Monday, February 9, 2009

Another Ectopic

I found out I was pregnant about two and a half weeks ago. I suspected that I was, so on the earliest day possible, I woke early and went to my bathroom to take a test. My heart was thumping as I waited for the result, and then, a couple of minutes later, I looked down at the stick. I could see that two lines had formed in the test window. I was thrilled and I became a bit teary. I crept back to my bedroom and into bed, and looked over at my groggy husband with a smile on my face. "I'm pregnant," I said. He gave me a big smile back and hugged me. He told me he loved me. "I love you, too," I said. And then we quickly sobered and discussed that we should try not to get ahead of ourselves, and that I should go to get my first HCG test done as soon as possible.

I had my first blood draw later that day. Five more followed after that--one every two days. My heart would pound with worry and anxiety every time I was about to get my result. Sometimes I would even cry with relief on hearing the good news that my HCG levels had doubled, because I had been so full of fear and worry, always expecting the worst. Every time, the result seemed promising--my HCG levels were doubling, even tripling once. I started to let some hope creep into my heart; I started to think about when the baby would be due; I started to think about cradling him or her, and singing lullabies; I started to imagine Kate being a big sister, having a playmate. Once my HCG levels were over 2000, I was supposed to schedule an ultrasound; the embryo would be large enough to be seen on ultrasound at that point, and an ultrasound would provide confirmation that the embryo was in my uterus. My HCG levels soared above 2000 on the Saturday before last, so I was going to call my doctor's office the following Monday to schedule my ultrasound. Then, on Sunday, I started to feel a strange pressure in my lower abdomen. I hoped that it was just gas, just a normal symptom of pregnancy, but I thought I remembered experiencing something similar with the ectopic I had in September, 2007.

I decided that I would give it a few hours and see if it went away. I went for a short walk on my treadmill--the first action my treadmill had seen from me in an extremely long time. (I had decided that I needed to get some regular exercise during this pregnancy--it would be good for me and the baby, and it could only help during labour.) The feeling didn't go away. I called a nurseline and the woman I spoke with took down the information I gave her and told me someone from the babyline would call me back. About forty-five minutes later a nurse, whom I don't care for a great deal, called me to say that she had consulted with my doctor, and that, unless I was experiencing pain or bleeding, I could wait until the next day to schedule my ultrasound. I calmly explained to her that I didn't feel comfortable waiting until I was bleeding, given that the last time I had an ectopic, I did not experience great pain and I had no bleeding. She then repeated, in a condescending manner, what my doctor had said. I told her I would take it into consideration and then make a decision about what I should do. I also asked where I should go if I made the decision that I should have an ultrasound that day. She gave me the information, but was almost trying to dissuade me from doing it. (Can you tell I'm a little bitter?)

Anyway, after some back and forth discussion with my mother (over the phone) and my husband Sean, I decided that I should go to the ER. Sean got my daughter Kate ready for the car ride, I got myself ready, and off we went. They dropped me at the ER and then left so that Sean could try to get Kate to nap in the car. (We have no family here, so Kate had to be with us.) I made my way to the ER receptionist, and almost apologetically explained to her why I was there. I was feeling like I was probably overreacting, and that I would hopefully find out in a short period of time that my baby was where it should be.

After a lot of waiting around, I was eventually chauffeured on a hospital bed, by a kind transport person, to radiology, where a very sympathetic woman waited to give me my ultrasound. I asked her if she would tell me if she saw the embryo in my uterus (I knew she wasn't supposed to). She gently explained that the radiologist and doctor would have to review the results first and then they would speak to me. I stared at the computer screen. I looked hard for a sign of life in my uterus. At one point, I saw something pulsing and I asked if that was a heartbeat. I knew it couldn't be, as it was too early in my pregnancy, but I guess rational thought had fled me at that point. She said no, that it was my own blood that I saw pumping. After a while, I noticed that she had typed the words "gestational sac" on the screen, so I asked, "Is that my uterus you're looking at?"
"No--I'm sorry--it's not," she said. And that's when I knew that I would not be having this baby. I started to cry. The technician was kind and tried to tell me that she could be wrong and not to jump to conclusions yet, but I could tell she knew that this was not a normal pregnancy. I just could not believe that this was happening again.

