My husband, Andrew, and I got married July 20th, 2013. Originally we wanted to wait 5 years before starting to have children. We, however, changed our minds in 2014 and I stopped taking my birth control in August. 11 weeks later, I was pregnant! I took a cheap pregnancy test on Monday, November 10th and it came back positive, so my husband and I went to town and got the more expensive tests. I ended up taking 5-6 tests, which all came back positive. We were so excited and immediately started thinking about how our lives would change in less than a year when our sweet baby would be in our arms.
On Friday, my husband and I were walking around Lowes and I had to keep stopping and putting my head up against the shelves because I was having sharp stabbing pain in my lower right abdomen on and off. I’ve had several ovarian cysts in the past and 4-5 that have ruptured (most of them had occurred on my right side too) and my first thought was that maybe I had a cyst again that was about to rupture, but this pain was a little different because not only did I have pain in my abdomen, I also had pain in my back and in my shoulder. I have my paramedic certification and I knew that the shoulder pain could be indicative of an ectopic pregnancy, but I told myself there’s no way that would happen to me. My husband’s mother also has a medical background; she has worked as a paramedic and a registered nurse in several areas of hospitals, including OB. While we were in Lowes, my husband called his mom to see what she would do. She suggested going to the doctor as soon as we could. Since it was Friday evening my family doctor’s office was already closed for the weekend, so we waited until Monday to call to set up an appointment.
They got me in on Monday, November 17th with a nurse practitioner. She thought that the pain I was having was normal for pregnancy, but she went and talked with the doctor to see if he wanted anything to be done. They of course drew blood to check my HCG levels. The doctor wanted me to have an ultrasound done, so they sent me over to the hospital. The tech performing the ultrasound was very sweet and chatted with me and my husband while she did her work. After she was done we were sent home. Shortly after getting home, I received a phone call from my doctor’s office asking that I immediately go back to the hospital so they could draw my blood again to re-check my HCG level. Without asking any questions I hurried back to the hospital to get stuck once again. That evening, the nurse practitioner called me and said that she had called an OB and set up an appointment for me for 8:30 the next morning. I asked what was going on and she told me that they think the baby is not where it should be.
Tuesday morning rolled around and my husband and I went to my first OB appointment. After filling out a ton of paperwork they called me back, got my weight, and then took me to the ultrasound room to get my vitals. After the nurse got all of the information she needed from me, she sent me to the bathroom to get a lovely urine sample. After getting back to the ultrasound room, the nurse had me undress from the waist down. I was already nervous thinking about where this baby might be located and then to top it off, I had never had a male doctor for any of my female exams and I hated the idea of this. I had met this doctor once when I was doing my clinical time in the OB unit at the hospital, but he didn’t remember me. He came in, shook my hand and started asking me questions about what had been going on. I told him about the pain and answered all of his other questions to the best of my ability. Shortly after that he performed the ultrasound. He was quiet for a while as he looked around at my uterus and the surrounding organs. Then he started telling me that the baby was not in my uterus where it should be and it was in my right Fallopian tube. He measured the mass and it came out to being 5 weeks and some odd days in size. This would have put my due date at July 23rd, 2015. He also found a cyst near the cervix that measured about the same size.
He finished up the ultrasound and sat down on his stool in front of me and told me that this was a tubal pregnancy, one type of an ectopic pregnancy. He wasn’t sure why it implanted in the tube because I didn’t have any of the risk factors for an ectopic pregnancy. He proceeded to tell me that because of where my HCG levels were he could either have me get a shot of methotrexate (a drug often given in the treatment of cancer) or he could perform surgery to remove my Fallopian tube. He said he was comfortable doing either one at this point. I thought about this for a few minutes, trying to really take in what was happening. I asked about the shot and he told me that it would “dissolve” the pregnancy. It would keep the fetal cells from dividing anymore and my body would absorb what was already created. Thinking about the fact that I wanted to have children in the future, I wanted to avoid having surgery if possible. I told my doctor that I wanted to try the shot and then I started to cry. He looked at me and told me, “This is not a viable pregnancy”. Those words hurt so badly. For the past week we had been thinking about our baby and imagining what our baby would look like and which room was going to turn into the nursery. I had even started to knit a baby blanket and look at baby things online. The doctor handed me the box of tissues and left the room.
