was so
overwhelmed. Having to foot the bill for a new furnace was bad enough, but to be going through
this loss on top of it all was just too much, I cried a lot on that day. I waited all day for the call
from my doctor. I needed groceries but didn’t go. You don’t really want to discuss your
miscarriage in the meat aisle if you know what I mean. I called the doctors office, they said he
would call. He didn’t. I didn’t know what was going on. At that point I wasn’t even sure if the
pregnancy was viable or not, I didn’t know if I should have hope, I didn’t know what the next
steps would be. I hadn’t had a cramp, I didn’t bleed. Nothing.


Friday morning I called my doctor’s office first thing. I was pissed, so angry, so
frustrated, so sad. The receptionist asked why I was calling.
“WHY AM I CALLING!? I had an ultrasound on Wednesday, there was no heartbeat, I
don’t know what’s going on and the doctor was supposed to call me yesterday and he didn’t!”
“Oh, okay…who told you that there wasn’t a heartbeat?”
I was so mad, was she really trying to frame the ultrasound technician? I had no idea
why she asked that. My voice broke and through tears I said,
“No one, no one has told me a thing, I don’t know what’s going on with my own body, I
don’t know if my baby is okay, I know nothing. But I am not stupid, this isn’t my first pregnancy, I
went to an ultrasound and I didn’t get to hear my babies heart beating.”


My doctor called me later that day. He apologized profusely, he was swamped. I could
tell that he felt so bad. He didn’t give me very much information. He said that most likely the
pregnancy was not viable. He mentioned something about cysts. He said that he was trying to
get the OBGYN who delivered my son to take my case because he was familiar to me. I had
experienced a lot of birth trauma with my son and my doctor was trying to help me as much as
possible. He said I would need further imaging and that he was going to try to make that happen
at the larger hospital within my health unit. He said that I would probably need a D&C. And very
quickly without going into detail he mentioned that it might be something called a molar
pregnancy also known as gestational trophoblastic disease but that we wouldn’t know without
more tests. He mentioned really quickly that that can cause high levels of the pregnancy
hormone and make women feel very sick, it was in line with my symptoms. He was in a rush. He
spoke quickly. He said so much in a very short period of time and then he hung up. This is when
I entered into a very large google black hole.


I was frenzied. Uterine cysts, search, nothing. Cysts in pregnancy, search, nothing.
What can make a pregnancy nonviable?, search, nothing. I searched every little bit and piece of
information that I had received with no result. Finally I searched ‘high levels of BetaHCG not
resulting in pregnancy,’ and BAM there it was on the Mayo Clinic website.


“A molar pregnancy — also known as hydatidiform mole — is a rare complication of
pregnancy characterized by the abnormal growth of trophoblasts, the cells that normally develop
into the placenta. There are two types of molar pregnancy, complete molar pregnancy and
partial molar pregnancy. In a complete molar pregnancy, the placental tissue is abnormal and
swollen and appears to form fluid-filled cysts. There’s also no formation of fetal tissue. In a
partial molar pregnancy, there may be normal placental tissue along with abnormally forming
placental tissue. There may also be formation of a fetus, but the fetus is not able to survive, and
is usually miscarried early in the pregnancy. A molar pregnancy can have serious complications
— including a rare form of cancer — and requires early treatment.” (Mayo clinic staff. “Molar

Pregnancy.” https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/molar-pregnancy/symptoms-
causes. December 14, 2017.”)

I can remember just wishing that it was a normal miscarriage. Why did it have to be
some freaky mole thing that could turn into cancer if left untreated? If it was a full molar
pregnancy how was I supposed to process that. It was never a baby, how do you feel or
process a loss for something that never existed. A molar pregnancy can cause high levels of
HCG, but no one said anything about mine. Can cause high blood pressure, no one had
mentioned my blood pressure. Can cause the uterus to grow unusually quickly, my doctor didn’t
mention anything when he palpated my abdomen. It can cause bleeding and cramping, I had
none of that. It all just felt so unfair, I felt like my body could have at least given me some
indication or warning. I had anticipated that finding the name for the thing would help me but
instead I just felt worse.


The first ultrasound was on Wednesday, it was now Monday. My house was warm, and
I was emotionally numb. I didn’t really care about anything, I wasn’t crying all of the time, I just
wanted it to be dealt with and over. There is something really morbid about carrying around a
non viable pregnancy or whatever it was or wasn’t. I just wanted it out and gone, I didn’t want to
feel sick anymore.


