Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Pregnant with IUD

What is the true reason I am writing this blog?

I am pregnant.  9 weeks along.  So what?  Lots of women are pregnant.  Well, how many women are pregnant with an IUD in place?  Not nearly as many, that's for sure.  I am pregnant with IUD.

IUDs are 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.  Here's a little information if you care:

That's the type of IUD I have.  I had it since September 2011.  One year and 2 months later, it decided not to work anymore.  No one is sure how it stopped working or why.  Apparently, I am very fertile.

This is the real reason I am starting this blog.  Because I want a place where I can tell the story about my little IUD baby, the good or the bad.  Also because I am getting next to no support from various popular baby/pregnancy websites and forums.  I'm tired of having to shorten my story in hopes of making a friend in a similar situation as mine.  It's rare to be pregnant with an IUD, it's even more rare to have to keep the IUD in for the duration of the pregnancy.

The chances of miscarriage is 50/50 in my second trimester.  Those are pretty crappy odds considering that is double the chance of a regular pregnancy.  I have read a lot of very sad stories about IUD pregnancies on forums all over the internet.  I've also read a lot of wonderful stories.  I don't know where I will end up, but regardless, I will need a place to get all my feelings out.  Hopefully I can help provide information to other women out there who find themselves pregnant with an IUD.  Here is what has happened so far.


My AF was late in November (almost 2 weeks overdue).  I checked the strings out of paranoia, and there they were.  Had my AF, and drank a bottle of wine.  A month later, no AF, so I assumed that I was having another late month.  I read online that the IUD can cause irregular periods, so I went with it.

2 weeks late was Christmas.  I wasn't worried.  After all, it was a safe assumption that I was on a longer cycle from the IUD.  After New Years, I was still curious why I was now a whole month late.  Still, I have an IUD, can't possibly be pregnant.  I had been more tired than usual, but that was probably just from the holidays.  I was feeling nausea for a few days, but maybe I'm coming down with the flu that is going around.   But the day I left a physiotherapy appointment I stopped at the grocery store to pick up some dinner.  Nothing sounded appetizing, just chocolate milk.  I grabbed a card board pizza, chocolate milk, and a pregnancy test.  Because I never crave chocolate milk, and pizza is my favorite food.

Using the pee from the 2 huge glasses of chocolate milk, I tested.  Positive.  WTH?  My hubby told me all about chemical pregnancies.  I hoped that what it was.  I tested again in the morning.  If it's at all possible, it was more positive than the night before.  I immediately called my GP who originally put the IUD in.  Of course, not a single person was available to help.  It was January 4th.  Most doctors were still on vacation.  The on-call doctor didn't bother to see me.  She immediately sent me to the local hospital for an ultrasound.  She said seeing her wouldn't change things, it would just drag things on, and we needed to act quickly.

At the hospital, I joked with the ultrasound tech that we should play the lottery.  She said not to bother, she sees this more often than she should.  Of course she wouldn't tell me any details other than it is very small, and the IUD is there.

That next Monday, my GP called me.  She said everything except "I'm sorry."  She told me the ultrasound says the IUD is perfectly in place.  That the baby is about 6 weeks.  Everything is still too small to know exactly where everything is.  It's time to see the OBGYN who delivered my two babies.  She already booked me for that next Friday, January 11.  She didn't have anything else to offer except that she knows she put it in place properly to begin with, that an ultrasound confirmed that.  She asked me if I was happy I was pregnant, or if I wanted to consider termination.  I want to keep it if I'm lucky not to miscarry.

On the Friday I visited my OBGYN.  Here is what he told me, more or less in the same confusing order.

