It’s exactly 8:04 am right now as I type this, on January 14, 2018. I’m in a hospital bed, my husband asleep in a recliner to my immediate left. As I take in my current surroundings it’s hard to believe that just a short 24 hours ago we were at home, sitting up in bed together, talking about normal things. Doing normal life and going about our normal business. I had just taken my prenatal vitamin and gotten off the phone with my dad. We talked a lot about my pregnancy; it had been a complicated one so far but it was the end of my 7th week and things were, slowly but surely, moving along. I touched my belly and prayed for the baby like I had done every morning for the past few weeks. It started off as a normal day.
***I’m just going to drop a trigger warning right here before I move forward. I assume you’ve read the title of this post so you should have an idea of how this story ends. I’m telling you right now, it’s not a happy ending. That said, this may be an emotional trigger for you, especially if you’ve suffered a similar loss. And if you think talking about bodily fluids is TMI…then you might want to leave this page, too.***
What started off as a normal day quickly became the scariest day of my life; one I’ll never forget.
Now to be honest this pregnancy had been a roller coaster ride from the start. I found out I was pregnant a couple days after Christmas. I was thrilled, to say the least! Marcus and I had been trying again at that point for 22 cycles. After nearly 2 years of heart-wrenching infertility, we were finally expecting our rainbow and could not have been more excited and grateful!
Literally the morning after I got the positive test, I started bleeding. I immediately thought the worst. Seeing blood is any expectant mother’s worst nightmare, especially if you’ve been down that road before…but my doctor wasn’t too worried about it since I wasn’t having any pain. I had to get my blood drawn every couple days to make sure my Hcg levels were doubling, and to my relief they were. When my gynecologist checked my cervix she said it was closed, which was also a good sign. So the bleeding wasn’t as much of a concern anymore.
But then our early scans were empty. No yolk sac. No fetal pole. Nothing. My doctor was pretty sure I’d had another miscarriage, or was going to have one soon, and so she sent me for more blood work.
We waited on pins and needles but when the results came back a couple days later…my Hcg levels were still going up. She said it was a good sign and that it’s possible that the baby was still just too small to see. I convinced myself that the dates were messed up and that I wasn’t as far along as we thought. Not too long after that though I started bleeding again and had also started to have some cramping.
Ugh! Talk about a roller coaster ride! I honestly didn’t know what to think. I was cautiously excited; determined to enjoy the pregnancy but exhausted by the constant ups and downs.
Things will be okay.
You’re going to have this baby.
I talked to myself all the time and tried to think positive thoughts. I talked to God about it too and prayed insistently. I had just finished praying and was sitting up in bed talking with my husband when I suddenly felt a stabbing pain on one side of my tummy.
I tried to ignore it. It was dull at first, I honestly thought it was gas pain. But then, another wave of pain surged through me and literally took my breath away. I curled into the fetal position and tried to wait it out, thinking if I didn’t move it would go away. But Marcus insisted on going to the ER and after a little while I reluctantly agreed.
By this point the pain had become so excruciating that I couldn’t move on my own. Marcus helped me up to the bathroom and I literally screamed the entire time. I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t breathe normally. I remember feeling dizzy, extremely nauseous, hot, and sweaty, and I had this weird burning pain in my right shoulder. Things around me started to fade and I just remember Marcus shaking me and holding me up telling me to keep my eyes open. I told him I was pretty sure I was about to pass out.
I felt like a passenger in my own body, I really wanted to tough it out but I had never been more scared. He kept saying he was going to call 911 and I kept asking him not to. I didn’t know if I was being overly dramatic; I was still clinging on to the hope that everything was actually okay and that the pain would pass if I calmed down.
He got on his knees and looked me in the eyes and said “Either we are going to have to move right now and take you to the ER, or I am going to call for help. Do I need to call 911”? I shook my head yes and he made the call. The ambulance came and I was taken to the hospital.
I’m so glad he insisted on going. My husband saved my life.
Everything happened so fast. One minute I was at home relaxing, and the next I was being prepped for an emergency laparotomy. The ultrasounds and blood work showed that I had suffered a ruptured ectopic pregnancy and was bleeding out into my abdomen.
An ectopic pregnancy means that the baby is growing in the wrong place. Instead of implanting in the uterus, the embryo implants in the Fallopian tube or another location and begins to grow and develop. A Fallopian tube cannot accommodate a growing human, and so once the baby becomes too big for the tube, it tears open. Most ectopic pregnancies are caught and treated before they rupture. I wasn’t so lucky.