My doctor’s office called and it all happened quickly. They told me to not eat any more
and to just drink enough to fill my bladder for the ultrasound. I had an ultrasound booked at the
large hospital in our district, I would then be walked over to the ER, they would process me, do
my blood-work, and I would wait there to hear from an OB. The OBGYN from my son’s birthwas unavailable and that’s all that I knew at the time.


I made sure that my husband came with me this time, not that he would have let me go
alone. That hospital is my least favourite place on earth. I experienced so much pain and
trauma there when my son was born and I felt really on edge having to go back in the building.
We dropped my son off at my in-laws. I went to Walmart to buy diapers and a new toy for him.
We drove the hour long drive to the hospital. My husband parked and I went in alone.
Everything went as they said it would. Every single nurse that I was in contact with was so nice
to me. I was admitted into the ER and had my blood-work done and then a nurse came in to
start and IV. I didn’t think twice about the IV or being told that I couldn’t eat. No one had
mentioned a D&C, I certainly didn’t think that it would happen that day and I didn’t really know
what it involved. They told me to call my husband, that he could come in with me, that I didn’t or
shouldn’t have to be alone. I was so grateful.


The OB came in, she was one of those very smart, direct, not wishy washy women and
I love her for that. She didn’t sugar coat it. She said it was most likely a full or partial molar
pregnancy, that they would do the D&C and then send the tissue to pathology for a full
diagnosis. And then she said oh yea you will have the D&C today, we just have to finish a hip
surgery first. She said that they would send the tissue to pathology and that her office would
contact me with results within a week and that I was to make sure I didn’t have sex or a bath
while there was bleeding post procedure. She said until they had more information that they
couldn’t give much instruction. She left. 


I asked the nurse what was all involved with a D&C. She said it is a dilation and
curettage, they would take me to the OR, put me under general anaesthesia, dilate my cervix,
use suction to remove the mass of placental tissue, and that I would wake up in recovery, wait a
while until I was stable and not nauseous and then I would go home. I panicked.
It was now around 5 pm. I wouldn’t have the D&C until 7pm depending on how the hip
surgery went. We had to find someone to do chores in our barn. I had to make sure my son
could stay overnight at my in-laws. I felt so bad, he didn’t even have PJ’s, I didn’t anticipate not
getting to hold him that night and tuck him in. They said I shouldn’t parent or drive within 24
hours post anaesthesia, I had to make sure that my mother in law could drive him to daycare,
had to call daycare to make sure they knew what to expect. I was beside myself, when I had
dropped him off that morning I didn’t anticipate being away from him for so long, to me this was
devastating.


However, the biggest reason for my panic was because suddenly all of the PTSD from
my son’s birth came flooding back. There is no place on earth that is more terrifying to me then
an operating room. I did not know that a D&C was a ‘surgical’ procedure. I wasn’t being cut
open but I was going back there. I was terrified. My husband wouldn’t be there with me this
time. I would be alone. There would be no baby.


My panic wasn’t dramatic or loud. I felt my heart racing and tears streamed down my
cheeks. The nurse in the ER was amazing, it’s like she knew. She came in with a little package
that had a hand stitched heart and a pack of forget me not seeds. She told me that even though
this was hard to process because there wasn’t a viable pregnancy or fetus that it was okay for
me and my husband to mourn this as a loss. She went and talked to another nurse and they
decided that because the hospital was literally empty that they could break their COVID protocol
and let my husband sit in the surgical waiting room. He couldn’t come in with me, and he
couldn’t be in recovery with me. But he would be on the same floor. And that was enough. They
got him an iPhone charger. I had a D&C. He watched the leaf game. We went home.
The OB called a week later and said the pathologist at the hospital wasn’t sure and so
they sent the tissue to a big professional lab in the city. A week later they called and said that it
was a partial molar pregnancy.


Two sperm had fertilized one egg giving it too much DNA, this raised my HCG levels
super high, my body didn’t know what to do and basically made placental tissue in a clump,
which is the cyst/grape like structure that they saw on ultrasound. It also explains why I was so
sick as the high level of hormone can cause that. The mole was most like all removed during the
D&C but there is a chance that it could regrow if any tissue was left behind. If it regrows it has a
higher chance of becoming cancerous. My HCG level is the best indicator of regrowth and so I
had to go for weekly blood tests, and then bi weekly, and now the number is so low that I only
once a month.