  • Congratulations.  This is rare, but he's seen it a few times.  None of the IUDs he placed, of course.
  • 50/50 chance of miscarriage in the second trimester.
  • Chance for infection causing sepsis.
  • Chance that the IUD breaks the water and causes preterm labour.
  • Chance that the pregnancy will miscarry for no discernible reason.
  • Very rare chance that the IUD could touch the baby and stick to it, causing birth defects.
  • Chance that nothing could happen at all.  Women have babies with IUDs left in since the beginning of IUDs.  His own wife is an IUD baby, and he has delivered several IUD babies.
  • He recommends removing the IUD.  The previous ultrasound shows it's in place, so he wants to try.  But it's up to me.  In light of all of the potential problems.  
  • If he removes the IUD, then he could take the baby out with it, snagging the sac.  But if he doesn't, then I will have a perfectly healthy pregnancy. 
  • But there is a high possibility of miscarriage, so it's up to me.  Do I want to think about it over the weekend?  He would need to see me on Monday with my decision.
  • If I was 12 weeks along, for example, we would not be having this discussion because it would be safer to leave the IUD in place.
  • If I do miscarry, I could always have another baby.  And on my own terms.
So....what do you want to do?  Well, I want a healthy pregnancy, and I don't want a risky pregnancy.  I'm feeling brave right now.  Let's DO IT.

Suffice to say, after fishing around in the lower end of my cervix with the creepiest medical pliers I've ever seen, he couldn't find the wires.  Suddenly, that changed things.  The OBGYN told me that if the strings were not available, it's likely that the IUD retracted up in my uterus, and it's not likely to be below the sac.  But he wants to send me for an ultrasound as soon as possible to figuring out the positioning of the fetus and the IUD.  Then he actually told me that if I wanted to abort the baby then he has no judgement.  He also told me that if I wanted to keep the baby, he won't judge that either.  He reminded me again that there are many healthy babies born with IUDs, including his own wife.  He told me to go home and discuss "what ifs" with my husband all weekend.  He set me up on the spot with an ultrasound with his favorite tech at his favorite diagnostic imaging lab for that next Tuesday, and set me up to see him that next Thursday.

I got in my car feeling totally bummed.  It was like he teased me with this chance at having a healthy pregnancy and then took it away, leaving me with risks and the memory of all of the terrible stories I read on the internet about late-term miscarriages from IUD pregnancies.  It's terrible practice, but I cried the whole drive home.  Not the best state of mind to be driving on the highway, but I couldn't help it.  My husband was working from home, and our brand-new babysitter was doing her first shift with us, and I needed to get home where it was safe.  (The babysitter was hired to watch my kids while I go to all of these appointments.)  I imagined the baby inside me as a combination of my much loved son and daughter.  This perfect little baby with a turned-up button nose and tiny lips and perfect little toes.  Then I started thinking that there was this deadly object floating around stuck to my perfect baby.  I imagined the IUD was lodged in my uterus sticking out at weird angles waiting for my perfect baby to get big enough to wiggle too close and be killed by it.  By some dumb medical intervention that was supposed to magically trick sperm into running away.  By something I thought was outsmarting nature.  I saw it as my fault.  I imagined the worst, delivering a perfectly healthy but stillborn baby.  I cried and cried.  I even thought I wanted a miscarriage right then just to get it all over with.  Of course that made me cry even harder, because it wasn't really true.  I had already become attached to this perfect little baby.

When I got home, I walked in to see the new babysitter drinking coffee with my husband.  I couldn't keep a straight face, I just broke down in tears.  I believe this is the moment the new babysitter, who I only hired that day, became my friend.  She held me in a tight, tight hug, and then told me that her first baby was an IUD baby.  She told me that despite all of the terrible things they told her, she birthed a healthy daughter, and then passed the IUD 6 weeks postpartum.  She hugged me and told me to do what I felt was best for me and the baby.

Ironically, my closest friend provided me with opposite advice.  And I quote, directly from her text:  "I hate to say this over text - but as your friend I have to say that it's time to prepare for an abortion.  It breaks my heart, but I don't know if you'll survive the alternative."  What does that even mean?  I didn't talk to her for days.  What a terrible thing to say when you don't have enough information to even have an educated opinion about the subject.  Also, easy to say when you've never been pregnant.

