My thyroid gland killed my three babies and could have killed me
When my Dr called and to tell me to get to his surgery as soon as possible, I felt panic. You see, I was 10 weeks pregnant and our previous two pregnancies failed just prior twenty weeks, resulting in a curette. I wondered, had something shown up in my latest blood test? Was my baby going to be ok?
Upon arrival at the surgery, our Dr reassured us that I was still pregnant and that he had discovered the reason why our two precious babies had not survived to full term.
Chris and I married at 35 and fell pregnant with Daniel easily, who was born prematurely and spent his first month in special care. After Daniels 1st Birthday, we decided to plan for another child and fell pregnant easily and experienced Daniels second Christmas with a prominent pregnant belly. I was looking forward to our scan, as we had decided that, as we were going to be building a new house soon, we wanted to decorate the baby’s room accordingly. In reality, I was completely unprepared, for the moment when they told that they were unable to detect the heartbeat. I recall leaving the room, sobbing uncontrollably. I was in a state of utter disbelief, I had a loving family and friends however the next month was rough.
Luckily for us, we fall pregnant fairly easily and I soon pulled myself together and was pregnant again. I am generally carefree however this time I was really anxious throughout the pregnancy. I was a bundle of nerves attending the scan for this pregnancy and when they told us that there was no heartbeat detected and I would require my second curette, I began to feel even more concerned about of chances of a sibling for Daniel. “Would I be able to have any more children?”
Months passed and I was now pregnant with my fourth baby, this brings us back to the start as when Chris and I raced in to see our Dr, he told us that I have Hashimoto’s disease. I have what? He informed us that if left untreated, this can cause problems for both a pregnant woman and a developing fetus. I found out that the potential complications of under-active thyroid in a pregnant mother may include preeclampsia, anaemia, miscarriage, placental abruption, and/or postpartum bleeding. I was in shock. I had always been pretty healthy and did not see this coming at all.
I received the news with a mixture of emotions, I was happy I was still pregnant and so grateful that we finally had some answers and knew exactly why my babies were passing away, however, I was concerned that this baby had not received the essentials it needed from me throughout the start of the pregnancy. I immediately began daily medication to try and save this pregnancy however within three days, there were signs I was going to miscarry and baby boy four was never meant to be.
Following the doctors advise, I continued the standard treatment for Hashimoto’s disease, which is a synthetic form of thyroxine and hoped for the best as we fell pregnant for the fifth time.
Due to my losses, I was living day by day wondering if my baby still had a heartbeat, it was stressful and a bit of an emotional roller coaster, especially as we were now living in a rental and building our dream home for our family. Reality hit hard when a close friend experienced the loss of a baby boy who was stillborn, my heart went out to her and her husband and their grief was a little overwhelming for me as I attended the funeral while 5 months pregnant wondering if I may have a stillborn myself one day.
All of these experiences have made my extremely sympathetic to Mums and Dads experiencing grief and I think it is nice that there are pregnancy keepsakes such as footprint kits and DNA jewellery so that parents can savour a lifelong memory and help them as they grieve.
As I neared 27 weeks I began to spot bleed and soon raced to our Hospital where I was kept for observation. I was placed on part-time bed rest, so asked my Mum to move in with us for the remainder of my pregnancy. Sadly I had to call on her far to often and visited the hospital again before being finally admitted permanently on Christmas Eve and ordered to remain on hospital observation bed rest. Here they discovered that my Hashimoto’s had also reared its’ head, in the form of gestational diabetes, as that this was handled by the same specialist whom I saw for my Hashimoto’s disease. I soon began daily insulin injections to manage my blood sugar levels and began a special diet.
I remained in bed until the agreed date my OBYN and I had selected as a safe arrival date for Sophie. Wonderful news followed and the medication and bed rest resulted in the safe arrival of a beautiful little sister for Daniel. Sophie Teneal was born via a caesarian at 37 weeks and was bright-eyed and simply perfect, however, this is not where this story ends. I was informed that postpartum bleeding could be a side effect of Hashimoto’s Disease and within hours of my caesarian procedure, I suffered the worst postpartum haemorrhage my OBYN has attended in twenty years. As I struggled to stay conscious and went into shock, a code blue was called and my husband said, what may have been his last goodbye and they raced me to emergency surgery. Neither Chris nor I had ever imagined that I may lose my life bringing our little girl into the world. I was later told that the human body holds 6-7 litres of blood and that I lost 8 litres of blood and was here, thanks to the good graces of blood donors. Without private health care, this experience would have also been extremely financially stressful and I am eternally grateful that our health fund covered my final medical bill of just over $20,000.
Today Daniel is age 9 and Sophie age 6 and they are simply wonderful kids. I enjoy watching Daniel build things in the shed with Chris and love to listen to Sophie singing around the house and I am often reminded that I came close to not seeing them grow up at all and grateful that I am here to see another day.
(Photo: I survived – this was the best celebratory pose I could must, but I woke to see another day)
In Hashimoto’s disease, the immune system makes antibodies that attack and damage the thyroid. One in 8 women will suffer from a thyroid issue in their lifetime. I remain hopeful that I am one of the 1/4 of people, in which Hashimoto’s will simply go away over time, however, until then I take my daily medication and focus on my job, my kids and living life.
If you are planning a family, I implore you to ask your local GP for a referral to have a blood test for your thyroid gland as you may be as unaware as I was.