The past couple of months I’ve been having a moment, for real. I have finally had a few moments to sit down and reflect on my partial molar miscarriage, and wanted to share it with you in this post.
A lot of you have been following my story since I got married last year (#MrsShman), but just in case you’ve missed anything… it has been a non-stop wild ride since then. So settle in with a Truly (and then have another for me, since I STILL CAN’T DRINK because of the drugs I’m on) and let me catch you up on this craziness.
I got married in August 2019; it was magical. The wedding turned out to be one of the best days of my life and I had never planned on that. Then, after only two weeks of wedded bliss, I got pregnant. That’s right—two weeks. (Turns out Shman’s got superhuman baby juice, HA) Anyway, even though it happened much more quickly than we thought it would, we were beyond excited. Who wouldn’t be? A Baby Frase in the house? A mini little Shmandalorian, bald head and all?? We were ready to take on the adventure… but it didn’t play out in the way we’d anticipated.
Two months after finding out I was pregnant, we went for a routine checkup only to learn we had a Triplody Pregnancy, which means two sperm fertilize one egg, and our little boy (we had a boy) was not going to make it. We needed to schedule a D&E. As many of you who have been through miscarriage know, it was devastating. We couldn’t believe it. The exact day we found out the news, we had a magazine shoot with Northern Virginia Magazine. I remember trying to smile through the pain and, at the same time, not look at Dan for too long. I knew if I did, I would be overwhelmed with sadness. What’s wild to me about miscarriage is how devastating it is to lose someone you’ve never even met.
I also learned that our miscarriage was due to something a little more complicated: a partial molar pregnancy. It caused a growth in my uterus and a chromosomal imbalance in essentially my entire reproductive system. And even crazier—this condition is rare. Like 1 in 1,000. (And of course, I’m among the lucky .001% on my first try. Go big or go home, is our motto!)
I went in for my D&E on November 11. That’s when they removed the molar tissue. But, fun fact: even when a molar pregnancy has been removed, it runs the risk of growing back, which can cause even more complications. So every week following, I had to go in for a blood-draw so the doctors could monitor my hCG levels (which means they were testing my hormones to make sure the molar tissue wasn’t regenerating). Everything was looking great for a bit. My hCG levels were regular and I was on track to a healthy recovery. But of course, this is my life, so it couldn’t be over that easily.
You guessed it. In January, my uterus said, “You thought, bitch,” and my hCG levels started rising again. I was diagnosed with gestational trophoblastic neoplasia (GTN), which is just a medically complicated way to say the molar tissue was growing back. (But crazier still? This only happens to 5% of molar pregnancies. So that’s right, babes. I’m officially in the .00005% at this point. I should really start playing the lottery.)
The doctors told us the prognosis was completely curable, but would require a series of methotrexate shots—a light form of chemo. Now, I knew this treatment would work, but hearing that I’d be receiving shots of chemo was terrifying. And I didn’t have many other options—I had to get this resolved. Because I was also told that in “rare” cases, a cancerous form of GTN could develop and spread to other places in my body. (And listen, I wasn’t about to take any more chances with “rare,” alright? I’m over here batting a thousand and I’m not feeling too confident about my odds.) So we scheduled the first round of methotrexate shots, headed home, and were ready to start the treatment the following week.
That is, until blood started streaming from my vagina like a low-pressure, gas station faucet. I was hemorrhaging. And I’m sorry if this is TMI, but that sh*t was bad. It was filling up my toilet as soon as I flushed. (Which apparently I wasn’t supposed to do anyway… oops.) Not too long after I called 911, the EMTs showed up to get me and my bloody vag to the hospital. (By the way, the EMTs were ridiculously hot. Like, thank you for rescuing me, but save that for TV, okay? This situation is already horrifying. I don’t need Chris Hemsworth lifting me off my toilet while I feel like Carrie.)
The hot EMTs rushed me to the hospital and doctors performed an emergency D&C. When it was over, I stayed the night in the ICU and got a shot in my butt cheek every four hours. It sucked, but the team that took care of me was amazing (See end of this blog for doctor and hospital recommendations). Right after I got out of surgery, the doctors informed me I would have a CAT scan to make sure the mole wasn’t anywhere else in my body. I remember just praying to God that the scan was clean and I would be ok. Of course, the radiologist (who was supposed to give the results) decided to go home for the night, so sometime around 8pm a nurse read them and said it was clean. When I tell you I cried. I bawled.
As I was recovering from the D&C in the hospital, I kept looking over at Dan and feeling my heart tighten. I could only imagine the amount of stress that this was putting on him too. I remember thinking, “How is this our first year of marriage?” It had been less than six months and, somehow, we’d been through enough trauma for ten years. My recovery meant we couldn’t travel or be too far from the hospital. We couldn’t even go on our honeymoon. (I mean, we were really pushing the boundaries of “in sickness and in health.”) But he was there for me through it all. Marrying Dan has been one of the best decisions of my life.
As I left the hospital, we scheduled my first methotrexate shots for the following week at the Inova Schar Cancer Institute. Up until this point, I’d been able to find moments of humor in this nightmare. But walking into that facility, I got really emotional. It brought back memories of dealing with my mother’s breast cancer and having to go through the loss of my father to stomach cancer. But I knew I was walking through the doors as a fighter. That was four weeks ago. I’m now getting ready to go in for my third treatment. And aside from some brain fog and a sore ass cheek, things are going well!
It’s definitely been an uphill journey, but damn, this journey has made me stronger! Some days I marvel at what my body can do, and to be frank right, before this happened I was feeling sorry for myself. I would say since spring of 2019 I had been comparing myself to so many other successful podcasters and TV hosts. I was spending a lot of time asking, “Why hasn’t more happened for me?” It almost got to the point of obsession, which I’m embarrassed to admit. It sucks that an experience like this slaps you out of that, but for me it did. Now, I’m truly taking it one day at a time, focusing on the things I love and doing a lot less of the running around. Dan and I don’t know if we can have children, but we’re certain we will have a family…through adoption or surrogacy, it will happen.
Dan has been keeping me sane through this entire hellscape. But it’s been my whole support system too: Mama Frase came down from Maine (and essentially told me to suck it up… you know that tender motherly love). AJ and intern Alyssa somehow found time to hold down the podcast. Friends, family, you all reading this have reached out and prayed for me. It means everything.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for sticking with me through all of this insanity. If you’ve suffered a miscarriage I want you to know you’re not alone, and if you’ve been diagnosed with a molar pregnancy you will be ok. I promise. Get a second opinion and do what the doctors say. I have heard from several women who have had molar pregnancies and methotrexate shots and gone on to have beautiful babies.
Love you so much and please share questions and comments below.
Virginia Hospital Center – This is where my OB/GYN is (Dr. Winterling, I highly recommend her) and Dr. Kelly Orzechowski, my Maternal Fetal Medicine doctor (handles high risk cases and performed my D&E/C procedures). Call both of these women. 5 stars.
Dr. John Elkas – Gyno Oncology – He’s 5-star as well. Very few of you will need to see him, but he’s amazing in Fairfax at Inova.
Inova Schar Cancer Institute – They have been amazing. As I mentioned, the first time Dan and I walked in I cried. I had no idea what was ahead. The nurses who have given me my metho shot are amazing. Highly recommend seeing them if you ever have a cancer diagnosis.