That night, my husband told me that he supports any decision I make, but he hopes I will let nature take it's course.  I told him I can't abort what could be a perfect little baby.  How could I live with myself?  I already know what our babies look like.  This one won't look much different.  I couldn't voluntarily end it's life just as it's beginning, especially if it could have been a totally fine pregnancy.

It was a tough weekend.  But we got through it.  And then suddenly it was Tuesday.  I imagine it was the first of many days of reckoning.  It was the day they were going to be able to see where everything is situated.

As I waited in the waiting room, I listened to a man talk on and on about American politics and health care system, and he had his audience in rapture.  I was in no mood to listen to this Republican rhetoric, even though I am a Canadian Conservative party supporter.  Then they called him, and what I learned were his wife's Canadian parents, into the ultrasound room.  The sounds of joy and laughter came pouring out of the room.  She's having twins!  Two small and perfectly happy 12 week twins!  How nice for her.  Seriously, I wouldn't wish what I was going through on anybody.  I was sitting there waiting to have an ultrasound to determine the potential survival of my fetus.  I was feeling pretty sorry for myself.  The best part was when they came out of the room while she was dressing and they were so happy, they just had to tell me.  I was the only person in the waiting room, and I was supposed to jump up and down with them and celebrate their two healthy fetuses.  All I could muster was a halfhearted and half-sarcastic congratulations.  It took all of me to not say "Congratulations!  Now wish me luck that my baby isn't dead!!"  But then they would remember that for the rest of their lives.  That wouldn't be fair.

The ultrasound tech, who I will now refer to as Melinda, called me into the room.  She read the requisition and her eyebrows just about flew off the top of her head.  What do they want me to do, she asked me.  Figure out where the baby is in my uterus, and then figure out where the IUD is in relation to it.  Also, if they were to dig deeper for the IUD strings, would it take the baby with it.  She began the test.  As she started, I told her that I trusted her since with my second pregnancy she discovered that my son had calcifications on his liver at 20 weeks, and that she suggested a new due date because the dating ultrasound was way wrong. I told her that all worked out with the spots, they were harmless, and that he was born on the date she suggested.  I guess that was just enough compliments for Melinda because she dropped her professional demeanor and became very friendly and chatty.  She turned the screen so I could see everything, and she explained it all to me.  She also told me not to tell the OBGYN any of her suggestions because she could get in big trouble for what she was about to tell me.  Because it was opinion based on her experience rather than fact based on science.  In no particular order, this is what she told me:
  • The baby is 9 weeks old.  It's heart beat is very nice, and it's a very healthy pregnancy.
  • The placenta is attached to my uterus already, and it looks healthy.  
  • The IUD is not in the sac with the baby.  The baby is "fluid".
  • The IUD is not embedded in my cervix, it's not embedded in my uterus, it's not between the placenta and the uterus, it's not on a funny angle.
  • The IUD is flattened between the placenta and the sac.  
  • My uterus is slightly tilted, which could explain why the strings are not visible.  It could also explain why the IUD stopped working.
  • If the OBGYN were to find the strings then he will terminate the pregnancy.  If he had found them on Friday, he would have terminated the pregnancy then too.
Melinda told me she doesn't really know about IUDs and pregnancy.  But once we started talking about what the OBGYN told me, and a little about what I read on the internet, she said that it sounds like the IUD is maybe in a good place for now.  I told her that I was feeling some stabbing pains on my right side of my pelvis, I am worried that the IUD is causing me pain.  Melinda laughed a little and told me that I have a Corpus Luteal, or Cyst of Pregnancy.  She said not many women get them, but the ones that do are lucky.  The cyst pumps progesterone into the pregnancy reducing the odds of miscarriage.  I remember with both of my other pregnancies I was told I had a harmless cyst.  She said that just proves how incredibly fertile I am.  Then we talked a little about the placenta.  She said that if the IUD is cushioned between the placenta and the sac, so long as it doesn't move, then the IUD might become embedded into the squishy placenta to protect the sac.  Or, the pressure from the growing sac might just pin the flattened IUD against the placenta for the duration of the pregnancy.  She said that was all wishes and what ifs, but what she said, woman to woman, is that I shouldn't let any doctor convince me to remove the IUD, or terminate the pregnancy.  She said that she has a good feeling about the pregnancy since it is so strong and healthy for now.  And how the baby survived his poking at my cervix already, it's already proving to be one tough cookie.  She even gave me a few pictures of the baby to take home.  

