Abeni was diagnosed with uterine fibroids during her first pregnancy. The growths were hindering the development of her baby, and as a result, she had a miscarriage. Over the following year, Abeni suffered two additional miscarriages triggered by the condition. “Losing three babies was very heartbreaking,” she says. “I don’t like thinking about it.”
Nearly 75 percent of women develop uterine fibroids at some point in their lives. The benign muscle tissue tumors form in and around the walls of the uterus, and the rate at which they progress varies from woman to woman.
Uterine fibroids are usually discovered in a woman’s mid-to-late reproductive years during a routine pelvic exam or prenatal ultrasound. Risk factors for uterine fibroids include age, obesity, regular alcohol consumption, family history and being of African-American descent. Additionally, women with high levels of estrogen and progesterone may have a higher chance of developing fibroids, as the hormones can stimulate their growth.
The size, number and location of the fibroids determine the severity of their symptoms. Smaller fibroids are usually asymptomatic and may not require treatment; however, larger fibroids often need to be removed, as they commonly cause women to experience abnormal vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain, painful intercourse, bloating and increased pressure on the bladder and rectum. In certain cases such as Abeni's, fibroids also can obstruct the fallopian tubes, distort the shape of the uterus and negatively impact fertility and pregnancy.
Determined to have a child, Abeni underwent a myomectomy to have her fibroids surgically removed. While there are nonsurgical options available for treating fibroids, the size and location of Abeni’s fibroids required a more invasive approach.
Six months after the surgery, Abeni and her husband, Derek, conceived again; however, the myomectomy had significantly weakened Abeni’s uterus. She was informed by her OB-GYN, Dr. Peter Weiss, that a natural birth was too risky, as the strain during delivery could trigger a life-threatening uterine rupture.
“When you take a fibroid out of the uterus, it’s like the bleb on a tire when you’re driving down the highway,” Dr. Weiss explains. “If it bursts and ruptures, it’s catastrophic.” For this reason, Abeni was scheduled for a C-section a week before her expected due date.
When the big day arrived, The Doctors followed Abeni and Derek into the OR to capture the birth of their baby, a healthy girl whom they named Nailah.
Four weeks later, Abeni and Derek see the footage of the delivery for the first time on The Doctors’ stage. Looking back on her emotional journey to become a mom while holding baby Nailah close to her heart, Abeni says, “It’s amazing.”