A nurse came in and took me to the room across the hall where they draw blood. They had to check my HCG levels one more time before they sent me over to the hospital to have the shot. She was sympathetic and told me that she was very sorry. We had to set up another appointment to get blood drawn again for the following week to make sure my HCG levels were dropping properly; otherwise they would have to give me another dose of methotrexate.
The hospital was located right next to my OB’s office, so we didn’t have far to go. We walked in the door and went over to registration. The woman behind the desk asked what I was there for and I told her that I had an ectopic pregnancy and I was supposed to be getting a shot to end the pregnancy. She gave me a sympathetic look and continued with her questions. She told me she wasn’t quite sure if I was supposed to go over to the lab to get the shot, so she told me to check there and see what I should do. As I stood up and had tears still rolling down my face, she stood up and asked if she could give me a hug. I gladly accepted the hug. It was the most compassion I had received up to that point. She told me she was so sorry for our loss and sent us on our way.
We walked down the hall to the outpatient lab and they took me and my husband back in a room and started questioning what I needed done. I once again had to explain that I had an ectopic pregnancy and was supposed to be getting a shot of methotrexate to end the pregnancy. The woman left the room to make a phone call to another department. She came back a couple minutes later and said that I actually needed to go up to the pre-op area for surgery to get the shot. I hated having to walk past all the people in the hospital because they stared at me. I imagine it was probably because my face was red and my eyes were swollen from crying on and off and trying so hard to keep from crying more.
My husband and I got up to the surgical area and told the woman at the desk who I was and that I was sent up here from the lab. She asked what I was supposed to have done and I quickly told her I’m supposed to get a shot for my ectopic pregnancy. I was so tired of telling people this and it was so difficult to hold back the tears each time I went to say it. She had me sit down in the waiting area and a nurse came out a few minutes later to take me back. We spent close to 20-30 minutes answering questions before they could give me the shot. I was so emotionally worn out that I was no longer crying. I just sat there and stared at the floor and answered the nurse’s many questions.
Because the dosage of medication that was going to be used was large, the shot had to be split up into two shots. The nurse asked if I wanted them one at a time or at the same time. I wanted this to be over with as soon as possible, so I told her I wanted them at the same time. The shots had to be given through an intramuscular injection so two nurses came in, had me bend slightly over the bedside table and gave me the shots in the bottom. As soon as they gave me the shots I started bawling again and they apologized for the pain. I wasn’t crying because of the pain of the shots… that was the last thing I cared about at that point. I was crying because I knew that meant I was killing my child to save my life. I hated that. It felt so selfish to me. I don’t care if it wasn’t a “viable” pregnancy. That was still my child. I had to stay at the hospital for observation for a while to make sure I didn’t have a bad reaction to it. They finally released me and my husband and I walked back to our vehicle in silence and the silence continued for the majority of the trip home.
It wasn’t long after getting into the house before I lost it. I could no longer hold in the screams and tears and I didn’t want to either. My husband held me and soon he joined me in crying for the baby that we would not be having now. I was so angry and so sad and there was nothing we could do to fix the situation. The OB had told me that I was going to experience a lot of pain as my body tried to get rid of the baby. He said that I would have contractions and bleeding. He had also warned me that if the pain was too severe it could mean that the Fallopian tube ruptured so I would need to go to the hospital to get checked out. So there I sat at home, waiting for this pain to start. One of my best friends, Katie, came over that evening and stayed at our house for the next couple of days to keep an eye on me. She was a registered nurse, so I was extra glad to have her over. She comforted me and prayed over me. I have thanked God for blessing me with a friend like Katie over the many years that we’ve known each other, but I was even more thankful that she was there for me at that moment.
Tuesday night into Wednesday morning was horrible. Around 1:30 am I woke up thinking that I needed to use the restroom. I was having a lot of what I thought was bowel pains and it was so bad that I barely made it to the bathroom without collapsing from the pain. I sat down as soon as I could and thought for sure I was going to pass out and vomit at the same time. The pain was strong enough that I could hardly speak so I couldn’t call for my husband or Katie. I finally managed to stumble back to bed where I curled into a ball. Andrew woke up and asked if he should get Katie. I told him to let her sleep, but he didn’t listen to me. She came in and checked my vitals and stayed by my side for an over an hour. The pain was intense and I was having contractions every few minutes. Katie and Andrew were preparing to take me to the hospital because the pain was so bad. Andrew went out to turn the blazer on to warm it up and while he was out there, the pain stopped. I told them that I no longer wanted to go and I fell asleep right away.
