Documenting my journey since the birth of Archie has been a tough one emotionally. I wanted to tell my story because if I can help just one other woman, then that would mean the world to me.
Although this is something I have touched upon on Instagram, I have never detailed the extent of the issue. Being honest, not many people close to me know the whole story. Grab a cuppa.
The birth & after
My story starts after giving birth to Archie (now age 3). It was a normal delivery, although long at just over 24 hours. He was eventually born on Monday 13th February 2017 at 7.25 pm.
When the placenta was delivered she noted that she was slightly worried as it had come away in several pieces. There was a chance some could therefore be left inside. The small comfort was that within 24 hours it would be obvious if this was the case.
We therefore did not get too concerned at the time. However now, I feel in retrospect, that every woman should be scanned several weeks after birth. If there are complications with the placenta, why wouldn’t this be checked.
First six months
I bled as usual after the birth, for up to six weeks. I was not particularly concerned having experienced it all before with Edie (my daughter). However, after six weeks it hadn’t stopped at all, in fact, it had got worse. I started to clot, then one day when I got home with the children, I suddenly felt a big gush. With the sound of fluid hitting the floor, I panicked! I went back to the doctors continuously for six months. Each time I asked if there might be something left inside. I was told it was normal and it would soon stop.
My mum turned to me one day and said, ‘I’ve had enough Laura, I’m writing to your local MP to get you a scan’. She did and within 24 hours I had a scan. There was indeed a section of placenta left behind. This is known as a ‘retained placenta’. I was then referred a private hospital for an urgent D&C operation.
I found this whole situation very traumatic, mostly because it brought back bad memories. After suffering a miscarriage shortly before falling pregnant with Archie. I then had to endure two D&C operations within the space of a week. My first D&C was unsuccessful as I shortly started to experience severe bleeding and pain. Within a week I was then back in hospital and had to experience going through yet another procedure. You can now see why having another D&C was the worst news.
I had the D&C and the recovery appeared to be successful and straight forward. For the next few months I started suffering from all kinds of different symptoms. These included severe blood loss and pain. I was advised by the doctor that I should try several different types of contraception. One of them being the Mirena coil as well as tablets to try and stop the bleeding. Nothing worked so I was seeing the doctor on a weekly basis. Eventually, I was told the coil wasn’t for me and I was advised to have it removed. I felt like I was back to square one again.
My doctor decided to contact the gyno surgeon who had performed my D&C. He suggested the next step was to put me in a temporary state of menopause (Prostap SR). Alongside this I was to take HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) so I would not experience menopausal symptoms. At this stage I was prepared to try anything as the bleeding was unbearable and my relationship felt strained. Unfortunately, the side effects were terrible as the hair loss was drastic. So much hair was falling out in the shower and I cried most days.
People started to notice my hair had changed drastically. It wasn’t just how thin it had become, but it looked crimped, it was thin and dry. I went to see the doctor and she immediately took me off all medication. She then referred me back to see the gyno specialist again!
After visiting the surgeon, I was then dealt the devastating blow that my only option was now to be sterilised. This meant the removal of my fallopian tubes and womb lining. Dan and I were not openly planning on having another baby at his stage. However, having the decision taken away was hard to take. With no other option offered to me, in October 2018 I went ahead and had the surgery.
The operation lasted nearly two hours as it hadn’t gone quite as expected. One of my fallopian tubes had welded itself to my bowel. I was warned the pain after the operation would be quite intense – and it really was! All of my other surgeries had lasted under an hour and the after effects had not been too bad. This time it was very different because as soon as I got in the car, I was sick. The car journey home felt like it took forever.
The after effects
A few weeks after, the bleeding subsided. After nearly two straight years of bleeding, I started to feel like myself. However, this was not to be as other symptoms began to get worse. Migraines, weight gain and excruciating stomach pain became the monthly norm. The pain gets so bad at times it can even affect me working and looking after the children.
A follow up appointment was an excellent opportunity to discuss how I was feeling. After another long consultation, the surgeon advised me a hysterectomy would be the best solution. However, he did suggest there could be one last operation we could try first. This would be another womb lining removal but done in a slightly different way. Seeing as though the bleeding had returned, he felt that it could help resolve this.
The surgeon scheduled the operation and I shortly received a date for this. Disastrously though, a couple of days before the date, I received a phone call. Due to personal circumstances, my surgeon wouldn’t be returning for the foreseeable future. I felt so disappointed and distraught. I didn’t relish the painful prospect of having to explain everything again with a new surgeon. However I was told I wasn’t to worry as he had extensive experience in this field.
One Saturday morning, I went to meet him for an appointment to discuss the op. His exact words were ‘don’t worry, by the time I’m finished, you will have your life back’. I remember thinking, “surely this guy is talking rubbish, but the proof will be in the pudding!”.
On the operation day I was very nervous and felt vulnerable. I arrived to find the ward full of women who were all very chatty which made me feel better. The surgeon duly appeared and discussed with each person how their surgery had gone. I watched them all go home, one by one.
Before I knew it, it was then my turn to go down. Luckily I’m not worried about anesthetic as it’s just like having a really great nap. When I woke up, I was wheeled down to the ward and a nurse appeared. She proceeded to tell me that my surgeon had gone home, but he had left a note on my file. She read it out gingerly ‘not sure it will make much difference’. I went home feeling distraught.
After three months, I saw the surgeon again and he reviewed my surgery. He explained my womb was severely scarred. As far as he was concerned there was no other option but to suggest a hysterectomy. Many of you might say, why not? Why suffer? Well with two young children and a demanding job, I’d need help around the clock for several weeks, I could not drive or even pick up the children.
Here & now
Five months have now passed. I still sporadically bleed, suffer from migraines, weight fluctuation and monthly pain. Being honest, it’s manageable but rather soul destroying at times. One month I might feel ok and the next, I’ve gained half a stone and suffer migraines.
During this whole experience, I have deliberately spoken about this very little to any friends or family. The only thing I cling onto is the fact I have two beautiful healthy children and a devoted husband. I may have been very unlucky but I am very grateful for the life I have.
Sharing my story
Since telling part of this story whilst I’ve been on Instagram has really helped me. I’ve received supportive messages from people who have had similar experiences. All of which have been helpful and comforting. When you’re in a situation like this, you can sometimes see no way out or light at the end of the tunnel.