The DVT / Factor II story
Since the subject of my clotting disorder comes up frequently, I thought I’d create a page to explain the backstory here:
In the third trimester of my second pregnancy, I developed a life-threatening blood clot in my right leg called a Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). It was a really big deal, since if the clot had dislodged and traveled to my lungs it could have been fatal.
During the treatment of the DVT, I was diagnosed with a genetic blood clotting disorder called Factor II. Amazingly, I inherited it from both parents, so I have both copies of the defective gene. This likely makes my condition worse, but they don’t know how much worse since it’s so rare that scientists can’t even study it.
Having Factor II means that my blood is overzealous about clotting. In general, there’s nothing I need to do to manage it other than just look out for the symptoms of clots. However, pregnancy is a different story. The hormones of pregnancy make anyone’s blood more likely to clot — so when you combine that with having both copies of the Factor II gene, being pregnant puts me at a high risk for blood clots. I need to take daily shots of the blood thinning drug Lovenox, be monitored by both a high-risk obstetrician and a hematologist, and my labors have to be induced. Also, in the postpartum period I need to be an a drug called Coumadin, an FDA Category X drug — which means that it’s imperative that you not conceive while you’re on it. (Yes, it makes my doctors nervous that, as a Catholic, I’m not open to using artificial contraception.)
UPDATED TO ADD: During my sixth pregnancy, I was diagnosed with bilateral pulmonary embolism, an extremely dangerous condition in which I had blood clots travel to my lungs. This happened despite the fact that I was taking preventative blood thinners, which surprised and concerned everyone. You can read all the posts about that here. My thoughts on the possibility of future pregnancies are here.