Here’s what I want other women to know:
- Be sure you know and understand symptoms.
- Listen to your body.
- Know that your symptoms may vary from the typical ones you’ll (most likely) google.
- If you have an off-feeling about an OB/GYN office, act on it. Find someone else. And do it quick.
- Err on the side of caution. Go into an ER or urgent care.
- Ask for a sonogram RIGHT AWAY.
I’m writing because I’m still processing it all. I’m writing to let the bad feelings out. I’m writing to warn other women. I’m writing because I want to remember this even when, hopefully, the trauma of it all subsides. I’m writing because I want to acknowledge the amazing way that God brought loving people in my life to protect and make up for the evil ones.
I was in the hospital because of hemoperitoneum due to rupture of right tubal ectopic pregnancy. If it is a jumble of words to you, you’re in good company. Basically, there was a baby. The baby stuck too soon, in that tube that connects the ovary to the uterus. The baby grew too big and it tore the tube up which caused me internal bleeding, which caused me surgery. The baby had no chance to make it. Seven days and three incisions later, here I am writing about it.
But the story is in the details.
It all started Saturday morning, the birthday weekend of our two September babies; with a jolt in my lower core, then a few hours later, a cramp. A constant contraction so strong that I couldn’t stand. As I was holding my one-year-old, I had to sit down, give her to my husband and ask my sister to drive my car as I was clenching my knees to my chest, whining in pain. An ibuprofen and a nap later, I was still in some pain but somewhat manageable. I had anxiety about what this might be. Was I constipated? Was I starting my period two weeks early? Was I dying? Was it cancer? Was it a cyst? WHAT IS THIS?!?!?
Friend: take a pregnancy test.
Me: I can’t be pregnant. I had my period two weeks ago
I take a pregnancy test. Two lines. WHAT?!?! No way. I’m miscarrying? My friend mentions it can be either miscarriage, bleeding through a healthy pregnancy or ectopic pregnancy.
As our family was planning the big birthday celebration (our girls are turning 5 and 1), I was pushing the pain away, the confusing feelings, the crazy thoughts, the idea of another baby, the idea of LOSING this baby. Here I am navigating through a storm of confusion ignorant of how to sail. My sister recommends I go to the ER. I call them, they say I don’t have to come in if I’m not soaking a pad an hour; but just contact my OB for a follow-up.
I listen. I wish I hadn’t.
I call my doctor and leave a voicemail. Finally, too tired for any more planning or thinking, I go to sleep. In pain. In strain.
Sunday morning is painful yet again. I’m miscarrying. I have to be. I push the tears away and pray “please, God, help this baby survive. I didn’t want another baby but I don’t want to lose one either.” Our family gets ready for the birthday celebration. We make the balloon garland, prep the food, go to the place, cut the cake, sing the songs, take the photos, share the photos.
All this time, I was in constant pain. It intensified. I had to sit down often now. I couldn’t walk well. I wonder, should I go to the ER? But I wasn’t soaking a pad an hour. That’s the “right” event that needs to happen. They’ll think I’m crazy otherwise, that I’m overreacting. I’m a wimp for pain.
Sunday afternoon I say goodbye to my mom and younger sister. That night I can barely do my part to put the girls to bed. I can’t wait to lay down and sleep. I kiss my nephews and my sister (if you get confused, I’m sorry) and I go to bed.
Tomorrow will be better. It has to be.
Monday I wake up in excruciating pain. I feel like my uterus is trying to squeeze itself out of my body and I can’t handle it anymore. I’m crying on and off. I’m panting. I’m sweating. I’m sitting down often. I don’t know what to do anymore but I’m thankful it’s Monday and I have options now. I call another ER. She says “Well, if you want to come in, you can.”
“what do you mean if I WANT to come in? I don’t WANT to come in. I don’t WANT to be in pain. But do I HAVE to come in?”