Another trip on a hospital bed followed, with warm blankets wrapped around me this time for comfort. The white walls of the hospital hallways were a blur as I rode along trying to process what I had just learned. I was pushed back into the small room in the ER where I had been waiting earlier, and I saw that Sean and Kate were now there waiting for me. Sean had been reading a book to Kate. He looked at me and could see from my eyes that something was wrong, so he came to me and I quietly explained what was going on. We had to be quiet and try as much as possible to keep it together because Kate was there in the room with us. Sean, though sad himself, focused on Kate. He resumed reading to her while I spoke with three doctors who had entered the room. They explained that a laparoscopic surgery was the best course of action; that they would do it that evening; that there was a "mass" in my right fallopian tube, which they would remove along with my tube. I tried not to lose it, and I tried to reassure Kate that I was fine, while Sean continued to read to her to keep her distracted.

After it was confirmed that I would be having another laparoscopic surgery, Sean and I discussed plans for childcare for Kate for later that night, after she was asleep. He arranged for a friend from Kate's and my play group to come over and stay at our house so that he could return to the hospital to be with me after the surgery. (We are so thankful for the wonderful people in my play group, all of whom I met in my first ECFE class two years ago.) I hugged and kissed both Kate and Sean, and we said good-bye. I was alone from then until the surgery began, waiting for it to be over. It is in moments like those that I wish we had family nearby. I wish that Kate could have been with family from the moment we suspected something was wrong so that she didn't have to be exposed to, and confused by, the sadness, and so that I could have had Sean with me the whole time. I wish that he could have been there to hold my hand and keep me company while I waited to be taken into surgery. However, we were all fine, and he was there when I woke up, so that's all that matters. He stayed with me in my hospital room until about 2:30 a.m. He said he wanted to stay with me until I was falling asleep.

The next morning, one of the doctors who had participated in the surgery came to see me to discuss the operation and what my next steps should be. She told me that they removed most of my right tube and that my left tube looked good. She said that I should be able to conceive again if I decide that's what I want to do. Sean and Kate came to pick me up by mid-morning, and I got to return to the comfort of my home. Sean has been absolutely amazing. He has cancelled two trips for work and stayed home all of last week to be with Kate. He allowed me to sleep in every morning, and nap during the day if I needed to. He took Kate out to have some fun every day, and also to our ECFE class. He went grocery shopping, made meals, and did all of the cleanup. He is incredible (which I already knew, but this provides further confirmation).

I know how lucky I am to have Sean and Kate in my life, and although I would be sad if I weren't able to have another child, I know that it would be okay. I think we will try, though. I want to have another baby--for me, for Sean, and for Kate. The last time this happened, I couldn't bring myself to try again for more than a year. This time, I think we'll try much sooner. I'm not quite as afraid this time. Maybe because I know that the damaged tube was removed, so the chances of it happening again are reduced. I think I may write about the next pregnancy (this is me being hopeful) from the time I find out about it. Maybe it'll help to know that I've got one or two people out there rooting me on. For now, I'm going to continue gathering emotional and physical strength, and I'm going to get on with my very blessed life as Kate's mom and Sean's wife.


Wordgirl said...

I'll definitely be here cheering you on!

I hope you find the blogosphere as welcoming and supportive and helpful as I have -- I really have found that as I went from blog to blog, reading here and there I came to connect with a handful of women -- and felt blessed by them.

I'm thinking of you,


kate hopper said...

I am so sorry! I wish there was something I could say that would make a difference. Just know that I'm thinking of you.

Shannon said...

Thank you, Kate.