Hip replacement surgery + suddenly pregnant

by Joan

August 16, 2022

I got married in my mid-thirties. My husband and I both wanted children at some point, though he felt he was not yet ready to be a parent. I was under the impression that it could take years for that to happen anyway because of my “advanced maternal age”, PCOS, infrequent periods and other family history. We thought, if we get started now a welcome surprise might occur before I hit menopause; so I decided to stop birth control and embark on that journey.

Less than 2 months later, I started experiencing tremendously sharp, incapacitating pain in my abdomen while driving the 3-4 hours to and from work. Over the course of a couple weeks, the pain got so intense that I was passing out on the job.  This happened multiple times a day.  What’s more, when the pain hit, my abdomen, legs and lower body were radiating pain, and I couldn’t tell where it was coming from or what was triggering it.

In a matter of days I was no longer able to walk up stairs, reduced to crawling on all fours. I was still able to stand, but the pain could hit me suddenly when sitting or standing. I became afraid to drive to work for fear of passing out while on the road. I’d already had to pull over multiple times, fighting for consciousness until the pain passed.   This couldn’t go on.

I went to see my doctor and learned that I was ~6 weeks pregnant and that the cartilage in my left hip was entirely gone. My bones were grating against each other, causing intense pain. They told me this was a congenital birth defect that hadn’t surfaced until the last of my cartilage had worn out, and that I needed a hip replacement if I were to walk again. They also informed me that hip replacement surgery could not be done while pregnant.

I was the breadwinner in my household. My husband’s pay was not sufficient to keep us afloat while I was out of work. My options were:

1) Lose my job, my health insurance, potentially my house, and be confined to a wheelchair while pregnant for 9 months, waiting for a baby to be born while I suffered blinding pain that could not be alleviated with medication. Of course, I had to wonder if my husband would want to remain with me after living through a 2-year ordeal of that magnitude. This was terrifying for him, because he realized he’d have to physically, emotionally, and financially support me for 9 months, then care for both me and a newborn baby for another 6+ months during my recovery, until I could walk and drive again. Talk about a bad way to start our life together!

Or, 2) I could terminate the pregnancy, get hip replacement surgery immediately, keep my job, and live to fight another day.

We chose option 2, and the clinic we went to treated me very well. The atmosphere was one of kindness, understanding and healing. Yes, there was some physical tenderness and discomfort from the suction after I woke, but I left there knowing I had made the right decision for my life and well-being.

5 years later, at the age of 41 I had my first and only child. A daughter I love dearly.

Do I ever look back and wonder what would have happened if we’d taken the first option? Occasionally.  But I’m skeptical I would be as happily married, with the daughter I had at 41 – and the career & security to make certain my family is cared for.  I am SO glad for the choice I made then, and the opportunity to have made that choice.

Much love and gratitude to the kind women at the clinic who helped me keep my life and marriage on track all those years ago!



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