I woke up the next day with minimal pain… but it didn’t last long. As soon as I tried to move the pain from the night before was back but was worse. I had to be very careful every time I wanted to move; otherwise I ended up screaming and crying. I figured that this was all just part of what the shot causes, so I tried to ignore it as best as I could. While dealing with the physical pain, I was still very much dealing with emotional aspect of the situation I was in. I spent most of the day in bed or lying on the couch to avoid the pain and tried to keep my mind off of it by watching TV.
Thursday brought even more pain. The pain I had been having was in the right lower quadrant of my abdomen, but the pain was spreading up the right side of my abdomen to my ribs. I felt swollen and as the day progressed, it got harder and harder for me to make even the slightest movement and the pain never went away completely when holding still like it had the day before. Towards Thursday evening I got to the point where absolutely no position I tried was comfortable in the slightest. Every movement brought screams and tears. There was a number you could call for a hospital in a nearby town that would allow you to speak directly to a nurse. You could explain what was going on and they would tell you if they think you could wait to see your doctor or if you needed to go to the emergency room. Katie spoke with the nurse for a little bit, but then she wanted to speak directly with me. I spoke as best as I could and she told me to call the ambulance. I told her that I didn’t want to go by ambulance and would just have my husband take me in. She wasn’t very happy about this decision but told me that if I started feeling confused or started to get blurry vision that she wanted us to pull over and wait for the squad to come pick me up.
We headed to the hospital around 8:30 pm. If Andrew could have carried me out to the blazer without causing me more pain, he would have. Getting in and out of the vehicle was excruciating. When we pulled up to the emergency department door, Katie and Andrew helped me out. The screaming and crying continued and people that were coming out of the emergency department asked me if I was okay and if there was anything they could do to help. I can’t remember if Katie went and got a wheelchair or if one of those people brought it over, but I was glad that I didn’t have to walk. Andrew wheeled me up to the check in window and I told them that I had an ectopic pregnancy and I think my tube had ruptured. The lady gave me a funny look and handed me the form to fill out. I was taken back to a triage room where a nurse questioned me, “So you think you have an ectopic pregnancy?” I was so infuriated by the way she worded this for some reason. I looked at her and told her, “No, I KNOW I have an ectopic pregnancy. I was given a shot on Tuesday to try to end the pregnancy and now I THINK the tube has ruptured!”
They took me back to one of the rooms in the ER and helped me change into a gown. All of my vital signs were through the roof and they kept trying to get me to slow my breathing down. I don’t remember how many times they stuck me to try to start an IV on me, but I have always been a hard stick and know I was stuck multiple times that night. They even tried to put heat packs on me and covered them with towels trying to make my veins pop up a bit. Once they finally established an IV and got fluids running, they gave me some pain medication. As long as I held still I wasn’t in a lot of pain. I was so thankful to be able to have a little break from it.
The ER doctor ordered blood tests and an ultrasound for me. It took a while for the ultrasound tech to show up, but it was the same woman who did my ultrasound the first time. She remembered me and apologized for what was happening to me. She performed both an external and internal ultrasound and sent them off to another hospital for them to be read since there wasn’t anyone at our hospital that late at night to read them. It took forever for them to get the results. When they finally had the results, they told me that there was some fluid in my abdomen, but they weren’t sure if it was blood or something else so they had the on-call OB come in to examine me. He pushed on my abdomen a few times and asked me a couple questions and decided that I was probably fine, but wanted to keep me for observation overnight and then my OB would come in the morning to check on me. I kept thinking to myself, “Okay, you guys can see that there’s some type of fluid in my abdomen. I have a known ectopic pregnancy. Why are you waiting until tomorrow to do something about this?!”
