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Anyone else pregnant and just had bad health news in the family?

(9 Posts)
crazyhead Thu 12-May-11 19:32:05

Hello there - I'm 14 weeks pregnant with my first, and the day before my 12 week scan, Mum had a fit and they've found a mass on the brain. We don't have full details yet (we get them tomorrow apparently) but it is probably a primary tumour (they scanned her body but found nothing). I'm just hoping it is operable.

I'm really shattered by it all, and the timing is tough. Has anyone been through/going through similar? I'd love to hear your experiences and how you coped.

I feel like I'm being tetchy with my lovely OH, and I just want to protect my lovely Mum and my unborn baby as well as possible.

stripeybumpsmum Thu 12-May-11 20:08:11

Hi there,

Sorry to hear about the rough time you are going through. Pregnancy for me is a bad luck talisman: MIL died in a tragic accident when I was 7.5 months with DD (although in a coma, she died peacefully with me holding her hand to the kicking bump). I am currently 39 wks with DC3. I was 5 weeks preg when DD was diagnosed with cancer and have also lost my aunt to cancer complications about 5 weeks ago. DD has had agressive treatment so we've basically spent 6 months on and off in hospital but it looks like treatment has unexpectedly worked extremely well.

I won't deny it is bloody hard work at times because you will resent not being able to enjoy pregnancy. On the other hand, when you and your family are low it definitely gives you something to focus on, and is 'life affirming' if that makes sense?

My advice would be:

1. Ensure your antenatal carers are aware - they will keep an extra watchful eye on you to help support you. If your employer and your GP know too that helps them if you need to take time to support your family rather than assuming absence is maternity related.

2. Make sure your mum's carers know you are preg, and how far gone. There are lots of tests your mum may have which carry a minimal but known risk in terms of radioactivity etc. DH was with DD for these tests but you still need to be aware to minimise physical contact for certain time periods.

3. Have a really good chat with your mum about her and your expectations. I am guessing she will want to shield you from additional worry. You might feel like she is unintentionally shutting you out. You have to be really honest, and sorry, but you have to respect her views on how much she wants to know, and how much she wants you to know. Our view was to have the maximum information about DD at all times. My aunt wanted to know nothing, and therefore the family could know nothing either. Very frustrating but her choice.

4. You need to have a good support network yourself. If you were a professional counsellor, you would have a system of supervision where you unburden yourself to a colleague. You kind of have to do the same: if you are your mum's main support network, you need a trusted circle of your DH, or your close friends where you can just 'talk it out' honestly. Helpful if you talk to someone whose already had kids too so they can reassure you a lot of what you are feeling physically is normal pregnancy rather than necessarily causes by the stressful situation.

5. Get support where you can from people who have experienced what you and your family will be going through: other families on your mum's ward can be of huge benefit because you can talk in a kind of shorthand and honestly about the bad days whilst sharing the good days. Likewise, the hospital should have some professional support like Macmillan nurses or similar. Clic Sargent have been fantastic for us, and Macmillan for my aunt.

Bit of a long post but I would end by saying preg actually has a very protective effect. Friend lost her twin DSis very suddenly when 8 weeks preg and she said the same. When things feel really chaotic or stressful, baby makes sure you eat, sleep and relax when your body needs.

Good luck.

crazyhead Thu 12-May-11 22:03:21

Dear stripeybumpsmum,

Thank you so much for such a thoughtful post, I really appreciate it, and I'll think about all of these points you've made, particularly as things unfold now.

It's interesting what you say about parents wanting to protect me - it is really true - and a difficult think to negotiate in itself. My sister has a six week old baby, so not easy for her either.

It is very emotional this happening during pregnancy, but I know what you mean about it being protective, however awful I've felt I've always slept like I'm drugged and always eaten properly. In a different situation I'd be drinking too much wine, and getting zero sleep. I just feel I can't afford to let things be like that.

I am lucky to have good friends and family and the kindest OH in the world, so I will try to lean on people when I need to.

It sounds like you have really been through hell yourself and I am very glad that your daughter has responded well to treatment.

thanks again.
xx

stripeybumpsmum Fri 13-May-11 18:22:56

You're most welcome, hope it helps.

If you talk to your family about what is happening, you might want to mention that the fear is usually worse than the reality: our consultant always said he wanted us to know all the news, as if he didn't tell us the bad news, we wouldn't believe the good news.

Take care

LittleWhiteWolf Tue 24-May-11 20:23:13

I had an experience of this with DD. DH and I had planned to have a baby later in our marriage, but my mum, who had chronic lung diseases, became so much worse in the year running up to our wedding that we hurried things along a bit. We were married in October and I was 6 weeks pg. She ended up in hospital with a collapsed lung in the December and ended up at a specialist hospital after our local tried an op to re-inflate it, only to have the other one collapse. She had several drains and was very poorly.

She missed her birthday and Xmas (her birthday is the 19th).

This all happend during my first, very scary trimester.

