Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Kristi's Story -- A lonely journey through ectopic pregnancy

I'm honored to share Kristi's story of a loss due to ectopic pregnancy.

Her story highlights several factors that are unique to an ectopic pregnancy or other early pregnancy loss:

  • A husband often feels so different than the mom about the loss because he hasn't had a chance to bond with the baby.
  • His reactions are often NOT helpful to the mom, which can make the loneliness in an early loss that much more painful. (Though I admit that his actions legitimately might be helpful to him.)
  • Ectopics are hard for doctors to diagnose. This is why it's so important that we moms are in tune to our bodies and demand the care we (and our babies) deserve. When something is wrong, we have to trust our instincts.
  • Medical personnel often don't treat ectopic pregnancies as the loss of a baby. The lack of compassion gives off the the feeling that we are just being "drama" and that "people miscarry every day, so what's the big deal?" The lack of validation for our loss -- and, therefore, the invalidation for our grief -- creates a very tricky journey of grief to navigate.
Her story also highlights what I'm sure all of us in the pregnancy-loss camp would agree with:
  • Your loss changes you in a deep and profound way. And no matter how much you want to go back in time and have things the way they always were . . . you simply can't. And that is really hard to deal with.
  • Your loss opens you up to a new world . . . a world of grief. A world where babies die. And a world that will probably never feel safe to you again.
On Christmas Eve, I was finishing up work and noticed that my eyes kept getting blurry and I felt dizzy.

Earlier in the week, I had started to wonder if I could possibly be pregnant because I wasn't feeling the usual signs of menstruation about to start, and I was tired more and having some nausea. So after the blurry vision and dizziness started that night, I decided to take another pregnancy test. (I had taken one a few days earlier which was negative, but thought it might have been too early to test.)
When I saw a faint second line on the test, I was overcome with joy . . . as well as full of anxiety about how my husband would feel. I decided not to say anything to him until I saw the doctor on Monday and knew for sure. 

On Sunday, Christmas Day, the spotting began.

It seemed to take forever waiting for Monday morning to come so I could call the doctor's office.  When Monday morning came, my husband planned a last-minute trip out of town to drop off some car parts at a machine shop and maybe to stop on our way out to see one of his daughters who is pregnant. While he was loading up the van, I called the doctor's office and found out that they were closed that day.

On the way to my step-daughter's house, I suddenly had to throw up, and hung my head out of the window to do so. When we got to the house, my daughter immediately told her half-sister about mommy throwing up, and she in turn immediately asked me, "What are you, pregnant?" I just kind of brushed it off, but told her later when we were alone that I thought I might be. 

Later that day, I admitted to my husband that I could be pregnant, and as I feared, he wasn't happy about it. He was constantly being negative about it, saying that he was too old to have another baby (he was 42 and I was 34) and that he had nothing to show for his life.

When we got home, we noticed our pet guinea pig was acting funny and wouldn't eat. I called and made an emergency visit to the vet and found out that she had an obstruction probably from chewing on the string to my pajamas a few days earlier, and she might not make it.

The next morning, the vet called to tell us that the guinea pig didn't make it. Then I went to the doctor and anxiously waited in the room for the doctor to come in and tell me for sure if I was pregnant. With my husband acting the way he was, I didn't know how to feel.

When the doctor came in, I could tell she looked nervous. She told me that the urine test came back negative but would call me with the results of the blood test. I immediately started crying and told her that I wasn't sure if I wanted to be pregnant because of the way my husband was treating me. I had wanted a baby for so long and just wished he could be as happy as I was.

I left the doctor's office and went to the vet's office to pick up our dead guinea pig. The nurse called me later with the blood test result and told me that I was pregnant. According to the hCG number, I was about 5 weeks along. Because of the spotting and cramping, I had to keep having my hCG checked.

The following weekend, my husband actually came with me and my daughter to my parents' house  to celebrate Christmas (which is something he never does.) We had a good weekend . . . we bought a couple of new guinea pigs, and he seemed to be taking the pregnancy news better, even though he never talked about the baby. The spotting had stopped for most of the weekend, until it started back up on New Year's Day.

That next Wednesday, my husband was being a total jerk . . . ranting and raving about everything except what was really bothering him (which I knew was the baby), and then storming out to his shop without even saying goodbye. My cramping had gotten much worse that morning, and I finally decided that afternoon to drive myself to the ER. 

I dropped off my daughter at the shop with him and told him where I was going. I spent several hours alone in the ER waiting to have a transvaginal and abdominal ultrasound. The doctor told me that my hCG levels had been very low for as far along as I was. (The doctor's office had always told me they were rising, but I guess they were never doubling like they should.)

