Disclaimer: This story contains details of child loss that may be upsetting to some.
“I’m a wife of 10 years to my very best friend, David, and we have 3 beautiful children earth side and now 2 angel babies in heaven. Back in June of 2017, we had a pleasant surprise of being pregnant for the third time. Unfortunately, I was on the Mirena IUD and it being taken out caused an early miscarriage at 4 weeks. We were heartbroken and numb; we didn’t know how to process this and I became extremely depressed. I ended up being put back on my previous antidepressants during our grief. I then swore off IUDs and started using the mini pill.
Fast forward a couple months and we were on a family vacation in Utah having a blast, finally feeling a little better after months of heartache, but I was having emotional outbursts and getting carsick, which never happens to me. I thought maybe a side effect of my antidepressants, but then I started thinking… when was my last period?! So, on our drive back to California, we bought a pregnancy test – it was positive!
September 2017, we found out we were pregnant with our rainbow baby. Our first girl, after 2 boys earth side and our angel baby up above. Luna Aurora Panko, named for being our moonlight in such a dark time, was baking away. Our pregnancy was FAR from easy, though. I had HG (Hypermesis Gravidarum) and was in and out of the hospital with fluids and Zofran pumps.
At 16 weeks pregnant with Luna, my blood pressure took a turn and elevated intensely. I was then transferred to an MFM (maternal fetal medicine) Doctor where we would find out I also had Uterine Notches in the uterine and umbilical arteries which was caused ‘most likely’ by my high blood pressure and being severely overweight.
At 24 weeks, we were diagnosed with preeclampsia and had to go to weekly appointments. At 32 weeks, I was hospitalized until birth. I was on constant magnesium sulfate drips, 3 IV doses of blood pressure medications and was not allowed to eat or drink.
March 11, 2018, the on-call MFM comes in and talks to my husband and I. She tells us if I were to get pregnant again, given my weight, PCOS and high blood pressure, it would most likely be worse and possibly kill me or the baby, so she wanted us to think about getting a Tubal Ligation. We were never told there were other things we could do to have a healthy pregnancy, like other OBs have since told me.
She also told us having more than 3 Cesarean Sections is extremely dangerous. And left us with, ‘It’s your choice.’ Pushing for this surgery is so unbelievably common on doctors’ sides and it’s honestly so hurtful how many doctors just don’t care about our health in the long run. Ask your questions, do your research, take your time deciding and get second and third opinions!! We didn’t, but you can.
We took the night, as I’m terrified, dizzy, and doped up on magnesium, in pain and REALLY pregnant and swollen, and I was just thinking, ‘I don’t want to die if I get pregnant again.’ And my husband is thinking, ‘I can’t raise 3 kids alone and be without my wife.’ So, the morning of my Cesarean Section, with the fear of everything – birth, not being able to be intimate with my husband without the terrifying fear of getting pregnant and dying – I signed the dotted line. And it was in that very moment I made the worst and most regretted decision I have ever made in my entire life.
Our daughter was born at 33 weeks, March 12, 2018 at 4:04 p.m., weighing 4lbs 4oz and was 17 inches long. She was perfect and we felt our family was complete. She spent 32 days in the NICU, but we were familiar with the NICU life, as our first son was born at 32 weeks and spent 16 days in the NICU.
Recovery for me was rough. I spent a week in the hospital after my surgery, walking to and from the NICU and back to my room. It was torture. Not sleeping next to my husband and our new daughter was torture. Being regulated and scheduled on when we can take care of our own child was, again, TORTURE. And in these torturous weeks, we were discharged from the hospital and transferred to the Ronald McDonald house 15 minutes away from our precious baby’s NICU.
During this month of back and forth, we also had our two older sons, who were only 2.5 years old and 5.5 years old at the time, staying with my parents. Being able to see our children whenever we wanted, having them in our arms and cuddled up at any given moment wasn’t an option for us, and we were DEVASTATED. Dealing with trying to heal from a major surgery, my incision opening up on both sides, getting two hernias because of it and all the emotional trauma of everything going on in our situation caused me to go into a bad postpartum depression.
