My ectopic pregnancy story
Health & Wellness

My Ectopic Pregnancy Story

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* This post contains images that some might find graphic/disturbing.

Out of all of the blog post ideas I have jotted down in my Notes, I never fathomed that this was a post I’d be authoring.  In fact, having 3 healthy full-term births in the past gave me confidence that such a thing could never happen to me.  I’m over here thinking I’m fertile myrtle, all my husband has to do is wink at me and BOOM 9 months later we have a new addition to the family.  Well, at least part of it was true, we got pregnant very soon after we decided to try (or, stop trying not to), and we were elated.

felt pregnant almost immediately.  I’m not referring to symptoms either, I just literally felt pregnant.  Sounds silly, unless you know what I mean, then you know what I mean, see?  I started feeling familiar symptoms not long after, and I was almost certain.  We got a 2 pack of pregnancy tests from Walgreens, and I could barely wait to rip into the package when we got in the front door.  Off to the bathroom I went, Negative, but I assumed it was just too early.  I tested again in what would have been 7 days before my missed period, the test boasted “as early as 6 days prior” so I was pushing limits here already.  Negative.  But I still had hope.

We needed to grab a few last minute items for the kids Christmas stockings at the Dollar Tree on Christmas Eve, and I threw a few $1 pregnancy tests up on the counter along with our other plunder.  I restrained myself that evening – and the following morning, but as soon as the last Christmas gift was ripped into I flew into the bathroom and opened my Dollar Tree test as if it were my gift, and it was.  Positive.  A faint positive, but a positive none the less.  I told my husband, and we proceeded to take several more, with him even running to the grocery store on Christmas Day to buy more expensive/professional tests.  One after another they all read positive.

We decided to be a bit creative in telling the children this time, so we made a quick T-shirt from some Avery Iron-On Transfer paper we had, making up a quick image on Canva, printing it and running upstairs to iron it onto an inside-out Transformers T-Shirt that once belonged to Trevor, but was now Robert’s size.  Since Robert can’t read fully yet, he wasn’t too interested in what the shirt said; Gianna was preoccupied so we had to coax her into reading it for several minutes before she actually got it, and even then she was skeptical!  She basically told me to “prove it!” cause she’d been praying for a sister and thought we were pranking her!  Our oldest, Trevor, said he already suspected it – and asked me if I realized that him and the baby would be 17 years apart!  What a gap!

So needless to say, we were all excited!  2018-2019 was a rough season for our family, and we were ready for new beginnings, and this beautiful example of God’s grace was perfect.  It’s amazing how things can change when God calls his children back into His arms.  This time last year I’d have told you I didn’t want any more kids, period!  But God is in the business of restoration and He was doing a great work in our lives, surely this was proof of his magnificent grace.

I was already daydreaming about holding a squishy little baby in my arms.  As I lay next to my daughter’s Microwavable Lavender Unicorn toy which is just about the size of a newborn I couldn’t help but imagine our sweet little baby in my arms – partially wishing that the next 9 months would fly by – while also anticipating the process of the pregnancy itself. I always enjoyed my pregnancies (sorry to those of you who don’t, I sympathize with you, I do) never dealing with morning sickness or any adverse reactions or feelings.  I could remember so clearly what the first little flutters felt like, and was so anxious to feel the initial signs of life growing within me.

We figured out my due date down to a T – barring any discrepancy in my Fitbit App which tracks my cycle / ovulation.  From the looks of it the baby would be greeting us in early September, just in time for my 35th birthday – Yikes, that makes me feel old.  I started getting ads targeted at expectant moms, and even signed up for a free breastpump through our insurance via an ad I found on Instagram!  I was already planning which baby carriers I wanted this time (definitely Ergo, and also a soft wrap of some sort), cloth diapers, amber necklaces, all the “Crunchy mom” stuff I’d done with my youngest 2 prior.  This was going to be my “crunchiest” baby yet!

On Friday morning I woke up and did my morning prayer and devotion like any other day, slightly distracted by the text saying I was approved for that breastpump I signed up for!  As I scrolled through the available pumps on their website, my coffee kicked in and it was time for my morning bathroom routine.  When I wiped, there was a bit of blood on the TP, but it was light brown and I wasn’t sure which area it came from, so I tried again.  Light brown and definitely from the front.  Calm down… this is normal.

I saw way more blood than this with my last pregnancy, although that was because my daughter (3 at the time) plopped on my stomach when I was about 7-8 weeks pregnant and it sent a gush of blood rushing out – everything turned out fine so I felt confident that this was nothing.