The woman who did the ultrasounds is an old friend of mine, and I could tell from her face that something was wrong. The doctor told me I could just not be as far along as everyone thought (which I knew exactly when I conceived), or it could be either an ectopic pregnancy or an impending miscarriage. With no solid answer, they sent me home.

That Friday, the doctor's office called and told me that my hCG dropped a little and that the doctor wanted to try another ultrasound that Monday. The weekend seemed to drag on forever waiting for Monday to come. When I had the ultrasound, once again I was told that they couldn't see anything on the sonogram, but that my cervix was still closed. The official report came back saying that there was no evidence of an ectopic, and that the radiologist believed it was consistent with an early pregnancy. 

But the next morning, while I was working, I could feel the bleeding start. I ran into the bathroom and saw that the bleeding had gotten heavier. I told my husband I believed I could be miscarrying.  He had a physical therapy appointment he was getting ready to go to for his shoulder surgery, and I told him to go ahead and go. As the bleeding continued to get heavier, I called the doctor's office and they told me to come in and get checked. 

I was devastated to hear that my cervix was now open. It was hard to listen to a baby crying in the room next to me as I waited for my hCG number to come back. My number had risen a little and was told it could be an impending miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy, or that my pregnancy still could be viable. Again, I was told I should just go home and rest. 

When I got home, I decided to take a bath to help relax. When I got out, I started to freak out when I saw that there was blood running down my leg and that the tub was filled with blood and several clots, including one the size of my hand. I yelled for my husband to come in, and he helped me get dressed and had me lie down. 

I called the ER since the doctor's office was closed and told them what happened and what the doctor had told me. Once they heard which doctor's office I went to (the hospital and a doctor at the clinic are in the middle of a lawsuit and he is banned from the hospital), they told me that I was having a miscarriage and there was nothing they could do for me. They told me to come in if I was bleeding through more than two pads in a half an hour. 

The bleeding stopped a few hours later, but the following night, I was cramping a lot worse. I had taken a Percocet and it wasn't doing anything to help with the pain. I called the ER again and told them that my doctor told me it could be ectopic, and again (once they heard what clinic I went to), they told me that if the doctor really believed I could have an ectopic, they would have done something by now. They inisisted I should just take another Percocet.

The next day, I had another hCG drawn. I was sure that it would be 0, and that I had miscarried. Instead, I was shocked to hear that my number had gone up again. 

The next week, my hCG levels kept rising slowly, but still nothing showed on the ultrasound. My doctor referred me to a gynecologist out of town who wanted to see me the next day. He told me that there was no way that this was a viable pregnancy and that he believed it was in my right tube. He said that on the ultrasound, there was more fluid developing around that tube. The ultrasound also showed fluid behind my cervix and around both ovaries and tubes. 

I told him about all the bleeding the week before, and he was shocked about that, too. Nobody could explain what was going on. My case was not the typical ectopic. 

The doctor suggested that I have the methotrexate injection. [This is a drug that will dissolve the baby and placenta, which would help prevent further damage to the tube.]

I had to wait for the pharmacy to get it ready, so we left to go shopping and kill time for a couple of hours before wereturned. By this time, the wating room was full of pregnant women and women with new babies. I couldn't stop crying as I waited for them to call my name. 

When the nurses brought me back to the room, and I saw the sonogram machine and the chart on the wall showing the various stages of pregnancy, I bawled harder than I ever have in my life. After the nurses gave me the two injections in my hips, they let me out the back way, so I wouldn't have to see all the pregnant women again. 

I cried the whole way home. I had told my husband that it made it even harder knowing this was my last chance to have a baby. At first, he seemed to be more open to trying again, but he hasn't even touched me in so long, like he's afraid I'll get pregnant again.

 I feel so alone. Not a single day goes by that I don't think about the baby. It's my first thought upon waking and my last thought before going to sleep each night. 

Tomorrow I go back to see the doctor who gave me the methotrexate injection to have an HSG test. [This is a test where they inject die into your tubes to see how if there is any blockage.] I am anxious to find out how much damage to my tubes there has been. 

I have had two laparoscopic surgeries in the past, with lots of scar tissue, adhesions and cysts having to be removed. I developed pelvic inflamatory disease after the second surgery, so I am worried what the doctor will find. I don't know if my husband will be coming with me or not. I might be going through this alone as well. 

I just wish I could back in time before any of this ever happened. It's so hard even getting on Facebook now, especially when I see pregnancy updates from two of my step-daughters, some friends, and my husband's cousin. It seeems like every day, somebody else is announcing their pregnancy. I even had to suspend my account for awhile because it just got to be too much to bear.

