Way before I got married and conceived my daughter, my OB/GYN sent me in for an ultrasound to determine the nature of what she thought was a fibroid during my annual pelvic exam. Though she said it was relatively small, she wanted to track it to see if it was growing and to also know what, if any, problems it may cause me in the future. After the ultrasound, I was advised to go for another one in about a year to make sure it was nothing major. Well, the recession hit, I lost my job, lost my insurance and, quite frankly, did not want to go to another doctor if it was not her. (Yes, my doctor is the truth).
Anyway, fast forward a few more years and there I was with no major health issues and a new job with New York insurance. I go to her, get another ultrasound and it’s determined that the fibroid is still small. She advised me that if it is not bothering me, then she will not bother it, and that I should not have any problems with it. I was advised that I would not have to endure any surgeries or procedures to have it removed.
Fast forward another 3 years, and VOILA, my husband and I are expecting a child after only 3 months of marriage. I never thought the fibroid would cause an issue in my getting pregnant, but I did think that my older age would. I had a relatively normal pregnancy up until about the 5th month when I really started to show. I would rub my belly thinking I was rubbing my baby, only to find out what I thought was my child’s head, bottom or elbow, was actually my fibroid. The increase of hormones during my pregnancy caused my fibroid to basically quadruple in size. Yes, my fibroid was bigger than the baby that was growing inside of me. I would come to learn that the type of fibroid I have is a subserosal type, which grows outside of the uterine wall. Because the fibroid was outside of my uterus wall, I had no issues getting pregnant and it would not cause major issues during the pregnancy, outside of extreme discomfort.
For the next three months, I would endure monthly trips to Labor and Delivery out of fear that the pain the fibroid caused was going to put me under. Up until I gave birth to my daughter, the pain caused by the fibroid was the worst that I had ever dealt with. I would wake up feeling as if I were being stabbed in the abdomen, any long bouts of walking or failure to consume appropriate amounts of water would leave me riddled over in pain as well. It also did not help that my lovely daughter would routinely kick the fibroid at times as she was growing and, I assume out of frustration (based on her attitude now, I’m sure she wanted the damn thing out of her way). The worst pain of the entire pregnancy came when the fibroid was degenerating (i.e. – “dying off” because no more blood was feeding into it).
Outside of having a lopsided belly (the fibroid sat right at the top of my uterus, causing my stomach to look slightly deformed), pain once a month, and a growing baby practicing Tai Chi on this foreign object in my body that grew to be almost more than 14 cm x 9cm, my pregnancy was pretty ok. It wasn’t until the start of my 8th month of pregnancy that I started to express pure panic.
Right at 36 weeks, I started to bleed. It wasn’t just spotting, it was bright red blood. I immediately called my doctor and was advised to come in for a check up. Having gone through this before, I figured I would be monitored for 3 to 4 hours and then sent home. I mean, our family baby shower was the next day. Right when we were about to be discharged, my doctor walks over to my room, fusses at the attending doctor and the nurse then turns to tell me, “we are having this baby today.”
The size of the fibroid, coupled with the bleeding, gave way to concern. My doctor figured the best thing to do, since I was also 2 to 3 centimeters dilated, was to induce labor. After about 18 hours or so in labor, I delivered my sweet baby girl and all was fine. I ended up going for multiple check ups after my delivery, and also an ultrasound to see if the fibroid was shrinking, and it was. Since my hormone levels were returning to normal, the fibroid was not being fed like it was before. My doctor advised me to not have it removed until I am done having children. If I have it removed now, I would more than likely have to endure a C-Section for my next delivery, which I did not want, since I was lucky enough to deliver vaginally this time.
I understand my next pregnancy may cause the same issues with my fibroid, but I am happy to be experienced in understanding what I need to do to keep the pain at bay and not feel completely at a loss.
I have had some girlfriends have their intrauterine fibroids removed due to blockage that may make it harder for them to conceive naturally. I also have girlfriends who, despite these intrauterine fibroids, managed to get pregnant naturally, and deliver naturally.
Unfortunately for most African-American women, we have to deal with these things more than any other race. It is important that we stay educated about the causes, side – effects, removal options and other effects it may have on procreating. Though I never imagined so many women deal with these issues, I am happy that I had other women who went through the same thing to give me extra support and encouragement to maintain a positive outlook for the benefit of my sanity and the health of my unborn child.