It was this weekend. It was President’s Day Weekend…
I was pregnant! We were thrilled… But my HCG levels were low, so something wasn’t quite right.
I didn’t miscarry, as my doctor said I might, so I was hopeful that my pregnancy would get better. Then, Sunday evening I was cramping up so much that I wanted to call the doctor… but didn’t, at first.
I’ve survived another medical trauma at the start of my 20s, so I think of myself as tough.
Then a started to get a sharp pain under my right breast… so I called the doctor. I have since learned that this is, to quote reference books, ‘an ominous sign’ as it means blood is tracking up the abdominal cavity…
The on-call doctor called me back and immediately apologized for being happily distracted- his sister was in labor at the hospital. I told him about the pain, and he quickly suggested I send my husband out for Pepto-Bismol, and to wink, wink, ‘toughen up’.
So I did. And my husband did. And I took the Pepto-Bismol…
That night pain kept waking me up… and at about 6 in the morning my husband was jolted awake by a thud in the bathroom. He looked around and didn’t see me. He ran into the bathroom and I lay unconscious on the floor.
He called the doctor and got me to the nearest hospital. I was quickly wheeled into the sonogram room and after numerous attempts to find a baby, a doctor was called in and said, and I quote,
“All I can see is blood.”
Everything went quickly then. Orderlies were running with my stretcher. I was prepped in a hallway awaiting surgery, all the while, nurses covering me with heated blankets, because I was shivering so much from the loss of blood… 1,2,3,4,5 blankets were covering me and still I shook.
Ectopic means “out of place.” In an ectopic pregnancy, a fertilized egg has implanted outside the uterus. The egg settles in the fallopian tubes in more than 95% of ectopic pregnancies, as was my case. The fallopian tube does not have space or nurturing tissue as a uterus does, for a pregnancy. As the fetus grows, it will eventually burst the tube, which causes internal bleeding and eventually, if not treated, death. A classic ectopic pregnancy cannot develop into a live birth.
So there I was, bleeding internally, being wheeled into the OR. My husband had tears in his eyes and said only 3 words,
“DON’T LEAVE ME.”
I didn’t want to, but I was SO TIRED… not the kind of tired you feel when you need a good night’s sleep, I was exhausted. I felt like all the systems in my body were slowing down, slowly, slowing down…
And then I had a moment of clarity and it hit me, ‘This is BAD. I’m bleeding to death.’
They put me on the operating table, I remember HOW COLD I was. The nurse looked down at me and told me they would help me; she had beautiful blue eyes and the light was coming down around her face and I thought she looked like Mary. And I was comforted.
The anesthesiologist told me to count backward from 100, and I almost did. Then I stopped myself for only a moment, took all the strength I had left, and screamed inside my head,
“Please God, do not let me go out this way. I have fought too hard for life. Please, not this way.”
And I started counting- 100, 99, 98… fade to black.
A few days later, a few more little scares, and I was feeling pretty good- believe it or not. I was at home and relaxing, because I couldn’t do much else… and I was so grateful to be okay!
A couple more days went by and just for a moment I thought back to that ultrasound…
‘All I can see is blood’. And I started crying.
Then I wept. And I wept… for my baby, for my baby that never got a chance…
Almost 2 years later I delivered my healthy and happy son. He gives us such joy and he makes me laugh,
and sometimes I’m amazed by how wise he is beyond his years…
And on those occasions, I allow myself to believe that he is blessed with an extra little angel, who is always looking out for him.
* Trust your instincts. Get immediate medical attention if you are pregnant and in pain.
* Ectopic pregnancy is the leading cause of death for a mother in her first trimester of pregnancy.