After having Luna, a WHOLE bunch of health issues started arising. My IIH was acting up, I dealt with daily migraines, hot flashes, severe night sweats, MAJOR fatigue, irritation, anxiety, depression, PMDD, irregular periods, severe heavy bleeding and clotting while menstruating, cramps that had me lying in bed on a heating pad for DAYS, memory lapse and loss, pelvic pain, achy joints and severe backaches – things I had NEVER had to deal with before. Even 3.5 years later, I still deal with these symptoms DAILY. This is called PTLS (Post-Tubal Ligation Syndrome) and this is what doctors FAILED to tell us women have a possibility of getting. Not to mention my PCOS is higher, my ovaries and uterus are slowly calcifying and I have 2 hernias from the surgery. And this isn’t even the worst of it.
I no longer have a ‘normal’ period. My periods last anywhere from 8-16 days, which leaves me weak, bedridden, anemic and miserable the majority of the month. I have constant stomach aches that make me nauseous and not able to eat well. In the last year and a half, I’ve lost 100lbs and keep losing. While I’m happy to no longer be overweight, being this sick all the time is awful – it’s just no way to live.
But even with all of this…it’s still not the worst. June 25, 2021, just two days before our son’s 6th birthday, we got the surprise of a lifetime. With all of my issues AND tied tubes, we were pregnant. I knew things could go wrong at any moment, I’ve done my research – ectopic, another miscarriage, internal bleeding – the list goes on with the risks after you get a tubal ligation. What’s funny, well not really funny, but kind of awful, DOCTORS DO NOT GIVE YOU THESE RISKS. According to them, pregnancy just ‘doesn’t’ happen after a TL. INSERT GIANT EYEROLL.
I tried to make appointments with OB’s, MFM’s, and I kept getting denied. Yep, denied. Got to love the healthcare system. A week goes by, 100 positive pregnancy tests later, and I’m getting excited. Maybe by some miracle of God, this baby is going to make it. We enjoyed our middle baby’s 6th birthday at the water park, but I started cramping and the heat was too much, so my husband took me home while the kids enjoyed the rest of the time at the party.
July 4th, you know fireworks, America, gathering…but not for me. I was about 4.5 weeks pregnant when I started bleeding and cramping…bad. I knew it wasn’t good and headed to the ER. It was another miscarriage. The doctors were all perplexed on how I could have ended up pregnant. Not everything is 100% and it just goes to show you how much ‘they’ DON’T know about Tubal Ligations and their repercussions.
Confused. Angry. Guilty. Sad. You name it, I feel it. This was not supposed to happen, not again! Miscarriages aren’t fair. Who were you going to be? What would you be…another girl or another boy? Would you look like your brothers and your daddy? Or would you get me and sisters looks? It was early and they say not to get excited until 12 weeks, but why? The time of your loss doesn’t make it any easier or any less significant and NO ONE should suffer alone – ever.
It’s been three months. Three months since we lost you. Three months since a piece of our hearts broke. Three months of feeling like a puzzle piece is missing from our family. Three months of constant negative pregnancy tests in just small hopes it’ll happen again. We’ll get another miracle that will stick. We’ll get YOU.
I regret getting my tubes tied. I regret not researching what can happen. I regret making an impulse decision, while drugged up on magnesium in the hospital, pregnant and emotional. I. Regret. It. There is an option of IVF…but who honestly has $16k to do that. There’s also Tubal Reversal, which is significantly cheaper, but still is around $8k.
Don’t make this mistake. I just want women to know what ALL the possibilities are when making this decision. I don’t want another woman to go through the regret, guilt, pain and heartbreak I am if it can be prevented. For now, I’ll keep spreading my truth, my heartbreak and my story so hopefully you don’t have to. If you’re going through this as well, my heart aches for you. Know you are not alone and your feelings are VALID.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Calie Panko of Northern California. You can follow her journey on Instagram and TikTok. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more stories like this here:
‘The surgeon put a foreign object in my womb instead of tying my tubes. The hot, metal coils unraveled and poisoned me.’: Woman undergoes hysterectomy after faulty sterilization, ‘The procedure is now banned’
Do you know someone who could benefit from reading this? SHARE this story on Facebook with family and friends.