In the second trimester she went on the transplant list and leapt to the top of it due to the severity of her condition. In March, on Mothers Day when I was 28 weeks (I think, its hard to recall), she had the op and had both lungs replaced. The op was a succes, but she spent 11 days in a coma afterwards and during her recovery period contracted 2 seperate infections which almost caused her death. On 2 occassions we prepared for the worst, but she pulled through. My daughter, her first GC was born in July and my sister recalls telling my mum on several occassions that she was born; my mum was so ill in intensive care that a) I couldn't visit and b) she couldn't hold onto information for long.

She finally met my daughter in a hospital cafe when DD was 6 weeks old.
In September she finally discharged from hospital (I visited often with DD, using the hours car journey to get her napping!).

The whole experience was shattering and exhausting and horrendous, but we all got through it.

I hope that your mums tests return hopeful news and that your pregnancy goes smoothly. Like the previous poster says, let your antenatal team support you. I was too stoic and wound up being signed off in the May, I think it was. Look after yourself and your bump.

(apologies for the essay...)

toomuchpizza Tue 24-May-11 20:45:46

When I was pregnant with DS2 my dad developed health problems. It started with a cold that wouldn't shift and then we found out he had a lump in his neck that he'd not told anyone about. He had the lump removed and a few weeks later we found out he had lymphoma and would need further tests. The tests showed that he also had AL Amyloidosis which is quite serious and so he had more tests which showed he also had Myeloma.

It was a totally surreal time. He first went to the doctor in May and we got the Myeloma diagnosis at the end of July when I was 38 weeks pregnant. The whole thing was very stressful and I found it hard to cope but what amazed me was how well I did manage. It wasn't easy and there were lots of tears. The hardest thing for me was having to make sure my mum understood how sick he was - although his life wasn't in immediate danger it is not a curable cancer. As has been said by others, my local health professionals were brilliant - especially the health visitor who I had a good relationship with anyway. She really supported me all the way through.

Dad started chemotherapy & steroids the day he got the Myeloma diagnosis and continued on that for 7 months. He had a couple of months off and then began preparation for high dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplant which he underwent in the May, a year after first going to the GP. We're now another year on and he remains in remission and is doing really well. The cancer will return though and eventually he will run out of treatment options but for the moment things are good and we are hoping for a good period of remission.

I don't know if this will be helpful to you and it's not the same as your situation but I just wanted to let you know that I came out the other end ok. My husband was fantastic and had to cope with lots of phone calls at work with me in tears. I tried very hard to be positive and upbeat in public but at home had many times where I could only see the bad. Dad amazed us with his strength and he never complained apart from once towards the end of the chemo when he cried and said he couldn't take any more. That was difficult to see but I'm so proud of him.

Please do talk your antenatal care team - they really can help support you.

crazyhead Sun 29-May-11 10:33:54

Dear toomuchpizza and LittleWhiteWolf - thanks ever so much for your posts. It is really helpful to hear from people who've been through similar experiences and managed to come out the other end OK - although I am sorry you had to go through so much as I can well appreciate how physically and emotionally draining it is.

I'm sure you'll know what I mean when I say that it makes the more standard pregnancy gripes seem a bit abstract really - it is funny reading some of the pregnancy posts on Mumsnet for that reason! It isn't that I don't know that any worries in pregnancy can be awful (and goodness knows that I'd have been worrying about my own in most normal circumstances), just that an experience like this is such a great leveller. I have signed up for the usual NCT/yoga to stay 'connected' to my pregnancy, but this'll be a different experience to many people's pregnancies, and I'm used to that idea now.

I've spoken to my work and will tell my midwife at my appointment next week so they can offer extra support if needs be- it is really helpful to hear your advice on that.

Mum just had brain surgery and was discharged yesterday, they got the whole tumour and she really has made a remarkable recovery from surgery. The most significant news will be the biopsy which we'll get back in a week or so. But we are all delighted at least that the first step was so good.

I have been trying to count my blessings - including the most darling, kind OH and very supportive friends and family.

toomuchpizza Wed 01-Jun-11 10:19:39

I'm so glad your mum's surgery went well and that she is making a good recovery. I really hope the biopsy results are good.

I know exactly what you mean about it being a leveller. It's a whole diffferent experience of pregnancy.

It is great you've spoken to your work and I hope your midwife can give you support as well, I know it really helped me.

I'll be thinking of you.

notevenamousie Mon 06-Jun-11 06:56:41

My mum was diagnosed with ovarian cancer 2 weeks before my DD was born.
DD is now 4.5 and my mum died 2.5 weeks ago.

The whole road of my mum's illness, chemo and surgery and more of the same, and then her death, are entwined with my daughter's early years. I suspect they always will be. I remember my daughter learning to walk the same week my mum finished her first cycle of chemo, for example. That's just the way it is for me, it's not wrong that I think like that, but a lot of people don't get it, because that's not been their journey (I suspect OP and contributors to this thread will though). I think the only advice I would have is to allow yourself the mixed feelings, try and accept the confusion as natural, and try, if you can, to be glad that you and your mum have these good things in your pregnancy and your sister's newborn, to think about and enjoy if possible, at this time.

I hope your mum makes a really good recovery.

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