Sad, confused, frustrated, upset, depressed, angry and empty. I have felt all of these in the last 3 1/2 weeks. Life is now thankfully looking up again though, and each day I’m a little stronger than the day before.
Ectopic Pregnancy; A pregnancy in which the fetus develops outside the uterus, typically in a fallopian tube.
I’m posting this for 3 groups of people:
• 1st group - The ones that know me personally, but it’s been a while since we caught up.
• 2nd group - The ones out there who have ever thought or are still thinking "why me?”. I’m here to just let you know, you are not singled out and you are not alone.
• 3rd group - Me, Myself and I. Ok I know I’m not technically a ‘group’, but I need to write this out as part of my own healing process.
Apparently ectopic pregnancies are on the rarer side of things; 1 in 50 women will develop an ectopic. I say ‘apparently’, because when I was diagnosed with one back in October 2014 (less than a year after my baby girl was born), it felt like everyone I spoke to seemed to know of either a family member, friend or friend of friend who had also experienced one. Surely that’s got to be more than 1 in 50? Or maybe 1 in 50 isn’t such a rare statistic after all? Either way, all of these stories seemed to follow with stories of hope and with comforting words that also got old quickly, such as, ‘it will happen again soon’, ‘you two just need to take a holiday’, ‘try not to stress about it, because stress won’t help’ and then I too adopted the words, ‘when it happens it will happen.’ When you’re given the odds of a 70% chance of successfully conceiving again after a tube removal, you do tend to take all that hope that you can get. What they don’t actually tell you, are the stats of having another ectopic, other than, you will be at a higher risk than previously. I had a google for you and that risk actually jumps up to 1 in 10 women who will be diagnosed with recurrent ectopic pregnancies, regardless of whether you had your tube removed the first time or not.
Over the years I learnt to confidently tell people, new friends and strangers my story straight off the bat. Honestly, just so the conversation wouldn’t continue to come up regarding future children - but also what’s to hide? An ectopic is nothing to be ashamed of, it’s just a cruel act of nature that most of the time can not be prevented and is nothing that you did or did not do.
Since that ectopic back in 2014 I have had 2 more unsuccessful pregnancies. Neither were ectopic, rather one was just a very early miscarriage and the other was also a miscarriage in an unknown location - whatever that means, right? It’s 2019, so that’s less than 1 pregnancy a year. I did at one point trial out a naturopath, but the expense was pretty high, and I kinda lost trust in her after some herbal liquids were labelled and given to me the wrong way around. You can now understand why I could come to the conclusion that maybe this was how it was meant to be. Maybe I was supposed to be working on building my relationships with the family I already have and building my photography business, instead of growing my family and caring for more babies.
Of course in true fashion, only when you have truely given up hope, and accepted the life that is ahead of you, all of a sudden you find yourself staring at your calendar: 4 days late , then 6 days late, and then at some point or another you really gotta take that pregnancy test.
This time though, I didn’t tell anyone, except for my partner (of course), and then the essentials: My Mum and Sister for support if I needed them, and other people that might be relying on me for a commitment that I might no longer be able to keep. In saying this, I was very confident and excited, that this must be the baby for me, and my gosh was I grateful!
Grateful as I was, I was still very aware of what might not be, and stayed very in tune with every little response my body gave me. At 5 weeks pregnant, I felt something probably wasn’t right. A few days later and I started to feel some slight pain/discomfort in my left hand side (my right tube was the one that was previously removed), but the pain was nothing like that of the first ectopic, so I held on to hope that it was just a part of making a baby. (The first ectopic wasn’t really painful, I just remember describing to my doctor that I just felt like the scar from my c-section was ripping open, and had asked her if that was normal. Because of her, I was admitted into hospital that night and the following day the surgeons performed key-hole surgery on me just as the ectopic was beginning to rupture.) A few days followed with this dull pain on and off until it really hit, while driving too. To tell you the truth, I just thought I was super constipated, it was like a stitch covering my entire abdominal area. I just wanted to get home and lie down and see if it would go away, however I got home and I was not comfortable at all. I didn’t know how to lie and my hands began shaking quite obviously. This was not normal and so after 5 minutes of being home we (the family) were back in the car on the way to the hospital. By the time I got to the hospital the pain had settled slightly although I still didn’t feel too well but once someone finally saw me I was feeling quite a bit better, still convincing myself it could just be constipation. My pain wasn’t significant enough to convince the doctors that something terrible was going on inside my body. They were understaffed and did not have a proper sonographer to check me over until morning and they almost sent me home. I’m not quite sure what made them decide to keep me overnight. The following morning, when an ultrasound was finally completed, they discovered that my pelvis was full of blood from another ruptured ectopic pregnancy - still I’m in only a small amount of discomfort much to their surprise. I knew the removal of my remaining tube meant that in the future my only method of conceiving would be via IVF. Emotionally, that moment hurt. It hurt a lot and so have the weeks following it.
There were tears when I found out, and again when the doctors delayed the surgery another 2 hours. Anytime someone would ask if I was ok or how I was going, there would just be tears and no words. There were tears trying to sleep on my first night home from both physical and mental pain. Tears fell loudly when I first took the plasters off and saw the “ugly” incisions (which are finally starting to heal now) and then those tears continued to fall every other day that I found myself with some alone time. No one could ever say anything that would make those tears feel less painful, but slowly and surely they are drying up and 3 1/2 weeks on they do still creep their way out, just a lot more softly and a lot less frequently.
Recently coming back to my faith, I have not questioned God himself, but rather what does he really have in store for me, if not this. I realise I’m not completely infertile, and I am one of the extremely lucky ones to have even been gifted a daughter already. A verse that was read in church recently was one that brought me a little bit of clarity and hope:
I still so much enjoy witnessing every minute of motherhood that I see, from photographing the Maternity sessions, to the Newborn sessions, and then all the years of Mummy and Me sessions that will follow. Getting to be a part of other people’s journeys through motherhood is what will keep me going, not bring me down. I know there still is a chance for me to conceive again one day, even if it is not naturally, but for now I have no choice but to trust in God and the path he has set for me, whilst treasuring the love he has already created for me.