Pregnancy loss is hard.
My ectopic pregnancy wasn’t a planned pregnancy. But it was my first, and as afraid as I was of the complete lack of planning, I was pregnant. At the time, I was 32 years old and engaged to my now husband. We were apprehensive of our new endeavor and in all honesty, still in denial/shock, when we received some extremely painful news. Yes, we were pregnant. But we weren’t pregnant like other people. Our baby hadn’t made it through the Fallopian tube and into my uterus. Something had caused a pause, even a tiny nano-second of a pause on the journey down, and the embryo had adhered to the lining of my Fallopian tube and started to grow there. The word trapped entered my mind a lot during those dark days. I wanted so badly to reach inside my body and help my little one along the path – Even at the size of a blueberry, I wanted to parent my baby. My doctor wouldn’t call it a baby, but I couldn’t think of anything else it might be. As women, we are innately protective of our children, even in the womb, and I was angry that we had to continue referring to mine as a ‘nonviable pregnancy’.
My OB gave us five minutes to determine the course of treatment that would resolve my pregnancy. My numbers just weren’t that of a viable pregnancy and no gestational sac could be found in my uterus. I remember feeling extremely conflicted in that moment – the doctor had asked me to shift my entire mindset from ‘I hope my baby is healthy and strong’ to ‘I hope this medicine resolves this pregnancy so that I can live’. Five minutes. So I just cried all five of those minutes away and told the doctor to do what she thought medically best. I was administered an injection of a Class X drug called Methotrexate and sent home. I was told I would feel sick for a few days and then miscarry. I had no idea at the time what that would actually entail and my heart goes out to any woman who has ever had that experience.
My blood was drawn every 24 hours for almost two weeks, because unfortunately for us the first injection of Methotrexate didn’t work. My HCG (pregnancy hormone) was still climbing and the baby was still growing, even though I had experienced a full uterine ‘miscarriage’ at that point. I felt the deep desire to connect to my baby and say ‘Let go, little one, this isn’t it. Life is hard, but it isn’t this hard- I promise you that’. After the second injection, my numbers began dropping and, as happy as everyone around me was, I was heartbroken. My doctor was still shocked that it had been two weeks, because Methotrexate typically works within hours. A second injection is rarely needed and yet, here we were still struggling. The struggle ended early in the morning the following week when I woke to intense pain and fear. I knew, I just knew that something was wrong and that my life was on the line. After a very long emergency surgery, my ectopic pregnancy was finally, completely resolved. There was internal bleeding, an intestinal adhesion, and a tube so damaged that I lost it in full. My surgeon showed me pictures the next morning and I honestly felt relieved to finally see the pregnancy that we had all been referring to but could never find. As sad as I was to let go that morning, I felt blessed to finally have some closure.
Over time, we heal. Scars form, emotions lessen, stitches dissolve, and we learn. I learned that it takes very little time to become emotionally attached to a being growing inside you, and also that children can be extremely stubborn, regardless of their size. I begged, pleaded, and downright yelled at this one to let go and let God. I felt both painfully helpless and full of shame to send such a tiny spirit sailing. How could I ask my child to go away? I know that not everyone believes that each pregnancy comes with the spirit of their child, but I do, and I felt connected to this one. Later on, when I became pregnant again, I was filled with that same connection I felt with my first, only this time I delivered a fat, healthy baby boy who made it through the other tube.
As hard as it was to let go of my ectopic pregnancy, it was my first genuine experience in motherhood and while I truly wouldn’t trade my experience, I would also never choose to risk it. Ectopic pregnancy is an extremely dangerous pregnancy complication and must be dealt with by a health care professional immediately. You can find more information about ectopic pregnancy