She replies without any emotions. Nobody feels my pain. Nobody understands it. Am I going crazy? Am I really in all this pain? I’m not soaking a pad an hour. So am I really in all this pain? Now I find myself wishing I soaked a pad an hour like wishing I won the lottery. I just want the pain to stop.
I call an OB office and tell them my story; she schedules me for October 14. What?!? Never mind. I call another one, they are not taking new patients. I finally call my previous OB who I swore I’d never go back to. They schedule me to come in 30 minutes. Another pregnancy test, still positive. Doctor comes in. I tell him about my weekend, about my symptoms, about my pain. He replies “you’re miscarrying, or you’re bleeding through a healthy pregnancy.” Time will tell.
I’m crying yet again. No answers. I still have to wait, suffer through this pain, and wait. He does a cervical check, the most painful one ever. I’m crying, and my body remembers his last cervical check before he delivered baby sister, when I left his office crying. His cervical check left me feeling violated, and, of course, in pain. I’m pretty sure that, by now, the word “pain” is in the middle of any word cloud you’d create out of what I wrote. So. Much. Pain.
Laura, stop it. Your brain is just confused. He is good. He can’t be evil. He has to do this, right? It’s what doctors are supposed to do in order to care for us, women. He cares.
I scream in pain. He finally stops and pulls out a bloody glove. A few more questions, yet no answers. He orders blood tests today and another round three days later. If HCG levels are going down, I’m miscarrying. If they’re going up, just a bleeding through a healthy pregnancy.
Still confused and full of questions. I don’t know who to call, what to do. I’m still in pain and I still have no answers. I go back to work and I suffer through the day, hopeful that there’s a possibility of a healthy baby.
Then… I remember I have a friend who went through an early miscarriage. I text her and ask her for details on symptoms. Some line up, some don’t. She mentions that weird word again: ectopic pregnancy. I look it up. Oh man, all of this starts to look more familiar now. It can’t be though, my doctor would’ve found it.
Her: did he do a sonogram?
Me: no. It’s too early to see anything.
Her: I’d ask for one.
I call my OB’s office and ask if the doctor checked for an “ectopic pregnancy” and they say no. I request a sonogram. They can’t get me in for one until Wednesday. I schedule one in frustration and hang up while looking for other offices that do sonograms. I don’t find anything. I call a third ER office, who cuts me off mid-sentence and transfers me to a call center. DOES ANYBODY CARE ABOUT MY PAIN??!!?
I talk to the call center anyways. She screens my pain and says “well, I’m not sure if you should go in or not.” By this point, I’m just convinced I’ll live in pain for the rest of my life.
I make it through the day and get home, make it through dinner, through putting the girls to bed, shower and get in bed. Still in pain. In bed is where my husband finds me when he gets home. He checks on me, tells me that a friend from church offered to stay with the girls in case we need to go to the ER. I choose to wait a bit longer. I’m not soaking any pads. He goes to work some more. By now, the pain has also changed. It’s more like gastrointestinal pain, while cramps are more intense on the right side of my pelvic area. I think it’s definitely an ectopic pregnancy. God, help me, please. I get up to get a sparkling water to help with the stomach ache. I’m sweating, I’m shaking, I’m panting.
“That’s it. Emergency Room. Now”
At 10:00pm, we walk in and I have enough energy to say “I’m pregnant, and I’m bleeding.” I want to share the progress of my pain but I can’t. No more repeating my weekend’s painful story like a broken record. I give up. Whether they believe me or not, whether they feel my pain or not, I give up. I’m not going to relive it yet again. I’ve said it to enough deaf ears.
Within minutes, I’m in a room, with an IV in, and pain meds. Half hour later, I have blood drawn, waiting on tests. An hour later, they roll me in for a sonogram. When that thing touched my belly, I screamed in so. much. pain. She said she can’t do the sonogram then. I assure her I’ll lay still and ask to watch the screen. I want to see the baby. She needs to do a vaginal sonogram. It hurt. But by now, pain is a very familiar turf. I tell her to just do it. I bite my words, I clench my teeth. I see a lot of red and blue blobbing around the screen. She finishes, and asks me if I’m ok to get dressed by myself, then runs out the door with the results. She says she will be right back to take me to the room. On the way back, she tells me she can’t give me details on the sonogram. The doctor has to.
