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 had sadly lost our previous two pregnancies around twenty weeks. 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 my husband and I that we were still pregnant and that his good news that he had discovered the reason why our two precious babies had not survived.
Chris and I were 36 years old and easily fell pregnant with our firstborn child. Daniel was close to 2 years old and as my sister and I and Chris and his brother are both 16 months apart in age, so we had planned to have two children fairly close in age so that they would have a little best friend to always play with as we did. The first loss was absolutely devastating, I was already well and truly showing so everyone could clearly see that I was pregnant. I was looking forward to our 20-week 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 I 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, it was a second blow. This meant that the first loss was NOT a one-off and I grew concerned that we may not 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, glad that we knew why my babies did not make it earth-side and that there was medication I could immediately begin to take to try and save this pregnancy, however, I felt worried that I may have this for the rest of my life. This concern was warranted as three days later there were signs I was going to miscarry. I recall that my husband and I were visiting a friend, who had just renovated their house. I went to the bathroom and saw blood in my underwear and immediately knew that I was about to lose this baby and I did. I had started the thyroid replacement medication too late, baby boy four was never meant to be.
Following the doctors advise, I started the standard treatment for Hashimoto’s disease, which is a synthetic form of thyroxine and hoped for the best. There was a moment through this pregnancy which rocked me, that I feel that I must share. When a close friend announced that she gave birth to a beautiful baby boy who was stillborn, I was overwhelmingly sad for them. They had a beautiful little girl, however with this loss, their world had just come crashing down and it caused me to relive some of my own grief. Attending their baby boys funeral, while pregnant is not something I would do again. It was extremely upsetting and stressful for me. 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 to deal with their grief.
Good news followed and the medication was working. Our fifth pregnancy resulted in a beautiful little sister for Daniel. Sophie Teneal was born via a caesarian at 37 weeks. I won’t sugar coat this pregnancy, I spent ten very stressful weeks in hospital with unexplained bleeding. My Hashimoto’s also reared its’ head, in the form of gestational diabetes, which is handled by the same specialist whom I saw for my Hashimoto’s disease. Sophie was perfect. I recalled that postpartum bleeding could be a side effect of Hashimoto’s Disease so was not completely surprised, however very disappointed when a few hours after my caesarian procedure, I suffered the worst postpartum haemorrhage my OBYN has attended in twenty years. I was the best and the worst day of my life all rolled into one. My husband was even told to say goodbye as I was wheeled away for surgery. It was a close call, I lost 8 litres of blood that day, which is alarming as the human body holds approximately 6 litres. Without private health care, this would have been even more stressful. I am eternally grateful for the specialist Doctors which my private health care covered as my final medical bill was just over $20,000.
(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 and sadly for me, my Hashimoto’s has stayed pretty stable and steady. I know many suffer losses and I do not take for granted that I am able to have children because they discovered the reason why my three boys are not with me today. 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.