A nurse that I knew from doing clinical time in the ER took me upstairs to a new room. I was glad because it was a private room at the end of the hallway, so it was quiet. For whatever reason, the doctors decided that I shouldn’t have any more pain meds until my OB saw me in the morning, so the pain came back. Andrew stayed with me all night, but Katie had to leave when they moved me to the new room because she had a work meeting early in the morning and she had an hour drive to get home. She told Andrew to let her know tomorrow what happens and she will leave her meeting if I had to have surgery.
My OB came in around 9 am Friday morning and immediately could tell that I wasn’t doing well. He did an exam and determined that it would be best for me to have surgery to at least see what was going on inside. He said that if it hasn’t ruptured, then he would just close me back up. If it has, he would have to remove the Fallopian tube and possibly more depending on if anything else was damaged. Andrew called my dad and he showed up just a few minutes before they took me to pre-op. It was under an hour from the time my OB saw me to the time I was in surgery. Before leaving my room, the anesthesiologist came in to explain what would be happening and all of the risks of anesthesia and had me sign papers allowing them to proceed with treatment. I was scared; especially since it was the first time I needed to have surgery. I was given some strong pain medication and I remember crying because I hated the way it made me feel. The nurse kind of chuckled and told me it was alright and that it was normal.
Once I was in pre-op, the tech that helps the anesthesiologist came in. I knew her from doing clinical time in the OR for my paramedic training. I had to intubate two patients and she was with me when I did them. She told the anesthesiologist and nurses that I was a VIP patient and told me that they would take care of me and not to worry. They gave me some medication and the next thing I remember is waking up in the recovery room.
They wheeled me back to the room I was in the night before and Katie, my dad, and Andrew were waiting by the door. My abdomen was so swollen. I had three incisions: one directly below the belly button, one a little lower and off to the right and one a few inches below my belly button. I was thankful that my OB was able to do everything laparoscopically.
My OB came in later on to tell me about the surgery. The tube did in fact rupture, but I was lucky because it had kept clotting back shut. He explained that when I was holding still for long periods of time my body was able to patch the ruptured area, but when I moved it was ripping back open. That’s why it hurt so badly when I moved. He told me that there was quite a bit of blood in my abdominal cavity. It had worked its way up to around my liver and all across my abdomen. He took several pictures of my organs and also took a picture of the tube before he removed it. He checked out every organ while he was inside to make sure everything looked okay. He took pictures of it all and I loved that. I was glad to hear that only my right Fallopian tube was damaged so he was able to leave the right ovary. He prescribed some pain medication for me and I was discharged a couple hours later.
Throughout the next couple of days, we had family and friends stop by to check up on us. During the day I felt almost numb to what had happened. At night, I would cry, hyperventilate, and was pretty much inconsolable. I couldn’t get over the thought that I chose to save my life over my baby’s. I couldn’t get over the thought that I now only had one tube and it might be harder for me to get pregnant in the future. I was angry that God took my first child away from me. Not only did he take my child back, he allowed it to happen in such a horrible and painful way. I couldn’t understand why. Some people that I talked to acted like I just needed to get over it because there was no way for the baby to survive. I found that to be very rude and the complete opposite of being helpful. I didn’t care that my baby couldn’t have survived in the location it was. I didn’t care that I knew only for a week that I was pregnant before finding out that my child wouldn’t make it. How does someone think that those things should make it easier for me to “get over”? The fact is it doesn’t make it easier. The fact is that the child I had inside of me was now dead. It hurts no matter what stage you lose a child at. It hurts no matter what way you lose your child.
I was driving myself insane at home because I constantly thought about what had just happened, so I decided to try to go back to work. I work for my mother in law who is a chiropractor. I run the front desk so there’s a lot of communication with the patients from checking them in and out, taking payments, setting up next appointments, etc. I figured that Wednesday would be a good day to go back because the office was going to be closed the following two days for Thanksgiving. So 5 days after my surgery I attempted to get on with my life, but I only lasted about an hour because some of the patients that come in frequently were asking where I was the week before and my response was, “I was sick”. I wanted to tell them that I just went through the worst thing in my life and I feel like I’m dying inside. But all I could say was, “I was sick”. It was a short enough response that I could get it out without my voice cracking too much and they didn’t ask anymore questions.
