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My first migraines started when I was around 5. They are hereditary, so it never seemed like a big deal. Ten years later, I landed myself in the ER with such a bad headache I didn’t know what else to do. I was sent in for a CAT scan and told everything was fine. I had to learn how to cope with the migraines and was prescribed Imitrex injections.
At 22 years old I was pregnant with my second daughter and my husband and I were so excited! One morning, during the last month of pregnancy, I woke up and could not see very well out of my left eye. I called my doctor and she, of coarse, wanted to see me right away. When we got to the hospital I was checked out and told that maybe it was from my blood pressure but that I should see an eye doctor the next day. Unfortunately, I did not do that and a few weeks later our daughter Avery was born. My vision came back so I totally forgot about it and we all assumed it was a weird result of the pregnancy.
Six months after Avery was born I got pregnant with our third daughter! Again, super stoked! However, all of our excitement was squashed when at four months pregnant I woke up and could not see out of my left eye again. This time my doctor demanded that I go see the eye doctor. The day after the eye exam, I received a voice mail, which said I had a mass on my optic nerve, and a phone number to schedule a CAT scan….gee thanks for the message! Long story short, a few tests down the road, I ended up at UCSF to see a neurologist. I was told that he was the best neurologist around, but his bedside manner wasn’t the best. At the appointment I was giving an MRI and was sitting in the office when my doctor came in. Good thing I was warned! I was diagnosed with a benign paraclinoid meningioma with was wrapped around my optic nerve like a donut. It was growing during my pregnancies do to hormones and needed to be removed.
He told me how we would go ahead and deliver the baby early and she would be fine in the NICU, he explained the surgery, which I believe is a bifrontal craniotomy, and then asked if we had any questions. My husband and I just starred at him and I started to cry. The doctor, finally noting our reaction, said, “oh it’s no big deal, I do this everyday”! All I could think to reply was, “well that’s great but I don’t! I can’t agree to this right now I would like to think it over.”
In the end we chose not to have our daughter delivered early and to hold off on the surgery. I was considered “high risk” for the remainder of the pregnancy and watched closely. Andrea was born after a perfect labor and is perfectly healthy. I still couldn’t see, but had gotten used to it.
I was advised not to even consider having any more children until the tumor was removed. My husband was scheduled for a vasectomy and we had our healthy little family to be thankful for. One week before the vasectomy I had an appointment with my gynecologist for the six-week check up I had put off! It was now my six-month check up…oops! As I sat there drinking my coffee waiting for my doctor, I remember thinking how lucky I was to be doing just that. In came the doctor to uproot my happiness! “Guess what Jen, your pregnant” said my doctor. In that moment I honestly saw my kids growing up without their mother. There were two options, have another baby and hope I lived through it or get an abortion. The second was never really an option for me.
I now have three girls, Alison 10, Avery 7, Andrea 6 one boy, Jaden 5, and a brain tumor. Apparently, my tumor only grows when I am pregnant with girls not boys. For now, it’s just kind of hanging out in there, but I do know at some point I will have to have it removed. I feel that time creeping up on me, as little things seem to be happening. I am still blind in the left eye and I get dizzy a lot, I have headaches like crazy and sometimes my other eye gets a little fuzzy. The honest to God truth is that I don’t want somebody messing with my brain because I m just to afraid of what could happen, but I’ll get there.