What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. This guest post is by Jenny H.
I had an ectopic pregnancy...which ended my unplanned pregnancy.
How am I feeling? I’m not sure. If I take the time to figure out how I really feel, I will have to choose to own those feelings, even if it feels like others will not agree or approve, or it’s not the Godly way to feel, or not the cool way to feel.
Truly, I feel devastated and I don’t really know why. It was last Sunday that I took a pregnancy test and everything changed. I was only two days late, but my stomach felt a little off so I decided I might as well use a test I had lying around. When it showed a positive pregnancy I thought my world was crashing down on me. I felt like an unwed pregnant teenager. We have four amazing sons and we had already decided we were 99% done having kids. I gave away and sold many of my baby things. Even though it was bittersweet to think about being done, I felt like it was time.
My baby is eighteen months old. He was born five weeks early via emergency C-section. The delivery and events leading up to it were scary. The thought of going through something like that again is terrifying. And my husband was laid off from his job a year ago. He’s in a transitional job right now. We are blessed to be able to pay our bills, but his job is 100% commission and he has to work nights, weekends, and holidays. Adjusting to this new life has really rocked our lives and changed our routines. There’s no light at the end of that tunnel.
But, I can’t change what happened next. After I sobbed, literally, to my husband and told him I was pregnant and how it was going to make our life impossibly difficult, I started to get excited about having another baby. I started to imaging whether it would be a boy or girl. And to think about baby names. And to think about how my eighteen month old would get to be a big brother. And to think about who the baby would look like. And, call me crazy, but I started to imagine I was pregnant with twins…twin girls. Oh jeesh…seriously??????? One baby is hard. Two babies is crazy. Why was I getting so excited?
And then just a couple of days later, on Saturday night my lower stomach started to hurt and I couldn’t catch my breath it hurt so bad. It wouldn’t go away. I thought it must be gas pains, or maybe I was dehydrated from being out in the scorching heat for my oldest son’s football game that morning. But it wouldn’t go away. So my husband took me to the ER. As soon as he told them I was five weeks pregnant they started acting as though the pain must be related to the pregnancy. Definitely bad news. But I still thought they would realize it was nothing like that. After an hour or so in the ER, the pain almost completely went away. I told him we should just go home. I meant it. It was already like 12:30 in the morning. No sense staying and wasting time there.
A while later an ultrasound tech came to my ER curtain and loaded me up in the wheelchair to take me to have an ultrasound. It hurt. A lot. She seemed to press the hardest on the most tender areas. It brought back the pain that I had felt at home. It made me realize there really was something wrong. A reason I was at the hospital. It wasn’t just gas or dehydration. She didn’t say what she saw, but I was sure now it was the reason for my pain.
After another thirty minutes or so a nurse or doctor, I’m not sure which, came and told me I was being admitted to the hospital for a probable ectopic pregnancy and I would have a procedure done in the morning. An ectopic pregnancy????? How could that be right??? After overhearing a nurse talking on the phone about my case, I learned that the procedure would be a surgery. My husband tells me that he already knew. That procedure is code for surgery. I didn’t know. Procedure seems innocent, exploratory, quick and painless. Surgery seems invasive, painful, and serious. Surgery means they are taking the baby.
Sometime around three in the morning I was finally moved to a room on the second floor. My husband was actually lying in the hospital bed with me when the nurse came to transport us. This was the same nurse who had asked me upon arrival if there was anything he could get for me or anything he could do to help. When I said no, he looked at me in the eyes and said, “I mean it, I am here to help you. Can I get you anything? An extra blanket?” When he returned with the blanket, instead of putting it on my lap, he draped it over my back and shoulders, like you would do with a towel after getting out of the pool. It was then that I realized my shoulders and back really were cold. I wasn’t lying down because it hurt too much. It kept the pain at bay to lean forward and keep my knees up.
Anyway, when he came to take me to my room, he didn’t tell my husband to move off the bed. The nurse actually picked up my husbands shoes and my clothes and gently placed them on top of us and pushed us through the hospital corridors just like we were: squeezed together on the narrow ER stretcher. It might be the nicest thing any nurse has ever done. With four kids and my broken ankle I’ve spent my fair share of time in the hospital. I’ve had kind nurses and thoughtful nurses and helpful nurses, but there was something very touching about him letting us stay together like that.
In my new room, the nurse brought in a “better” chair so my husband would have somewhere to spend the rest of the night. It was a reclining chair. And the weight of his 6 ft 4 inch frame caused the reclining part to keep closing…as he tried to sleep. I missed the feeling of his closeness anyway, so I convinced him to sneak back into bed with me. That was the best thing about the whole hospital stay. For almost two nights and a day we stayed in bed together. Side by side in my hospital bed. I decided I didn’t care if the nurses didn’t like it, or didn’t approve, or if it made it harder or more awkward to check my vitals and draw my blood. They were going to have to tell him to get out; I wasn’t volunteering. During one of the shift changes one nurse described us to the nurse coming on shift as lovebirds. I think I needed that physical connection to get through what was coming.
The next morning, Sunday, they came and took me into surgery. The nurse anesthetist came to my room to talk to me about the procedure. I asked her what was going to happen. She said they would fill my abdomen with air and use a camera to see what was going on. If the baby was in one of my Fallopian tubes, they would probably have to take out the whole tube. Wow! I wasn’t expecting that. I thought the worst case scenario was taking out the baby.
And that is what happened. I woke from surgery to find out that the baby was actually on my left ovary, and the doctor had removed my left ovary and Fallopian tube. And the baby. They rolled me back to my room for a long afternoon and night of IVs, pain medication, blood draws, compression machines on my calves, incessant hospital machines beeping, and lying side by side with the love of my life. My pastor visited. A friend brought dinner. But mostly I just soaked up the physical closeness of my husband. There was comfort from having him so close I could feel him breathing. So close that when he changed sleeping positions I had to too. So close my IV tube was draped over his head as he slept. So close he could almost feel my hurt with me.
That morning I was discharged and sent home. In just a week, I’ve gone from crying because I was pregnant, to being excited about being pregnant, to losing the baby, having surgery and losing an ovary and Fallopian tube. I didn’t see this loss coming. I probably should have, given my miscarriage track record. This makes three miscarriages and an ectopic pregnancy. But I really didn’t. And I definitely didn’t realize I would be so derailed by this loss. I didn’t even want to be pregnant. I’m supposed to be a little sad, not completely devastated. It was barely even a pregnancy. Over before it really began. An ill-timed, unplanned pregnancy at that. I should feel relieved. When I first found out I was pregnant I literally begged God to let me miscarry. I shake my head in shame. The tears start to form, but won’t come out.
Now it is Wednesday afternoon. I’ve been home from the hospital since Monday morning. I lie in bed, stare at the walls, distract myself with facebook, twitter, and reading blogs. I try to take deep breaths and stop thinking about how long until my next dose of Percocet is due. Not just because I am in great physical pain, but because I am in great emotional pain. My husband is back at work and I miss the closeness I felt with him in the hospital. I cry but tears don’t come. I trust God. I blame God. I trust my husband with my emotions. I hide my emotions from my husband. I trust myself with my emotions. I hide my emotions from myself. I don’t answer my phone. I’m afraid of the question, “how are you doing?” I smile at the boys and read them books and play Uno. I hope they don’t realize I’m not okay.
Time will heal this pain too. I am happy and content with the beautiful children I already have. They are precious gifts from God. I tell them that all the time. But I am devastated; because I lost this baby, and because I feel like I missed out on this “free pass” to get pregnant even though my circumstances say I shouldn’t.