Seriously, try it out. "What the fibriod?" "Are you fibroid-ing kidding me?" "The garbage men are such fibroid-ing idiots" and finally, Brian's favorite line while watching Packer games: "Where is the fibroid-ing defense? ARGH!"
Obviously I am joking, but it's interesting how one word can change your whole world (at least for a short time.) I do feel like fibroid has become a dirty word in this house for the last two years as it has caused complication after complication, especially in regards to my pregnancy with Scotty.
Probably what is most interesting is that fibroids are usually just harmless, benign growths that almost never interfere with pregnancy or childbirth. They are incredibly common - between 50-80% of women usually have at least one fibroid, and most will never know about it. The fibroid develops as a result of abnormal cell growth by the smooth uterine muscles and can attach outside the uterus, inside the wall of the uterus, or inside the uterus itself. Most fibroids require no treatment.
That is, unless you have the one-in-a-million fibroid, like myself.
I should play the lotto.
(Wait, I live in Nevada. We don't have a state lottery. Maybe I should drag Scotty to the closest casino and put it all on black. Let it ride, baby!)
Anyways, we came to learn about my fibroid in the most uncommon way possible: through an ultrasound tech. They are usually a tight-lipped group, clearly well-versed in the "Don't look your patient in the eyes and never disclose any information to them" technique, but this u/s tech must have missed that day in class because she was chatty as all get-out.
It was January 2, 2009. I had known I was pregnant for all of five days (yet had managed to eat no less than three dinners of lasagna; I was taking this 'eating for two' thing very seriously.) On January 1st, I had unexplained heavy bleeding. By late afternoon on the 2nd, I was experiencing terrible cramps and pain in my lower right side. After a quick call to George (who was not yet George; he was still "Dr. P*******"), he recommended we go to the nearest emergency room to rule out the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy (which would require immediate surgery).
Upon exam, they told me I was still pregnant, but not sure "how" pregnant I was. I was then wheeled into a different room where I met Chatty Cathy, the ultrasound tech. She did a quick exam and said yes, I was definitely pregnant, as there was a sac, and she could also detect a cyst had ruptured due to fluid in my abdomen (and the reason for my pain.) She then said something I'll never forget, since it was so out-of-the-blue. She looked at me and then pointed to the screen and said, "You also have a fibroid. It's right there" [pointing.] "It's pretty big - like the size of a gumball. Don't let them overlook this, okay? And don't tell them I told you."
At the time, I had no idea what she was even talking about, let alone who "they" were.
By Monday, I had my first consult with George who ran some blood work and gave me the "no tilefish" lecture. (who eats tile fish??) It was such a blur and I was so anxious for the appointment that I didn't even think to bring up the fibroid until we were already out of the exam room and standing by the nurse's desk. "What about that fibroid?" I shouted to his turned back, as he grabbed another chart and was about to walk into a room. He turned around and looked at Brian and I and said, "Not a problem. We'll keep an eye on it." And then he disappeared.
So for the next few months, I lived my life without thought of the fibroid. Emma had just been diagnosed with cancer, my sister was also pregnant, and I was trying to figure out how to taper down my practice (and cover my burgeoning bump) at the same time. At our 18 week "big" ultrasound, the one where they do a full anatomy scan and announce the gender, I was a little dismayed when the first thing the tech shouted was not 'girl' or 'boy,' but "Wow! Look at that fibroid!"
(We would come to learn that every tech for the rest of the pregnancy zeroed in on the fibroid before the fetus. I don't know if they were so enamoured with the size of it or what, but I totally felt like Scotty as playing second fiddle to this stupid tumor. Not fair, dude, not fair. He's the star of the show.)
She took about 20 measurements of it that lasted for what seemed like hours before finally telling us we were having a little boy. (little did we know he was going to be a little bear.) She said the fibroid was about the size of an orange and sitting directly on my cervix.
