On Wednesday, November 15th I finally heard the words I had desperately waited 3 years to hear, “You’re pregnant.” Now what should have been one of the happiest moments of my life, was instead one of the worst. Instead of tears of joy, I sobbed in fear. What had brought me to that moment in the doctor’s office was not a missed period or sudden nausea in the morning. I was sitting there because I thought I was just having a strange menstrual cycle. After 20 straight days of spotting and cramping, I knew something was off and that it was time to see a doctor. I had been traveling for almost a month straight so I assumed that had messed with my cycle. After trying to conceive unsuccessfully for years, an unexplained infertility diagnosis, and multiple failed IUIs, I never thought my symptoms were being caused by pregnancy. Or rather I wouldn’t allow myself to consider pregnancy to be the answer since clearly that would also mean something was wrong.
Which brings us back to Nov. 15th. When the NP asked me to take the test I almost laughed. I may have rolled my eyes, but when I went into the bathroom I immediately started to cry. “Please no,” I thought. Then came the results. Shock cannot begin to explain what I felt in that moment. As I sobbed, I also had a brief moment of pride. My body had finally done what I had wanted it to do. The NP tried to assure me that we had no answers yet. That the spotting could be nothing. The cramping however was worrisome. She ordered a bunch of blood samples to be taken, said she would call the next day, and sent me home.
I always imagined I would surprise Jake with a pregnancy announcement in a really cute way. Maybe a traditional wrapped positive pregnancy test or finally purchase that ska onesie that’s been sitting in my Amazon wishlist forever. But sadly there was no time. I got back to my office and gave him a call. I wanted us to leave work. To spend one day, since it may be all we had, to celebrate. One day to pretend that we were finally pregnant and everything would be ok. He met me at the train station with a bouquet. We had finally done it! We only had one day. It was wonderful.
The next day, around 2 pm the NP called to tell me to check myself into the ER immediately. The test results were inconclusive but if we wanted answers, I needed to go to the hospital. The only times I had been to the ER were for a fractured ankle in the 6th grade and strep throat in 2012. I had never been admitted to a hospital, never had major surgery, and never had anesthesia. I chose laughing gas when I had my wisdom teeth removed because I have always been afraid to be put to sleep. Laying in that hospital bed in the ER was everything I had tried to avoid my whole life. It was surreal.
After about 5 hours of waiting, blood work and ultrasounds, we had a diagnosis. It was an ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy is when implantation occurs outside of the uterus. Mine had found a home inside my right Fallopian tube. You would have to ask my support person Keelia, a friend and full spectrum doula, what my reaction was. I can’t remember. The hours between diagnosis and surgery are kind of a blur. I hadn’t eaten since noon, so I was very hungry. They placed me on an IV to help. Keelia was amazing. I am grateful to have had her by my side. Let me be clear about one thing, I told Jake not to come. A part of me hoped it would be ok and I didn’t want him to be unnecessarily worried, so I asked him to keep his plans.
Once Jake arrived (and my sister-in-law Caitlin who happen to be visiting), a decision for surgery was made. I was given a medical option but that could have taken weeks, with no guarantee that I wouldn’t need surgery eventually, and emotionally I needed this to end that night. At about 2 am, I went into surgery to remove my right Fallopian tube and with it the pregnancy I had waited years for. As they rolled me into the OR I remember tears streaming down my face before the anesthesia kicked in and I was out. Hours later I awoke and made the choice to go home.
It has now been 3 weeks since my surgery. Sometimes it feels like a lifetime ago, in other moments it’s like it just happened. A trauma to your mind, body, and soul will do that. I now know that ectopics are pretty rare and that it is the leading cause of maternal death in the first trimester. It’s a strange feeling to be angry at a procedure that ultimately saved your life and yet I am. I know that ectopic pregnancies aren’t viable, but I still had to terminate a wanted pregnancy and that guts me. The medical profession has managed to find a way to transfer a fertilized egg from a test tube into a uterus but still cannot move one from a Fallopian tube into a uterus. Think about that for a moment, ’cause I do.
The holidays are upon us. Our families and friends continue to be amazing. Food, hugs, letters, conversations, healing practices, flowers; I could not ask for a more supportive circle. Although I am surrounded by love I am not going to end on a positive note to make everyone else feel better. The fact of the matter is that 3 weeks ago I was pregnant and now I’m not, but my body hasn’t had time yet to catch up to that reality. I am left feeling tired, sad, and empty. No amount of holiday cheer is going to fix that.