Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Part 6: Snowstorm

His emotionless eyes said it all. The doctor glided the ultrasound wand over the woman’s belly as he gazed intently at the screen. Though she didn’t know what he saw, she knew what he didn’t see. There was no baby. If there were to be, this would have been the time for it to show up on the monitor and he would have said something right away. He would have smiled. Instead, his face was somber. It screamed amidst the silence: There is no baby.

If there is no baby, then what is it? How could I be feeling all these symptoms and there be no baby? she wondered.

Finally, the doctor spoke up. “I still don’t see a fetus. What I do see is a little more concerning. This ‘snowstorm’ appearance indicates to me something along the lines of what is called a hydatidiform mole or molar pregnancy, but we will need to get a clearer ultrasound taken to be sure.”

“Hide-a-didda-pole what?” she asked.

“Hydatidiform mole.  It is when there is a genetic abnormality starting at conception...”

The woman drowned out the rest of his explanation as her mind wandered off on a tangent. Abnormal. There was that word again. Since the beginning none of this had been normal. She had to wait three married years before getting the opportunity to start trying for pregnancy. She had started bleeding 6 weeks into her pregnancy and it still hadn’t stopped yet. They never saw anything normal on the ultrasound. Her miscarriage did not happen normally. The only normal thing about this whole experience is that everything was abnormal.


Did he just say something about cancer? she thought. Apparently certain forms of this disorder could turn into cancer. Great. Even better.

The next ultrasound couldn’t come soon enough. She knew the drill for these vaginal ultrasounds by now. Not pleasant by any means, but if it meant better answers, it was certainly worth it.

The ultrasound confirmed the doctor’s suspicion. “This is definitely a molar pregnancy,” he said. “It happens in about one of every thousand pregnancies.What I don’t know is what kind. There are two possible types: complete and partial. Based on the ultrasounds we’ve seen, I would suspect you’re suffering from a partial, which has fewer risks involved.”

"Just out of curiosity," the woman began, "how often do you see this here?" The medical institution where she was receiving her care was well-known. Perhaps this happens a lot here, she thought.

The doctor replied, "We see this maybe once a quarter."

Wow. I guess not very often.

He continued, "But this condition has been around long enough that we know exactly how to treat it."

He referred them to a surgical gynecologist who would be able to give them more details. They set up an appointment for early that afternoon and made their way over to the next waiting room.

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