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DES Daughter Andrea shares her pregnancy losses due to Ectopic Pregnancies

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Forty two years ago, I had surgery for my first ectopic pregnancy. In 1976, the link between DES and ectopic pregnancy had not yet been made. I was 23 years old, and had been married for 1 1/2 years.

 

During the 2 months leading up to this life altering event, I had numerous episodes of pain followed by bleeding. My gynecologist attributed this to not ovulating. On that Thursday morning, I doubled over with excruciating pain. The ride to the hospital seemed like an eternity.

 

The events that followed are seared into my memory. I remember waking up in the recovery room and being told I had been pregnant. I remember how sick I was from the anesthesia; I remember the pain.

 

Most of all I remember my doctor coming in later that day. I can see him now in my mind’s eye. I remember what he was wearing down to the jacquard pattern of his shirt. He was totally dressed in brown, except for his jacket, which had a Sherpa lining. As he approached my bed, he turned a chair around and straddled it, using the chair back to support his 13x9 yellow legal pad. On it he drew a reproductive system. Through the haze of pain and narcotics, and the shock and sadness of learning I had been pregnant, he patiently explained that my left Fallopian tube was blue and distended with the mass (that should have been my baby) coming out of the fimbriated end, and that he had removed the tube.

 

The years that followed were filled with tests, surgeries, more failed pregnancies. And endless emotional pain, anguish, and rage against DES. In 1978, the first study was released showing that DES caused uterine and Fallopian tube deformities. It would not be widely known that DES caused infertility until the early 80’s.

 

Several years later, we suspected another ectopic, as I had similar pain and bleeding. It was very early in the pregnancy, ( I was high risk and had been monitored from the minute a pregnancy was suspected). My then doctor, an infertility specialist and experienced micro surgeon, had me in the hospital on bed rest, hoping for the best. When it became obvious to me that this, too, was another ectopic pregnancy, and I once again found myself in excruciating pain, I was taken to the OR around midnight. My gynecologist who performed the first surgery came to the hospital to assist. I had been through so much with him in the years preceding this sad night. He genuinely cared, and he answered my request to be there.

 

In the wee hours of Wednesday, May 7th, 1980, despite having one of the best micro surgeons in Boston at that time, my right fallopian tube was amputated. I was hemorrhaging, at the Harvard hospital where the Smiths had given DES to pregnant women without their consent. The hospital staff could not locate a bipolar cautery device to seal off the bleeding vessels in my tube, and to save my life, the Fallopian tube had to be sacrificed.

 

Later that morning, my new reality began. I was 26 years old and could never conceive again. The world was a very cold, dark, bleak place that day.

 

Never stop telling your DES story. Keep a spark of anger alive and use it to keep the legacy of DES from being lost to history and inertia. By the same token, live the best life you can. Don’t let DES rob you of any more than it already has.

DES Andrea 2.jpg

Andrea
DES Daughter, DES Advocate and DES Info Administrator
#Diethylstilbestrol
#TheDESTragedy
[email address removed to protect online privacy]

Karen M. Fernandes
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