I don't like this woman who I have become . . . this woman who is angry and hurting all the time . . . this woman who knows that everything that you have ever wanted can be taken from you just like that, and there's nothing you can do about it.

A word to other mommas . . .

I would tell other women going through this that they should not be afraid to let their feelings out . . . that it's okay to be angry, it's okay to be sad. I felt so bad at first that I was angry at God until I talked to my pastor, and he made me realize that it's okay and natural to be angry with God, and that "God's got big shoulders and can take it."

I also have realized that I feel a lot of guilt and anger at myself. I've realized that I sometimes blame myself for being anxious about being pregnant, that maybe somehow my fears caused it. I also have been so angry at my husband for his reaction to my pregnancy and have blamed him, but I know deep down it's not anybody else's fault that this happened, that no one caused it. 

Also, it's very important and helpful to reach out to others who have been there for help to get you through it. I feel so alone with my friends and family, because none of them have any ideas what I am going through, so the support pages on Facebook have been a godsend for me.

Thank you, Kristi, for sharing your story of your baby, and the experience of your loss. I know the loneliness of losing a baby to ectopic -- but know that you are never truly alone in this loss. Thank you for being brave in sharing your story.

I feel like every pregnancy loss story is so important and deserves to be told. If you would like to share your story, please email me at renyeart@gmail.com. We can post your story anonymously if you would prefer. 

My goal in sharing stories on this blog is:

1) To honor our beloved babies and keep their memory alive.
2) To validate and honor the grief of the moms who have lost their little one.
3) To be a resource to women who are hoping to find someone, somewhere out there, who can relate to their feelings of loss. I hope this blog will be that resource.


  1. Thank you so much for sharing your story. You are amazing, and your family will be in my prayers.

  2. I so appreciate the honesty here. I have found ectopic pregnancies just aren't talked about much. It's all lumped in with "miscarriage", but I think the emotions and physical issues are different. Thank you for bringing some awareness.

    1. Maralee... I agree. I'm not saying miscarriage isn't hard, or traumatic, or just as worthy of grief as an ectopic. But there is so much more to an ectopic. For me, I felt like Olivia would have had a chance if she had just implanted in the right place. My body failed her... Failed me. The usual "there was something wrong with the baby". Or "this is just nature's way" rarely brings comfort anyway. But there is no truth at all to it with an ectopic. Plus there is the physical pain, internal bleeding, fear of dying, fear of it happening again, and the wait for your tube to rupture. I usedto be upset when people first referred to my experience as a miscarrige. Yes. My baby died. But the grief and pain were sonmuch more complicated.

    2. I wish that I could hug you both right now and tell you that you are not alone... because I know that is exactly how you feel. I too had an ectopic pregnancy. Friends and family (any of us really) have a hard enough time comforting a loved one grieving but I think it becomes that much harder to comfort something so complicated. Not to say the is greater by any means, Rachel, your words are spot on. I would become angry with others if they refereed to my loss as a miscarriage. Angry at myself if I said it in order to avoid a lengthy explanation of what happened. People tend to avoid you after they see your anger an hurt explode about how you did not miscarry, your baby was growing, your HCG levels proved that to you. You were forced to chose between your life and the life of your unborn child. It didn't matter that the Doctors say there is no chance of the baby and the Mother making it to term.... You still feel like your body failed you and you failed your child. At least I did. It is every Mothers fear to not be able to protect her child.I did not miscarry my baby. I felt forced into excepting a shot to save my life and end the life of my child... It is a horrible feeling. My comfort has come from Women like you, who are willing to share their stories. Women who told me it was okay to name my baby and that my baby did matter. I am blessed to have a friend who acknowledges my baby by name still 2 years later. I have found the single most healing aspect for me is to hear my child's name. So go ahead and say it! You do whatever you need to find peace. I have a tattoo and wear a necklace with my baby's name. If someone asks about either I tell that without shame ''I wear this in honor of my baby I still have yet to hold". I can now even say it in a positive way, with a slight smile. Hold onto your faith, know that you will hold your child in time. Better days will come.

  3. I am so sorry for your loss and the wound left open,I pray that you will one day heal.
    What brings me here today is a for my dear friend who has just loss her baby due to an Ectopic pregnancy, which resulted in surgery and the removal of her the Fallopion tube. I just can't help but feel overwhelming sadness for her and her partner. They were so very excited but were keeping it quiet because it was still early days...I just don't know what to do, she has been suffering alot from stress of late and didn't need this to top it off. I know I can't take the pain away, I'm not really sure what kind of things to say without coming across as a misunderstood friend. I want to be supportive and encouraging for her to be mentally well again, she seems to feel that she has hit rock bottom and is blaming it on bad luck...which I'm starting to believe in myself, because she has endured so much and now this :'(. Any advice would be extremely wonderful.
    ~Concerned friend.