Me: “Can you at least tell me if there’s a baby in the uterus?”
Her: “No, there is no baby”
I knew it. I text my husband and my family. 15 minutes later, it’s 2am already; the NP comes in. She tells me that they’re prepping a room for me upstairs. I’m having surgery to remove the, wait for it, ectopic pregnancy. It’s ruptured the fallopian tube and I have internal bleeding. My OB will come in at 8am to perform the surgery.
Me: Why 8am? Why not sooner?
Her: that’s the earliest he can make it in.
Me: That’s just like Overcash. He can’t be bothered to do anything any sooner than what is convenient for him. Even if someone is freaking dying in pain. It’s what he did with my second baby too. I can’t live like this anymore.
Her: well, I’m sure that’s not the case, but we are doing everything we can.
Me: yeah, I’m sure. I am sure all the ER and OB offices I called did everything they could too.
I am mad. I am angry. I am crying. I am melting down in pain, in tears, in desperation. I text my husband, and my family. I text our church friend who stayed with the girls and warn her that we might need her again. I am hopeless. Our friend offers to come hang out with me. I feel so bad. It’s 2:30am.
Her: sleeping is for babies. 🙂
I love her.
I mean… even my OB who gets paid an arm and a leg to give a squat doesn’t care to wake up early. Why is this friend caring about my pain more when I don’t even pay her? I know why. Thank you, God.
She gets to the hospital just as they’re getting ready to move me.
They tell me they moved my surgery up to 5:00am. It’s now 3:30am. I can wait now. I’ve waited all this time. As long as I am still, the pain is still too. Thank you, God.
At 5:00am on the dot, they roll me into surgery. This will soon be over. I breathe with relief. But wait, I have to sign papers. And one of them was “what do you want to do with the baby? The hospital to discard it? Or take it with you?” I don’t know. What do I do with a baby that doesn’t even get the chance to survive?
My OB walks up and I say “did you miss me, doctor? Do you think it would’ve made a difference if you would’ve caught this 20 hours ago?” He answers “no”
I think otherwise.
In the OR, I see the lights, the mask, and I mention Hamilton in Chicago. They should all go see it.
I wake up two hours later. Matthew is by my side, there are student nurses helping me, caring for me, giggling and smiling. Asking me questions, asking me to take this and that med, and the other med. I don’t remember much. I just want to sleep. Matthew tells me they couldn’t save the tube and that they cremated the baby. I doze back to sleep. Thank you, God, for no more pain.
What followed was a trail of love, and acts of kindness. Our friend left the hospital to go home with the girls until another friend took them to school so my husband could be in the hospital with me. My sister sent me groceries and delivered food for us. A third friend came over with a basket of goodies. Yet another friend brought me two tubs of ice cream at 8pm at night.
People, nothing helps recovery better than laying in bed with a spoon, a towel and a big tub of frozen cookies ’n cream.
Calls and texts poured in from all sides.
I had an ectopic pregnancy and I almost died. I was bitter and in pain. I was angry at my OB and all the ERs I called who told me it’s not an emergency. I was livid with the two OB/GYN offices I called who didn’t want to take me in. The healthcare system that I was stuck with frustrated me to the point of despair. But in the end, what remains is the memory of beautiful souls who stepped in to help and support in amazing ways. When the healthcare system, the people we pay to care, failed to care, I saw God calling an army of angels who didn’t have to care but did so in every way. Thank you, God.
My sister wrote me “I know you put a strong face because it’s what you always do…”
I can’t put a strong face but God can. I’m thankful for peace despite having been in the eye of a very painful storm. Thank you, God. I look forward to meeting that baby one day. Until then, I’ll let the pain happen and the healing too.