In 2008 I learned an unimaginable truth: I unknowingly carried a lithopedion—a fetus in my uterus that had calcified—turned to stone. This shocking revelation explained many health mysteries I’d experienced for close to two decades:
A lithopedion, or stone baby, is a rare result of an undiagnosed and untreated abdominal or ectopic pregnancy that causes a fertilized egg to implant outside the uterus.
- The fetus becomes calcified to protect the mother’s body from infection.
- Since the fetus is basically mummified, most women are unaware of what is inside their body.
It’s taken me time to find my way to share my personal story beyond smaller circles. Events this past December 2013 triggered a stronger sense of urgency to fully come out. The scar from a rogue mole removed on my left thigh loudly reminded me of the precious gift of time. It stares back at me as if to say- the time is now. A nurse/alternative healer shared with me that based on her nursing experience she knows of two women in their forties who also had stone babies. Supposedly, there are fewer than three hundred reported cases in the past four hundred years. I can’t help but wonder how many unreported—and undiscovered—cases are there? Lastly, certain comments in a recent report of an older Columbian woman discovering she had a lithopedion for forty years got me riled up.
The doctor quoted in the article implies that most women with this rare condition don’t exhibit symptoms. Given my own experience, I wonder if that’s true. Perhaps more likely is that many women have unexplained symptoms for decades but even their doctors don’t consider the possibility of a lithopedion.
I experienced symptoms from my head to my toes. Yet, no one knew to connect my mysterious and ever-changing symptoms with the cause. During the latter half of my twenties I spent chunks of time on disability in bed, sat for long hours in different doctor waiting rooms and took various tests. My frustration escalated to the point where I’d cry when a test result for a serious condition would come back normal. I felt many dark moments where I didn’t think I’d survive.
A cardiologist eventually diagnosed me with chronic fatigue syndrome/Epstein Barr, but circumstantial evidence convinced me that a rare parasite from a trip to Cancun Mexico at twenty six was the root cause of my illness. Little did I know that my body was, in fact, fighting off a foreign intruder- my own calcified baby. Over time, with the help of an Ayurvedic healer, my health returned enough for me to resume my “normal” life. I kicked off my thirties accepting my new norm—feeling subpar at seventy five percent—telling everyone I felt fine.
For the next ten years I tried hard to manage my normal life working in the financial industry in product development and searching for Mr. Right, but I consistently felt an unexplained grind in my body. This grind affected my brain, heart, digestive and menstrual process, and overall energy. It contributed to endometriosis with significant adhesions around my uterus. In 2008, a few days after discovering my stone baby, my gynecologist told me I would need to have my uterus removed due to the threat of cancer.
Although devastating, this unimaginable truth shattered my old perceptions yet put everything within the realm of possibility. With deep awe I realized the incredible effort my body went through to keep me around. I couldn’t give birth to my baby, but I still had a chance to give birth to my life filled with dreams, creativity and health rather than pain. Not willing to give up my uterus, I put Operation Save Uterus into action, and during the course of a year I worked with ten alternative healers who helped me to align my mind-body and spirit. I nurtured myself as if I was nurturing my child by committing to the basics of diet, sleep play and inspiration. I swaddled my hope in love, gratitude and faith in a force bigger than me—God.
My healing journey not only helped me connect to my body and spirit, but it allowed me to heal and let go buried emotions that I swallowed for many years—emotions that grew hard inside me. I don’t blame any doctors for not properly diagnosing this rare condition. Many of my choices played a role-some with serious consequences. For example, although I had my first serious boyfriend at seventeen, I didn’t go to the gynecologist until I was twenty five. Rather than dwell on right vs. wrong, I softened to find compassion for myself and others.
Learning about the baby I never gave birth to not only helped to save my uterus but it saved my life, gave rise to better health and dramatically transformed my life for the better. I shifted from a woman who put many restrictions on the flow of life to seeing the creative possibility in every day and focusing on helping other women connect to their healing ability.
I’ve reached a point where I’d blame myself if the fear of “What will people think?” kept me silent. Oddly enough, I wouldn’t change anything I went through but I wouldn’t want anyone to go through what I experienced. I felt liberated telling my lithopedion story for the first time on a radio show recently but I am called to cast a larger net to get the word out.
I need your help! Please share this story:
1) To bring more awareness to this condition. Although it’s rare, women- young and old- should know that it is within the realm of possibility. Lithopedions don’t just happen to women in far away countries with no access to decent health care.
2) To let any woman who has suffered in silence about her stone baby know she is not alone.
3) To encourage any woman feeling confused about her health to seek knowledge about her reproductive system, answers about her symptoms and support to heal.