My husband suggested I call the doctor anyway, just to let them know, so I did.  I didn’t really have an established relationship with a OB at this point, my first appointment was the end of January as they wouldn’t see me until I was 8 weeks along.  I told them it was light spotting and they assured me not to worry unless I was soaking a pad in under 2 hours, and in that case to go right to the ER.  

A few hours later, I felt a trickle and this time it was red and more of a liquid consistency, so I told my husband we should go get checked out just to be safe.  I went to women’s triage at our local hospital and after about an hour we had a room.  Pee test showed I was pregnant and bloodwork showed my HCG levels at around 300, which I was told by the OB was just on track for what my estimated conception date was.  This gave us comfort, until the ultrasound.

The U/S tech opened with her speech about how she can’t tell us what she sees or doesn’t see, she doesn’t have the authority.  We’d have to wait for the doctor to read the scans.  I was peering around the screen in a desperate attempt to find a little blob or heartbeat myself at this point, while also hoping my husband was doing the same, but it was hard to tell what we were looking at so early on. 

It only took about 15 minutes for the doctor to come in, and she told us it was really too early to say.  After a vaginal exam, she stated that my cervix was still closed (with some early miscarriages, the cervix starts to open).  She said my HCG levels were good, and she didn’t expect to see anything via ultrasound at this point (5 weeks along, 3 weeks gestation), so she recommended I get my HCG levels checked several times during the upcoming week, and do a repeat ultrasound the following Friday, once my levels reached 3k, there should definitely be something to see on the ultrasound; if not, it could mean the baby wasn’t developing properly (possible miscarriage) or the baby was growing elsewhere (outside of the uterus – ectopic pregnancy).  I clung to our hope, and we prayed earnestly for God to help the baby grow and thrive.  

Saturday morning my bleeding increased a bit, and my husband suggested I visualize the baby growing and my HCG levels rising – a technique similar to Hypnobirthing when I was preparing for my 3rd child’s birth.  I put on a Youtube video of positive 1st trimester affirmations and lay in bed focusing on my baby and positive thoughts.  By Sunday morning I was trying my best not to worry.  We went to the alter after church service and were prayed for, which gave me a fresh wind of peace, and at this point I was trusting in God to do what he does best.  I knew he had our best interest in mind, and I told him I submit to His perfect will.

By Monday morning I was starting to feel a bit crampy with a headache, so we decided to not only get my HCG levels checked but to check into woman’s triage again.  They told me my blood pressure was elevated, and took me right back instead of having me wait for processing/admissions like usual.  They did a quick vaginal exam, drew blood and did another ultrasound, at this point the doctor was pretty swift to come to us as I think she could tell I was feeling a bit unwell.  She and a nurse walked in shortly after I came back from my ultrasound, and the look of sympathy on her face must have drained the look of hope on mine, at least that’s how it felt.  I just knew.  I mean, I felt like I wasn’t pregnant anymore about a week or so prior to this – I just didn’t feel that feeling that I spoke of earlier anymore.  But, I didn’t want to admit it, so I pushed the thought aside, “maybe it’s just my hormones changing” I said, but I noticed that my breasts weren’t as sore either.

The doctor proceeded to tell me that I had a good amount of blood pooling in my abdomen and she was almost 100% certain that it was caused by a pregnancy outside of my uterus, since the scans showed nothing inside, and my HCG levels should have been over 1,000 at this point if they were progressing like a healthy pregnancy (they’re supposed to double every day), yet they were only about 500.  She truly looked sad for me, and I couldn’t hold back the tears at this point.  The sun angled itself at this very moment to shine directly into our hospital room window and into my face – causing me to squint, which reminded me that in that moment, even in my sadness, God was with us there in that hospital room.

She strongly recommended surgery, immediately, and I asked her to give us a few minutes to process this.  She left and we called our pastor first and then a trusted mentor to go and speak with my mother and kids so they wouldn’t be so upset hearing the news over the phone.  

Our pastor prayed with us on the phone, and it gave me a sense of comfort.  We also prayed together as husband and wife, and I made my husband promise if I died during surgery (I’m so dramatic, but general anesthesia scares me!) that he’d make sure the children are raised in the Lord.  He promised.  But I knew deep in my heart that God wouldn’t have brought us through everything He did in the past year – in the past decade! – for me to just die, so that thought quickly escaped me as I filled my mind with God’s promises and the prayers He’s already answered.  At this moment I knew that if God wanted this baby to survive, nothing could stop it, and if this was not in His plan, nothing could change that either.  God is sovereign and in that I found my peace.