Well, that explained the pressure. For the last few weeks prior to this appointment, I had been feeling off. Not sick, but like there was a lot of pressure...down there. Like the baby was going to fall out or something. I told the specialist about this (my first meeting with Dick) and he said without hesitation, "You're grounded. No flying, no traveling, don't leave the state. Limited activity from this point forward -- just work and home. That's it."
Yikes. It wasn't like I was in the middle of planning a pledge class reunion in Chicago or anything. Or that we hadn't even started working on the nursery, or that our cat required twice weekly trips for the vet for medication.
Butthe main reason for his dire concern wasn't the fact that the fibroid was growing at an alarming rate (all of that good, healthy, lasagna-flavored blood was nourishing both the baby and the fibroid), but the placement of it. When pregnant, the cervix is kind of a big deal. It's your gateway to the baby. For those of you unfamiliar with a cervix, I'll use the analogy our L&D nurse did: it's like the neck of a balloon. The more air you blow into the balloon, the shorter the neck becomes. In pregnancy, the cervix needs to shorten in order to dilate so you can push baby out.
However, it needs to shorted after week 37...not week 25.
Like mine did.
Which leads me to the most dramatic part of my story: preterm labor. My giant fibroid continued to push on the cervix, causing it to shorten way, way too early. Which in turn, essentially sent me into labor 15 weeks early. Thankfully, we caught it early enough so there were no major complications, but Dick and George both said to me: "Dunzo."
And with that, bed rest began.
Scotty grew and grew, the fibroid grew and grew, and I, in turn, morphed into a beached whale that lived on our couch. By week 30, not only did I have this giant fibroid, which by this point was the size of a grapefruit, but I had this abnormally large baby that was almost 5 lbs. Then they told me I had too much fluid. As a result, I became a very grouchy beached whale and took it out on my husband.
I was on all kinds of meds to stop contractions from weeks 25-37 (once you get to a certain size, your body thinks you should go into labor...hence why multiples are born early.) The fibroid decided to grant me one favor around week 33 and in an ultrasound, Dick told me it had moved; as my uterus expanded, the fibroid went with it. It was now resting comfortably by my butt (posterior) and no longer pressing on my cervix. Did that explain the giant size of my rump, or was that more attributed to my Whopper/brownie addition? But due to Scotty's size and the fluid levels, I still had to stay on bed rest.
You probably know the rest of the story. I was taken off my meds on a Thursday, and by Sunday night, I was in labor. Monday they induced me (after that huge, scary blood clot hit my flip-flop; remember that part of the story??) and by 2am on Tuesday morning, Scotty made his very dramatic entrance into the world.
A few months after that, I went in for yet another ultrasound. The fibroid was now back to orange-size-status. Despite no baby to nourish, it wasn't shrinking the way it should be. And George told me that if I were to get pregnant again, there was a very good chance all of this would play out again and I would have to go back on bed rest.
Bed rest with a toddler? Um...no.
And so, we made the decision to operate. I was crazy enough to think I could do this last year (I was even like, "I'll just pump and dump for the first two days after surgery, and then I can continue to pump for Scotty! It'll work out! I'll be fine!" Crazy-talk, people.) (I was mainly thinking about our deductible had been met for the year, and why would I want to cough up another $2500?) But we held off and I'm glad we are doing it now, since the idea of pumping and dumping makes me want to rip my hair out. Hell, just the idea of pumping makes me shudder.
As of Oct. 16, 2010, the fibroid is the size of a racket ball (so happy to have moved away from the fruit analogies) and located in the posterior (back) position. Per George (this made me giggle hysterically), he is going to have to literally take my uterus out of my body, do his peach-shelling thing, and then put my uterus back in. Um...what? I just keep imaging my poor uterus being slapped around like a side of liver. Just put it back where you found, okay boys?
So that's my story. I bet you have never read the word 'fibroid' so many times in one sitting. And in about ten days, I hope I never hear the word again.