There were tons of doctors coming to see me and I had to sign paperwork consenting to have my tubes, my ovaries, and potentially even my uterus removed if it came down to it. Not knowing which organs I’d wake up with was…scary. Everything was so surreal.
Then I had to consent to terminating the pregnancy. This very wanted, prayed for, and highly anticipated tiny human that God gave me after almost 2 years of trying and 4 cycles of fertility treatments…I had to sign it’s life away.
Unfortunately, medical technology has not developed a way to transfer an ectopic safely to the womb. So in the case of tubal rupture it basically comes down to two options: the baby dies and you die from internal bleeding. Or the baby dies, but you have the surgery and live. Either way, an ectopic pregnancy is usually not a viable one and the baby cannot be saved.
I mean, could God save me and the baby? Of course he could. But what if He didn’t? It was such a dilemma; and honestly I needed more time just to process what was happening to me. But I didn’t have time, I was bleeding internally and every second counted. My blood pressure was getting lower and lower so I had to make a call.
I signed the papers, without nearly as much hesitation as I’d like to say I had. I was so physically and mentally drained at that point and honestly I just wanted relief.
The guilt is still palpable.
I kissed my husband several times and cried silently with him before they wheeled me away. I remember my gynecologist (who performed the surgery) touching my forehead and telling me she would take care of me. She wiped my tears for me and looked over to Marcus and directed him to the waiting area.
I tried to stay awake for as long as possible once I made it to the Operating Room. Everyone was wearing masks and looking at me. I looked around and remember them sliding me from the stretcher to the operating table. And just like that, it was over.
When I woke up, it was night time. I swear it was the quickest day of my life.
I honestly can’t even believe I’m writing this. Only 1-2% of pregnancies end up being an ectopic. How did I end up in that number? What’s more, only about 2% of all women experience 2 pregnancy losses in a row. Seriously…how did I end up in that number?!
The irony of it all is so baffling to me. I still feel shocked; like I’m watching a movie of my life.
Is this really happening?
Wait, not only did I lose a baby, but I lost a Fallopian tube too?
How did this happen?
For so long we tried and tried and prayed and fasted and cried and…I’m not gonna lie…to have this as an outcome feels like a slap in the face.
Once we got word of what was happening, I just remember asking God to soften my heart towards Him. I didn’t want to be angry with Him for allowing this to happen. For not intervening. After we lost our first baby I was so upset with God. This time, I wanted to love Him just as much as I did when I thought things were good. I didn’t want to be mad.
And don’t get me wrong, I did wake up mad. I woke up from surgery and I was mad at the world. Angry for myself and for other good people who go through bad things. Mad that people have babies and abuse them. Mad because people have babies and they don’t even want them. Mad because God gives people babies who don’t even care about Him or His word. Mad because I had to sign that stupid paper consenting to this stupid surgery. Just mad. I’m pissed.
But I’m not mad at God.
How could I be?
He’s done so much for me. My life was at risk yesterday and He spared me. I woke up mad, but I woke up. I am owed nothing…and instead I literally owe Him everything.
The cross truly made the difference for me in this moment. When I began to think of how unfair this all seems, I was reminded of the time when Jesus, as perfect and blameless as He was, took my sins onto His shoulders and laid His life down for me. And if he never does anything else for me, if he never gives me biological children, that will always be enough.
I don’t know, maybe I’m still stunned and I don’t realize fully what has happened. Maybe once the fog clears my feelings will change. Or maybe, just maybe, God has softened my heart according to my prayers and is helping me keep things in perspective.
And so it begins – another journey of grief, and growth. My husband and I plan to take the rest of this week off as I recover physically and we start to heal emotionally.
There will always be questions.Why did God let this happen? Why can’t we carry a baby to term? Why did He let us get excited and hopeful if He knew it would end this way?
What is His plan? Will we ever have a baby? Why does He bless some people with children but not others? How is this so easy for everybody else?
What are you doing, God?
Just thinking of these questions now is bringing tears to my eyes. Our journey to parenthood has been so painful, for what seems like no good reason. And at times it really seems like God isn’t hearing our cries for help.
I simply have to choose, even now in this moment and every moment hereafter, to hope in the Lord above all else. I have to choose to worship, because God is still good and still worthy. I am in awe of His goodness and His love, which is even more tangible now amid this tragedy.