It's Been A Year...
Updated: Mar 13, 2021
Hasn't it? On another note, today marks one year since my surgery.
Oh, BTW, I had surgery last year.
During my first ultrasound at the Fetal Evaluation Unit, a doctor asked me, "Did you know that you have tumors on your ovaries?" I was shocked and started to cry as the doctor told me that I needed to get an MRI to determine if these were benign and consult with a specialist to see if/when these had to be removed. Not exactly how I imagined my first ultrasound visit after my initial OB visit. I was terrified. I left the appointment and immediately called B, while crying outside the hospital.
What added more stress to this news was that I had to go to work that day and pretend that everything was fine. B suggested that I take a personal day, but I told him that I'd only get more upset sitting at home, and work would hopefully take my mind off it. I was still in my first trimester, so no one besides our immediate family knew that I was pregnant. When I arrived at the office, I quickly walked to the restroom, splashed some cold water on my face, and tried to make myself look less like I had been crying the entire way there. Yup, I was the crying lady on the subway that morning.
My second trimester started out with the MRI - which went fine. My results came in and confirmed that these "tumors" were benign cysts. What was unusual was that these cysts were quite large. Doctors were surprised that I hadn't shown any symptoms before - no agonizing sharp pains pre-pregnancy, no unbearable discomfort elsewhere, no vomiting, etc. Unfortunately, there was no way to precisely mark when these cysts showed up. Doctors said that sometimes cysts come about during pregnancy, but based on the cysts' size, these could've been around since as early as grade school. And there was no way for me to know unless I had an ultrasound, which I didn't have until I was pregnant. We saw a couple of specialists to see what their recommendation would be. According to one of the specialists, since my cysts were so large I was oddly passed the chance of my ovaries twisting, but at that point they were being compressed. He said the state of my ovaries were like small hammocks holding grapefruit (the cysts). So that put things in perspective. I had two options and one potential option:
1) Have surgery during my second trimester, which was the safest and only time I could have this surgery during my pregnancy. Still, the risk was having surgery while pregnant.
2) Do nothing and have the cysts removed after my baby was born. The risk was that my cysts were continuing to weigh down on my ovaries and possibly burst at any moment, which could cause an infection harming my baby and myself.
3) The potential option - if I needed a C-section on delivery day, I could get the cysts removed at that time as well; A "two-for-one" deal.
We thought about all of the potential risks with each option. Personally, I preferred the two-for-one deal so that everything could be done at once and I'd have one recovery (this was clearly not how it worked out). B was on board with whatever I wanted to do, and my gut told me to not have the surgery. Point blank: I didn't want to have surgery while pregnant. I couldn't do it. I decided to wait out the rest of my pregnancy with this fear always hanging over me that these cysts could potentially burst. And I feared it every moment of every day, at every ultrasound, every time I felt Mason kick, anything. I needed to have more ultrasounds to check on the cysts' growth, and unfortunately, they continued to grow throughout my whole pregnancy.
Up until the surgery, my body was just getting back on track to feeling semi-normal again. I was bleeding for more than the "usual" 6-week postpartum time, and my menstrual cycle was all kinds of screwed-up (barely a cycle at all). Being that it was mid-November, it was nice to not be bleeding so excessively and having to wear those feminine adult diapers aka "postpartum underwear" anymore. Having the surgery basically took my body back to when Mason was born. And yes, I had a meltdown a couple of days before the surgery. B calmed me down, reminding me that having the cysts removed would remove the fear (of them bursting) that hindered me and obviously for the better of my health. So off I went feeling nervous but with good spirits for my laparoscopy.
My parents came in to watch Mason. B was my date to the hospital (remember, he's the MVP!). During pre-op, I remember feeling so cold that I was shivering and fidgeting a lot - I'm normally not one to fidget. I'd never had surgery, I'd never had any intense personal hospital experience until Mason was born, and I was extremely uncomfortable. After being briefed, I was still nervous about the laparoscopy itself, but the doctors were very kind which helped ease my mind a little. I walked into the operating room, and while I can't recall any of the faces of who was in the room, I remember "Lover" by Taylor Swift was playing, and someone said, "Hey everyone, this is Sarah, and she's a new mom. So let's take care of her so she can get back to caring for her baby." And to whoever said that - Thank you, that truly meant so much to me.
I wasn't fidgeting anymore, but I was still freezing. Luckily, someone else noticed, and she immediately put a bunch of warm blankets on me. Imagine a bunch of fresh towels right out of the dryer tossed onto you - THAT level of cozy. The anesthesiologist came in, and I slipped away for a bit. Except, B informed me later in the recovery unit that it wasn't "a bit". In one of my prior appointments with the surgeon, she said that there would be a chance that the cysts burst while they try to remove them. And how this wouldn't be ideal because they'd have to further look around to ensure that they get everything out of me to prevent infection. Well, that's exactly what happened, and my surgery took longer than expected. The surgeon told B that she made sure that she got everything out of me when the cysts had burst.
The recovery was tough on my body. I was back to bleeding and back to the lady diapers. I couldn't walk at a normal pace and every movement had to be very slow. I was so frustrated with myself. I wasn't allowed to hold Mason because he surpassed the weight limit of what I could carry. It would risk my incisions reopening and delaying my recovery. B was able to stay home for a couple of days, and our families came in to help with Mason while I rested. We had a nurse come to care for Mason, and while I am beyond thankful for her, it broke my heart that I couldn't hold Mason for a little over a week. He would look at me and give me these eyes that made me feel so sad. It may sound silly, but a mama knows her baby. And I knew that he missed me holding him just as much as I did. I felt so guilty that I was only able to nuzzle noses while someone else was holding him, or hold his hand when he was propped up on the couch or in his chair. In addition to the guilt, my breastmilk supply drastically decreased after my surgery. I felt like I was failing all over again, and I cried each time when I saw the bottles with nearly nothing in them.
Slowly, my body became mine again, and my post-op appointment went well. The doctor said it could take a few more months before my menstrual cycle started to be relatively normal again. She also said that while I could go back to most of my daily routines, I still had to be careful and mindful of my incisions that were still healing (no strenuous exercising/stretching/activities). That appointment was on December 9th, 2019. I logged each period and my cycle wasn't "normal" until June 2020. There were times that I would bleed anywhere from a week to two weeks, to then bleed again randomly for a couple days the following week. Happy to report that we're all good now.
I'm relieved and glad that I had the surgery. I think it was the best way to go for my body and my family. While it crushed me not being able to hold Mason during my initial recovery time, it was important that I took it slow and allowed my body to heal. I still have very small scars from the incisions on each side of my lower abdomen, oh well *shrugs shoulders*. A huge thanks to the healthcare professionals for getting those cysts out so I could get back to taking care of Mason!
Thank you for reading and for your continuous support of thesomedayroom!!