    1. Dear Anonymous,

      What an amazing friend you are being ... Researching ectopics, and being there to help. So thoughtful and considerate of you.

      I think that your caring will come through in whatever ways you choose to reach out to your friend. A few thoughts to guide you as you reach out are: always treat her baby like a baby, and refer to him/her by name if they choose a name. Listen more than you speak. Let her know that you want to know as much as she wants to share about her experience. Ask her specific questions like, "if I could do one thing right now to show you love and care, what would that be?" Or "what are you struggling most with at this moment?" Don't be afraid of silence or tears. Bring a gift or make a donation in the baby's name.

      Whatever you say and do, I'm sure you will be comforting for your friend. I am very sorry to hear of their loss.

    2. Oh, and one more thing ... Don't hurry her to get out of grief. There is no way to rush through it or get over it. It took me two years before I no longer felt profound sadness every day. She will have her own timeline to feel some healing. Just be there for her as she grieves ... However long that needs to be.

  4. I had an ectopic pregnancy. I found out on June 13th 2012 that I was pregnant. I was really happy but scared at the same time. I had my rubes tied in 2009 due to complications with my son. I dealt with depression after my rubes were tied because I wanted more children but I ddd what was best for me and my family. So I thought when I found out I was pregnant again that God had other plans for me. The only things is I was bleeding a little bit and I was having awful pains in my shoulders.after I took the test and it came back positive I first called my husband who was not exactly thrilled but said we would figure it out. Then I called my gynecologist and he said to I'm me go to the er because what I was describing sounded like an ectopic pregnancy. So that's what o did the hospital first told me there was no way that I could be pregnant but did the blood work. It came back positive. Then they did ultrasounds. I was approximately 8 weeks pregnant but the baby had no chance of survival is what they told me. I had to either take medicine to dissolve the baby or have surgery. I chose surgery. It all happened so fast and I went through so many emotions. The next afternoon is when they did the surgery. I cried for what seemed like 24 hours straight from the time I found out to the time I came home from surgery. I had to hide my emotions because I decided not to tell my other children about the baby. I did not want them to feel the same way I was feeling. I had a hard time doing anything for a long time. I cried everyday for months. I still cry 2 years later and I still think about the baby everyday. I believe the baby would have been a girl and I would have named her Rileigh. I would look at my children and feel like crying wishing the baby was here with me. And in the same time I wanted them with me because they made me stronger. For the first few months I felt paralyzed. After about 7 months I finally decided to get help with dealing with my grief and I see a therapist. It's nice to have someone that I can share what I'm feeling with because my husband doesn't want to hear it and sa us I should be over it by now. Sometimes I blame him because he didn't want any more kids. Sometimes I blame myself for getting my tubes tied. It's hard and I still have days where I can not function and wonder if I will ever find peace within my life. I feel like sometimes when I am in a state of depression it's not fair to my childre that are hear and happy and healthy. I thought by now the grief would have gotten better but it really hasn't and I'm not sure it ever will. I put on a smile and go about my day but I feel like I'm just going through the notions of life. I hope one day I can honestly be happy. I want to enjoy life again but the baby is always right there.

  5. I can't believe how spot on all of these comments are with how I'm feeling in my grieving of an ectopic pregnancy over the last few weeks. It is honestly as if I wrote these entries myself. Thank you all for sharing your feelings.

  6. All of these posts are so heart wrenching and I can feel all of your pain. Only yesterday my girlfriend told me she had a bad pain inside her vj area and couldn't walk. Her coworkers took her to a dr and she found out with a few tests that she was pregnant but it was ectopic. Next day hcg results showed at 1400 and maybe 3 weeks pregnant. We have fell so in love in the past 3 months I am ready to propose because she is the most incredible woman I have ever met. We both have a small child and want more together but down the rd a little. The problem now is that she is so upset with herself for not being smarter and using protection. She is also saying that everything happens for a reason and there's a reason God does not want her to have this baby, implying I may not be good for her. She has since withdrawn into herself and has only told her sister. She told me she feels cold towards me not warm anymore. She has been brought up catholic, went to all girl catholic school, and is still a strong catholic. She is saying nothing like this has happened ever within her family and that this ectopic is so rare why would it happen to her. I'm broken hearted over the whole thing and only want to comfort her in the best way she needs. I hope I haven't lost her. I live for her.