Content warning: This post deals with miscarriage and pregnancy loss and may be triggering for some readers.
This was not Teya Foley’s first pregnancy, so she knew what to expect at her twelve week scan. It’s for this same reason the then 29-year-old also knew immediately that something was very wrong.
The mother to a one-year-old toddler attended the ultrasound thinking it would be a routine scan. But in the moment that nurse became silent looking at the screen, Foley discovered it would be anything but.
“I remember the nurse didn’t say anything. There was just this terrible vibe in the room,” Foley said. “I was told that the results of the scan needed to be read properly. I had to wait two excruciating nights to be told that the foetus had some sort of chromosomal abnormality.”
Foley was then sent to hospital for blood screening to understand the extent of the abnormality. The news was not hopeful and the doctor she saw advised her to terminate the pregnancy.
“I was so confused and scared. It was the worst news to receive. I cried like I never had before.”
But the nightmare was only just beginning, as Foley was then referred to The Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne to see a specialist. While Foley waited for the appointment, she did what any expectant mum would do – Google every possible outcome.
“I drove myself crazy with all the possibilities of what was wrong. I felt sick the whole time.”
Finally, at the ultrasound with the specialist, Foley searched desperately to see any sign of life but she was told that her baby had died.
"I was devastated, because I felt up until that point that I had a choice and then I was robbed of that."
Being a woman of great resilience, Foley quickly accepted the outcome and simply felt overwhelming relief.
"The specialist told me it was a miscarriage. So I was glad I didn't have to make the choice. But I wasn't expecting to have to deal with the aftermath - having a miscarried baby inside me for the weekend while I prepared for the D and C [dilation and curettage] on Monday."
Foley describes a weekend of emotional torture as she thought of all the what ifs and what could have beens, knowing all the while that her baby was still inside her but never destined to be.
Yet luckily, the Melbourne mum listened to her heart and felt able to share what had happened with anyone who asked how she was.
"I was really open with people that weekend and it helped so much. It would have felt stranger not sharing what was going on inside me. It helped me cope with the loss."
It wasn't until Foley was in hospital, on the table the following Monday night, that her doctor gave what was happening a medical name: a partial molar pregnancy.
"The doctor explained to me that what had happened could have been what's known as a 'partial molar pregnancy' - and it needed further testing."
It was news that was overwhelming to Foley at the time.
"He told me that it's a situation where the placenta becomes almost cancerous, like a tumorous growth. So you can imagine I was in absolute shock."
Then, the series of events in Foley's second pregnancy took yet another turn: during the D and C, Foley suffered a significant haemorrhage and lost 40 percent of her blood. She required four blood transfusions to save her life.
"I didn't learn any of this until I woke up, obviously. But luckily, I managed to avoid having a hysterectomy and I could still become pregnant again. So for me, that was the most important thing."
Because of the potentially cancerous nature of a molar/partial molar pregnancy, Foley then had to be on the Molar Register, which required her to collect urine specimens for 24 hours every week for six months. The tests were to check for levels of the pregnancy hormone hCG, to ensure all of the placenta had been removed.
Luckily, Foley's levels returned to normal before the six month mark, meaning that she didn't need to have chemotherapy. It was, nevertheless, a traumatic experience.
"Doing the urines tests was a reminder of what I'd been through and it made it so difficult to move on."
She also was not allowed try for another baby during that time; but Foley did fall pregnant soon after the six month testing time was over.
"I discovered I was pregnant with Ezra one week before what would have been the due date of my second pregnancy. I can't tell you how much that meant to me. That saved me."
Now 33, Foley is pursing a career in social media management and is mum to five-year-old Cadence, and two-year-old Ezra.
It was a natural progression for Foley to take her knowledge and experience and share it with others, so she started her Facebook page And So She Thought to help other women who had experienced molar or partial molar pregnancies.
"I don't believe in waiting 12 weeks to tell people about your pregnancy. I believe in telling anyone that you'd feel comfortable having the alternative conversation with, you will need the support of these people. Talking about my miscarriage helped me to survive it."
Foley is adamant that miscarriage needs to be de-stigmatised in the community.
"There is no shame in miscarriage. Talking about it, sharing what happened, doesn't take away the pain, but it minimises the loneliness. Sharing your story with others can give meaning to terrible things when they happen."
Foley also uses her platform to raise awareness about the importance of blood donation and is thankful for those of us who choose to donate their blood.
"I am immeasurably grateful to blood donors for saving my life. Because of people like you I am still here, my husband still has his wife, my daughter has her mother, and my son exists. Thank you."
If you, or someone you know is struggling with pregnancy loss or depression, contact PANDA on Ph: 1300 726 306.