Things moved pretty quickly after we told her we would proceed with the surgery.  It would be Laparoscopic, so less invasive and quicker recovery overall.  The medical term for what they’d be doing is Diagnostic Laparoscopy, removal of Ectopic Pregnancy, Right Salpingectomy (removal of Fallopian tube was likely).  They prepped me, drew some diagnostic bloodwork to check my electrolyte and hemoglobin levels, and off I was whisked to OR Prep.  My husband was told he could be waiting 2.5 hours, but it ended up only taking 45 minutes for the actual surgery itself.  I don’t remember a thing after the oxygen mask was placed on my face, I drifted off quickly and the next thing I remember I was asking for pain meds in the recovery room, curled up in the fetal position.  Apparently they asked me for my pain levels on a scale of 1-10 and in the essence of being thorough and accurate gave them a decimal answer.  At least I was in good spirits (and quite loopy at this point). 

I wasn’t overly sore right out of recovery, once they gave me something for the pain, so I was looking forward to my husband coming back with my coffee that I was promised.  The nurse was awesome, and had already called him and reminded him about bringing the coffee.  I was so glad to see him, and so very glad to be alive.  The doctor spoke with my husband while I was still in recovery, but she didn’t come speak directly to me, which bothered me slightly.  He was tired

One of the photos they provided, I believe this was the tube containing my ectopic pregnancy that was removed.

and stressing, so he didn’t remember all of the details, but thankfully they provided photos from the procedure so I could at least get an idea of what went on, and what everything looked like. 

The baby somehow lodged him/herself in my right Fallopian tube and there it grew, quite a significantly sized bulge.  Currently there is no medical technology available to transplant the embryo from outside of the uterus to inside of the uterus, where it would implant and continue to grow.  Hopefully science will get us there one day, Lord willing.  They also believed the baby wasn’t developing correctly because of the decreased HCG levels.  I have a follow up appointment in a few weeks, when they should have pathology results and might be able to give me a better idea of what exactly happened or why, or perhaps there is no answer other than it just wasn’t meant to be.  My husband has been my rock through this, by my side the entire time, holding me and comforting me, praying with me, waiting on me basically hand and foot.  I couldn’t have asked for a better man to share this journey of life with. 

This isn’t an easy thing to go through, or speak about… But, I wanted to share my story, incase someone else out there is going through something similar.  This seems like a taboo topic in a way.  Perhaps since it’s so early, we are afraid to feel the loss?  Some don’t think their feelings to be valid, but that’s just not true.  This was our baby, a very much wanted and loved baby, and we lost him/her on Monday, January 6, 2020, and it’s ok to acknowledge that, and grieve that loss.  But we have a living hope, Jesus Christ, and we know with absolute certainty that we will see our baby again one day in heaven.  We decided early on that if she was a girl, we would name her Grace, so our little Grace is now safely in the arms of Jesus.

Update: 01/07/2020: I’m quite sore, slept on the couch last night, and going to again tonight, as I can’t lay out flat yet.  The worst spot has been my belly button, which I believe is where they had the camera inserted.  Walking sucks, but they told me I need to do a little more each day as part of recovery.  Coughing sucks, too, but clutching a pillow helps.  I’m still bleeding – light to moderate, off and on – and it may continue for several weeks.  I find myself looking at baby pictures still, of when my children were born, and wishing things turned out differently.  I still have one Fallopian tube, and could still conceive – although my risk of a second ectopic pregnancy goes up anywhere from 10-25% now that I’ve had one, which is a slightly scary statistic.  This will be something to keep in prayer.  My shoulder was hurting off and on, as well as my neck, which I didn’t understand until I read my discharge papers and google which explained could be a side effect of the CO2 they use during the surgery to distend the abdomen.

So, in closing, don’t be afraid to share your story.  Your story matters.  Your feelings are valid.  Grieving is part of healing – sharing is part of healing.  God will give you His peace if you will let Him.  You are not alone.

Update: 01/09/2020: Gas pains are awful, I haven’t had a bowel movement since the morning of surgery despite the fiber supplement I’ve been taking twice a day.  I will say, though, that I haven’t eaten a whole lot and it has to go in to come out, so I’m hoping to use the bathroom soon.  I was able to sleep in our bed last night, mostly flat – just a few extra pillows.  My stitches are healing OK, although the one closest to my hip bone seems to have bruised more than the others, and it’s the most bothersome one.  I read that the bloating could last a while – weeks to months, while complete healing takes place.  Walking around “looking” pregnant, while dealing with a loss is another difficult hurdle to endure.

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