Thanksgiving was on the following Thursday after my surgery. I had to get out of the house. I pretty much was trying to run away from what had happened. My mom lives in Indiana along with her parents and siblings, so I had my husband take me over there Wednesday night to try to keep me focused on other things. It wasn’t brought it up much, but the times that it did get brought up people told me, “Well it just wasn’t meant to be” or, “Well maybe this baby wasn’t going to be a healthy baby so that’s why it happened”. These statements did not comfort me one bit. In fact, they made me even more upset, but I buried those feelings while I was there.
At Christmas, my husband’s brother and his wife announced that they were pregnant and were due July 1st, 2015. That means that our due dates were 3 weeks apart. Chris and Liz called us a couple days before announcing it to the rest of the family though so we didn’t just get hit with the news. For that, I was extremely thankful because in all honesty I was mad at first. I was so angry that God took my baby away and then I find out that someone else in the family is expecting SO CLOSE to when my baby would have been arriving if it had been in the right place. It wasn’t fair. I felt like God was playing some cruel joke on me. I got angry and upset every time I saw someone on Facebook post about how they’re pregnant or every time I saw a pregnant woman at a store. I was bitter. I had to force myself to be happy for others who were being blessed with babies.
Despite this horrible event in my life, God is good ALL THE TIME. I quickly learned that because on January 2nd, 2015 that I was pregnant again! I had taken a pregnancy test back around December 20th and it had come back negative, so I knew that my hormone levels had dropped back to normal. I took a second test the same day and it also came back positive stating that I was 2-3 weeks pregnant (meaning that I was 4-5 weeks pregnant going by how they really track pregnancy). I waited a couple of days and took another test. It also came back positive saying 3+ weeks pregnant. That meant that I was “technically” pregnant 2-3 weeks after my surgery! We waited to tell family this time until we knew if the baby was in the right spot. With the first baby, we had gone over to our parents’ homes and told them right away. We had the first ultrasound on Friday, January 9th. My OB did an ultrasound and this baby was in the uterus! We were so happy! We started telling family right after that. We were shocked that we already had another baby on the way and this one had a chance of actually making it.
Being pregnant again doesn’t take away the pain from losing a child though. It helps me not think about it as much, but it definitely still hurts. Back in the middle of December I decided to name the child that we lost. I went with Gabriel or Gabrielle since we of course didn’t know the gender of our angel. It was really nice because Katie bought me an origami owl necklace that had a little pair of feet in them to represent my angel baby. It was great to feel like I could still carry my baby with me. On the day I get to go to Heaven, I will get to meet my little Gabriel or Gabrielle and I can’t wait for that.
At work I often get asked when I’m due and if this is my first child. For quite some time I struggled with how to answer the first child question. No, this is not my first child. My first child died. But yes, this is the first one I’ll get to hold. After being asked this over and over again, I thought about how I really wanted to answer this question. The majority of the time I answer the question like this, “Well this will be the first child I get to hold, but I have one in Heaven.” Some people would stop talking after that while others would open up and start telling me about how they lost a child too or how they were never able to have children. Others would respond by saying they would pray that everything goes okay with this pregnancy. It felt good to actually acknowledge the child I lost instead of just saying that Owen is my first.
Here I am, finally writing this all out, 5 days after my 1st child’s due date and I can say that the pain of losing that child is still very strong, but I don’t cry as much as I used to. I also find that it is easier for me to actually talk to people about what happened rather than keep it all locked inside. Locking it inside is no good. It was rough when my sister-in-law had her baby on July 7th, and it was rough on July 23rd when I saw my nephew and I didn’t have my baby. It was rough knowing that I still had 7 more weeks to go before I would get to hold a baby of my own, but at least God has given me another baby!
I cannot wait for September 9th to be here so we can meet our little Owen. It’s kind of cool because my birthday is September 5th, so I’m hoping that he will be my birthday present 🙂 Right now as I finish this up, baby Owen is moving all around, making my whole belly jiggle. He gets hiccups a lot and likes to stick his feet in my ribs. This pregnancy hasn’t been an easy one, with extreme nausea in the first trimester, unexplained severe pain early on, several bouts of bleeding, and contractions that caused me to not be able to work or do anything but sit around, BUT I am so thankful that God blessed us with Owen! I can’t wait for him to be in my arms where I can snuggle with him and give him lots of kisses.
“Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” – Proverbs 3:5