Paula Scott was 26 when some routine blood work ordered by a dermatologist showed abnormal levels of certain hormones. One pelvic ultrasound and a trip to an endocrinologist later, Scott, of southern California, learned she had both polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and uterine fibroids. Her OB-GYN was reassuring—Scott was told that if she had trouble conceiving later on, they'd just "give her some Clomid." At the time, she was single and highly focused on her career.
But the diagnosis changed things, including her priorities. "I started thinking about settling down," says Scott. Four years later, she was engaged when her doctor performed an open myomectomy to remove six large fibroids. "She told me no pregnancy for six months, but advised me not to wait more than a year to get pregnant, because there was a 50-percent chance the fibroids would come back."
Scott's first and second pregnancies ended in miscarriage due to blighted ovum. She knew her mother had experienced five miscarriages, making the early losses doubly devastating. "One of my deepest held fears was that I would have a miscarriage . . . it was like some weird pattern was coming to fruition."
But on the third try, Scott and her husband conceived boy-girl twins with the help of injectibles and IUI. There were some early problems, but as the pregnancy progressed, things improved. Then at 19 weeks, tragedy struck. Scott began experiencing contractions. "I called my perinatologist and he sent me to labor and delivery," says Scott. "Everything was fine. My cervix was long and closed, and there were no more contractions. They chalked it up to Braxton Hicks. That was Monday morning."
By 5 PM on Tuesday, Scott was contracting again, and this time she was four to five centimeters dilated with bulging membranes. She was admitted to the hospital and treated with medications and bed rest, but within 24 hours was fully dilated. Her babies were born at 20 weeks, too young to survive.
"There was never an agreement on the cause," says Scott. "My doctors theorized that it could have been an infection, preterm labor due to an irritable uterus, and large fibroids—they had grown back in the five years since my surgery—or an incompetent cervix. None of them would be able to give me a definitive answer as to why I lost my babies, and that tortured me."
Scott became pregnant again, with a little girl. Unable to get the preventive cerclage she wanted due to bleeding, Scott had a partial placental abruption, developed an infection, and went into labor at 16 weeks. The pregnancy ended in another devastating loss.
For the first time, Scott's sense of hope began to flag. "None of my doctors wanted me to try again," says Scott. "Many of my friends and family were heartbroken for us and secretly—or not so secretly in some cases—wanted us to stop trying."