Friday, December 14, 2007

Risking death for bragging rights

Homebirth and unassisted birth generally involve risking the baby's life so that you can brag that you did it yourself. In this case, the mother is risking her own life purely for the opportunity to brag that she had a completely unassisted pregnancy. According to the mother:
... I was UPing with my second pregnancy earlier this year when I started bleeding at 19 weeks, in May. It turned out I'd lost my daughter to a partial molar pregnancy that had gone undetected until that point ...
A molar pregnancy (complete or partial) is an abnormal pregnancy with uncontrolled growth of placental issue. The placental tissue can even become malignant; this is known as gestational trophoblastic disease, a life threatening cancer. Even after the abnormal placental tissue is removed, it is possible for it to grow back within the uterus or to metastisize to sites far from the uterus. The cornerstone of treatment for a molar pregnancy is to have monthly checks of HCG levels to be sure that the abnormal placental tissue has not returned in cancerous form. Patients are advised to use birth control during that time so as not to confuse things with a normal pregnancy which might prevent detection of the cancer.
December 4th, exactly. I get a positive pregnancy test. Up until that point, all of my blood work had been negative and things were looking good. And this time it is highly likely that the positive test is caused by actual pregnancy. We baby danced our way right through ovulation. Now though, I must go for an ultrasound on the 17th to make sure that there actually is a baby in there. If it's really molar tissue regrowing, we need to start chemotherapy treatments. And early visual confirmation of a baby is the best way to check; if we waited until around 12 weeks to try to get a heartbeat on a doppler and it turned out not to be a baby, I'd have needed to start treatment long before that.
That's pretty straightforward. There is a significant chance that this woman has a positive pregnancy test because of an HCG producing cancer, not a normal pregnancy. Most women would run to have an ultrasound done and either start chemotherapy if the ultrasound revealed cancer or be overcome with relief if the ultrasound revealed a normal pregnancy.

But wait! If the ultrasound revealed a normal pregnancy, the mother would not be able to claim that this was a completely, totally 100% unassisted pregnancy. She would not be able to brag to her friends that she was responsible for her prenatal "care" as well as her planned unassisted delivery. Is that supposed to be a tough choice: death vs. bragging rights ... death due to metastatic cancer vs. having an ultrasound? Evidently it is a tough choice for her. The stumbling block is that IF this is a normal pregnancy, AND she has inadvertently had an ultrasound, other women might not accept her claims of unassisted pregnancy.
... I am having a very hard time coming to terms that I must get this ultrasound. I know I must; it is literally a matter of life and death. But I can't seem to come to a comfortable place in my heart and head with the fact that I have to have an ultrasound. Can I even say I'm UPing now? ..

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