February was a hard month, accepting what had happened, waiting for test results. I
drank a lot of red wine, ate a lot of popcorn and binged a lot of Netflix (hello Bridgerton and the
Queen’s Gambit!). I had a couple of panic attacks at night. I took melatonin and gravol to help
me sleep. My mind needed a chance to catch up to what had happened to my body. I decided
that if the anxiety and panic attacks were still happening that I would seek counselling come
March. I gave myself the time to heal, to wallow, to be angry. The birth of my son taught me how
to process things like this and by March I was okay. I was sleeping well, I felt great, I started to
work out again – things returned back to normal.


What sets it apart the most for me is that I am not allowed to get pregnant for six
months. We will keep tracking my HCG until then. If I get pregnant and the mole was to regrow
it could cause a viable pregnancy to be nonviable. Or if it regrows it could become cancerous.
And that’s where we are now. Just waiting. Waiting to hear the game plan come July or August.
I am not sure what they will tell me. If will just get the go ahead to try to conceive, if there will be
any further testing or ultrasounds before they say okay, or how closely they will follow my next
pregnancy.


These are all questions that I have meant to ask but I am receiving most of my care
over the phone due to the pandemic. Sometimes its an assistant from the OB’s office that calls
me to tell me my levels; she reads the report and that is all. I booked a follow up appointment
with my doctor but instead of him calling me someone from his office did, a doctor I didn’t know.
All he did was ask about my levels, said that was good and that was that. There hasn’t been an
opportunity to ask questions, no one has followed up with my mental health, no one has given
me an idea of what’s to come in the future. I feel kind of stupid that I don’t know, but I also don’t
really know how to access that information.


I tell people that I had a miscarriage because its easier. But it is not a miscarriage. It
feels never ending. I feel like every time that I go in for blood-work it stings a little more. Sets in
a little more firmly. I’ve had to realign my whole view on what my family will look like. It won’t be
what I pictured, there will not be a baby in 2021. I don’t know when I will get to be pregnant
again. When I will get to hold a squishy newborn again. I went for blood-work this week and the
nurse kept asking me if I was okay. I think she thought that I was going to pass out but I was
just trying to hold back my tears until I got back to my car.


I haven’t found anything big or meaningful from this experience. I don’t believe that
everything happens for a reason. It all feels unfair, but that’s just how life goes. Maybe I have a
bit more empathy and patience for the experience of motherhood. Maybe I judge people’s
parenting a little bit less. I mean it’s hard enough as it is and so much is out of our control; why
make it harder? But honestly it’s just something that has happened to me. 1 in 1000.
What I will leave you with is that I think that if you have someone in your life who is
going through a loss, tangible or intangible, try to be really conscious about how you treat them.
The people in my life who have supported me in the best ways are the ones who just treat me
normally. They let me know that they felt badly – brought flowers or cookies or made dinner –
but they didn’t let it define our interactions. They treated me normally. They didn’t try to heal my
pain or try to minimize it, they were just there for me. The flip side is that there are some people
in my life who feel so uncomfortable with my experience that they just don’t say anything. They
don’t know what to say so they are silent. This is infinitely worse. When I am with these people
it’s almost as though there’s a big sign over their heads with an arrow pointing at me that says
YOU LOST A BABY! I can’t be around them without feeling that loss because they can’t be
around me without feeling awkward. So just be conscious, treat people how you would like to be
treated, think about what your words and your body language are saying. Have confidence that
saying something is always better than saying nothing, even if you feel awkward.


If you yourself are going through something like this, I’ve learned that there are a lot of
ways to be active in getting support. I searched the hashtag #molarpregnancy on instagram,
facebook, and tiktok. There wasn’t a ton of content out there, but what I did find made me feel
connected and less alone. And lastly, I would highly recommend to you that you write down your
story. It’s helpful to process it, to be able to go back to it, even if no one ever reads it except for
you, I did it with my birth story and doing it with this has been cathartic.

Thank you so much for reading and if you have any questions feel free to reach out to
me via email – hannahverboon@gmail.com or on Instagram @_hannah_mulder_

XOXO Renee Reina

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My Molar Pregnancy: Hannah’s Story