I understand that the 'feelings' of an ultrasound tech are not medically sound, but I also know that she does ultrasounds on pregnancies all day long, 5 days a week.  She probably has a good gut instinct on which babies might miscarry naturally, which ones are growing slowly, and which ones already have defects.  It's her job to see and capture these things.  And my OBGYN is known to be one of the best in his city, and if he sent me to the us tech he trusts the most, then I trust her too.  She can't know anything for sure, no one ever does, even in regular pregnancies.  But I will follow her advice and I will "Live and let God.'


I realize this blog entry is getting very long.  It's taken me an entire nap time to write it.  I just hope a little that someone else out there who might be going through the same things as me sees it and gets something from it. I read a thread on a pregnancy board from 3 years ago posted by a woman who was pregnant with an IUD.  She wanted to share her positive experience since all she could find at that time were negative experiences.  She had some spotting through her pregnancy; some spotting they couldn't explain.  But overall the pregnancy was shown to be healthy.  A week later she went for her 18 week gender scan they found that the baby had died within the past 24 hours.  There was no warning.  She commented on her own post about the baby's passing, and she was obviously devastated.  It broke my heart and my spirit to read her story.  But as I went on through the thread, I saw that other IUD pregnant mothers were coming out to tell of their fears and stories.  This very courageous woman kept checking her thread and ended up being the voice of reassurance and advice for all of these other mothers pregnant with IUDs.  I was so very impressed with her.  Her name was Falconflock.  Unfortunately, the thread automatically locked after 90 days, so I didn't get to see any resolution from the other pregnant mothers.  If Falconflock comes across my blog, I want her to know how much I appreciate what she did 3 years ago.  Her old words of wisdom and experience made a difference to me.  She will never know just how much her words inspired and terrified me, but she will be in my heart this entire pregnancy, no matter when or how it will end.  But hopefully in a perfect baby with a turned-up button nose, little lips, and perfect toes.

I hope to be the same beacon of hope for other mothers, regardless of my outcome as well.


Last thing I want to say is that most stories I have read on the internet about pregnancy losses usually had spotting from the beginning.  Most women weren't aware they were pregnant until much later because they assumed the spotting was an irregular period, and by the time they found out, they miscarried.  There have been a few stories about healthy pregnancies that suddenly ended unexpectedly.  There was also another story I read of a woman who spotted in first trimester, actually gushed blood during her second trimester, and then found out that the IUD was irritating the placenta but in the end she had placenta previa.  She gave birth to a perfectly healthy baby despite bleeding her entire pregnancy.

In real life, I was told of only one story of a woman who lost her baby at the 20 week mark.  Otherwise, I have found out that my mother's friend had an IUD baby, my babysitter has an IUD baby, my own cousin was born holding the IUD.  I know that last one is an exaggeration, but she was an IUD baby.  An internet pen pal I have, her sister had an IUD baby.  And let's not forget that my OBGYN's wife was an IUD baby, and he's birthed 4 IUD babies in his career, not one loss.  Though he did say he lost some babies taking the IUD out.

Thanks for reading.  By the way, I have my results appointment with my OBGYN tomorrow morning.  This time my husband is coming with me in case the OBGYN pressures me about something again.  I'm not very impressed that I was willing to make such a snap decision about the life of my child just because of a very well worded speech.  Suffice to say, I'm very glad he will be coming with me tomorrow.

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