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.
- 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.
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.
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.