It’s about to get real heavy. I have a topic I would like to share with you all. Too many women keep this hush hush because of shame, overwhelming grief or societal pressures to simply get over it. Who knows but what I do know is that more women need to speak up about ectopic pregnancies.
Right after my second son was born, I had an ectopic pregnancy. I was 6 weeks pregnant when I went to have my first ultrasound. It’s called a viability test because they basically check to see if there is a fetal heartbeat and also to see where the growing baby is positioned. This is done transvaginally since the fetus is too small to pick up on an ultrasound. Some would argue that it’s really just a clump of dividing cells but I would beg to differ. When it is growing inside of you, it is a baby the moment it is conceived. That all, of course, depends on your frame of mind and if you actually want to keep the baby I suppose.
Anyway, so there I was, lying on the bed, waiting to get that first glimpse of my child only, the ultrasound technician searched and searched and could not find anything. By that I mean, it’s not that she had found the baby and just couldn’t hear a heartbeat, it’s that she could not find a baby. I was like ”how could this be possible? It’s got to be somewhere in there.” Another doctor was asked to come in for a second opinion and I started to get a little worried. He too could not find the fetus. They even tried passing the ultrasound device on my belly but – Nothing!
I was then asked to get dressed and wait in the hall to see a nurse who would draw some bloods to see if I was indeed still pregnant and if so, to see if my beta levels were doubling as they should. I was then asked to make an appointment to come back in two days.
I was informed that my levels had in fact increased but not doubled. They were concerned that I was having an ectopic pregnancy which basically means that the fetus is developing somewhere outside of the uterus. There were several possibilities. It could have been developing in the :
- Ovary (which would have been bad because that would mean losing an ovary in order to remove the fetus. This, I believe would significantly diminish one’s ability to conceive. Not impossible, just reduced.)
- Fallopian tube (which would mean the removal of one of my tubes in order to extract the fetus if the tube had been ruptured. In rare cases, the fetus can simply be removed if no damage has been made due to its growth. Your tubes are small and not made to expand so many women still die even today from a ruptured fallopian tube.)
- Somewhere along the uterine wall (but not in an area conducive to a full term pregnancy. this can include along the cervix which is at the very base of the uterus near the opening to the vagina.)
- In the abdomen (this one still puzzles me. How does the egg and sperm meet only to somehow be expelled out of the fallopian tube and wind up in the abyss of your stomach?)
For me, it was yet to be determined where they believed the pregnancy to be taking place. So two days later I rushed back to the hospital to have another ultrasound. Again – Nothing. Now I’m really starting to get worried. I’m asked to do another blood test and to come back the Friday which was another two days later.
I received a call from the doctor personally that evening. When a doctor takes it upon themselves to call you personally, that’s never a good sign. She told me that they were debating if I should go straight to the emergency room but opted rather to give my little guy one last chance to reveal himself.
So there I was, back in the hospital the following day. Two transvaginal ultrasounds, two abdominal ultrasounds, 4 doctors and now I was back for round three. I was willing to go back as many times as it took to see my baby despite the inconvenience and discomfort of the tests. So again, the ultrasounds were done again, another second opinion was required and finally, they said ”you are to go IMMEDIATELY to the Emergency. Do not go home, you need surgery today.” I was like ”WOAH!!!” This is all happening too fast. What do you mean surgery? I managed to keep my composure despite the thoughts that were racing through my head. I kept praying that there was some way to save my baby but I was told that there was none. If I did not remove the growing cells dividing inside of me, not only would it eventually die but it would kill me in the process. Scary thought to process but very sobering.
So there I was, in the Emergency. Alone. My husband was at work. He told me he would come as soon as he was off. He finally joined me after I had an IV put in, in preparation for surgery. I was later informed of the results of my beta test that morning and it had barely moved. The fetus was definitely in distress.
I was then send up to do one more ultrasound. The technician went back and forth with the transvaginal wand and the abdominal device. And then finally, there it was. I saw it. My baby. But based on how far to the left of my abdomen she was, I knew right away that the doctors suspicion was right, I was indeed having an ectopic pregnancy and the baby wasn’t juts hiding out behind one of my many, massive fibroids. And so, there it was. My baby. The only time I would ever lay eyes on it before it would be ripped away and its life extinguished.
Funny thing is, unlike most women I was Asymptomatic meaning I had zero pain symptoms. There were no warning signs for me to rush to the hospital. I could have died!
So, I was prepped for surgery and my left fallopian tube was removed along with my baby in order to save my life. I don’t know why it is but I never once cried. Yes, I had gotten a bit overwhelmed when I was told at the clinic to go to the Emergency room but when I got to the hospital, saw my baby for the first time, was told, ”Yes, you will have to have surgery” and ”sorry, we were unable to save your tube”. After all of that and a somewhat painful recovery, I still never cried. Not a tear. I don’t know if it was shock, denial or just hopeless optimism but I never really mourned the loss of that child. I so wish I could have kept him and do feel a sense of regret but no uncontrollable sadness or sobbing. I keep waiting for the day it hits me. Who knows. But it is very important to seek out help if you are greaving. Here are a couple of resources :
I want to leave you with this, if you are experiencing or have experienced an ectopic pregnancy, please know that you are not alone. I have experienced this and have gone on to have two more beautiful children and am now the proud mother of four boys.
There is hope. You can get pregnant again. Don’t give up and don’t despair.
If you want someone to talk to about it, you can always send me a personal email. Everything we discuss remains confidential. Know that this is not your fault. It isn’t anyone’s fault. These things just happen and there is no way to prevent it if it is. The only thing one can do is to inform your doctor the moment you know you are pregnant and get pre-natal care immediately so that you can, in the unfortunate event of this occuring, catch this before it progresses to a life treatening situation.
Also, ladies, if you have experienced this or know a loved one who has, please share your experience with us in the Comments. This may very well help a lot of women climb out of a hole of depression, shame and self-blaming that they are going through.